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Questions tagged [curvature]

Use this for questions pertaining to curvature of manifolds. Does not need to be specific to general relativity, but also for curvature of e.g. a [tag:calabi-yau] manifold.

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148
votes
25answers
21k views

Simple check for the global shape of the Earth

I have been on a date recently, and everything went fine until the moment the girl has told me that the Earth is flat. After realizing she was not trolling me, and trying to provide her with a couple ...
130
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5answers
46k views

Why would spacetime curvature cause gravity?

It is fine to say that for an object flying past a massive object, the spacetime is curved by the massive object, and so the object flying past follows the curved path of the geodesic, so it "appears" ...
65
votes
12answers
53k views

How exactly does curved space-time describe the force of gravity?

I understand that people explain (in layman's terms at least) that the presence of mass "warps" space-time geometry, and this causes gravity. I have also of course heard the analogy of a blanket or ...
63
votes
6answers
16k views

Does gravity CAUSE the bending of spacetime, or IS gravity the bending of spacetime? [closed]

In reading these discussions I often see these two different definitions assumed. Yet they are very different. Which is correct: Does gravity CAUSE the bending of spacetime, or IS gravity the ...
63
votes
5answers
4k views

What is really curved, spacetime, or simply the coordinate lines?

It is often said that, according to general relativity, spacetime is curved by the presence of matter/energy. But isn't it simply the coordinate lines of the coordinate system that are curved?
56
votes
14answers
125k views

What is the simplest way to prove the Earth is round?

Assume you've come in contact with a tribe of people cut off from the rest of the world, or you've gone back in time several thousand years, or (more likely) you've got a numbskull cousin. How would ...
56
votes
11answers
11k views

Is spacetime wholly a mathematical construct and not a real thing? [closed]

Speaking of what I understood, spacetime is three dimensions of space and one of time. Now, if we look at general relativity, spacetime is generally reckoned as a 'fabric'. So my question is, whether ...
46
votes
7answers
28k views

Laplace operator's interpretation

What is your interpretation of Laplace operator? When evaluating Laplacian of some scalar field at a given point one can get a value. What does this value tell us about the field or it's behaviour in ...
43
votes
4answers
12k views

What is the physical meaning of the connection and the curvature tensor?

Regarding general relativity: What is the physical meaning of the Christoffel symbol ($\Gamma^i_{\ jk}$)? What are the (preferably physical) differences between the Riemann curvature tensor ($R^i_{\ ...
41
votes
1answer
5k views

Is spacetime flat inside a spherical shell?

In a perfectly symmetrical spherical hollow shell, there is a null net gravitational force according to Newton, since in his theory the force is exactly inversely proportional to the square of the ...
41
votes
5answers
6k views

Why does a flat universe imply an infinite universe?

This article claims that because the universe appears to be flat, it must be infinite. I've heard this idea mentioned in a few other places, but they never explain the reasoning at all.
38
votes
2answers
6k views

If spacetime is curved, how would anyone know? If anyone could tell, would that really be spacetime curving?

I never had a problem accepting that spacetime is curved as a result of matter, until I learned the LIGO experiments showed that evidently the curvature of spacetime can be measured. This, to me, is ...
32
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is spacetime curved by mass but not charge?

It is written everywhere that gravity is curvature of spacetime caused by the mass of the objects or something to the same effect. This raises a question with me: why isn't spacetime curved due to ...
28
votes
3answers
3k views

Does theoretical physics suggest that gravity is the exchange of gravitons or deformation/bending of spacetime?

Throughout my life, I have always been taught that gravity is a simple force, however now I struggle to see that being strictly true. Hence I wanted to ask what modern theoretical physics suggests ...
28
votes
6answers
5k views

Does the curvature of spacetime theory assume gravity?

Whenever I read about the curvature of spacetime as an explanation for gravity, I see pictures of a sheet (spacetime) with various masses indenting the sheet to form "gravity wells." Objects which are ...
28
votes
5answers
4k views

Does curved spacetime change the volume of the space?

Mass (which can here be considered equivalent to energy) curves spacetime, so a body with mass makes the spacetime around it curved. But we live in 3 spatial dimensions, so this curving could only be ...
26
votes
2answers
3k views

Why does dark energy produce positive space-time curvature?

