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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Is there such thing as imaginary time dilation?

When I was doing research on General Relativity, I found Einstein's equation for Gravitational Time Dilation. I discovered that when you plugged in a large enough value for $M$ (around $10^{19}$ ...
23
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4answers
1k 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 ...
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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 ...
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6answers
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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 ...
18
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4answers
895 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 ...
17
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4answers
817 views

Interpretation of a singular metric

I'm interested to find out if we can say anything useful about spacetime at the singularity in the FLRW metric that occurs at $t = 0$. If I understand correctly, the FLRW spacetime is a combination ...
16
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2answers
904 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 ...
15
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3answers
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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 ...
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3answers
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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 ...
15
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2answers
531 views

Stokes theorem in Lorentzian manifolds

I've fallen accross the following curious property (in p.10 of these lectures): in order to be able to apply Stokes theorem in Lorentzian manifolds, we must take normals to the boundary of the volume ...
14
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7answers
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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 ...
14
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1answer
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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 ...
13
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2answers
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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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4answers
353 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 ...
13
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1answer
572 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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2answers
821 views

How can we recover the Newtonian gravitational potential from the metric of general relativity?

The Newtonian description of gravity can be formulated in terms of a potential function $\phi$ whose partial derivatives give the acceleration: ...
11
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4answers
937 views

Coordinates vs. Geometries: How can we know two coordinate systems describe the same geometry?

Specifically, I'm asking this because I'm taking a class on General Relativity, and in Hartle's book Gravity, in Ch. 12, after having spent some time using Schwarzschild coordinates, we are introduced ...
11
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3answers
663 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 ...
11
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2answers
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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 ...
10
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4answers
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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 ...
10
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6answers
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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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2answers
868 views

Orbits around the Photon sphere of a black hole (Schwarzschild coordinates)

This is a follow-up question to the answer given at What is the exact gravitational force between two masses including relativistic effects?. Unfortunately the author hasn't been online for a few ...
10
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4answers
6k 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 ...
10
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4answers
970 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?
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3answers
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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
520 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
168 views

How do we know the Schwarzschild solution contains an object of mass $M$?

The Schwarzschild metric is $$ds^2 = - \left( 1 - \frac{2GM}{r} \right) dt^2 + \left(1-\frac{2GM}{r}\right)^{-1} dr^2 + r^2 d\Omega^2.$$ In Carroll's GR book, it is claimed that $M$ is the mass of the ...
9
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2answers
681 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
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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
419 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
200 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
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4answers
885 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 - ...
8
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4answers
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What spacelike, timelike and lightlike really mean?

Suppose we have two events $(x_1,y_1,z_1,t_1)$ and $(x_2,y_2,z_2,t_2)$, then we can define $$\Delta s^2 = -(c\Delta t)^2 + \Delta x^2 + \Delta y^2 + \Delta z^2$$ which is called the spacetime ...
8
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2answers
184 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 ...
8
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1answer
144 views

Acceleration of particle “held in place” at $x = 1$ [closed]

The metric components in a two-dimensional spacetime are given in terms of the coordinates $(t, x)$ by$$ds^2 = -\cosh x\,dt^2 + dx^2.$$Consider a particle that is "held in position" at $x = 1$. What ...
7
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2answers
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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
917 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
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2answers
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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 ...
7
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1answer
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How do I derive the Lorentz contraction from the invariant interval?

Reviewing some basic special relativity, and I stumbled upon this problem: From the definition of the proper time: $$c^2d\tau^2=c^2dt^2-dx^2$$ I was able to derive the time dilation formula by using ...
7
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3answers
224 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
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1answer
112 views

Gravity with more than one metric tensor

As weird as it sounds, yes, there are gravity theories with more than one metric tensor. This is called bimetric gravity. My question to those who have encountered bimetric gravity before: a) ...
6
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3answers
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D'Alembertian for a scalar field

I have read that the D'Alembertian for a scalar field is $$ \Box = g^{\nu\mu}\nabla_\nu\nabla_\mu = \frac{1}{\sqrt{-g}}\partial_\mu (\sqrt{-g}\partial^\mu). $$ Exactly when is this correct? Only for ...
6
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2answers
481 views

Lorentz invariance of the Minkowski metric

As far as I understand, one requires that in order for the scalar product between two vectors to be invariant under Lorentz transformations $x^{\mu}\rightarrow ...
6
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5answers
194 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
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3answers
644 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 ...
6
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3answers
394 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
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2answers
496 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
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2answers
288 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
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2answers
189 views

What manifold is spacetime?

In General Relativity, spacetime is a $4$-dimensional manifold with one Lorentzian metric tensor defined on it. In the Special Relativity case what manifold is spacetime is quite clear: it is ...
6
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1answer
252 views

Null geodesics in uniform gravitational field metric

I'm trying to understand the null geodesics in the metric: $$\mathrm{d}s^2 = -(1+gz)^2 \mathrm{d}t^2 + \mathrm{d}z^2 + \mathrm{d}x^2$$ In particular I'm wondering if the following intuition is ...