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51
votes
6answers
3k views

What is known about the topological structure of spacetime?

General relativity says that spacetime is a Lorentzian 4-manifold $M$ whose metric satisfies Einstein's field equations. I have two questions: What topological restrictions do Einstein's equations ...
36
votes
2answers
2k views

Intuitively, why are bundles so important in Physics?

This question probably seems silly and I don't really know if it fits properly here, but the point is the following: I've seem the notion of bundles, fiber bundles, connections on bundles and so on ...
27
votes
4answers
3k views

Why does a flat universe imply an infinite universe?

This article claims that because the universe appears to be flat, it must be infinite. I've heard this idea mentioned in a few other places, but they never explain the reasoning at all.
22
votes
10answers
4k views

Applications of Algebraic Topology to physics

I have always wondered about applications of Algebraic Topology to Physics, seeing as am I studying algebraic topology and physics is cool and pretty. My initial thoughts would be that since most ...
22
votes
2answers
562 views

Does a charged or rotating black hole change the genus of spacetime?

For a Reissner–Nordström or Kerr black hole there is an analytic continuation through the event horizon and back out. Assuming this is physically meaningful (various site members hereabouts think ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

Is topology of universe observable?

There is an idea that the geometry of physical space is not observable(i.e. it can't be fixed by mere observation). It was introduced by H. Poincare. In brief it says that we can formulate our ...
20
votes
4answers
859 views

Is there a physical system whose phase space is the torus?

NOTE. This is not a question about mathematics and in particular it's not a question about whether one can endow the torus with a symplectic structure. In an answer to the question What kind of ...
19
votes
7answers
2k views

Quantum mechanics on a manifold

In quantum mechanics the state of a free particle in three dimensional space is $L^2(\mathbb R^3)$, more accurately the projective space of that Hilbert space. Here I am ignoring internal degrees of ...
18
votes
1answer
745 views

Why is there no theta-angle (topological term) for the weak interactions?

Why is there no analog for $\Theta_\text{QCD}$ for the weak interaction? Is this topological term generated? If not, why not? Is this related to the fact that $SU(2)_L$ is broken?
16
votes
2answers
569 views

Does topology have any role in classical physics?

I've seen many applications of topology in Quantum Mechanics (topological insulators, quantum Hall effects, TQFT, etc.) Does any of these phenomena have anything in common? Is there any intuitive ...
16
votes
3answers
507 views

Homotopy $\pi_4(SU(2))=\mathbb{Z}_2$

Recently I read a paper using $$\pi_4(SU(2))=\mathbb{Z}_2.$$ Do you have any visualization or explanation of this result? More generally, how do physicists understand or calculate high dimension ...
15
votes
1answer
274 views

Soliton Moduli Spaces and Homotopy Theory

The four-dimensional $SU(N)$ Yang-Mills Lagrangian is given by $$\mathcal{L}=\frac{1}{2e^2}\mathrm{Tr}F_{\mu\nu}F^{\mu\nu}$$ and gives rise to the Euclidean equations of motion $\mathcal{D}_\mu ...
15
votes
1answer
473 views

Does the existence of Higgs imply the existence of Magnetic Monopoles?

I am aware that in theories with spontaneous symmetry breaking, Magnetic Monopoles can exist as topological solitons. Can the same be done with the Standard Model gauge group. I am familiar with the ...
15
votes
2answers
247 views

Topology of phase space

Context: From Liouville's integrability theorem we know that: If a system with $n$ degrees of freedom exhibits at least $n$ globally defined integrals of motion (i.e. first integrals), where all ...
13
votes
2answers
313 views

Global Properties of Spacetime Manifolds

When solving the Einstein field equations, $$R_{\mu\nu}-\frac{1}{2}g_{\mu\nu}R = 8\pi GT_{\mu\nu}$$ for a particular stress-energy tensor, we obtain the metric of the spacetime manifold, ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Shape of the universe?

What is the exact shape of the universe? I know of the balloon analogy, and the bread with raisins in it. These clarify some points, like how the universe can have no centre, and how it can expand ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

What is Euler Density?

