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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13
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4answers
744 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
281 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do objects follow geodesics in spacetime?

Trying to teach myself general relativity. I sort of understand the derivation of the geodesic equation ...
12
votes
1answer
259 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
333 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 $. ...
6
votes
1answer
263 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
82 views

How does a geodesic equation on an n-manifold deal with singularities?

My general premise is that I want to investigate the transformations between two distinct sets of vertices on n-dimensional manifolds and then find applications to theoretical physics by: ...
5
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
79 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is light described by a null geodesic?

I'm trying to wrap my head around how geodesics describe trajectories at the moment. I get that for events to be causally connected, they must be connected by a timelike curve, so free objects must ...
5
votes
1answer
471 views

Geodesic Equation from energy-momentum conservation

I've been reading the excelent review from Eric Poisson found here. While studying it I stumbled in a proof that I can't make... I can't find a way to go from Eq.(19.3) to the one before Eq.(19.4) ...
4
votes
1answer
436 views

How do we know the geodesic is a minimum?

The geodesic equation is derived from the Euler-Lagrange equation, which (as I understand it) is a necessary but not sufficient condition to ensure that the geodesic is a minimum. The introductory GR ...
4
votes
2answers
110 views

Geodesics equations via variational principle

I would like to recover the (timelike) geodesics equations via the variational principle of the following action: $$ \mathcal{S}[x] = -m \int d\tau = -m \int \sqrt{-g_{\mu\nu}\,dx^{\mu}\,dx^{\nu}} $$ ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the physical meaning of the affine parameter for null geodesic?

For time-like geodesic, the affine parameter is the proper time $\tau$ or its linear transform, and the geodesic equation is ...
4
votes
1answer
93 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
1answer
110 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
99 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. ...
4
votes
3answers
467 views

Action for a point particle in a curved spacetime

Is this action for a point particle in a curved spacetime correct? $$\mathcal S =-Mc \int ds = -Mc \int_{\xi_0}^{\xi_1}\sqrt{g_{\mu\nu}(x)\frac{dx^\mu(\xi)}{d\xi} \frac{dx^\nu(\xi)}{d\xi}} \ \ d\xi$$
3
votes
1answer
97 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
335 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
99 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
754 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
118 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: $$L=mr^2 \frac {d\phi} {d\tau},$$ ...
3
votes
1answer
444 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
71 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
239 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
526 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
36 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
164 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 $\mathbb{R} \times \mathbb{R}^2$. ...
2
votes
1answer
130 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
80 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
504 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
237 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
141 views

How far does typical view of clouds/atmosphere extend?

The specific "sub questions" I'm asking are: When you are looking at clouds just on the horizon, how far away would they be? How wide (in km) is that total field of vision at roughly cloud height. ...
2
votes
0answers
42 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
0answers
69 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
175 views

Using the area element in derivation of geodesic

In the derivation of the geodesic, one starts with the integral of the line element (arclength): $$L(C)=\int_{\tau_1}^{\tau_2}d\tau\sqrt{g_{\mu \nu}\dot{x}^{\mu} \dot{x}^{\nu}}$$ The integrand is ...
1
vote
3answers
172 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
2answers
224 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
130 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
53 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
134 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
70 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} ...
1
vote
1answer
59 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
179 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
133 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
68 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
67 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
122 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}), ...
1
vote
0answers
92 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 ...