My understanding is that dark energy, or equivalently a positive cosmological constant, is accelerating the expansion of the universe and I have read that this gives empty space-time positive ...
25
votes
3answers
7k views

Nature of gravity: gravitons, curvature of space-time or both?

General relativity tells us that what we perceive as gravity is curvature of space-time. On the other hand (as I understand it) gravity can be understood as a force between objects which are ...
23
votes
6answers
3k views

Can we interpret the Einstein field equations to mean that stress-energy *is* the curvature of spacetime?

What do I mean? There are two kind of equalities, or two ways to interpret an equality. Take for example the ideal gas law $$PV = Nk_BT$$ We all know what this equation means: when you calculate ...
21
votes
4answers
2k views

Curvature of Hilbert space

That may appear as a dumb question, but: Does Hilbert space have curvature, or is it a flat space? How and why?
20
votes
2answers
602 views

Curvature Invariants in General Relativity and Singularities

Suppose that I want to check if a given metric is singular or not. I'm interested in curvature singularities, not coordinate singularities, so I can look to scalars made with Ricci, Riemann and Weyl ...
19
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5answers
4k views

How does “curved space” explain gravitational attraction? [duplicate]

They say that gravity is technically not a real force and that it's caused by objects traveling a straight path through curved space, and that space becomes curved by mass, giving the illusion of a ...
17
votes
4answers
10k views

How to measure the curvature of the space-time?

I know G.R. change our vision of space and time as a unique surface than can bend. We can associate the curvature of the space-time as the gravity created by the mass of planets, stars... But how can ...
17
votes
2answers
972 views

Does kinetic energy warp spacetime?

My interpretation of GR leads me to think that energy (namely kinetic) also adds to the curvature of space-time. Which, has raised a thought experiment. If a $10000$ kg ship closely passed a $1$ kg ...
15
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1answer
5k views

What is the stress energy tensor?

I'm trying to understand the Einstein Field equation equipped only with training in Riemannian geometry. My question is very simple although I cant extract the answer from the wikipedia page: Is the ...
15
votes
1answer
867 views

What are the local covariant tensors one can form from the metric?

Normally in differential geometry, we assume that the only way to produce a tensorial quantity by differentiation is to (1) start with a tensor, and then (2) apply a covariant derivative (not a plain ...
15
votes
3answers
623 views

Is the flatness of space a measure of entropy?

This is a bit quirky: For a very long time I've found Stephen Hawking's evaporating small black holes a lot more reasonable and intuitive than large black holes. The main reason is that gravity is ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

Does space curvature automatically imply extra dimensions?

Total newbie with basically no physics knowledge here :) I would welcome any correction to the steps of my reasoning that lead to my question, which could easily turn out to be invalid :) My current ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Can matter be described as the result of the curvature of space, instead of vice versa?

Can matter be described as the result of the curvature of space, rather than the curvature of space being the result of matter, and energy being the cause of the curvature of space?
14
votes
4answers
4k views

ALL “forces” as manifestations of properties of space-time

I apologize if this seems like a quack question, but I need some insights by those who know much more than me in Physics. Anyway, the gravitational "force" (not really a force) is a manifestation of ...
13
votes
8answers
3k views

Physical meaning of non-trivial solutions of vacuum Einstein's field equations

According to Einstein, the space-time is curved and the origin of the curvature is the presence of matter i.e. the presence of the energy-momentum tensor $T_{ab}$ in Einstein's field equations. If our ...
13
votes
2answers
3k views

What exactly is the connection between the Jacobi and Bianchi identities?

While reviewing some basic field theory, I once again encountered the Bianchi identity (in the context of electromagnetism). It can be written as $$\partial_{[\lambda}\partial_{[\mu}A_{\nu]]}=0.$$ ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Deriving Gauss-Bonnet Gravity (Or just higher order corrections)

I have been working for some time now on deriving the equations of motion (EOM) for the Gauss-Bonnet Gravity, which is given by the action: $$\int d^D x \sqrt{|g|} (R^2-4R_{ab}R^{ab}+R_{abcd}R^{abcd})...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do the Einstein field equations (EFE) involve the Ricci curvature tensor instead of Riemann curvature tensor?