Can someone please explain to me what Euler Density is? I have encountered it in Weyl anomaly related issues in various articles. Most of them assumes that its familiar, but I couldn't find any ...
12
votes
1answer
81 views

Relationship between Weak Cosmic Censorship and Topological Censorship

The weak cosmic censorship states that any singularity cannot be in the causual past of null infinity (reference). The topological censorship hypothesis states that in a globally hyperbolic, ...
12
votes
2answers
408 views

The entropic cost of tying knots in polymers

Imagine I take a polymer like polyethylene, of length $L$ with some number of Kuhn lengths $N$, and I tie into into a trefoil knot. What is the difference in entropy between this knotted polymer and ...
11
votes
3answers
346 views

What kind of manifold can be the phase space of a Hamiltonian system?

Of course it should have dimension $2n$. But any more conditions? For example, can a genus-2 surface be the phase space of a Hamiltonian system?
11
votes
2answers
610 views

Is spacetime simply connected?

As I've stated in a prior question of mine, I am a mathematician with very little knowledge of Physics, and I ask here things I'm curious about/things that will help me learn. This falls into the ...
10
votes
0answers
282 views

A Theorem Due to Hodge: Hawking/Ellis

This is probably quite an obscure question but hopefully somebody has a simple answer. I'm studying the proof of the topology theorem on black holes due to Hawking and Ellis (Proposition 9.3.2, p. 335 ...
9
votes
5answers
296 views

Where do theta functions and canonical Green functions appear in physics

In the beginning of Section 5 in his article, Wentworth mentions a result of Bost and proves it using the spin-1 bosonization formula. This result provides a link between theta functions, canonical ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Can spacetime be non-orientable?

This question asks what constraints there are on the global topology of spacetime from the Einstein equations. It seems to me the quotient of any global solution can in turn be a global solution. In ...
9
votes
2answers
310 views

What are orbifolds and why are they useful and interesting for physics?

Just what the title says. What's the basic definition of an orbifold? How do they arise in physics and why are they interesting?
9
votes
1answer
529 views

What is topological degeneracy in condensed matter physics?

What is topological degeneracy in strongly correlated systems such as FQH? What is the difference between topological degeneracy and ordinary degeneracy? Why is topological degeneracy important for ...
9
votes
1answer
195 views

Why isn't the path integral defined for non homotopic paths?

Context In the Aharonov Bohm effect, there is a solenoid which creates a magnetic field. Since the electron cannot be inside the solenoid, the configuration space is not simply connected. Question ...
9
votes
2answers
324 views

Topology and Quantum mechanics

I have a very simple question. Can we know about the topology of the underlying space-time manifolds from Quantum mechanics calculations? If the Space-time is not simply connected, how can one measure ...
9
votes
1answer
267 views

Lagrangian for Goldstone mode + topological excitation

The XY-model Hamiltonian is the following, $${\cal H}~=~-J\sum_{\langle i,j\rangle} \cos (\theta_i -\theta_j).$$ The Goldstone mode corresponds to term $(\nabla \theta)^2$ in the effective ...
9
votes
1answer
158 views

Why are topological solitons present in some phases for lattice models?

Over a spatial continuum, it is easy to see why some topological solitons like vortices and monopoles have to be stable. For similar reasons, Skyrmions also have to be stable, with a conserved ...
9
votes
0answers
130 views

Making new sense of the three-body problem in the light of Maryam Mirzakhani math contributions

I am unfamiliar with moduli spaces and ergodic theory which appear to be essential in Maryam Mirzakhani's math contributions which won her the Fields Medal. However, I am well conversant in essential ...
9
votes
0answers
248 views

p-Adic String Theory and the String-orientation of Topological Modular Forms (tmf)

I am going to ask a question, at the end below, on whether anyone has tried to make more explicit what should be a close relation between p-adic string theory and the refinement of the superstring ...
8
votes
3answers
117 views

Does the complex 3-sphere have a complex structure modulus?

This question has a flavor which is more mathematical than physical, however it is about a mathematical physics article and I suspect my misunderstanding occurs because the precise mathematical ...
8
votes
3answers
124 views

“tmf$(n)$ is the space of supersymmetric conformal field theories of central charge $-n$”

I read this intriguing statement in John Baez' week 197 the other day, and I've been giving it some thought. The post in question is from 2003, so I was wondering if there has been any progress in ...
8
votes
3answers
609 views

Is anyone studying how the general topology of spacetime arises from more fundamental notions?

