DO NOT USE THIS TAG just because your question involves math! If your question is on simplification of a mathematical expression, please ask it at math.stackexchange.com The mathematics tag covers non-applied pure mathematical disciplines that are traditionally not part of the mathematical physics ...

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2answers
1k views

What is the covariant derivative in mathematician's language?

In mathematics, we talk about tangent vectors and cotangent vectors on a manifold at each point, and vector fields and cotangent vector fields (also known as differential one-forms). When we talk ...
6
votes
2answers
661 views

How important is mathematical proof in physics?

How important are proofs in physics? If something is mathematically proven to follow from something we know is true, does it still require experimental verification? Are there examples of things that ...
6
votes
1answer
107 views

Determining the Hodge numbers of some orbifold examples

I'm currently reading about complex geometry in order to get a feeling of how to determine the Hodge numbers, e.g. of certain orbifold constructions. Since I'm a physicist with no deeper mathematical ...
6
votes
2answers
791 views

Book covering Topology required for physics and applications

I am a physics undergrad, and interested to learn Topology so far as it has use in Physics. Currently I am trying to study Topological solitons but bogged down by some topological concepts. I am not ...
6
votes
1answer
523 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
2k views

How is gradient the maximum rate of change of a function?

Recently I read a book which described about gradient. It says $${\rm d}T~=~ \nabla T \cdot {\rm d}{\bf r},$$ and suddenly they concluded that $\nabla T$ is the maximum rate of change of $f(T)$ ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

How do you do an integral involving the derivative of a delta function?

I got an integral in solving Schrodinger equation with delta function potential. It looks like $$\int \frac{y(x)}{x} \frac{\mathrm{d}\delta(x-x_0)}{\mathrm{d}x}$$ I'm trying to solve this by ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

How deep can my knowledge of particle physics go without the maths?

By no means do I have the mathematical background to understand most of the math used in elementary particle physics. My current knowledge is of all the elementary particles and how they interact ...
5
votes
4answers
174 views

Kähler and complex manifolds

I was woundering if anyone knows any good references about Kähler and complex manifolds? I'm studying supergravity theories and for the simplest $\mathcal{N}=1$ supergravity we'll get these. Now in ...
5
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2answers
216 views

Integer physics

Are there interesting (aspects of) problems in modern physics that can be expressed solely in terms of integer numbers? Bonus points for quantum mechanics.
5
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1answer
114 views

Where and how exactly does string theory and Q.E.D. use zeta function regularization?

In the video they mention it being used in many fields of physics inclusing String and QED theory. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-I6XTVZXww But I remember reading somewhere that 1+2+3..=-1/12 is ...
5
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3answers
1k views

What is a antiunitary operator?

In field theory one can define a time reversal operator T such that $T^{-1} \phi (x) T = \phi (\mathcal T x)$. It is then proved that T must be antiunitary: $T^{-1} i T = -i$. How is this equation ...
5
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2answers
221 views

Is there a physical motivation to study finite fields?

Clearly finite groups are of immense value in physics and these are also substructures of fields. However I never came across any computations involving finite fields at university and so I never ...
5
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0answers
495 views

Good theoretical physics introduction for 6 year old very advanced in math? [duplicate]

I think now is a good time to introduce my son to theoretical physics. He asks so many questions about the universe, black holes, gravity, atoms, molecules, light, etc. He's borderline obsessed with ...
4
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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
1answer
1k views

Uniqueness of Helmholtz decomposition?

