The variables used in general relativity to describe the shape of spacetime. If your question is about metric units, use the tag "units", and/or "si-units" if it is about the SI system specifically.

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17
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1answer
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Causality and how it fits in with relativity

I was talking to my teacher the other day about Einstein's spacetime and there's one thing he couldn't explain about the nature of Cause. I may be being stupid or just unable to comprehend, thanks for ...
16
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6answers
1k views

Proving that interval preserving transformations are linear

In almost all proofs I've seen of the Lorentz transformations one starts on the assumption that the required transformations are linear. I'm wondering if there is a way to prove the linearity: Prove ...
15
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4answers
849 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 ...
14
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3answers
648 views

What is meant when it is said that the universe is homogeneous and isotropic?

It is sometimes said that the universe is homogeneous and isotropic. What is meant by each of these descriptions? Are they mutually exclusive, or does one require the other? And what implications rise ...
14
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4answers
467 views

Lie derivative vs. covariant derivative in the context of Killing vectors

Let me start by saying that I understand the definitions of the Lie and covariant derivatives, and their fundamental differences (at least I think I do). However, when learning about Killing vectors I ...
13
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2answers
2k views

Why is spacetime not Riemannian?

I apologize if this is a naïve question. I'm a mathematician with, essentially, no upper-level physics knowledge. From the little I've read, it seems that spacetime is Lorentzian. Unfortunately, the ...
13
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1answer
515 views

What are the local covariant tensors one can form from the metric?

Normally in differential geometry, we assume that the only way to produce a tensorial quantity by differentiation is to (1) start with a tensor, and then (2) apply a covariant derivative (not a plain ...
12
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7answers
2k views

Quaternions and 4-vectors

I recently realised that quaternions could be used to write intervals or norms of vectors in special relativity: $$(t,ix,jy,kz)^2 = t^2 + (ix)^2 + (jy)^2 + (kz)^2 = t^2 - x^2 - y^2 - z^2$$ Is it ...
12
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4answers
253 views

Difference between matrix representations of tensors and $\delta^{i}_{j}$ and $\delta_{ij}$?

My question basically is, is Kronecker delta $\delta_{ij}$ or $\delta^{i}_{j}$. Many tensor calculus books (including the one which I use) state it to be the latter, whereas I have also read many ...
11
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4answers
5k views

Why is the covariant derivative of the metric tensor zero?

I've consulted several books for the explanation of why $$\nabla _{\mu}g_{\alpha \beta} = 0,$$ and hence derive the relation between metric tensor and affine connection $\Gamma ^{\sigma}_{\mu ...
11
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2answers
924 views

Symmetry of the $3\times 3$ Cauchy Stress Tensor

When presenting the stress tensor (say in a non-relativistic context), it is shown to be a tensor in the sense that it is a linear vector transformation: it operates on a vector $n$ (the normal to a ...
11
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3answers
558 views

Space is expanding so what is time doing? [duplicate]

Space is expanding and as we know space and time are intrinsically linked to be now known as spacetime. What is happening to time during expansion? Is there more time, longer time or is the time part ...
10
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6answers
2k views

Minkowski Metric Signature

When I learned about the Minkowski Space and it's coordinates, it was explained such that the metric turns out to be $$ ds^{2} = -(cdx^{0})^{2} +(dx^{1})^{2} + (dx^{2})^{2} + (dx^{3})^{2} $$ where $ ...
10
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4answers
706 views

Can a metric in General Relativity, Supergravity, String Theory, etc., be asymmetric?

Why is it that all problems I encountered until now have metrics that when represented in a matrix form turn out to be symmetric? Aren't there asymmetric matrices representing some metrics?
10
votes
3answers
762 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 $. ...
10
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1answer
454 views

Causal and Global structure of Penrose Diagrams

What kind of global and causal structures does a Penrose diagram reveal? How do I see (using a Penrose diagram) that two different spacetimes have a similar global and causal structure? Also, I ...
9
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4answers
2k views

Minkowski spacetime: Is there a signature (+,+,+,+)?

In history there was an attempt to reach (+, +, +, +) by replacing "ct" with "ict", still employed today in form of the "Wick rotation". Wick rotation supposes that time is imaginary. I wonder if ...
9
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4answers
2k views

Why is the space-time interval squared?

