5
$\begingroup$

Am I correct in thinking that if two spacetime events are coincident in one frame of reference, then they are coincident in all frames of reference, i.e. coincidence of spacetime events is a Lorentz invariant concept?

If so, is the following the correct way to prove this claim?

Let $x^{\mu}$ and $y^{\mu}$ be the coordinates of two spacetime events in some inertial frame $S$. Suppose that these events are coincident in this frame, i.e. $x^{\mu}=y^{\mu}$. Now, consider another inertial frame $S'$. In this frame the spacetime coordinates of the two events are $x'^{\mu}$ and $y'^{\mu}$ respectively. The coordinates of the events in $S'$ are related to those in $S$ by a Lorentz transformation in the following manner $x'^{\mu}=\Lambda^{\mu}_{\;\;\nu}x^{\nu}$ and $y'^{\mu}=\Lambda^{\mu}_{\;\;\nu}y^{\nu}$. It follows then, that as $x^{\mu}=y^{\mu}$ in $S$, $$x'^{\mu}=\Lambda^{\mu}_{\;\;\nu}x^{\nu}=\Lambda^{\mu}_{\;\;\nu}y^{\nu}=y'^{\mu}$$ and hence if the two events are coincident in $S$, then they are also coincident in $S'$. Furthermore, as these two inertial frames were chosen arbitrarily, it follows that this holds true for any inertial frame.

Is this the reason why we construct Lagrangian densities (in field theory) in terms of fields (and their first-order derivatives) at a single point in spacetime, as this is the only case in which the location of an interaction is Lorentz invariant, thus providing a Lorentz invariant notion of locality in the theory?

$\endgroup$
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ The proof is easy: Points on the manifold do not depend on frames of references. $\endgroup$ – Danu Jul 23 '15 at 11:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Danu Is this simply the statement that points on a manifold are independent of the coordinates that we choose to label them by? Is what I put correct at all though? $\endgroup$ – Will Jul 23 '15 at 11:38
  • $\begingroup$ looks correct to me. $\endgroup$ – john Jul 23 '15 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ @john Great, thanks for taking a look. Is what I put about why interactions described by Lagrangian densities occur at single spacetime points the correct reasoning, or is there something else to it? $\endgroup$ – Will Jul 23 '15 at 12:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You seem to have defined coincident to mean identical. If the question is "can identical events not be identical?", then the question answers itself. $\endgroup$ – WillO Mar 25 '18 at 3:08
-1
$\begingroup$

Am I correct in thinking that if two spacetime events are coincident in [...]

As far as it is understood that any one spacetime event refers precisely to one element (point) of a spacetime manifold it seems incorrect to speak of "two spacetime events being coincident".

Instead, in any one spacetime event several participants ("material points") may have been coincident, passing each other;
and (it may be thought, at least in principle that) signals may be observed in coincidence by any or all of those participants (or in more practical terms: by suitable devices such as coincidence units, or two-photon absoption dye molecules).

Is this the reason why we construct Lagrangian densities (in field theory) in terms of fields (and their first-order derivatives) at a single point in spacetime [...]

At least, it seems correct that (on a manifold) density may be defined (and "in the limit" evaluated) at a single point ...

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.