Physics Forums

Physics Forums (
-   General Math (
-   -   Help on physical meaning (

mtarek16 May15-08 01:26 PM

Help on physical meaning
Hello all,

Could anyone please define the physical meaning of [Laplacian(f) = 0; f is a potential function of a vector field] ..

I don't know whether it's easy or not, but I'm a noob in vector analysis, so I thought I'd better ask :)


qspeechc May15-08 01:35 PM

What function has 0 as its Laplace transform? Well, f=0 will work, and the inverse transforms are unique, so f=0 is the only solution. Or am I totally wrong?

Vid May15-08 02:10 PM

Laplacian and laplace transform are two different things.

When the laplacian is zero you get the n-dimensional laplace equation.

qspeechc May15-08 02:17 PM

Oops, my bad. Ignore everything I said.

maze May15-08 10:45 PM

The laplacian of a function at a point, [tex]\Delta f(p)[/tex] measures how much f(p), deviates from the average of f on a small circle surrounding p. This is similar to how the second derivative measures whether a function of a single variable is concave up or concave down, except extended to functions of many variables. In a sense, it measures how much the function is "curving up" or "curving down" around a point.

If the laplacian is zero, that means that f(p) is equal to the local average of f. Imagine f as a 2D surface, and (px,py,f(p)) is a point on the surface - If the surface is curving up in one direction around p, it must be curving down in another direction. Thus functions where laplacian f is zero everywhere are ones where every point looks like a saddle point.

As a result, when the laplacian is zero, f can have no local maxima or minima - if f had a local maxima at q, then f(q) > average of f around q, which would make the laplacian nonzero.

mtarek16 May22-08 01:56 PM

Thank you all ..

maze, I don't quite get it, but I understand a little bit of what you're getting at. That's satisfactory for now .. finals start in two days so I will investigate in this later.

Would appreciate it though if you, or anyone else could provide a graphical example or something to clarify it more.

maze May24-08 06:00 AM

Here is a pdf I've found on the subject. Seems pretty good, and has some pictures.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:39 PM.

Powered by vBulletin Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
© 2014 Physics Forums