Geometric object with magnitude (length) and direction.

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27
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6answers
67k 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 $\vec{...
28
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
27
votes
5answers
2k views

When is it useful to distinguish between vectors and pseudovectors in experimental & theoretical physics?

My understanding of pseudovectors vs vectors is pretty basic. Both transform in the same way under a rotation, but differently upon reflection. I might even be able to summarize that using an equation,...
0
votes
2answers
488 views

Tangential acceleration in circular motion?

A lot of my problems have objects moving in circular paths with tangential and normal components of acceleration. If the tangential component is non-zero though, the speed is changing so the radius ...
16
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Torque direction meaning

I apologize if this question is dumb, but I've looked all over for a straightforward answer and either I can't find one or the terms are too complex for me to understand. I have only a rudimentary ...
3
votes
2answers
249 views

“Vectors” (i.e. 1-tensors) their definition and motivation for relativity

I'm reading Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell (by Zee) and here he defines a vector as an object which is invariant under coordinate representation; concretely, if in one coordinate representation, $V$, $...
3
votes
2answers
384 views

Importance of Kronecker product in quantum computation

To get product state of two states $|\phi \rangle$ and $|\psi \rangle$, we use Kronecker product $|\phi \rangle \otimes |\psi \rangle$. Instead of Kronecker product $\otimes$, can we use Cartesian ...
5
votes
4answers
893 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 rotation)...
14
votes
5answers
33k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
369 views

Point charge potential (sign problem)

I'm a bit embarrassed, but I'm not able to compute the electric potential at point $P$ (at a distance $R$ from the origin) generated by a positive unitary point charge in the origin with the right ...
0
votes
2answers
696 views

How to determine velocity vector direction with respect to acceleration.

I'm currently writing a program that attempts to simulate particle movement in a gravitational field with more than one object exerting a force on it. I decided that I'd have the particle move by ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

Can we have physical quantities which have magnitude and direction but are not vectors?

I am not able to understand how to approach the question. Vectors are defined as quantities having magnitude and direction, then how is it possible? Please explain.
21
votes
5answers
23k 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
3k 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?
8
votes
7answers
860 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
9k views

Direction of angular velocity

Angular velocity is the rate of angular displacement about an axis. Its direction is determined by right hand rule. According to right hand rule, if you hold the axis with your right hand and rotate ...
8
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
804 views

Why do we say that in Coulomb's law the force is proportional to $\frac{1}{r^{2}}$ and not $\frac{1}{r^{3}}$?

I am going over Coulomb's law and there is something that is a bit confusing for me: According to Coulomb's law, if I have a charge $q_{1}$ at a point $\vec{r_{1}}$ and a charge $q_{2}$ at a point $\...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is force a localized vector and not a free vector?

A vector which is drawn parallel to a given vector through a specified point unlike free vector in space is called a localised vector. The effect of a force acting on a body depends not only on the ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

Vectors with more than 3 components

I have some confusion over Vectors, Its components and dimensions. Does the number of vector components mean that a vector is in that many dimensions? For e.g. $A$ vector with 4 components has 4 ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

Direction of Magnetic force from a current running through a coil of wire

What is the direction is the magnetic force vectors pointing from a coil of wire that has current running through it? http://www.ndt-ed.org/EducationResources/CommunityCollege/MagParticle/Graphics/...
0
votes
1answer
215 views

Torque definition and right hand rule not arbitrary

I have read the following: http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/I_20.html#Ch20-S1 The formula for $\tau_{xy}$ is derived in this chapter: http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/I_18.html#Ch18-S2. ...
9
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
2k 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 $$\pmb{H}=\pmb{\nabla} \phi +\pmb{\nabla} \times \pmb{G},$$ ...
5
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
243 views

A whole lot of doubts on Lorentz representation

Can someone tell me in layman's language how the $(1/2,1/2)$ represents a vector field and $(0,1/2)$ or $(1/2,0)$ represents spinors and $(0,0)$ represents scalar field. Please don't be pedantic on ...
4
votes
1answer
487 views

Equivalent definitions of vectors

Equivalent definitions of vectors. In maths a vector is an object that obeys some axioms of a vector space. But in physics a vector can be thought as an object which is invariant under rotations of ...
2
votes
7answers
81k views

What does the magnitude of the acceleration mean?

I am a little confused as to what the magnitude of acceleration is and what it means.
2
votes
1answer
118 views

Coulomb's law with an $r^3$, not $r^2$, in the denominator [duplicate]

I am reading an older physics book that my professor gave me. It is going over Coulomb's law and Gauss' theorem. However, the book gives both equations with an $r^3$, not $r^2$, in the denominator. ...
2
votes
4answers
188 views

Rotation of a vector

Is a vector necessarily changed when it is rotated through an angle? I think a vector always gets changed because its projection will change, and also its inclination with axes will always change. ...
0
votes
3answers
5k views

Vertical component of moving weight at a 45 degree angle

Here's an easier one. I use the leg press machine at the gym so I don't have to worrying about hurting myself while lifting heavier weight. The weight glides on a track that looks to be 45 degrees. ...
0
votes
2answers
122 views

Why taking components of a component of a vector is invalid?

Suppose there's a force $F$ of magnitude 10 newtons in the direction of positive y-axis acting on a particle A. I know that the particle would not experience any force in the positive x-direction ...
0
votes
3answers
996 views

Understanding weight on an inclined plane

I'm trying to solve a problem where I have an object resting on an inclined plane, with the angle of the plan being alpha, and the weight being w. I'm having trouble figuring out how I can calculate ...
0
votes
1answer
42 views

New direction vector after collision of spheres [closed]

I have a volume in 3-space in which random spheres are spawned in motion. They have the following attributes to them: position known (in three axes) a direction vector (in three axes) a scalar speed ...
16
votes
5answers
30k 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).
8
votes
6answers
1k views

Where am I confused about force addition?

As far as my knowledge is concerned, a vector quantity should possess magnitude and direction & more over it should also obey the laws of vector addition. As we all know that the vector sum of 3 ...
14
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
7answers
341 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
154 views

How does the Lorentz group act on a 4-vector in the spinor-helicity formalism $p_{\alpha\dot{\alpha}}$?

Given a 4-vector $p^\mu$ the Lorentz group acts on it in the vector representation: $$ \tag{1} p^\mu \longrightarrow (J_V[\Lambda])^\mu_{\,\,\nu} p^\nu\equiv \Lambda^\mu_{\,\,\nu} p^\nu. $$ However, I ...
8
votes
2answers
660 views

What does it mean to transform as a scalar or vector?

I'm working through an introductory electrodynamics text (Griffiths), and I encountered a pair of questions asking me to show that: the divergence transforms as a scalar under rotations the ...
4
votes
2answers
835 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
390 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
306 views

General definition of vector, spinor, and spin

I am looking for basic and exact definitions of fundamental physical concepts in graduate level. I reach this following definitions. Could you please help to improve these definitions. Spin: ...
2
votes
3answers
243 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
5k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
1k 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. ...