Geometric object with magnitude (length) and direction.

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14
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6answers
41k 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 ...
21
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
20
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
150 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, $V$, ...
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
199 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
310 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
697 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
751 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
5k 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
816 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
726 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
2answers
217 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
1answer
106 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. ...
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? ...
9
votes
6answers
833 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
14k 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
14k 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
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?
4
votes
2answers
902 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
232 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
261 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
76k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
204 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
7k views

What is the difference between dot and cross product?

What is the difference between dot product and cross product? Why do we use cross product to find torque, why can't we use dot product? Also we use dot product to find work done and not cross ...
1
vote
1answer
361 views

Why consider only direction cosines?

Why are these called direction angles? Why do we consider only direction cosines and not direction sines or tans. What is its actual significance? And How to use them? Why are they called ...
1
vote
7answers
39k 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.
0
votes
2answers
3k 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
814 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

Derive vector gradient in spherical coordinates from first principles

Trying to understand where the $\frac{1}{r sin(\theta)}$ and $1/r$ bits come in the definition of gradient. I've derived the spherical unit vectors but now I don't understand how to transform ...
7
votes
5answers
954 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 ...
12
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 ...
6
votes
5answers
535 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
4answers
626 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 ...
4
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 $$\pmb{H}=\pmb{\nabla} \phi +\pmb{\nabla} \times \pmb{G},$$ ...
2
votes
1answer
87 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
140 views

Why do we need both dot product and cross product?

I was looking for an intuitive definition for dot product and cross product. I have found two similar quesitions in SO, but I am not satisfied with the answers. Finally I found a possible answer here. ...
1
vote
1answer
214 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: ...
4
votes
3answers
740 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

Can we add any two vectors?

Can we add any two vectors? If not, why is that so? I think this is not true, but I am not sure. My book says it is true, but I guess it is a misprint. For example, adding acceleration to velocity.
0
votes
1answer
247 views

Finding resultant and direction of resultant

In this question- A motorboat is racing towards north at 25km/h and the water current in that region is 10km/hr in the direction of 60 degree east of south. Find the resultant velocity of the ...
-1
votes
3answers
79 views

What is the Vector/Cross Product?

I have decided to start learning physics before I am required to take the class in 11th grade so that I will be ahead of my classmates. I found a cheap physics book on amazon and ordered it but ...
-1
votes
3answers
141 views

Can a component of vector be greater than the vector itself?

...we have at our disposal an infinite variety of ways of resolving a given force into components. . . . The fact that any component may happen to be larger than the vector itself doesn't ...
7
votes
4answers
877 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. ...
3
votes
2answers
102 views

Why is the “complete metric space” property of Hilbert spaces needed in quantum mechanics?

I have been learning more about Hilbert spaces in an effort to better understand quantum mechanics. Most of the properties of Hilbert spaces seem useful (e.g. vector space, inner product, complex ...
2
votes
2answers
387 views

Angular position vector?

I'm a mathematician, so I like my angular velocities to be vectors. It makes my angular momenta and torques vectors as well, and so they have nice operations I can do on them. Because of that, I pick ...
2
votes
3answers
962 views

What is the general approach to calculating time of impact in 3D?

Given two objects a and b moving at fixed velocities, how would you determine (a) whether they will collide at all, and if so, (b) time of impact? (Let us assume these are spherical bodies each with ...
1
vote
2answers
185 views

Free vs bound vectors and torque

When considering basic Newtonian mechanics, we can treat vector as free and move their point of application at will. This is consistent with the affine nature of Euclidean space. However, when ...