The tag has no wiki summary.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

20
votes
4answers
1k views

Why do Maxwell's equations contain each of a scalar, vector, pseudovector and pseudoscalar equation?

Maxwell's equations, in differential form, are $$\left\{\begin{align} \vec\nabla\cdot\vec{E}&=~\rho/\epsilon_0,\\ \vec\nabla\times\vec B~&=~\mu_0\vec J+\epsilon_0\mu_0\frac{\partial\vec ...
20
votes
7answers
1k views

Tensor Operators

Motivation. I was recently reviewing the section 3.10 in Sakurai's quantum mechanics in which he discusses tensor operators, and I was left desiring a more mathematically general/precise discussion. ...
17
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
654 views

How to tell that the electromagnetic field tensor transforms as a tensor?

Is any matrix a tensor in special relativity? My question is inspired by the definition of the electromagnetic field tensor in Carroll's Spacetime and Geometry book. In equation (1.69), he defines a ...
16
votes
2answers
403 views

In relativity, can/should every measurement be reduced to measuring a scalar?

Different authors seem to attach different levels of importance to keeping track of the exact tensor valences of various physical quantities. In the strict-Catholic-school-nun camp, we have Burke ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

Mathematically, what is color charge?

A similar question was asked here, but the answer didn't address the following, at least not in a way that I could understand. Electric charge is simple - it's just a real scalar quantity. Ignoring ...
14
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is stress a tensor quantity?

Why is stress a tensor quantity? Why is pressure not a tensor? According to what I know pressure is an internal force whereas stress is external so how are both quantities not tensors? I am ...
13
votes
1answer
512 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
votes
4answers
508 views

Is the concept of tensor rank useful in physics?

The term 'tensor rank' is sporadically used in the mathematical literature to denote the minimum number of simple terms (i.e. tensor products of vectors) needed to express the tensor. This is ...
12
votes
4answers
248 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
747 views

Introduction to spinors in physics, and their relation to representations

First, I shall say that I am familiar with the intuitive idea that a spinor is like a vector (or tensor) that only transforms "up to a sign" when acted on by the rotation group. I have even rotated a ...
12
votes
3answers
562 views

Is force a contravariant vector or a covariant vector (or either)?

I don't understand whether something physical, like velocity for example, has a single correct classification as either a contravariant vector or a covariant vector. I have seen texts indicate that ...
11
votes
4answers
570 views

Is partial derivative a vector or dual vector?

The textbook(Introduction to the Classical Theory of Particles and Fields, by Boris Kosyakov) defines a hypersurface by $$F(x)~=~c,$$ where $F\in C^\infty[\mathbb M_4,\mathbb R]$. Differentiating ...
11
votes
7answers
280 views

How can a set of components fail to make up a vector?

Many books in Physics insist to define vectors are objects with components with the property that the components transform in a proper way under a change of coordinates. Now, in mathematics, on the ...
11
votes
2answers
918 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
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the difference between a spinor and a vector or a tensor?

Why do we call a 1/2 spin particle satisfying the Dirac equation a spinor, and not a vector or a tensor?
10
votes
5answers
489 views

Motivation for tensor product in Physics

This question is about a mathematical object (the tensor product) but thinking about the motivation that comes from Physics. Algebraists motivate the tensor product like that: "given $k$ vector spaces ...
10
votes
2answers
191 views

Inverting the equation for $T_{\mu\nu}$ in terms of $F_{\mu\nu}$

The Stress-Energy Tensor for electromagnetism is given by: $$ T_{\mu \nu} = F_{\mu}\,^{\alpha}F_{\nu\alpha}-\frac{1}{4}g_{\mu\nu}F_{\alpha\beta}F^{\alpha\beta} $$ How can I find $F_{\mu\nu}$ in ...
9
votes
1answer
131 views

Group notation $\otimes$ and $\oplus$ used for representations of quarks and mesons

I've been trying to figure out this statement from the PDG quark model summary (PDF). Following $\mathrm{SU}(3)$, the nine possible $q\bar{q}′$ combinations containing the light $u$, $d$, and $s$ ...
9
votes
2answers
214 views

If $v_{a \dot{b}}$ transforms like a four-vector, what does $v_{a}^{\dot{b}}$ describe?

