Questions tagged [geometry]

To be used for questions on geometry closely pertaining to physics. Includes differential geometry and euclidean geometry.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
61
votes
8answers
111k 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{A}...
22
votes
7answers
8k views

Experimental evidence of a fourth spatial dimension?

As human beings, we observe the world in which we live in three dimensions. However, it is certainly theoretically possible that more dimensions exist. Is there any direct or indirect evidence ...
10
votes
11answers
4k views

Is it possible for a physical object to have a irrational length?

Suppose I have a caliper that is infinitely precise. Also suppose that this caliper returns not a number, but rather whether the precise length is rational or irrational. If I were to use this ...
22
votes
4answers
174k views

Does the rotation of the earth dramatically affect airplane flight time?

Say I'm flying from Sydney, to Los Angeles (S2LA), back to Sydney (LA2S). During S2LA, travelling with the rotation of the earth, would the flight time be longer than LA2S on account of Los Angeles ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Geodesics: Straightest or Shortest? When and Why?

In classical General Relativity (meaning not modified) one can think of geodesics in two ways. One way is to say that a geodesic is the curve which is the straightest (in analogy with the flat case) ...
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Textbook on the Geometry of Special Relativity

I am looking for a textbook that treats the subject of Special Relativity from a geometric point of view, i.e. a textbook that introduces the theory right from the start in terms of 4-vectors and ...
10
votes
4answers
15k views

How far into space does one have to travel to see the entire sphere of earth?

Virgin Galactic will take passengers aboard SpaceShipTwo as high as 65 miles above the surface of the earth. But from this altitude, passengers will only be able to see a certain segment of the ...
5
votes
2answers
11k views

Analytic solution for angle of minimum deviation? [closed]

Consider a simple prism with a prism angle $A$, angle of incidence $\theta_1$, angle of emergence $\theta_4$ and the first and second angle of refraction as $\theta_2,\theta_3$. the refractive index ...
150
votes
2answers
29k views

Why do sunbeams diverge even though the sun is much more than a few kilometers away?

Consider this picture of sun beams streaming onto the valley through the clouds. Given that the valley is only (at a guess) 3km wide, with simple trigonometry and the angles of the beams, this gives ...
6
votes
1answer
500 views

Why is physical space equivalent to $\mathbb{R}^3$?

Why is physical space equivalent to $\mathbb{R}^3$, as opposed to e.g. $\mathbb{Q}^3$? I am trying to understand what would be the logical reasons behind our assumption that our physical space is ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

How is Chasles' Theorem, that any rigid displacement can be produced by translating along a line and then rotating about the same line, true?

Chasles' Theorem in its strong form says: The most general rigid body displacement can be produced by a translation along a line (called its screw axis) followed (or preceded) by a rotation about ...
6
votes
1answer
5k views

How is the equation of motion on an ellipse derived?

I would like to show that a particle orbiting another will follow the trajectory \begin{equation} r = \frac{a(1-e^2)}{1 + e \cos(\theta)}. \end{equation} I would like to do this with minimal ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

How to calculate spatial distance in space-time?

Pinning two test particles at two different points in space, how can I calculate their spatial distance, when the geometry is given by the Schwarzschild metric? Let's say particle 1 is pinned at $r=R$...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Is Dyson Sphere a stable construction?

Suppose that a star is encompassed by a Dyson Sphere. Do we need a position control system for the Dyson Sphere to keep its origin always aligned with the center of the star? Will it stay aligned ...
5
votes
2answers
510 views

What is the notion of a spatial angle in general relativity?

Is there a notion of spatial angles in general relativity? Example: The world line of a photon is given by $x^{\mu}(\lambda)$. Suppose it flies into my lab where I have a mirror. I align the mirror ...
1
vote
0answers
84 views

If two ends were a certain “length” apart were they therefore at rest (or at least rigid) to each other? [closed]

Considering the definition of the SI unit of "length" [1] and [2 (" method a.")] I'm missing any requirements about the two "ends" of the required "path travelled by light" being "at rest to each ...
1
vote
2answers
155 views

Are signal fronts in a beam not at rest to each other?

