Questions related to mathematical physics which include application of mathematics to problems in physics and the development of mathematical methods suitable for such applications and for the formulation of physical theories

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3
votes
2answers
268 views

Solving a differential equation?

I'm trying to analyze the transient state of a RC circuit. My book gives me the following differential equation: $$\frac{d(v(t))}{dt} + av(t) = c$$ for some constants $a$ and $c$. The book thens ...
7
votes
2answers
181 views

Dirac's delta in 3 dimensions: proof of $\nabla^2(\|\boldsymbol{x}-\boldsymbol{x}_0\|^{-1})=-4\pi\delta(\boldsymbol{x}-\boldsymbol{x}_0)$

If $T_f$ is a distribution, i.e. a linear functional, continuous according to the convergence defined here, defined on the space $K$ of the functions of class $C^\infty$ that are null outside a ...
107
votes
8answers
8k views

Importance of Representation Theory

Representation theory is a subject I want to like (it can be fun finding the representations of a group), but it's hard for me to see it as a subject that arises naturally or why it is important. I ...
51
votes
9answers
23k views

What is the meaning of the third derivative of a function at a point

(Originally asked on MO by AJAY.) What is the geometric, physical, or other meaning of the third derivative of a function at a point? If you have interesting things to say about the meaning of the ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

Multivariable Calculus Book Reference

I am looking for a multivariable calculus book that is really physics oriented. Anyone know of any? EDIT: My wife is looking to brush up on multivariable at the same time she needs to brush up on ...
66
votes
4answers
74k views

Teenager solves Newton dynamics problem - where is the paper?

From Ottawa Citizen (and all over, really): An Indian-born teenager has won a research award for solving a mathematical problem first posed by Sir Isaac Newton more than 300 years ago that has ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

Physicists, not mathematicians, can multiply both sides with $dx$ - why?

The following question is asked without malicious intentions - it's not intended as a flamebait! In my physics textbooks (Young & Freedman in particular) I have often seen derivations of ...
19
votes
2answers
505 views

Mathematical meaning of certain integrals in physics

While studying on texts of physics I notice that differentiation under the integral sign is usually introduced without any comment on the conditions permitting to do so. In that case, I take care of ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Property of Dirac delta function in $\mathbb{R}^n$

How does one prove the following identity? $$\int _Vf(\pmb{r})\delta (g(\pmb{r}))d\pmb{r}=\int _S\frac{f(\pmb{r})}{|\text{grad} g(\pmb{r})|}d\sigma$$ where $S$ is the surface inside $V$ where $g(\...
12
votes
3answers
7k views

Dirac Delta Function of a Function

I'm trying to show that $$\delta\big(f(x)\big) = \sum_{i}\frac{\delta(x-a_{i})}{\left|{\frac{df}{dx}(a_{i})}\right|}$$ Where $a_{i}$ are the roots of the function $f(x)$. I've tried to proceed by ...
18
votes
3answers
235 views

Calculate moment of inertia of Koch snowflake

That's just a fun question. Please, be creative. Suppose having a Koch snowflake. The area inside this curve is having the total mass $M$ and the length of the first iteration is $L$ (a simple ...
10
votes
2answers
5k views

What is the optimum angle of projection when throwing a stone off a cliff?

You are standing on a cliff at a height $h$ above the sea. You are capable of throwing a stone with velocity $v$ at any angle $a$ between horizontal and vertical. What is the value of $a$ when the ...
6
votes
3answers
393 views

Is there a mathematical theory of physical knots?

From the point of view of people tying real knots (canonically, sailors) mathematical knot theory ignores much of what makes the problem of knot-tying interesting. Some matters that come up in the ...
3
votes
0answers
96 views

Could this be called Renormalization?

Quoted from   Space-Time Approach to Quantum Electrodynamics   by R. P. Feynman, Phys. Rev. 76, 769 1949 : We desire to make a modification of quantum electrodynamics analogous to the ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Aren't asteroids contradicting Euler's rotation theorem?

I am totally confused about Euler's rotation theorem. Normally I would think that an asteroid could rotate around two axes simultaneously. But Euler's rotation theorem states that: In geometry, ...
13
votes
4answers
4k views

Can this gravitational field differential equation be solved, or does it not show what I intended?

