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20
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the physical meaning of the connection and the curvature tensor?

Regarding general relativity: What is the physical meaning of the Christoffel symbol ($\Gamma^i_{\ jk}$)? What are the (preferably physical) differences between the Riemann curvature tensor ($R^i_{\ ...
17
votes
4answers
4k views

Are matrices and second rank tensors the same thing?

Tensors are mathematical objects that are needed in physics to define certain quantities. I have a couple of questions regarding them that need to be clarified: 1-Are matrices and second rank tensors ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

Irreducible tensors concept

This might be a little naive question, but I am having difficulty grasping the concept of irreducible tensors. Particularly, why do we decompose tensors into symmetric and anti-symmetric parts? I have ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

History of Electromagnetic Field Tensor

I'm curious to learn how people discovered that electric and magnetic fields could be nicely put into one simple tensor. It's clear that the tensor provides many beautiful simplifications to the ...
12
votes
7answers
691 views

Is it foolish to distinguish between covariant and contravariant vectors?

A vector space is a set whose elements satisfy certain axioms. Now there are physical entities that satisfy these properties, which may not be arrows. A co-ordinate transformation is linear map from a ...
11
votes
2answers
724 views

Can any rank tensor be decomposed into symmetric and anti-symmetric parts?

I know that rank 2 tensors can be decomposed as such. But I would like to know if this is possible for any rank tensors?
9
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

What does the dual of a tensor mean (e.g. dual stress tensor in relativistic ED)?

I know what the dual of a vector means (as a map to its field), and I am also aware of of the definition a dual of a tensor as, $$F^{*ij} = \frac{1}{2} \epsilon^{ijkl} F_{kl}\tag{1}$$ I just don't ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

What is a tensor?

I have a pretty good knowledge of physics but couldn't understand what a tensor is. I just couldn't understand it, and the wiki page is very hard to understand as well. Can someone refer me to a good ...
8
votes
3answers
379 views

How to prove the covariant derivative cannot be written as an eigendecomposition of the partial derivative?

The Question How does one prove that Rindler's definition of the covariant derivative of a covariant vector field $\lambda_a$ as \begin{align} \lambda_{a;c} = \lambda_{a,c} - \Gamma^{b}_{\ \ ca} ...
8
votes
2answers
268 views

Mixed symmetrization and antisymmetrization / Combinatorics

I have the following sum of 10 terms: $$ \delta^{ab}f^{cde} + \delta^{ac}f^{bde} + \delta^{ad}f^{bce} + \delta^{ae}f^{bcd} + \delta^{bc}f^{ade} + \delta^{bd}f^{ace} + \delta^{be}f^{acd} + ...
6
votes
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
122 views

Torsion and gauge invariant EM kinetic term

Everytime I hear about adding torsion to GR, something struggles me: how do you create a kinetic term for the electromagnetic field that is still gauge-invariant? One of the consequences of torsion is ...
6
votes
2answers
240 views

Is there any physics behind covariance and contravariance of indices of tensors?

Is there any physics behind covariance and contravariance (up and down) of indices of tensors?
6
votes
4answers
603 views

Are covariant vectors representable as row vectors and contravariant as column vectors

I would like to know what are the range of validity of the following statement: Covariant vectors are representable as row vectors. Contravariant vectors are representable as column vectors. ...
6
votes
3answers
189 views

Resources showing how to use differential forms in Physics

I've been learning for a while about multivectors and forms and how they simplify many things that in simple vector calculus seems to be complicated. The only problem until now is that differently ...
5
votes
3answers
187 views

Error in books of conformal field theory?

If you look at the book Conformal Field Theory (by Philippe Francesco, Pierre Mathieu and David Senechal) or the lecture notes Applied Conformal Field Theory (by Paul Ginsparg), and many other places: ...
4
votes
2answers
171 views

Difference between slanted indices on a tensor

In my class, there is no distinction made between, $$ C_{ab}{}^{b} $$ and $$ C^{b}{}_{ab}. $$ All I know, and read about so far, is the distinction of covariant and contravariant, form/vector, etc. ...
4
votes
5answers
360 views

Why define four-vectors to be quantities that transform only like the position vector transforms?