The space-time interval equation is this: $$\Delta s^2=\Delta x^2+\Delta y^2+\Delta z^2-(c\Delta t)^2$$ Where, $\Delta x, \Delta y, \Delta z$ and $\Delta t$ represent the distances along various ...
9
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1answer
631 views

How does the Hubble parameter change with the age of the universe?

How does the Hubble parameter change with the age of the universe? This question was posted recently, and I had almost finished writing an answer when the question was deleted. Since it's a shame to ...
9
votes
2answers
599 views

Does Kaluza-Klein Theory Require an Additional Scalar Field?

I've seen the Kaluza-Klein metric presented in two different ways., cf. Refs. 1 and 2. In one, there is a constant as well as an additional scalar field introduced: $$\tilde{g}_{AB}=\begin{pmatrix} ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Question about proper time in general relativity

I think I may have some fundamental misunderstanding about what $dt, dx$ are in general relativity. As I understand it, in special relativity, $ds^2=dt^2-dx^2$, we call this the length because it is ...
9
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1answer
367 views

Contracting Indices

Does anyone know how to get from (1) to (2) in the system $$ \begin{align} \mathrm{g}^{\mu\nu}_{,\rho}+ \mathrm{g}^{\sigma\nu}{{\Gamma}}^{\mu}_{\sigma\rho}+ ...
8
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3answers
170 views

Why doesn't $ds^2 = 0$ imply two distinct points $p$ and $p'$ on a manifold are the same point?

Let's suppose I have a spacetime manifold $M$. Let $p$ be a point on my manifold. Now I move from $p$ to some other point $p'$. Presumably I should have moved some "distance" right? How can I speak of ...
8
votes
4answers
611 views

How do you tell if a metric is curved?

I was reading up on the Kerr metric (from Sean Carroll's book) and something that he said confused me. To start with, the Kerr metric is pretty messy, but importantly, it contains two constants - ...
7
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2answers
927 views

Gödel's solutions to Einstein's relativity equations and their consequences

Gödel gave certain solutions to Einstein's relativity equations that involved a rotating universe or something unusual like that; that predicted stable wormholes could exist and therefore time travel, ...
7
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3answers
832 views

What is the radius of the event horizon?

I know that the Schwarzschild radius is given by $$r~=~\frac{2GM}{c^{2}}.\tag{1}$$ However, If we had the metric $$ds^2~=~−A(r,t)dt^2+\frac{dr^2}{B(r,t)}+r^2(dθ^2+\sin^2{θ}dϕ^2),\tag{2}$$ where ...
7
votes
3answers
201 views

Is every spacetime metric physically realizable?

Is every spacetime metric physically realizable? I know that given any spacetime metric, you could work out a stress-energy tensor for each position that would result in that metric. However, I also ...
7
votes
2answers
127 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
5answers
163 views

Is $ds^2$ just a number or is it actually a quantity squared?

I originally thought $ds^2$ was the square of some number we call the spacetime interval. I thought this because Taylor and Wheeler treat it like the square of a quantity in their book Spacetime ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Infinitesimal Lorentz transformation is antisymmetric

The Minkowski metric transforms under Lorentz transformations as \begin{align*}\eta_{\rho\sigma} = \eta_{\mu\nu}\Lambda^\mu_{\ \ \ \rho} \Lambda^\nu_{\ \ \ \sigma} \end{align*} I want to show that ...
6
votes
3answers
376 views

Einstein tensor in Friedmann equations : where is the missing $c^2$?

I would like to demonstrate the several forms of the Friedmann equations WITH the $c^2$ factors. Everything is fine ... apart that I have a missing $c^2$ factor somewhere. In all the following $\rho$ ...
6
votes
2answers
418 views

Conformal transformation equation

I am currently reading Kiritsis's string theory book, and something bugs in the CFT (fourth) chapter. He derives the equation that should satisfy an infinitesimal conformal transformation $$x^{\mu} ...
6
votes
2answers
251 views

What's the basic premise of General Relativity?

What is the basic assumption(s) required to explore general relativity? For example, if one merely assumes that the speed of light $c$ is the same for all observers, and the laws of physics are the ...
6
votes
1answer
594 views

energy momentum tensor and covariant derivative

In field theory, the energy momentum defined as the functional derivative wrt the metric $T_{\mu\nu}=\frac{2}{\sqrt{-g}}\frac{\delta S}{\delta g^{\mu\nu}}$ (up to a sign depending on ...
6
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0answers
100 views

Can some components of metric be Finslerian while the others be Riemannian?

