For questions involving consideration of the shortest (or longest) path between two points in a curved space (e.g. a straight line between two points on the surface of a sphere such as the earth).

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14
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4answers
544 views

The Lagrangian as a metric

My question is, can the (classical) Lagrangian be thought of as a metric? That is, is there a meaningful sense in which we can think of the least-action path from the initial to the final ...
0
votes
1answer
112 views

Null Geodesics in flat 2+1 dimensional Minkowski space

For a given line element in flat 2+1 dimensional Minkowski space $$ g = ds^{2} = − dz \otimes dz + dx \otimes dx + dy \otimes dy .$$ The null geodesics are supposedly given by: $$ x = lu + l' $$ ...
3
votes
1answer
116 views

Can geodesics in a Lorentzian manifold change their character?

From a physics perspective, it's pretty easy to see why a a massive particle will be restricted to timelike paths, etc. but does the math guarantee that on its own or do we have to impose it? More ...
2
votes
1answer
52 views

Ensuring globally hyperbolic geodesically-complete spacetimes

Let's say we have an incomplete spacetime A that is globally hyperbolic, does there necessary exist a globally hyperbolic completion? My guess is no, in which case what further restrictions can be ...
1
vote
1answer
63 views

Unable to resolve 2 equivalent geodesic equations

A free particle moves along geodesics, one form being \begin{split} \ddot x^\mu &= -\Gamma^{\mu}_{\sigma \rho} \dot x^\sigma \dot x^\rho \\ &= -\frac{1}{2}g^{\mu \nu}(\partial_\sigma g_{\rho ...
4
votes
2answers
367 views

Geodesics equations via variational principle

I would like to recover the (timelike) geodesics equations via the variational principle of the following action: $$ \mathcal{S}[x] = -m \int d\tau = -m \int \sqrt{-g_{\mu\nu}\,dx^{\mu}\,dx^{\nu}} $$ ...
3
votes
2answers
149 views

Geodesic for Electromagnetic forces

Considering the fact that electrons tend to take the maximum conductance path to flow from A to B. This is justified by saying that $\vec{E}$ is larger in conductors. But once similarly it was thought ...
4
votes
1answer
106 views

Sign of $dr$ in Schwarzschild geodesics

There is an equation that relates energy $E$, angular momentum $L$ and other constants and variables to find $\left(\frac{dr}{d\tau}\right)^2$ in a plane. ...
5
votes
1answer
97 views

Geodesics in a point mass universe

This question may reflect my (lack of) knowledge about general relativity, please ask for any clarifications or note any corrections in the comments and I'll try to address them. The Schwarzschild ...
3
votes
1answer
144 views

Schwarzschild geodesics

I've found on Wikipedia that energy $E$ and angular momentum $L$ of a particle are conserved quantities in Schwarzschild metric. It's written: $$L=mr^2 \frac {d\phi} {d\tau},$$ ...
1
vote
3answers
230 views

What makes matter travel along geodesics?

The relativistic explanation of gravity is geometric, the motion of a body in a field of space-time distortion can be described as being at rest and travelling along a geodesic of that field, but why ...
1
vote
0answers
98 views

Derivation of equations of motion in Nordstrom's theory of scalar gravity?

Nordstrom's theory of a particle moving in the presence of a scalar field $\varphi (x)$ is given by $$ S = -m\int e^{\varphi (x)}\sqrt{\eta_{\alpha \beta}\frac{dx^{\alpha}}{d ...
12
votes
1answer
416 views

How does one measure space-like geodesics? Or: What is the physical interpretation of space-like geodesics?

In general relativity, time-like geodesics are the trajectories of free-falling test particles, parametrized by proper time. Thus, they are easy to interpret in physical terms and are easy to measure ...
0
votes
0answers
92 views

How to use The Schwarzchild Metric formula to get distribution representing “free-fall”

Given formula: How I can use to calculate distribution of points in space, so if i choose path which contains most of the points I get path that close to "free-fall path". As far as I know i should ...
2
votes
1answer
198 views

About the geodesics in general relativity [duplicate]

I'm learning general relativity from the book " Einstein's General Theory of Relativity - Øyvind Grøn and Sigbjorn Hervik". The field equations are derived by the Hilbert - Einstein action and are ...
2
votes
2answers
232 views