A four-vector is defined to be a four component quantity $A^\nu$ which transforms under a Lorentz transformation as $A^{\mu'} = L_\nu^{\mu'} A^\nu$, where $L_\nu^{\mu'}$ is the Lorentz transformation ...
4
votes
1answer
852 views

Covariant derivative and Leibniz rule

I read the Wikipedia page about the covariant derivative, my main problem is in this part: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covariant_derivative#Coordinate_description Some of the formulas seem to lead ...
4
votes
1answer
216 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
71 views

Spatial and polarizing beam splitters in a graphical calculus

Suppose I have four wires, and I tensor product them together $A \otimes B \otimes C \otimes D$ I pass $A \otimes B$ through a spatial beam splitter $Spl: A \otimes B \rightarrow A^\prime \otimes ...
4
votes
0answers
89 views

Tensor fields and vector bundles [migrated]

Let $M$ be a differentiable manifold, $TM$ and $T^*M$ a tangent and cotangent bundle of $M$ and let $\Gamma (TM),\ \Gamma (T^*M)$ be spaces of smooth sections of $TM$ and $T^*M$. Let $T_s^r (M)$ ...
3
votes
2answers
138 views

Partial Differentiation of a Tensor

I have doubts in the statement that the partial or ordinary differentiation of tensor is not a tensor. The argument for this is that the partial differentiation of the tensor involves evaluating the ...
3
votes
1answer
163 views

Sign crazyness on the stress energy tensor?

I would like to know on what depends the sign of the stress energy tensor in the following formula : $T_{\mu\nu}=\pm(\rho c^2+P)u_{\mu}u_{\nu} \pm P g_{\mu\nu}$ In my case the metric is equal to ...
3
votes
2answers
166 views

Differential Forms and Densities

I've heard that differential forms are related to densities, however I'm still a little confused about that. I thought on the case of charge density and I came to that: let $U\subset\mathbb{R}^3$ be a ...
3
votes
2answers
180 views

The signature of the metric and the definition of the electromagnetic tensor

I've read the definition of the electromagnetic field tensor to be ...
3
votes
2answers
439 views

What is the mathematical formulation for buckling?

Argument: Buckling is an engineering concept that can only be applied to thin columns with compressive loading. (Is it possible to) Prove the above sentence right or wrong with mathematical ...
3
votes
1answer
316 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
388 views

Derivation of the volume element (which uses the metric tensor)?

I have often seen $\sqrt{-g}$ in integrals, especially actions, where $g=\mathrm{det}(g_{\mu \nu})$. Does anyone know of a derivation that shows that this is indeed the volume element which must be ...
3
votes
1answer
161 views

Riemann tensor notation and Christoffel symbol notation

In paper by Barnich and Brandt Covariant theory of asymptotic symmetries, conservation laws and central charges they defined the Riemann tensor like this: $$R_{\rho\mu\nu}^{\quad \ \ ...
3
votes
0answers
345 views

I lost a factor of two in the electromagnetic field tensor

I apologize for this simple question, but I lost a factor of 2 and can't find it anymore, so now I'm looking on the internet, perhaps one of you has some information about its whereabouts. :-) ...
2
votes
1answer
126 views

Question from Schutz's

In q. 22 in page 141, I am asked to show that if $U^{\alpha}\nabla_{\alpha} V^{\beta} = W^{\beta}$, then $U^{\alpha}\nabla_{\alpha}V_{\beta}=W_{\beta}$. Here's what I have done: $V_{\beta}=g_{\beta ...
2
votes
2answers
124 views

Bracket Notation on Tensor Indices

I know about the () symmetrisation and [] anti-symmetrisation brackets on tensor indices so long as they appear on their own, such as : $$V_{[\alpha \beta ]}=\frac{1}{2}\left ( V_{\alpha \beta ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

Question on index notation and metric tensor

I found this expression in my SR notes: $$ (\Lambda^{-1})^{\lambda}_{\ \ \ \sigma} = g^{\lambda\mu}~\Lambda^{\rho}_{\ \ \ \mu} ~g_{\rho\sigma} = \Lambda_\sigma^{\ \ \ \lambda}$$ I know where it ...
2
votes
1answer
100 views