Stephen Wolfram in his book A New Kind of Science touches on a model of space itself based on automata theory. That it, he makes some suggestions about modelling not only the behaviour of matter ...
8
votes
1answer
268 views

7 sphere, is there any physical interpretation of exotic spheres?

Basically an exotic sphere is topologically a sphere, but doesn't look like a one. Or more accurately: homeomorphic but not diffeomorphic to the standard Euclidean n-sphere The first exotic ...
8
votes
1answer
273 views

Our Universe Can't be Looped? [duplicate]

With reference to the Twin-Paradox (I am new with this), now information of who has actually aged comes from the fact that one of the twins felt some acceleration. So if universe was like a loop, and ...
7
votes
1answer
512 views

Topological insulators: why K-theory classification rather than homotopy classification?

I am reading a 2009 paper by Kitaev on K-theory classification of topological insulators. In the 4th page, 1st paragraph in the section "Classification principles", he says, Continuous ...
7
votes
1answer
902 views

Trivial and Non-trivial topology of band structure

I don't understand the meaning of the expression "trivial topology" or "non-trivial topology" for an electronic band structure. Does anybody have a good explanation?
7
votes
1answer
131 views

What is the concept of cosmic strings?

What is the concept of cosmic strings? Is it related to the strings in the string theory, and if it is, then how?
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Questions about Thouless-Kohmoto-Nightingale-den Nijs (TKNN) paper

I am reading the famous and concise Thouless-Kohmoto-Nightingale-den Nijs (TKNN) paper Quantized Hall Conductance in a Two-Dimensional Periodic Potential, Phys. Rev. Lett. 49, 405–408 (1982), where I ...
7
votes
1answer
260 views

What is the simplest possible topological Bloch function?

Kohmoto (1985) pointed out in Topological Invariant and the Quantization of the Hall Conductance how TKNN's calcuation of Hall conducance is related to topology, in which topologically nontriviality ...
7
votes
1answer
134 views

Betti multiplets in Kaluza Klein compactifications

It is well known that if the compactification manifold of a supergravity theory has non-zero Betti numbers, this may lead to the so called Betti multiplets in the spectrum of the low dimensional ...
6
votes
2answers
272 views

Does the general topology of Minkowski space-time change under a Lorentz transformation?

Does the general topology of Minkowski space-time change under a Lorentz transformation? Open balls in $\mathbb{R}^{4}$ (with the standard topology) are not invariant under Lorentz transformations. ...
6
votes
1answer
186 views

Can closed loops evade the spin-statistic theorem in 3 dimensions?

The famous spin-statistics result asserts that there are only bosons and fermions, and that they have integer and integer-and-a-half spin respectively. In two-dimensional condensed matter systems, ...
6
votes
2answers
492 views

Vector Potential for Magnetic field when the field is not in simply-connected region

According to Poincare's Lemma, if $U\subset \mathbb{R}^n$ is a star-shaped set and if $\omega$ is a $k$-form defined in $U$ that is closed, then $\omega$ is exact, meaning that there's some ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

How is the topological $Z_2$ invariant related to the Chern number? (e.g. for a topological insulator)

This question relates to the $Z_2$ invariant defined e.g. for topological insulators: Is it correct to relate $Z_2$ = 1 to an odd Chern number and $Z_2$ = 0 to an even Chern number? If yes, is it ...
6
votes
3answers
732 views

Aharonov-Bohm Effect and Flux Quantization in superconductors

Why is the magnetic flux not quantized in a standard Aharonov-Bohm (infinite) solenoid setup, whereas in a superconductor setting, flux is quantized?
6
votes
2answers
198 views

Basic question on the Aharonov-Bohm effect

I have a very basic question on the Aharonov-Bohm effect. Why is the curve integral $\oint_\Gamma {A}\cdot d{r}$ non-zero ? $\Gamma$ is the "difference" of both paths $P_1$ and $P_2$. If the ...
6
votes
1answer
422 views

geometry inside the event horizon

I'm trying to understand intuitively the geometry as it would look to an observer entering the event horizon of a schwarszchild black hole. I would appreciate any insights or corrections to the above. ...