I am just starting to learn general relativity. I don't understand why we use the Ricci curvature tensor. I thought the Riemann curvature tensor contains "more information" about the curvature. Why is ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

How does gravity truly work? [duplicate]

I Am only 12 years old and I'm constantly wondering and trying understand how gravity really works. On YouTube everyone always talks about objects wrapping space time around themselves and uses the ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the geometrical interpretation of Ricci tensor?

In differential geometry and general relativity space is said to be flat if the Riemann tensor $R=0$. If the Ricci tensor on manifold $M$ is zero, it doesn't mean that the manifold itself is flat. So ...
12
votes
1answer
202 views

Nontrivial example of a spacetime for which we need the real definition of asymptotic flatness?

Asymptotic flatness basically means that you can apply a conformal transformation to your spacetime so that it becomes compact, and it admits a boundary having the same causal structure as the ...
11
votes
3answers
27k views

Radius of curvature

I have come across a question that asked me to find the radius of curvature of a projectile. As far as I know, the path of a projectile is a parabola and I have found mention of the radius of ...
11
votes
4answers
20k views

How energy curves spacetime?

We know through General Relativity (GR) that matter curves spacetime (ST) like a "ball curves a trampoline" but then how energy curves spacetime? Is it just like matter curvature of ST?
11
votes
2answers
936 views

How much choice did Einstein have in choosing his GR equations?

General relativity was summarised by Wheeler as "Spacetime tells matter how to move; Matter tells spacetime how to curve". I have a fairly good mental picture of how the first part works. However, I ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Maxwell's equations in curved spacetime

I know that we can write Maxwell's equations in the covariant form, and this covariant form can be considered as a generalization of these equations in curved spacetime if we replace ordinary ...
11
votes
3answers
981 views

How/why can the cosmic background radiation measurements tell us anything about the curvature of the universe?

So I've read the Wikipedia articles on WMAP and CMB in an attempt to try to understand how scientists are able to deduce the curvature of the universe from the measurements of the CMB. The Wiki ...
10
votes
5answers
6k views

Naive visualization of space-time curvature

With only a limited knowledge of general relativity, I usually explain space-time curvature (to myself and others) thus: "If you throw a ball, it will move along a parabola. Initially its vertical ...
10
votes
2answers
579 views

How do spatial curvature and temporal curvature differ?

While looking at the metrics of different spacetimes, i came across the "Ellis wormhole", with the following metric: $$c^2d\tau^2=c^2dt^2-d\sigma^2$$ where $$d\sigma^2=d\rho^2+(\rho^2+n^2)d\Omega^2$...
10
votes
4answers
9k views

What's the idea behind the Riemann curvature tensor?

The Riemann curvature tensor can be expressed using the Christoffel symbols like this: $R^m{}_{jkl} = \partial_k\Gamma^m{}_{lj} - \partial_l\Gamma^m{}_{kj} + \Gamma^m{}_{ki}\Gamma^i{}_{lj} ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

How do you tell if a metric is curved?

I was reading up on the Kerr metric (from Sean Carroll's book) and something that he said confused me. To start with, the Kerr metric is pretty messy, but importantly, it contains two constants - $M$...
10
votes
2answers
638 views

How can a point-like particle “feel” gravity, if locally the curvature of spacetime is always flat?

I imagine a point-like particle can only experience the local properties of spacetime. But locally there is no curvature and no gravity, as it is often stated that Locally, as expressed in the ...
10
votes
1answer
258 views

gravitational convergence of light

light has a non-zero energy-stress tensor, so a flux of radiation will slightly affect curvature of spacetime Question: assume a flux of radiation in the $z$ direction, in flat Minkowski space it ...
9
votes
9answers
9k views

Gravitation is not force?

Einstein said that gravity can be looked at as curvature in space- time and not as a force that is acting between bodies. (Actually what Einstein said was that gravity was curvature in space-time and ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do we say “Spacetime Curvature is Gravity”?

Although "Spacetime Curvature is Gravity" is the first statement that is told to an infant by the "popular science", I believe that really really misrepresents what GR has to say. I am posting this ...