This is the equation I'm having trouble with: $$G \frac{M m}{r^2} = m \frac{d^2 r}{dt^2}$$ That's the non-vector form of the universal law of gravitation on the left and Newton's second law of ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

Residue of $z^2 e^{1/\sin z}$ at $z=\pi$

A while back I was working through many problems in Mathews and Walker's Mathematical Methods of Physics. In the appendix is this problem: A-6. Find the residue of the function $z^2 e^{1/\sin z}$ ...
13
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is this allowed? (“Fourier's Trick”; finding the coefficients in a Fourier Series)

In my textbook (Introduction to Electrodynamics, D. Griffiths), we derive the equation for some strange potential function. Eventually, we get to this (for $n \in \mathbb{Z}^+$): $$ V_0(y) = \sum_{n=...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Riemann, Ricci curvature tensor and Ricci scalar of the n dimensional sphere

I am calculating the Riemann curvature tensor, Ricci curvature tensor, and Ricci scalar of the n sphere $x_0^2 + x_1^2 + ....+x_n^2=R^2$, whose metric is $$ds^2=R^2(d\phi_1^2 + \sin{\phi_1}^2 d\phi_1^...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

The vertices of an equilateral triangle are shrinking towards each other

For an equilateral triangle ABC of side $a$ vertex A is always moving in the direction of vertex B, which is always moving the direction of vertex C, which is always moving in the direction of vertex ...
3
votes
2answers
77 views

Functional Derivative ${\delta q_a(t)}/{\delta q_b(t')}$

$\newcommand{\fdv}[2]{\frac{\delta #1}{\delta #2}}$ $\newcommand{\dv}[2]{\frac{\mathrm{d} #1}{\mathrm{d}#2}}$ $\newcommand{\pdv}[2]{\frac{\partial #1}{\partial #2}}$ I'm from a physics background and ...
4
votes
2answers
220 views

Should isometries be linear?

Question Suppose $V$ is a (finite-dimensional) vector space over $F$ ($\operatorname{char }F\neq2$, due to user1551) equipped with a non-degenerate quadratic form $Q$, and $T$ is a distance-...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Free-fall according to Newton's gravitation law

Most analysis of free-fall assume that bodies fall with constant acceleration. If however one analyses free-fall according to Newton's gravitation law, one is lead to a differential equation which I ...
4
votes
2answers
543 views

Learning general relativity

Warning : this question may be borderline with physics.stackexchange, but I would like a mathematician's point of view. Lately, I've been working quite a lot with (among others) hyperbolic spaces, ...
4
votes
1answer
192 views

Solving Wave Equation with Initial Values

I am trying to solve the wave equation: $u_{tt}$ = $u_{xx}$ With initial values: $u(x,0) =\begin{cases} x^3 - x, &\text{for }|x|\le 1,\ \\0, &\text{for }|x|\ge1\end{cases}$ $u_t(x,0) =\...
4
votes
1answer
737 views

Physical or geometric meaning of the trace of a matrix

The geometric meaning of the determinant of a matrix as an area or a volume is dealt with in many textbooks. However, I don't know if the trace of a matrix has a geometric meaning too. Is there ...
1
vote
4answers
9k views

Converting a function for “velocity vs. position”, $v(x)$, to “position vs. time”, $p(t)$

Provided some initial point $x(0)$, how do I convert the function for velocity vs. position, $v(x)$, into a function for position vs. time, $x(t)$, with time derivative $v(x(t))$? Constant ...
3
votes
1answer
684 views

Why does acceleration = $v\frac{dv}{dx}$

If we define $x$ = displacement, $v$ = velocity and $a$ = acceleration then I am used to the ideas that $a= \frac{dv}{dt} = \frac{d^2x}{dt^2}$ However I also understand $a=v \frac{dv}{dx}$. Can ...
2
votes
1answer
121 views

Find Distance Function from Acceleration Function

The (non-constant) acceleration as a function of time, $a(t)$, is defined and known over $[t_0, t_2]$. It is also known that $a(t)$ is integrable. Also, $a(t)=\frac{dv(t)}{dt}$ and $v(t)=\frac{dx(t)}{...
1
vote
1answer
78 views

Relationship between proper orthochronous Lorentz group $SO^+(1,3)$ and $SU(2)\times SU(2)$, or their Lie algebras

I have seen sources claim that $SO^+(1,3) \cong SU(2) \times SU(2)$, but have seen others claim that only their Lie algebras are isomorphic. Is it true that $SO^+(1,3) \cong SU(2) \times SU(2)$? If ...
0
votes
1answer
329 views

Center of mass in a straight rod

I got an assignment to prove that in a straight homogeneous rod, you can always choose a coordinate system in such a way that $$\int_S x_1 \, dx_1 \, dx_2=0 $$ $$\int_S x_2 \, dx_1 \, dx_2=0 $$ $$\...
0
votes
1answer
26 views

When I know gallons and I know total area how to I get total inches

If I know total gallons of oil spilled is 94,000 gallons and area is 5 miles by 2 miles long how do I find total thic
0
votes
2answers
317 views

