To be used for questions on geometry closely pertaining to physics. Includes differential geometry and euclidean geometry.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

18
votes
3answers
4k views

Why can't a piece of paper (of non-zero thickness) be folded more than $N$ times?

Updated: In order to fold anything in half, it must be $\pi$ times longer than its thickness, and that depending on how something is folded, the amount its length decreases with each fold differs. ...
15
votes
2answers
417 views

Generalized Complex Geometry and Theoretical Physics

I have been wondering about some of the different uses of Generalized Complex Geometry (GCG) in Physics. Without going into mathematical detail (see Gualtieri's thesis for reference), a Generalized ...
12
votes
4answers
39k views

Does the rotation of the earth dramatically affect airplane flight time?

Say I'm flying from Sydney, to Los Angeles (S2LA), back to Sydney (LA2S). During S2LA, travelling with the rotation of the earth, would the flight time be longer than LA2S on account of Los Angeles ...
11
votes
7answers
3k views

Experimental evidence of a fourth spatial dimension?

As human beings, we observe the world in which we live in three dimensions. However, it is certainly theoretically possible that more dimensions exist. Is there any direct or indirect evidence ...
10
votes
2answers
659 views

The Reeh-Schlieder theorem and quantum geometry

There have been some very nice discussions recently centered around the question of whether gravity and the geometry and topology of the classical world we see about us, could be phenomena which ...
10
votes
1answer
417 views

Can masses move in 2+1 gravity?

I would like to understand basic concepts of the general relativity in 2+1 spacetime. As far as I know, GR predicts that such a spacetime is flat everywhere except for the point masses which create ...
9
votes
1answer
224 views

Cutting a circle and moving endpoints

A metal (or otherwise, suitably elastic) circle is cut and the points are slid up and down a vertical axis as shown: How would one describe the resultant curves mathematically?
8
votes
3answers
329 views

Question about associative 3-cycles on G2 manifolds

Let $X$ be a manifold with $G_2$ holonomy and $\Phi$ be the fundamental associative 3-form on $X$. Let $*\Phi$ be the dual co-associative 4-form on $X$. Now consider a particular associative 3-cycle ...
8
votes
1answer
403 views

How did Eratosthenes know the suns rays are parallel?

Eratosthenes famously observed that the suns rays were perpendicular to the ground in one location, yet non-perpendicular to the ground at a location some miles to the north. On the assumption that ...
8
votes
4answers
316 views

Physical representation of volume to surface area

I was looking at this XKCD what-if question (the gas mileage part), and started to wonder about the concept of unit cancellation. If we have a shape and try to figure out the ratio between the volume ...
8
votes
1answer
234 views

Understanding Calculus Notation in Physics

I have just started a first-year calculus-based physics course about electromagnetism and waves. I am having trouble understanding what calculus notation means in the context of physics. Here is a ...
7
votes
2answers
526 views

Why are conformal transformations so prevalent in physics?

What is it about conformal transformations that make them so widely applicable in physics? These preserve angles, in other words directions (locally), and I can understand that might be useful. Also, ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

How to calculate roll, yaw and pitch angles from 3D co-ordinates (Euler Angles)

I have digitized a video of a flying fly in a 3-dimensional space. At all instants I know the x, y, and z co-oridinates of the following points on the fly's body --- The points are my choice, and ...
7
votes
2answers
533 views

Geometrical interpretation of the Dirac equation

Is there an intuitive geometrical picture behind the Dirac equation, and the gamma matrices that it uses? I know the geometric algebra is a Clifford algebra. Can the properties of geometric algebra, ...
7
votes
1answer
394 views

The role of metric in the Wave Equation

The wave equation is often written in the form $$(\partial^2_t-\Delta)u=0,$$ involving the Laplace-Beltrami operator $\Delta$. However, the Laplace-Beltrami operator $\Delta$ is defined only in the ...
6
votes
3answers
591 views

What's the dimensionality of a solid angle?

I haven't seen this explained clearly anywhere. Solid angles are described usually as a fraction of the surface area of a unit sphere, similar to how angles are the fraction of the circumference of a ...
6
votes
1answer
319 views

Is Dyson Sphere a stable construction?