I'd like to investigate how the notion of "mutual rest" might be applied consistently, but distinctively, in the following thought experiment: Consider a light source ("$A$") which directs a beam ...
6
votes
5answers
6k views

Do perfect spheres exist in nature?

Often in physics, Objects are approximated as spherical. However do any perfectly spherical objects actually exist in nature?
1
vote
5answers
588 views

Why do floating water drops form spheres?

Consider a drop of water floating in an inertial frame in STP air (e.g., the ISS). Intuitively, the equilibrium shape of the drop is a sphere. How would one prove that? Is it equivalent to showing ...
5
votes
2answers
161 views

Which causal structures are absent from any “nice” patch of Minkowski space?

Which "causal separation structures" (or "interval structures") can not be found among the events in "any nice patch ($P$) of Minkowski space"?, where "causal separation structure" ($s$) should be ...
1
vote
1answer
862 views

Understanding Euler's rotation theorem

According to Euler's rotation theorem, simultaneous rotation along a number of stationary axes at the same time is impossible. If two rotations are forced at the same time, a new axis of rotation will ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Geometry in diagonal matrix and inertia tensor

For this problem, can anyone explain to me why when $x_1$ axis is aligned with the diagonal of the cube, the resulting inertia tensor will become diagonal? How to interpret this result geometrically? ...
19
votes
9answers
9k views

Why do objects appear smaller when viewed from a distance? [duplicate]

Yes, I know all about perspective (I'm an artist). I even have some basic knowledge of descriptive geometry. I know how it works. My question is more about why it works. I have a sneaking suspicion ...
21
votes
3answers
9k views

Why can't a piece of paper (of non-zero thickness) be folded more than $N$ times?

Updated: In order to fold anything in half, it must be $\pi$ times longer than its thickness, and that depending on how something is folded, the amount its length decreases with each fold differs. –...
10
votes
4answers
6k views

Why does the light side of the moon appear not to line up correctly with the evening sun?

I live at roughly $(52.4^\circ,-2.1^\circ)$. On sunny evenings I've often looked at the Moon and the Sun and noticed that the light part of the Moon does not appear to line up with the Sun. For ...
7
votes
3answers
5k views

Can I calculate the size of a real object by just looking at the picture taken by a Camera?

Can I calculate the size of a real object by just looking at the picture taken by a Camera? (I think people do that) i dont understand how? (from physics point of view)
5
votes
2answers
18k views

Why do far away objects appear to move slowly in comparison to nearby objects?

When we are in a moving train, nearby stationary objects appear to go backwards. In Physics, relative velocity can be employed to explain the phenomenon: velocity of object w.r.t train = velocity ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there a geometric interpretation of the spacetime interval?

In Euclidean space, the invariant $s^2 = x^2+ y^2+ z^2$ is equal to the length square of the position vector $r$. This is easily understood and can be represented geometrically in a graph. On the ...
4
votes
2answers
627 views

Can Minkowski spacetime be redefined as a non-flat riemannian manifold?

Minkowski space time is defined in terms of a flat pseudo-Riemannian manifold. I have wondered if it can be redefined as Riamannian manifold and in the case what type of curvature would there appear. ...
0
votes
2answers
31k views

Finding the drag force (Air resistance force) for accelerated ball?

As you know if I want to find the force for an accelerated object I will use the law $F_o=ma$ so I can get the affecting force of it. But there is another force affecting against the object. It's the ...
7
votes
2answers
767 views

Is right hand rule arbitrary?

In definition of vector multiplication, the direction of the resulting vector is given by the right hand rule. However I don't know any mathematical requirement to pick right hand instead of left for ...
6
votes
8answers
13k views

Is there a definition of “direction” in physics?

