# Invariance in general relativity, university in problems question

Free falling particles' worldlines in General Relativity are geodesics of the spacetime, i.e the curves $x^\mu(\lambda)$ with tangent vector $u^\mu=dx^\mu/d\lambda$, such that covariant derivative of the latter along the curve equals to zero: $$u^\mu\nabla_\mu u^\nu=0.$$

In a (pseudo-)Euclidean space the geodesics are straight lines. Obtain the general equation of geodesics in terms of the connection coefficients. Show that the quantity $u^\mu u_\mu$ is conserved along the geodesic.

Is $u^{\mu}u_{\mu}$ not invariant in general relativity? Is this not enough to say that it is constant along a geodesic? Am I understanding something wrong?

• "Invariant" means that it is observed to be the same by different observers passing through one particular spacetime point; this doesn't imply that the quantity $u_\mu u^\mu$ is the same at different points along the geodesic. As an (imperfect) analogy, two people using Euclidean coordinates rotated relative to each other will agree that the electric field at a particular point has a particular magnitude; but that doesn't imply that the electric field has a constant magnitude everywhere in space. Jun 10, 2015 at 20:28
• Makes sense, cheers!
– OTH
Jun 10, 2015 at 20:36
• @ohannukse is it answers your question? If yes, then I request Michael to add the above as an answer below. Jun 11, 2015 at 12:04
• Yep, it definitely answers the question. Thank you. @MichaelSeifert bump
– OTH
Jun 22, 2015 at 14:51

However, this doesn't imply that the quantity $u^\mu u_\mu$ is the same at different points along the geodesic. As an (imperfect) analogy, two people using Euclidean coordinates rotated relative to each other will agree that the electric field at a particular point has a particular magnitude; but that doesn't imply that the electric field has a constant magnitude everywhere in space.
There can be invariants along geodesics, if the spacetime has enough symmetry (look up "Killing vector" and "conserved quantity"), but these are always expressed as contractions of $u^\mu$ with another vector (or sometimes tensor) rather than a contraction of $u^\mu$ with itself.