A Finsler metric reduces to a Riemann metric in case it loses its dependence on velocities. Now, my question is this: Can we have a Finsler metric in which some components of the metric have velocity ...
5
votes
1answer
609 views

Step by step algorithm to solve Einstein's equations

I cannot completely understand what is a regular method to solve Einstein's equations in GR when there are no handy hints like spherical symmetry or time-independence. E.g. how can one derive ...
5
votes
4answers
702 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
2answers
165 views

Metric tensor in SRT

I just read on this webpage that we have (click me) $g_{\alpha \beta} = g_{\alpha}^{\beta} = g^{\alpha \beta}.$ Now, although I understand that the first and the last one are equal, I don't think ...
5
votes
3answers
420 views

Why does Minkowski space provide an accurate description of flat spacetime?

What is the chain of reasoning (beginning, of course, from observations about the universe) that leads one to predict that Minkowski space provides an accurate description of space-time in the ...
5
votes
1answer
137 views

Are third derivatives of metric perturbations zero?

I'm working on a problem related to fluid perturbations of stars. I'm following this paper. They start with the Einstein equation: $$G_{\alpha \beta} = 8 \pi G T_{\alpha \beta}$$ and then perturb the ...
5
votes
1answer
435 views

When a variation of a tensor is not a tensor?

In a comment about variation of metric tensor it was shown that $$\delta g_{\mu\nu}=-g_{\mu\rho}g_{\nu\,\sigma}\delta g^{\rho\,\sigma}$$ which is contrary to the usual rule of lowering indeces of a ...
5
votes
1answer
131 views

Curved paths through spacetime when standing still?

I have heard that falling objects fall at the same rate irrespective of their mass. They are 'following straight line paths through curved spacetime'. Does this mean that objects that accelerate in ...
5
votes
1answer
106 views

Symmetries of AdS$_3$, $SO(2,2)$ and $SL(2,\mathbb{R})\times SL(2,\mathbb{R})$

Basically, I want to know how one can see the $SL(2,\mathbb{R})\times SL(2,\mathbb{R})$ symmetry of AdS$_3$ explicitly. AdS$_3$ can be defined as hyperboloid in $\mathbb{R}^{2,2}$ as $$ ...
5
votes
2answers
239 views

Intervals as infinitesimals of same order (Landau & Lifshitz)

I don't understand the following statement in Landau & Lifshitz, Classical Theory of Fields, p.5: $ds$ and $ds'$ are infinitesimals of same order. [...] It follows that $ds^2$ and $ds'^2$ must ...
5
votes
1answer
164 views

Extent of coordinate freedom to set metric components along a spacetime path

If we describe spacetime with a Lorentzian manifold, it is always possible to choose a coordinate system such that at any particular point $x^\alpha$, the components of the metric are: $$ ...
5
votes
1answer
115 views

How is the Lagrangian defined in GR?

Reading about the Schwarzschild metric in general relativity I see that sometimes $$L=g_{\mu\nu}\dot{x}^{\mu}\dot{x}^{\nu}$$ and sometimes $$L=\sqrt{g_{\mu\nu}\dot{x}^{\mu}\dot{x}^{\nu}}.$$ Which is ...
5
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0answers
204 views

Penrose diagram for spacetime which flows to $AdS_{2}$ at infinity

Consider I have the following 2 dimensional spacetime $(t,z)$: $$ds^2=\frac{4}{z^{2}}\left(1+\frac{1}{z}\right)^{-1}(-dt^{2}+dz^{2}).\tag{1}$$ When $z\rightarrow \infty$ we have ...
5
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0answers
136 views

Is it correct to sum over either index of the metric the same way?

I don't know if the following is correct, i want to compute the following derivative $$\frac{\partial }{\partial (\partial_{\mu}A_{\nu})}\left(\partial^{\alpha}A^{\beta}\partial_{\alpha}A_{\beta} ...
4
votes
3answers
505 views

Why is the scalar product of four-velocity with itself -1?

My GR book Hartle says the scalar product of four-velocity with itself $-1$? Consider the definition of four velocity $\mathbf{u} = \frac{dx^{\alpha}}{d\tau}$. Suppose I take the scalar product of ...
4
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3answers
129 views

Is there a way to see that $ \nabla_\mu g_{\nu \rho} = 0 $ without explicit computation, where $\nabla_\mu$ refers to the covariant derivative?

In books, it is usually said that this is a consequence of the fact that parallel transport preserves dot product. How ?