Exercise about Lagrange-Euler equations

I'm solving an exercise about the Lagrange-Euler equations, that states the following: Let $\gamma (t) = \{ (t,q) : q = q(t), t_0 \leq t \leq t_1\}$ be a curve in $\mathbb{R} \times \mathbb{R}^2$. ...
6
votes
1answer
402 views

Two formulas for a particle's acceleration

While on a class my teacher was taking about particle's motion in space. At some point she said the following: Consider that the particle's path is described by a curve in space defined by the ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

A particular geodesics problem

I am trying to find the geodesics on the surface defined by $M:=\{(x,y,z)\in\mathbb{R}^3|x^2 + y^2 = f(z)\}$, for $f:\mathbb{R}\rightarrow \mathbb{R}_+$. I have parametrized the surface by $$ \vec{r} ...
2
votes
1answer
172 views

Can two parallel lines meet? [closed]

My physics teacher talked about the meeting of 2 parallel lines, and he said that it may occur in the infinity or something. I know that 2 parallel lines can meet in spherical geometry, (thanks to ...
6
votes
1answer
481 views

In general relativity, are light-like curves light-like geodesics?

Just as the title. If a curve is light-like, i.e. a null-curve, is it definitely a null geodesic?
4
votes
1answer
121 views

A question about the higher-order Weyl variation for the geodesic distance

I have a question in deriving Eqs. (3.6.15b) and (3.6.15c) in Polchinski's string theory vol I p. 105. Given $$\Delta (\sigma,\sigma') = \frac{ \alpha'}{2} \ln d^2 (\sigma, \sigma') ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

Why does light always travel in a straight line?

No matter the frame light is in, it always moves in a straight line in that frame. Why is that? It doesn't seem like something to me that should necessarily be true. If some one runs forward and sends ...
1
vote
0answers
77 views

Preservation of a scalar along geodesic trajectory

Let $u^\mu$ be the velocity of a particle , and $\xi^\mu$ be a killing vector. would taking a contravariant derivative of to scalar product $\xi_\mu u^\mu$ , and showing that it equals to 0 shows that ...
1
vote
1answer
78 views

Maximum aging and path of rock

When a rock falls from a ledge, why does it head to the surface and not up to where time runs faster? If a rock, free from forces, follows a worldline of maximum aging, why would that rock approach ...
10
votes
3answers
524 views

Equation of motion of a photon in a given metric

I have this metric: $$ds^2=-dt^2+e^tdx^2$$ and I want to find the equation of motion (of x). for that i thought I have two options: using E.L. with the Lagrangian: $L=-\dot t ^2+e^t\dot x ^2 $. ...
2
votes
0answers
56 views

minimal proper time curves bounded on acceleration

Assuming Minkowski spacetime, we know that the longest proper time curve joining two points is the rect joinining both events, While the shortest time-like curve is not a compact set (because there ...
2
votes
1answer
116 views

From Euler-Lagrange equation to non affine geodesic equation

I have some problems to demonstrate the non affine geodesic equation from Euler-Lagrange's equations. I start defining the Lagrangian $L=\sqrt f$, but then I'm not able to find the Christoffel ...
2
votes
1answer
711 views

Equation for null geodesic around schwarzschild metric?

I'm trying to find the path of a photon around the Schwarzschild black hole, given its initial conditions. After much tribulation, I've basically given up on solving the equations by myself. I just ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Can anyone please explain Hawking-Penrose Singularity Theorems and geodesic incompleteness?

Can anyone please explain Hawking-Penrose Singularity Theorems and geodesic incompleteness? In easy to understand plain English please.
1
vote
2answers
311 views

Solving a light ray worldline with the geodesic equation

I'm having trouble solving the geodesic equation for a light ray. $$ {d^2 x^\mu \over d\tau^2} + \Gamma^\mu_{\alpha\beta} {dx^\alpha \over d\tau} {dx^\beta \over d\tau} = 0 $$ I apologise, but I'm a ...
1
vote
1answer
147 views

How to find distance of closest approach for a Schwarzschild geodesic?

What is the distance of closest approach in this Wikipedia article? I can't seem to find its definition, and this other question doesn't have an answer I can understand.
1
vote
1answer
131 views

Killing vector argument gone awry?

