Geometric object with magnitude (length) and direction.

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15
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8answers
863 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
9k views

How can area be a vector?

My professor told me recently that Area is a vector. A Google search gave me the following definition for a vector: Noun: A quantity having direction as well as magnitude, esp. as determining ...
13
votes
6answers
24k views

What is the physical significance of dot & cross product of vectors? Why is division not defined for vectors?

I get the physical significance of vector addition & subtraction. But I don't understand what do dot & cross products mean? More specifically, why is it that dot product of vectors ...
13
votes
3answers
676 views

Representing forces as one-forms

First of all, sorry if any of those things are silly or nonsense, I'm just trying to understand better how the concepts of forms, exterior derivative and so on can be used in physics. This question ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Can we divide two vectors?

Can we divide two vector quantities? For eg., Pressure( a scalar) equals force (a vector) divided by area (a vector).
9
votes
4answers
1k views

Is a 1D vector also a scalar?

A vector in one dimension has only one component. Can we consider it as a scalar at the same time? Why time is not a vector, although it can be negative and positive (when solving for time the ...
9
votes
6answers
552 views

In coordinate-free relativity, how do we define a vector?

Relativity can be developed without coordinates: Laurent 1994 (SR), Winitzski 2007 (GR). I would normally define a vector by its transformation properties: it's something whose components change ...
8
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

How is it that angular velocities are vectors, while rotations aren't?

Does anyone have an intuitive explanation of why this is the case?
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Physics of a skateboard ollie

Does anyone have a good explanation of the physics and vectors of force involved in the skateboarding trick the ollie (where the skater jumps and causes the skateboard to rise off the ground with ...
7
votes
2answers
258 views

Can we show that time is orthogonal to space?

It's easy to show that the time we measure is "in a different direction" from the space directions we measure. However, it's not immediately obvious to me that these directions are orthogonal. How do ...
7
votes
1answer
227 views

How to calculate roll, yaw and pitch angles from 3D co-ordinates (Euler Angles)

I have digitized a video of a flying fly in a 3-dimensional space. At all instants I know the x, y, and z co-oridinates of the following points on the fly's body --- The points are my choice, and ...
6
votes
4answers
347 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
336 views

Vector and Spinor Representation in Ramond-Neveu-Schwarz Superstring Theory

I am learning Ramnond-Neveu-Schwarz Superstring theory (RNS theory). I often find the following notation, especially in the closed string spectrum etc.: $$\mathbf{8}_s,\mathbf{8}_v $$ And it is ...
6
votes
1answer
73 views

Curvilinear Coordinates and basis vectors

In these notes, $\frac{\partial \vec{r}} {\partial q_i}$ is stated to form a basis set for the vector space. How does this happen? Also, how does one justify this equation from Goldstein's ...
6
votes
4answers
660 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. ...
5
votes
6answers
2k views

How is gradient the maximum rate of change of a function?

Recently I read a book which described about gradient. It says $${\rm d}T~=~ \nabla T \cdot {\rm d}{\bf r},$$ and suddenly they concluded that $\nabla T$ is the maximum rate of change of $f(T)$ ...
5
votes
3answers
488 views

Meaning of the direction of the cross product

I was doing calculations with torque and then I came across something very confusing: I understand that the magnitude of the torque is given by product of the displacement(from the center of ...
5
votes
2answers
301 views

Is length/distance a vector?

I have heard that area is a vector quantity in 3 dimensions, e.g. this Phys.SE post, what about the length/distance? Since area is the product of two lengths, does this mean that length is also a ...
5
votes
1answer
266 views

What does scalar phi represent in spacetime?

Trying to understand one-forms and vectors via Schutz's A First Course In General Relativity. His example uses a spacetime diagram, a scalar field phi, a curve (worldline) parametrized using proper ...
5
votes
2answers
192 views

Why distinguish between row and column vectors?

Mathematically, a vector is an element of a vector space. Sometimes, it's just an n-tuple $(a,b,c)$. In physics, one often demands that the tuple has certain transformation properties to be called a ...
4
votes
2answers
517 views

Is (0,0,0) an undefined vector?

I'm not sure what to make of the direction of a vector with components (0,0,0). Is it an undefined vector?
4
votes
4answers
3k views

Why is current a scalar quantity?

Current has both magnitude and direction. As per the definition of vector defined in encyclopedia, current should be a vector quantity. But, we know that current is a scalar quantity. What is the ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Uniqueness of Helmholtz decomposition?

Helmholtz theorem states that given a smooth vector field $\pmb{H}$, there are a scalar field $\phi$ and a vector field $\pmb{G}$ such that $$\pmb{H}=\pmb{\nabla} \phi +\pmb{\nabla} \times \pmb{G},$$ ...
4
votes
2answers
374 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
155 views

Vector potential

I have difficulty understanding the following vector calculus example. Text can be found here. It is the 5th Q&A -- starting with equation (31.1035).It concerns finding the vector potential of a ...
4
votes
1answer
36 views

Can we directly measure vectors' quantities?

Can we perform some kind of experiment that will give us, for example, the $p_x$, $p_y$ and $p_z$ of a particle in a single measurement? I'm aware that they commute so one measurement will not ...
3
votes
2answers
559 views

Which mathematical operation does the right hand rule for current come from?