The $( \frac{1}{2}, 0)$ representation of the Lorentz group acts on left-chiral spinors $\chi_a$, the $( 0,\frac{1}{2} )$ representation on right-chiral spinors $\chi^{\dot a}$. The $( \frac{1}{2}, ...
9
votes
1answer
365 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
votes
3answers
834 views

Covariant and contravariant vectors

Reading Weinberg's Gravitation and Cosmology, I came across the sentence (p.115, above equation (4.11.8)) The partial derivative operator $\partial/\partial x^\mu$ is a covariant vector, or in ...
8
votes
1answer
903 views

Diffeomorphisms, Isometries And General Relativity

Apologies if this question is too naive, but it strikes at the heart of something that's been bothering me for a while. Under a diffeomorphism $\phi$ we can push forward an arbitrary tensor field $F$ ...
8
votes
1answer
140 views

What does Ricci tensor do with two vectors?

I have found it easier to understand the meaning of a particular tensor if I can find out what does it do if I cancel all its lower indices with vectors in short: $g_{ij} u^i v^j$: dot product of ...
7
votes
2answers
528 views

Tensor decomposition under $\mathrm{SU(3)}$

In Georgi's book (page 143), he calculates the tensor components of $3\otimes 8$ under the $\mathrm{SU(3)}$ explicitly using tensor components. Namely; $u^{i}$ (a $3$) times $v^{j}_k$ (an $8$, meaning ...
7
votes
3answers
346 views

Is “entanglement” unique to quantum systems?

My text shows (sections 0.2 and 0.3) that the joint "state space" of a system composed of two subsystems with $k$ and $l$ "bits of information", respectively, requires $kl$ bits to fully describe it. ...
7
votes
2answers
396 views

Tensor equations in General Relativity

In the context of general relativity it is often stated that one of the main purposes of tensors is that of making equations frame-independent. Question: why is this true? I'm looking for a ...
7
votes
1answer
148 views

Are there cases in which we should consider tensors as equivalence classes?

Usually in texts about Physics that uses tensors defines them as multilinear maps. So if $V$ is a vector space over the field $F$, a tensor is a multilinear mapping: $$T:V\times\cdots\times V\times ...
7
votes
1answer
149 views

What is the intepretation of the electromagnetic tensor?

Let $A$ be the four-potential, then we know that we can form the electromagnetic tensor as $F=dA$. This is usually done as a way to have a better writing of Maxwell's equations. So, to simplify the ...
7
votes
1answer
242 views

Shape of the state space under different tensor products

I am currently studying generalized probabilistic theories. Let me roughly recall how such a theory looks like (you can skip this and go to "My question" if you are familiar with this). Recall: In a ...
6
votes
3answers
217 views

From Manifold to Manifold?

Tensor equations are supposed to stay invariant in form wrt coordinate transformations where the metric is preserved. It is important to take note of the fact that invariance in form of the tensor ...
6
votes
5answers
561 views

Is there a physical interpretation of a tensor as a vector with additional qualities?

What is a tensor? has been asked before, with the most highly up-voted answer defining a tensor of rank $k$ as a vector of a tensor of rank $k-1$. But if a scalar is defined as a physical quantity ...
6
votes
1answer
728 views

Difference between $\partial$ and $\nabla$ in general relativity

I read a lot in Road to Reality, so I think I might use some general relativity terms where I should only special ones. In our lectures we just had $\partial_\mu$ which would have the plain partial ...
6
votes
2answers
577 views

Do Dirac Gamma Matrices act like Tensors?