Is there an actual definition of "direction" (that is, spatial direction) in physics, or is it just one of those terms that's left undefined? In physics textbooks it's always just taken for granted ...
5
votes
2answers
563 views

Rotation in Higher Dimensions

In a world of three spatial dimensions plus time, every atom rotates around a line, the axis of rotation. In a world of $N$ spatial dimensions where $N$ is greater than 3, must every atom rotate, ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

What is the physical meaning of a dot product and a cross product of vectors? [duplicate]

My teacher told me that Vectors are quantities that behave like Displacements. Seen this way, the triangle law of vector addition simply means that to reach point C from point A, going from A to B &...
5
votes
2answers
10k views

Why sphere minimizes surface area for a given volume?

I was studying surface tension recently. Rain drops or bubbles of any kind which form are always of a spherical shape. This is because the liquid tries to minimize the surface area as the molecules ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Why is the Pythagorean Theorem used for error calculation? [duplicate]

They say that if $A = X \times Y$, with $X$ statistically independent of $Y$, then $$\frac{\Delta{A}}{A}=\sqrt{ \left(\frac{\Delta{X}}{X}\right)^2 + \left(\frac{\Delta{Y}}{Y}\right)^2 }$$ I can't ...
1
vote
1answer
468 views

Rømer's determination of the speed of light

I am trying to understand Rømer's determination of the speed of light ($c$). The geometry of the situation is shown in the image below. The determination involves measuring apparent fluctuations in ...
1
vote
2answers
7k views

Why railroad tracks seem to converge?

I stand up and I look at two parallel railroad tracks. I find that converge away from me. Why? Can someone explain me why parallel lines seem to converge, please?
1
vote
1answer
26 views

How to express in terms of spacetime intervals whether two participants in a flat region were at rest to each other

Given a flat region of spacetime as set $\mathcal S$ of events together with values of spacetime intervals (up to a common non-zero constant) for each pair of events, $s^2 : \mathcal S \times \mathcal ...
0
votes
1answer
61 views

What is Snell's law's main formula?

My book states it as $(\sin i)/(\sin r)=n$. However, University Physics has a different say. It says, $n_{a} \sin a =n_{b} \sin b$. Which of the following is correct?
0
votes
1answer
401 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 ...
-3
votes
1answer
83 views

3D donuts and the centre of a black hole [closed]

I have been trying to imagine ways to visualise the gravitational field of the earth... It's near zero at the outer edges of the atmosphere, strong at sea level, strongest at the quarter point, then ...
88
votes
4answers
16k views

Seeing something from only one angle means you have only seen (what?)% of its surface area at most?

Is there a logical/mathematical way to derive what the very maximum percentage of surface area you can see from one angle of any physical object? For instance, if I look at the broad side of a piece ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

Should linear algebra and vector calculus from traditional courses be replaced with `geometric algebra`? [closed]

geometric algebra gives geometric meaning to linear algebra and much more. it can provide a coordinate free geometric interpretation of spaces. those who learn of ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

The Reeh-Schlieder theorem and quantum geometry

There have been some very nice discussions recently centered around the question of whether gravity and the geometry and topology of the classical world we see about us, could be phenomena which ...
13
votes
5answers
9k views

Why can the cross product of two vectors be calculated as the determinant of a matrix?

The cross product $\vec{a} \times \vec{b}$ can be written as the determinant of the matrix: $$\left| \begin{matrix} \vec{i} & \vec{j} & \vec{k} \\ a_i & a_j & a_k \\ b_i & b_j &...
17
votes
2answers
987 views

Generalized Complex Geometry and Theoretical Physics

I have been wondering about some of the different uses of Generalized Complex Geometry (GCG) in Physics. Without going into mathematical detail (see Gualtieri's thesis for reference), a Generalized ...
8
votes
2answers
606 views

Why does the $L_2$ norm give the shortest path between 2 points?

Why not the $L_1$ or $L_3$ distances? Is there some deep reason why the universe (at least at human scales) looks pretty much Euclidean? Could we imagine a different universe where a different $...
4
votes
1answer
7k views

Is length/distance a vector?

I have heard that area is a vector quantity in 3 dimensions, e.g. this Phys.SE post, what about the length/distance? Since area is the product of two lengths, does this mean that length is also a ...