Helmholtz theorem states that given a smooth vector field $\pmb{H}$, there are a scalar field $\phi$ and a vector field $\pmb{G}$ such that $$\pmb{H}=\pmb{\nabla} \phi +\pmb{\nabla} \times \pmb{G},$$ ...
4
votes
3answers
728 views

Direct Sum of Hilbert spaces

I am a physicist who is not that well-versed in mathematical rigour (a shame, I know! But I'm working on it.) In Wald's book on QFT in Curved spacetimes, I found the following definitions of the ...
4
votes
2answers
425 views

Normalization of the path integral

When one defines the path integral propagator, there is the need to normalize the propagator (since it would give you a probability density). There are two formulas which are used. 1) Original ...
4
votes
2answers
351 views

Sum total distance of electrons on a spherical surface

What is the sum total distance between every possible pair of point charges when there are n point charges on a spherical surface? All point charges can only and are located on the infinitesimal ...
4
votes
2answers
280 views

Combinatorial sum in a problem with a Fermi gas

I'm solving a problem involving a Fermi gas. There is a specific sum I cannot figure my way around. A set of equidistant levels, indexed by $m=0,1,2 \ldots$, is populated by spinless fermions with ...
4
votes
2answers
308 views

Are gauge choices in electrodynamics really always possible?

If $B$ is magnetic field and $E$ electric Field, then $$B=\nabla\times A,$$ $$E= -\nabla V+\frac{\partial A}{\partial t}.$$ There is Gauge invariance for the trnasformation $$A'\rightarrow ...
4
votes
1answer
269 views

What areas of physics depend on the sum $1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6+ 7+\ldots= -1/12$? [duplicate]

This youtube video from Numberphile, http://youtu.be/w-I6XTVZXww shows how the value is derived. In the video, one interviewee claims that "this result is used in many areas of physics". In the ...
4
votes
1answer
312 views

Differentiating inside an integral sign

I'm reading John Taylor's Classical Mechanics book and I'm at the part where he's deriving the Euler-Lagrange equation. Here is the part of the derivation that I didn't follow: I don't get how ...
4
votes
2answers
368 views

Quantum Mechanics in terms of *-algebras

I'm currently trying to find my way into the geometric description of Quantum Mechanics. I therefor started reading: Geometry of state spaces. In: Entanglement and Decoherence (A. Buchleitner et ...
4
votes
3answers
363 views

shifting from mathematics to physics

I am a postgraduate in mathematics. I studied physics during my B.Sc.studies.I want to go for further studies in physics particularly in theoretical physics. I am in a job and cant afford regular ...
4
votes
2answers
385 views

Why model space with real numbers?

Are there any good papers discussing why we use $\mathbb{R}^{3}$as a model for space? More specifically are there any that explain why we don't use other number systems such as extensions of the real ...
4
votes
1answer
113 views

Which is the role of Algebraic Geometry in String Theory? [closed]

Could someone sketch me what algebraic geometry has to do with string theory? Are there other mathematical disciplines that are interwoven with string theory? I'm aware of a similar question on ...
4
votes
1answer
160 views

Did Maxwell invent the math to describe the ideas of electromagnetism?

Did he invent surface and line integrals, or did they already exist when he formulated his equations. If they did, already exist, how did they come about in pure math?
4
votes
1answer
89 views

Metric of a manifold foliated by maximally symmetric submanifold

I am reading the last chapter (Schwarzchild solution and Black Holes) of Sean Caroll's GR notes (http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9712019). While talking about spherical symmetry, he says how the ...
4
votes
2answers
493 views

Existence and uniqueness of solutions for Einstein equations

Now that an equivalence of Navier Stokes and Einstein equations has been established, and it is known solutions to Einstein-Maxwell-Boltzmann exist and are unique, and it is known that Einstein ...
4
votes
1answer
618 views

Boundary conditions for Couette flow

I'm trying to reproduce a result from a paper (T. Thatcher, Boundary Conditions for Grad's 13 moment equations, equation (32), page 6), however, I haven't been able to do so. Hopefully someone can ...
4
votes
1answer
154 views

Does nature tetrate?

We see addition, multiplication and exponentiation in the natural formulae that make up physics. However, do we ever see tetration (repeated exponentiation) or higher hyper-operators in nature? ...
4
votes
1answer
150 views

The use of Hall algebras in physics

I asked the same question in mo. I think maybe here there are more physics guys to help me. I once read a statement (not memorized precisely) that a certain physics quantity between two states of ...
3
votes
7answers
791 views

For a theoretical (not mathematical) physicist, is there a need to learn pure mathematics?