I am currently wondering about this famous rule: Where does it come from mathematically that when you point with your thumb in the direction of the current, your curved fingers will point in the ...
3
votes
3answers
53k views

Linear acceleration vs angular acceleration equation

I'm learning about angular velocity, momentum, etc. and how all the equations are parallel to linear equations such as velocity or momentum. However, I'm having trouble comparing angular acceleration ...
3
votes
3answers
122 views

Relation between component and algebraic definition of covariant vectors

I studied contravariance and covariance concepts in following way: For any vector if we get its components by parallelogram way we achieve contravariant components, and if we want to get its ...
3
votes
2answers
167 views

Position Representation in Quantum Mechanics

How does the 3d position operator look like in position representation? I know that in 1d the position operator $\hat{x}$ is just multiplication by $x$.
3
votes
1answer
90 views

Contradiction of a scalar product

Can anyone resolve this contradiction: ...
3
votes
1answer
56 views

On a horizontal plane, why does $F_N=W$?

I keep seeing this definition everywhere, but I don't understand. The forces of the weight and the normal force are going in opposite directions, so shouldn't $F_N=-W$?
3
votes
4answers
244 views

How to apply an algebraic operator expression to a ket found in Dirac's QM book?

I've been trying to learn quantum mechanics from a formal point of view, so I picked up Dirac's book. In the fourth edition, 33rd page, starting from this:$$\xi|\xi'\rangle=\xi'|\xi'\rangle$$ (Where ...
3
votes
2answers
241 views

Why the generators of boosts transform like a vector under rotation?

$$\left[J_i,J_j \right]=i\epsilon_{ijk}J_k$$ $$\left[J_i,M_j \right]=i\epsilon_{ijk}M_k$$ $$\left[M_i,M_j \right]=-i\epsilon_{ijk}J_k$$ where $J_i$ is the generator of rotation of Lorentz group, $M_i$ ...
3
votes
2answers
106 views

Sign of acceleration

I'm developing an application using accelerometer sensor. I'm not good at physics so forgive me if the question is trivial. If I have 3 values of acceleration: $x$, $y$, $z$, I find acceleration ...
3
votes
2answers
82 views

Scattering geometry question

While reading up on light scattering I came across this slide: My vector maths is a bit rusty and I am having trouble understanding the last term (scattering geometry). What is the significance of ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Resultant of two forces acting in the same line

I'm quoting the definition of Resultant of two forces acting in the same line from the book "A FIRST COURSE IN PHYSICS" one of whose authors is Robert Andrews Millikan: The resultant of two forces ...
3
votes
2answers
843 views

Finding force vectors

A tugboat tows a ship at a constant velocity. The tow harness consists of a single tow cable attached to the tugboat at point $A$ that splits at point $B$ and attaches to the ship at points $C$ and ...
3
votes
1answer
796 views

Electric field a distance $z$ above the center of a circular loop. The Hard way [closed]

Problem 2.5: Find the electric field a distance $z$ above the center of a circular loop of radius $r$ which carries a uniform line charge $\lambda$. This problem is in refereced here (with ...
3
votes
1answer
270 views

Why can we use just one angular velocity vector to describe the rotation of a whole non-inertial reference frame?

The other day in class the professor was explaining non-inertial reference frames. We were working out how to find the acceleration of a point as measured from the non-inertial reference frame, and ...
3
votes
3answers
86 views

How to understand the definition of vector and tensor? [duplicate]

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
49 views

Show that getting parallel transported does not change angle between them- Tensors [closed]

I must tell you that I have never seen this kind of question in Tensor Analysis. Our professor had set up this question in our exam, but I don't know whether it belongs to tensors or not. The question ...
3
votes
3answers
521 views

How do I meaningfully divide by a vector?

How long does it take a baseball with velocity $(30, 20, 25) m/s$ to travel from location $r_1 = (3, 7,−9) m$ to location $r_2 = (18, 17, 3.5)m$? I am thinking that it should be the ...
3
votes
0answers
77 views

Sound - for purposes of vibration

What is the best way to distribute noise from more than one source (I'm envisioning a system with many), within a dome, with the ground as its primary target, at optimal frequencies and volumes to ...
2
votes
3answers
551 views

The velocity formula $\mathbf{v} = \mathbf{u} + \mathbf{a}t$ for 1D, 2D, 3D . What is the difference?

Could I use $\mathbf{v} = \mathbf{u} + \mathbf{a}t$ for calculating velocity in these 3 different dimensions? If not, what's the difference between these 3 dimensions? How would you calculate ...
2
votes
3answers
296 views

How to distinguish 4D and 3D vectors in handwriting?

Usually vectors are denoted with bold font in printbooks and with arrows above in handwriting. In Thorn's e al. Gravitation, 4D vectors are denoted with bold and 3D vectors with bold italic. How to ...
2
votes
2answers
565 views

Nature of spacetime 4-vector and tangent space?

An entry level confusion about spacetime. I understand that a 4-vector describes a point or event in spacetime. But I've also read (Bertschinger, 1999) that re spacetime "we are discussing tangent ...
2
votes
3answers
204 views

Dimension of vector resulting from tensorial product

I'm quoting what I found in a book about quantum computation: Individual state spaces of $n$ particles combine quantum mechanically through the tensor product. If $X$ and $Y$ are vectors, then ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

split gravitational force into x, y, and z componenets

I am writing a program for a computer science class in which I am doing an n-body simulation in 3-dimensional space. Currently, I have figured out the gravitational force along the hypotenuse between ...