What has gone wrong with this argument?! The original question A space-time such that $$ds^2=-dt^2+t^2dx^2$$ has Killing vectors $(0,1),(-\exp(x),\frac{\exp(x)}{t}), ...
3
votes
2answers
461 views

Geodesic equations

I am having trouble understanding how the following statement (taken from some old notes) is true: For a 2 dimensional space such that $$ds^2=\frac{1}{u^2}(-du^2+dv^2)$$ the timelike geodesics ...
4
votes
1answer
121 views

“WLOG” re Schwarzschild geodesics

Why, when studying geodesics in the Schwarzschild metric, one can WLOG set $$\theta=\frac{\pi}{2}$$ to be equatorial? I assume it is so because when digging around the internet, most references seem ...
2
votes
2answers
337 views

Local inertial coordinates/Fermi normal coordinates

It is said that we can introduce local inertial coordinates/Fermi normal coordinates for any timelike geodesic. But why only for timelike geodesics? What about null geodesics? Perhaps it has to do ...
1
vote
1answer
250 views

Why four velocity under covariant differential is considered to be zero?

In Einstein's general theory of relativity the elements of four velocity $U^{\mu} (\gamma c, \gamma v)$ under covariant differential is considered to be zero, why? $$\mathcal{D} U^{\mu}=0$$ in other ...
1
vote
2answers
157 views

What is path of light in the accelerating elevator?

Mathematically, (by mathematically I means by equations) what is path of light in the accelerating elevator? What is the difference between an ordinary derivative and covariant derivative (which is ...
2
votes
1answer
348 views

The role of the affine connection the geodesic equation

I apologise in advance that my knowledge of differential geometry and GR is very limited. In general relativity the equation of motion for a particle moving only under the influence of gravity is ...
1
vote
0answers
112 views

Naked singularity and null coordinates

I'm trying to understand the notion of a naked singularity on a more mathematical level (intuitively, it's a singularity "one can see and poke with a stick", but I'm having troubles on how to actually ...
2
votes
0answers
72 views

Naked singularity and extendable geodesics [duplicate]

I'm currently trying to understand the notion of a naked singularity. After consulting books by Wald and Choquet-Bruhat, it seems that for a naked singularity one must have that the causal curves can ...
0
votes
1answer
150 views

Can you enter a timelike hypersurface?

As I understand it, a timelike hypersurface is one that has only spacelike normal vectors. But does this not imply that a the geodesic of a particle crossing it must be spacelike at that point? But ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Null geodesic given metric

I (desperately) need help with the following: What is the null geodesic for the space time $$ds^2=-x^2 dt^2 +dx^2?$$ I don't know how to transform a metric into a geodesic...! There is no need to ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Physical significance of Killing vector field along geodesic

Let us denote by $X^i=(1,\vec 0)$ the Killing vector field and by $u^i(s)$ a tangent vector field of a geodesic, where $s$ is some affine parameter. What physical significance do the scalar quantity ...
3
votes
0answers
77 views

Gravitational effects and metric spaces

Could somebody please explain something regarding the Nordstrom metric? In particular, I am referring to the last part of question 3 on this sheet -- about the freely falling massive bodies. My ...
0
votes
1answer
308 views

Homogeneous gravitational field and the geodesic deviation

In General Relativity (GR), we have the geodesic deviation equation (GDE) ...
2
votes
3answers
292 views

Is the path of stationary action unique? What are the physical implications of $L_{\dot{x}}=L_x$

Below, for any function $Q$ the notation $Q_x$ means $\frac{\partial Q}{\partial x}$, and $Q_{xx}$ means $\frac{\partial^2 Q}{\partial x^2}$. In physics, the trajectory of a particle is given by the ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

To which extent is general relativity a gauge theory?

In quantum mechanics, we know that a change of frame -- a gauge transform -- leaves the probability of an outcome measurement invariant (well, the square modulus of the wave-function, i.e. the ...
4
votes
3answers
588 views

Action for a point particle in a curved spacetime

Is this action for a point particle in a curved spacetime correct? $$\mathcal S =-Mc \int ds = -Mc \int_{\xi_0}^{\xi_1}\sqrt{g_{\mu\nu}(x)\frac{dx^\mu(\xi)}{d\xi} \frac{dx^\nu(\xi)}{d\xi}} \ \ d\xi$$
2
votes
1answer
708 views

Potential Energy in General Relativity

I often hear about how general relativity is very complicated because of all forms of energy are considered, including gravitation's own gravitational binding energy. I have two questions: In ...
3
votes
1answer
535 views

Problem with convergent geodesics at 2D sphere

There is a chapter on general relativity in the book Spacetime Physics Introduction To Special Relativity by Taylor and Wheeler, which qualitatively explains how attractive gravitational force can be ...