For a theoretical physicist (not a mathematical physicist), is there a need to learn pure mathematics ?
3
votes
4answers
3k views

How many digits of Pi are required in physics?

In other words: which physics experiment requires to know Pi with the highest precision?
3
votes
4answers
571 views

Generalized functions in physics

Prior to the Dirac delta function, what other distributions functions where physicists using? I find it hard to motivate the theory of generalized functions with just the delta function alone.
3
votes
4answers
314 views

How do I go from exponents to a formula?

This is a continuation of this question. http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-01-physics-i-classical-mechanics-fall-1999/video-lectures/lecture-1/ skip this lecture to around 25:50. After doing ...
3
votes
2answers
233 views

Finite velocity at infinite distance

If an object were launched exactly at escape velocity it would have zero velocity at infinity. But what if we launch an identical objects at greater than escape velocity? Apparently it will have a ...
3
votes
1answer
193 views

Etale bundles and sheaves

Before answering, please see our policy on resource recommendation questions. Please try to give substantial answers that detail the style, content, and prerequisites of the book or paper (or ...
3
votes
4answers
698 views

Topology needed for Differential Geometry [duplicate]

I am a physics undergrad, and need to study differential geometry ASAP to supplement my studies on solitons and instantons. How much topology do I need to know. I know some basic concepts reading from ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is the angle of a pendulum as a function of time a sine wave?

OK so I'm trying to understand why the angle of a pendulum as a function of time is a sine wave. I can't really find an explanation online and when I do find something partial there are certain ...
3
votes
2answers
151 views

Infinitesimal input, macroscopic output

I must admit that I never got well how physicists handle infinitesimal quantities, mainly because of my education as a mathematician. So the following lines (taken from the preface of Berezin and ...
3
votes
2answers
129 views

Expanding two-variable function $f(x,y)$ over the complete sets $\{ g_{i}(x) \}$ and $\{ h_{j}(y) \}$

Quite often (see, for example, this PDF, 50 KB) when discussing the Born-Oppenheimer approximation the following assertion is made: any well-behaved function of two independent variables $f(x,y)$ can ...
3
votes
1answer
87 views

References on $C^{*}$-algerbas, $W^{*}$-algebras and Quantum Theories

I would like to know some references regarding $C^{*}$ and $W^{*}$-algebras and quantum theories. I'm interested in concrete physical applications, models and problems. Here it is the list of ...
3
votes
2answers
141 views

In what way are the Mathematical universe hypothesis and A New Kind of Science connected

The Mathematical universe hypothesis, mainly by Max Tegmark and A new Kind of Science, mainly by Stephen Wolfram both claim (as least as I understand it) that at its innermost core reality is ...
3
votes
2answers
342 views

(Co)homology of the universe

In this post let $U$ be the universe considered as a manifold. From what I gather we don't really have any firm evidence whether the universe is closed or open. The evidence seems to point towards it ...
3
votes
1answer
302 views

Mathematical definitions in string theory

Does anyone know of a book that has mathematical definitions of a string, a $p$-brane, a $D$-brane and other related topics. All the books I have looked at don't have a precise definition and this is ...
3
votes
1answer
328 views

How do I find the tensor components of all weights of a representation of $SU(3)$, e.g. the six dimensional representation $(2,0)$?

How do I find the corresponding tensor component $v^{ij}$ of the six dimensional representation of $SU(3)$ with Dynkin label $(2,0)$?
3
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2answers
393 views

What are some interesting calculus of variation problems? [closed]

That I could create as a classical mechanics class project? Other than the classical examples that we see in textbooks (catenary, brachistochrone, Fermat, etc..)
3
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2answers
189 views

An integral related to QFT

How to show $$\displaystyle\int\int\int f(p,p')e^{ip\cdot x-ip'\cdot x}d^3pd^3p'd^3x=(2\pi)^3\int f(p,p)d^3p$$ ? I have $p\cdot x=Et-\bf p\cdot x$