Hypersurface Normal

Could anyone explain why $$n^{a}n_{a}=\pm1$$ where $n^{a}$ is the normal to the hypersurface
2
votes
3answers
183 views

On Einstein notation with multiple indices

On Einstein notation with multiple indices: For example, consider the expression: $$a^{ij} b_{ij}.$$ Does the notation signify, $$a^{00} b_{00} + a^{01} b_{01} + a^{02} b_{02} + ... $$ i.e. you ...
2
votes
1answer
347 views

Deriving an equation involving Killing vectors

I'm currently studying Carroll's GR book Spacetime & Geometry, and ran into some trouble understanding the text. When discussing Killing vectors, Carroll mentions that one can derive ...
2
votes
1answer
135 views

Are there any clear and expressive plainword sense of metric tensor components?

Can the following groups of components of metric tensor can assigned a clear sense? https://docs.google.com/drawings/pub?id=1kVqkN1gT-a2fDy2S851l9iQKaMfaatCDo517OSZBHEo&w=467&h=228 I have ...
2
votes
4answers
272 views

General relativity in terms of differential forms

Is there a formulation of general relativity in terms of differential forms instead of tensors with indexs and subindexs? If yes, where can I find it and what are the advantages of each method? If ...
2
votes
1answer
896 views

Stress energy tensor of a perfect fluid and four-velocity

In the following demonstration, there is an error, but I cannot find where. (I explicitely put the $c^2$ to keep track of units). We consider a metric $g_{\mu\nu}$ with a signature $(-, +, +, +)$ : ...
2
votes
2answers
135 views

Recovering 4-vector Lorentz transformation from spinor formalism

I'm trying to recover the 4-vector transformation laws using spinors. I have defined $$v^{\dot{a}b} = v^{\nu} \sigma_{\nu}^{\dot{a}b}$$ as usual, with $\sigma_0=1$. Now with the rules for dotted ...
2
votes
1answer
250 views

Check it the Killing vectors satisfy Killing equation or not

I am going through Kerr/CFT correspondence paper again, and I am at the section where authors specify Killing vectors for near horizon extreme Kerr metric (shortly NHEK). The metric is ...
2
votes
1answer
346 views

Ricci identity/Riemann curvature tensor and covectors

Can somebody please explain to me how the following statement is true? The Riemann curvature tensor $R^c_{dab}$ is given by the Ricci identity $$(\nabla_a\nabla_b-\nabla_b\nabla_a)V^c\equiv ...
2
votes
1answer
84 views

Non-diagonal elements when switching metric signature?

Considering a metric tensor with the signature $(-,+,+,+)$: $g_{\mu\nu}= \begin{pmatrix} -c^2 & g_{01} & g_{02} & g_{03}\\ g_{10} & a^2 & g_{12} & g_{13}\\ g_{20} & g_{21} ...
2
votes
1answer
257 views

Tensor Introduction

I have recently started learning about tensors during my course on Special Relativity. I am struggling to gain an intuitive idea for invariant, contravariant and covariant quantities. In my book, ...
2
votes
1answer
80 views

Stress energy tensor and the covariant derivative of the 4-momentum

Another basic question. I have usually seen the stress energy tensor $T^{ij}$ described as the flow of the 4-momentum field $p^i$ along direction $x^j$ in spacetime with $p^0$ as energy and $x^0$ as ...
2
votes
1answer
246 views

Is there symmetry in 2d stress tensor in linear elastic fracture mechanics?

Assumptions: Cross terms in strain tensor are defined as equal $\varepsilon_{xy} = \varepsilon_{yx}$. pure mode I crack. Far from crack tip, material is purely elastic and we are way below yield ...
2
votes
0answers
42 views

Epsilon Tensor in FeynCalc

A few days ago I started to use the Mathematica package FeynCalc and one thing confuses me: Assume we have a four-vector $p_\mu$ and we contract it with the epsilon tensor. FeynCalc produces ...
2
votes
0answers
67 views

Can the two electromagnetic field tensors be combined into a more general tensor?

Given the electromagnetic field tensor $$\begin{align} F_{\mu\nu} = \begin{pmatrix} 0 & -E_{x} & -E_{y} & -E_{z} \\ E_{x} & 0 & B_{z} & -B_{y} \\ E_{y} & -B_{z} & 0 ...