Suppose that a star is encompassed by a Dyson Sphere. Do we need a position control system for the Dyson Sphere to keep its origin always aligned with the center of the star? Will it stay aligned ...
6
votes
2answers
100 views

Why does the $L_2$ norm give the shortest path between 2 points?

Why not the $L_1$ or $L_3$ distances? Is there some deep reason why the universe (at least at human scales) looks pretty much Euclidean? Could we imagine a different universe where a different ...
6
votes
2answers
671 views

Prerequisites to start the study of noncommutative geometry in physics

What are prerequisites (in mathematics and physics), that one should know about for getting into use of ideas from noncommutative geometry in physics?
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Are there any naturally occurring perfect circles? [duplicate]

Given that $\pi$ is the irrational number that occurs with a perfect circle, and perfection is very difficult to achieve through chance or nature, I think that most circles are really ovals, and ...
6
votes
1answer
429 views

Why are fractal geometries useful for compact antenna design?

While most of what I've read about fractals has been dubious in nature, over the years, I keep hearing that these sorts of self-similar (or approximately self-similar) geometries are useful in the ...
6
votes
1answer
403 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
563 views

Is C60 really the “most spherical” fullerene?

In the late 80's and early 90's, Smalley and others made claims that the C60 fullerene bearing icosahedral symmetry was the most spherical molecule known, and perhaps the most spherical that could ...
5
votes
6answers
1k views

Do perfect spheres exist in nature?

Often in physics, Objects are approximated as spherical. However do any perfectly spherical objects actually exist in nature?
5
votes
4answers
659 views

How did “no prior geometry” father 50 years of confusion?

I've come across this quote attributed to Misner, Thorne & Wheeler from their book, Gravitation: Mathematics was not sufficiently refined in 1917 to cleave apart the demands for "no prior ...
5
votes
1answer
171 views

What's a geometric explanation for exponential-falloff fundamental forces?

Gravity and electromagnetism are inverse-square laws. This makes geometric sense -- if you build a spherical shell around a lamp then a shell with twice the radius has four times the surface area and ...
5
votes
2answers
364 views

Space-time geometry and metric

I am confused in one question in general relativity, why we can always express a space-time geometry only by metric. It means a metric, which is just about distance in tangent space, can tell us all ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

Gravitation is not force?

Einstein said that gravity can be looked at as curvature in space- time and not as a force that is acting between bodies. (Actually what Einstein said was that gravity was curvature in space-time and ...
5
votes
2answers
480 views

Is length/distance a vector?

I have heard that area is a vector quantity in 3 dimensions, e.g. this Phys.SE post, what about the length/distance? Since area is the product of two lengths, does this mean that length is also a ...
5
votes
1answer
105 views

Is there an upper bound on the gauge group rank in F-theory compactifications on CY 4-folds?

It is known that in F-theory compactifications on CY 4-folds one can get gauge groups with very large ranks. The largest single factor* gauge group for compact CY 4-folds I found in the literature is ...
5
votes
2answers
221 views

Is a semi-Euclidean space possible?

Does exists a geometry (3d for example) which is Euclidean in 2 dimensions (x and y coordinates) and non-Euclidean when the third dimension (z) is taken into account? In other words a space where it ...
5
votes
1answer
153 views

An astronaut and a vengeful pole

Imagine an astronaut floating in free-space with no significant nearby gravitational influences. The astronaut takes an arbitrarily thin pole of uniform density with length $l$ and mass $m$, orients ...
5
votes
1answer
79 views

Gravity on and inside a planet-sized bi-lobed body

Admittedly, for yet another science-fiction project Say I have a planet-like body shaped like a sphere with a torus subtracted out of it, leaving a sort of "apple core" shape. Firstly, is the ...
5
votes
1answer
222 views

Why is $S^1\times\mathbb{R}^{n-1}$ the topology of $AdS_n$?