Do Dirac Gamma Matrices act like Tensors? Is it true that $$ \gamma_\mu = \eta_{\mu\nu}\gamma^\nu~? $$ Also what about $\sigma_{\mu\nu}$, where $\sigma_{\mu\nu}$ is defined to be: \begin{align*} ...
6
votes
4answers
657 views

Is the covariance or contravariance of vectors/tensors something that can be “visualized”?

I'm taking an undergrad GR course, and our text (Lambourne) mentions covariant and contravariant vectors and tensors ad-nauseum, but never really gives a formal definition for what they are, and how ...
6
votes
1answer
587 views

The Spin Connection

Why do we need to introduce the spin connection coefficients $\omega_{\mu \space \space b}^{\space \space a} $ in General Relativity? To me, they just look (mathematically) like the Christoffel ...
6
votes
2answers
789 views

Understanding the difference between co- and contra-variant vectors

I am looking at the 4-vector treatment of special relativity, but I have had no formal training in Tensor algebra and thus am having difficulty understanding some of the concepts which appear. One ...
6
votes
2answers
911 views

Irreducible Representations of SO(n) tensors

My interest is purely in $\text{SO}(n)$ tensors and how one works out their irrep decomposition. For instance, for rank 2 tensors we simply split into an antisymmetric part, a traceless symmetric part ...
5
votes
4answers
448 views

Why are stresses of continuum systems described via a tensor?

The tittle pretty much says enough. I have always been told so but no one really motivated it. So, I would like to know why do we use a tensor to describe the stresses in continuum mechanics.
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
1answer
331 views

Do partial derivatives commute on tensors?

Do partial derivatives commute on tensors? For example, is $$\partial_{\rho}\partial_{\sigma}h_{\mu\nu} - \partial_{\sigma}\partial_{\rho}h_{\mu\nu}=0$$ correct?
5
votes
3answers
8k views

What does this quote about the four dimensional divergence of an antisymmetric tensor mean?

In the beginning, God said that the four dimensional divergence of an antisymmetric second rank tensor equals zero and there was light. Can someone explain what is the meaning of this quote by ...
5
votes
3answers
840 views

How to understand the definition of vector and tensor?

Physics texts like to define vector as something that transform like a vector and tensor as something that transform like a tensor, which is different from the definition in math books. I am having ...
5
votes
2answers
346 views

Perturbation metric problem

I know this is an already answered question, but I couldn't make head or tail of it, and it's bugging me. I know I'm probably asking a silly question, but please bear with me as I'm 14 and this is my ...
5
votes
4answers
126 views

Physical intuition on $\mathbf{v}\otimes \mathbf{w}$

On Physics there's one very clear intuition on what a vector $\mathbf{v}$ is: they represent things with direction and magnitude (although when no metric is available there's no clear concept of ...
5
votes
5answers
291 views

Tensors and rotations

All the tensors that I have studied so far have always appeared with some kind of rotation. For example, spherical tensors rotate as spherical harmonics, tensors in the context of special relativity ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the idea behind the Riemann curvature tensor?

The Riemann curvature tensor can be expressed using the Christoffel symbols like this: $R^m{}_{jkl} = \partial_k\Gamma^m{}_{lj} - \partial_l\Gamma^m{}_{kj} + \Gamma^m{}_{ki}\Gamma^i{}_{lj} ...
5
votes
1answer
428 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
275 views

Confused about indices of the Ricci tensor

In an intro to GR book the Ricci tensor is given as: $$R_{\mu\nu}=\partial_{\lambda}\Gamma_{\mu \nu}^{\lambda}-\Gamma_{\lambda \sigma}^{\lambda}\Gamma_{\mu \nu}^{\sigma}-[\partial_{\nu}\Gamma_{\mu ...
5
votes
1answer
317 views

Levi Civita covariance and contravariance

I read some older posts about this question, but I don't know if I'm getting it. I'm working with a Lagrangian involving some Levi Civita symbols, and when I calculate a term containing ...