Undamped spring mass system

I have this study guide for an upcoming test for DE class I'm trying to figure out. A mass of 400 grams stretches a spring by 5 centimeters. (a) Find the spring constant k, the angular frequency ω, ...
91
votes
19answers
4k views

Good Physical Demonstrations of Abstract Mathematics

I like to use physical demonstrations when teaching mathematics (putting physics in the service of mathematics, for once, instead of the other way around), and it'd be great to get some more ideas to ...
37
votes
8answers
4k views

Very *mathematical* general physics book

I am searching for a book to study physics. So far, I've been suggested Resnick, Halliday, Krane, Physics, but it doesn't seem to be very suited for a math major. Can you suggest some more ...
37
votes
3answers
4k views

Intuitive reasoning behind $\pi$'s appearance in bouncing balls.

This video is about an interesting math/physics problem that when cranked out churns out digits of $\pi$. Is there an intuitive reason that $\pi$ is showing up instead of some other funky number ...
20
votes
6answers
2k views

What Mathematics questions can be better solved with concepts from Physics?

Over the years, I've seen several questions in mathematics that can be solved using concepts borrowed from Physics. Having seen these question, I'm interested to find out what other mathematics ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

reference for multidimensional gaussian integral

I was reading on Wikipedia in this article about the n-dimensional and functional generalization of the Gaussian integral. In particular, I would like to understand how the following equations are ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are harmonic functions called harmonic functions?

Are they related to harmonic series in any way? Or something else? Wikipedia didn't help.
15
votes
5answers
983 views

In what ways has physics spurred the invention of new mathematical tools?

I came across this comment: Mathematical rigor is not a criterion that physicists have for evaluating their theories. From a mathematical perspective, the non-rigorous theories are far more ...
20
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the resistance between two points a knights move away on a infinite grid of 1-ohm resistors

On an infinite grid of ideal one-ohm resistors, what's the equivalant resistance between two nodes a knights move away? (please fix the tags, I didn't really know where to put it)
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Cross product and pseudovector confusion.

So called pseudovectors pop up in physics when discussing quantities defined by cross products, such as angular momentum $\mathbf L=\mathbf r\times\mathbf p$. Under the active transformation $\mathbf ...
8
votes
2answers
527 views

Novel approaches to elementary number theory and abstract algebra

As a part of a university course, I'll have to study Herstein's Topics in algebra and Hardy&Wright's Introduction to the theory of numbers. Can you suggest some books (to be used as companions) ...
8
votes
4answers
17k views

Calculating the probability of a coin falling on its side

A classical example that's given for probability exercises is coin flipping. Generally it is accepted that there are two possible outcomes which are heads or tails. However, it is possible in the real ...
11
votes
3answers
428 views

Meaning of $\int\mathop{}\!\mathrm{d}^4x$

What the following formula mean? $$\int\mathop{}\!\mathrm{d}^4x$$ I know that this $\int f(x)\mathop{}\!\mathrm{d}x$ is the integral of the function $f$ over the $x$ variable, but the following $\...
7
votes
2answers
647 views

Euler-Lagrange equations of the Lagrangian related to Maxwell's equations

Clarification on Lagrangian mechanics would be much appreciated: Suppose $$L(\phi,\,\,\phi_{,i},\,\,A_i, \dot A_i)=|\dot A+\nabla\phi|^2-|\nabla \times A|^2-c\phi+d\cdot A$$ Are the corresponding ...
12
votes
2answers
5k views

Energy norm. Why is it called that way?

Let $\Omega$ be an open subset of $\mathbb{R}^n$. The following $$\lVert u \rVert_{1, 2}^2=\int_{\Omega} \lvert u(x)\rvert^2\, dx + \int_{\Omega} \lvert \nabla u(x)\rvert^2\, dx$$ defines a norm on ...
10
votes
2answers
332 views

Applications of Algebra in Physics

Often I have heard about the link between Algebra (in particular Representations of Groups and Algebras) and some "indefinite" field of Physics. I have a good preparation in Algebra and ...
7
votes
2answers
8k views

Proof of Dirac Delta's sifting property

A common way to characterize the dirac delta function $\delta$ is by the following two properties: $$1)\ \delta(x) = 0\ \ \text{for}\ \ x \neq 0$$ $$2)\ \int_{-\infty}^{\infty}\delta(x)\ dx = 1$$ I ...
6
votes
3answers
626 views

Learning about the universe or special/general relativity

I have done a standard course in differential geometry/Riemannian geometry. Am I now able to understand the concepts people talk about when they say things like "spacetime is curved" and when I see ...