Anti-de Sitter $AdS_n$ may be defined by the quadric $$-(x^0)^2-(x^1)^2+\vec{x}^2=-\alpha^2\tag{1}$$ embedded in ${\mathbb{R}^{2,n-1}}$, where I write ${\vec{x}^2}$ as the squared norm ${|\vec{x}|^2}$ ...
5
votes
2answers
289 views

Textbook on the Geometry of Special Relativity

I am looking for a textbook that treats the subject of Special Relativity from a geometric point of view, i.e. a textbook that introduces the theory right from the start in terms of 4-vectors and ...
5
votes
2answers
110 views

Which causal structures are absent from any “nice” patch of Minkowski space?

Which "causal separation structures" (or "interval structures") can not be found among the events in "any nice patch ($P$) of Minkowski space"?, where "causal separation structure" ($s$) should be ...
5
votes
0answers
32 views

Motivating Irreducibility of Hilbert Space for Quantization Axioms

In the context of geometric quantization, we usually look for a map from the Poisson algebra of classical observables to the algebra of quantum observables (or rather, a sub-algebra of the classical ...
4
votes
10answers
1k views

Is it possible for a physical object to have a irrational length?

Suppose I have a caliper that is infinitely precise. Also suppose that this caliper returns not a number, but rather whether the precise length is rational or irrational. If I were to use this ...
4
votes
2answers
640 views

Where do I start with Non-Euclidean Geometry?

I've been trying to grok General Relativity for a while now, and I've been having some trouble. Many physics textbooks gloss over the subject with an "it's too advanced for this medium", and many ...
4
votes
3answers
330 views

Calculating the Center of Mass

We have a homogeneous body that looks like this: I have tried dividing the body into different parts using the following definition: R g * A = R 1 * A 1 + ... R n * A n I was thinking I could ...
4
votes
2answers
197 views

Can Minkowski spacetime be redefined as a non-flat riemannian manifold?

Minkowski space time is defined in terms of a flat pseudo-Riemannian manifold. I have wondered if it can be redefined as Riamannian manifold and in the case what type of curvature would there appear. ...
4
votes
2answers
265 views

Can the electroweak/strong forces, and/or quantum mechanics be thought of as geometric?

Can the electroweak and strong forces be written as geometric theories? - Why and why not? Can quantum mechanics in general? For example, the Kaluza-Klein theory explains the electromagnetic field ...
4
votes
1answer
601 views

How is the equation of motion on an ellipse derived?

I would like to show that a particle orbiting another will follow the trajectory \begin{equation} r = \frac{a(1-e^2)}{1 + e \cos(\theta)}. \end{equation} I would like to do this with minimal ...
4
votes
1answer
190 views

Euclidean Geometry in Classical Thought - Realization or Representation?

First post! :] This has been bothering me for a while now: [Taken from John J. Roche's "The Mathematics of Measurement: A Critical History"] When physico-mathematicians in the seventeenth ...
4
votes
1answer
242 views

How would one calculate the amount of water contained in a cloud?

So I was looking out the sky one day and I wondered how I would go about calculating how much water was contained in a cloud. I figured the following simple outline 1) We need to roughly know how big ...
4
votes
1answer
286 views

Relativistic space-time geometry

What subject (suggest book titles, etc.) should I study to get a clear grasping of hypersurfaces, 2-surfaces, and integration on them, mostly in special relativity (I'm not messing with general ...
4
votes
2answers
127 views

What is the notion of a spatial angle in general relativity?

Is there a notion of spatial angles in general relativity? Example: The world line of a photon is given by $x^{\mu}(\lambda)$. Suppose it flies into my lab where I have a mirror. I align the mirror ...
4
votes
1answer
409 views

Problem in Youngs double slit experiment

This is from Young Double slit experiment. But How to prove the the two $\theta$ are equal, I meant, how $\angle EAD= \angle PEC$? I see from the both triangle have $90^0$ but what about others?
4
votes
1answer
126 views

How to assign coordinates to the elements of a flat metric space

Consider the metric space $(M, d \,)$ where set $M$ contains sufficiently many (at least five) distinct elements, and consider the assignment $c_f$ of coordinates to (the elements of) set $M$, $c_f ...
4
votes
1answer
144 views

Flat space metrics

This question concerns the metric of a flat space: $$ds^2=dr^2+cr^2\,\,d\theta^2$$ where $c$ is a constant. Why is it necessary to set $c=1$ to avoid singularities and to restrict $r\ge 0$? Thanks.