Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Curvature of Spacetime?

Tags:
  1. Jun 13, 2013 #1
    if gravity arises from normal accelerations due to the curvature of spacetime...what would the opposite of this "process" represent?

    to clarify is it possible to describe the opposite of this curvature??

    thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2013 #2

    WannabeNewton

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I'm not sure you clarified enough unfortunately. Gravity is a manifestation of the curvature of space-time itself, which is in turn dependent upon the dynamics of mass-energy-momentum distributions throughout space-time. What exactly do you mean by "opposite" of this curvature?
     
  4. Jun 13, 2013 #3
    We can both describe the curvature of spacetime through mathematical equations and also visualize it(conceptually) with the classic picture of a heavy ball placed in the center of taunt bedsheet etc

    what I'm looking for is a description of the exact opposite "process"...what/how could we describe this?

    at minimum, is there a term or description for the opposite of curving/bending of spacetime?
     
  5. Jun 13, 2013 #4

    WannabeNewton

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Humans cannot visualize space-time curvature (not a normal human anyways). That ball in a trampoline analogy is nowhere near a proper visualization of space-time curvature. I do, however, have a vague idea of what you are asking for. In those (albeit horrible) ball in a trampoline analogies, the curvature is shown as a right-side up bowl of sorts. Are you asking if we can have curvature resembling, at the least locally, an upside-down bowl?
     
  6. Jun 13, 2013 #5

    A.T.

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    An upside-down bowl has the same geometry as the original. Turning it upside down changes nothing about the geodesics, and thus the effects of the curvature.
     
  7. Jun 13, 2013 #6

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    Do you mean "flattening" or do you mean "curving" in the opposite direction?
     
  8. Jun 13, 2013 #7

    WannabeNewton

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I was simply asking the OP if that was what he/she was visualizing. I was not making any assertion of such sort. The OP is clearly visualizing spatial submanifolds embedded in higher dimensional euclidean spaces. Also, things which locally bend away from normal planes through a given point have positive normal curvature whereas things which locally bend towards normal planes through a given point have negative normal curvature. This is a trivial fact. It's analogous to the second derivative of ##f(x) = x^2## versus the second derivative of ##f(x) = -x^{2}##. This is related to how the spatial submanifolds are embedded in higher dimensional euclidean spaces and their subsequent orientations.
     
  9. Jun 13, 2013 #8
    woot! someone is finally understanding what I'm getting at here...

    I can easily conceptualize the flattening of space....if for example a massive object was instantly removed from existence I can imagine there's a description of spacetime "flattening" back out.

    either way I'm definitely referring to the "curving" in the opposite "direction" in my posts....

    thanks for helping to clarify
     
  10. Jun 13, 2013 #9

    A.T.

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That is a very misleading picture. It shows at best space geometry not space-time geometry. And it has little to do with the observed gravitational attraction. Here is how that works locally:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdC0QN6f3G4

    And here more globally:
    http://www.adamtoons.de/physics/gravitation.swf

    An inverse of this could be if the temporal distances were deceasing closer to the source. This would cause repulsion from the source and gravitational time acceleration, in such a model.
     
  11. Jun 13, 2013 #10
    maybe the term I should use here is "uncurling" or "unfurling" of spacetime?
     
  12. Jun 13, 2013 #11

    WannabeNewton

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Perfect, so you were visualizing what I thought you were visualizing :smile:. What you are seeing is a geometrical shape embedded in a higher dimensional space and seeing how this shape bends in that higher dimensional space. Going back to the example of the graph of the function ##f(x) = x^{2}## versus the graph of the function ##f(x) = -x^{2}##, we visualize the two as an upwards facing bowl and downwards facing bowl, respectively, as embedded in two dimensional euclidean space. Their extrinsic curvatures then differ by a sign because of the flip in orientation.

    However, this extrinsic curvature is only defined when given such an embedding. Space-time curvature is an intrinsic curvature which you cannot visualize in the above sense; it is something you can measure locally using various geometrical tools e.g. the parallel propagator. It is not a curvature gotten by looking at how space-time bends in some higher dimensional space-time. As such, it is not physically meaningful to ask if it is oriented in one direction or in the opposite direction, as far as general relativity is concerned.
     
  13. Jun 13, 2013 #12
    AT I understand the visualization of gravity as the bending of spacetime like a ball on a trampoline is an incomplete picture at best...but its certainly good enough to jump start our discussion here.

    I think your last post shows you do indeed understand what I'm attempting to get at here...
     
  14. Jun 13, 2013 #13

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    I am glad I asked.

    In this case, AT's post 5 applies. Basically, there are two kinds of curvature, "intrinsic" and "extrinsic". Here is an explanation: http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/teaching/HPS_0410/chapters/non_Euclid_variable/index.html#Intrinsic

    The idea of extrinsic curvature requires a surface to be embedded in some higher dimensional flat space. However, we, in our 4 dimensions, do not have any access to these higher dimensions. So all of the notions of curvature in general relativity are intrinsic curvature. For intrinsic curvature, there is no distinction between curvature in different directions in any hypothetical embedding space.

    So the short answer is that there is no "opposite process" as you intend.
     
  15. Jun 13, 2013 #14
    ok cool so I think you've answered my question(s) but to make sure...

    you're saying a "flat" part of spacetime curving would be the exact same thing as it "uncurving" & that a "direction" to this curvature arises purely from our brains attempting to visualize spacetime in a higher dimensional manifold(ie. ball on trampoline)
     
  16. Jun 13, 2013 #15

    A.T.

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If you mean that the bulge is mirrored and goes the other way, that changes nothing, as I said. The distances within the surface don't change.

    If you mean negating the intrinsic curvature at every point, I don't how this would look like, and if it is even possible to do it for a bulge in a plane. Locally it means this:

    80215-004-519329A2.jpg
    http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/90070/Intrinsic-curvature-of-a-surface [Broken]

    But a bulge in a plane has areas positive curvature (in the middle) and negative curvature (at the transition tot he plane). I don't see how you can invert it at every point.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  17. Jun 13, 2013 #16

    WannabeNewton

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I'm not saying flat and curved are the same. I'm saying that the "direction" (i.e. orientation in some higher dimensional space) won't matter as far as space-time curvature goes because the space-time curvature is intrinsic to the space-time, unaffected by how it is embedded and oriented in some higher dimensional space. This is in the spirit of one of the most celebrated theorems in the differential geometry of curves and surfaces-Gauss's Theorema Egregium: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theorema_Egregium

    This is why it is important to have a distinction between intrinsic curvature and extrinsic curvature. And yes what you naturally try to picture is the extrinsic curvature.
     
  18. Jun 13, 2013 #17

    I understand that flat and curve are not the same...i think you missed the word curving in my sentence here...
    anyways, your responses still apply...although to make sure, I'm still asking whether there is any description of spacetime "uncurving"...ughh its the only word I can come up with to describe what I'm thinking of here.

    maybe inverting the curvature would be better terminology or help to clarify my questions?

    either way, thanks for responses and taking the time to help explain these things. great stuff
     
  19. Jun 13, 2013 #18

    WannabeNewton

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The notion of space-time curvature bending "upwards" or "downwards" in one way or another is not something we can meaningfully define physically because, as far as GR is concerned, space-time is all there is so we can't embed it in some natural higher dimensional space and see how it bends ("upwards", "downwards" etc.) in that space. Mathematically this can be done but it has no physical meaning in GR. We care only about the intrinsic curvature of the space-time manifold. This was in fact one of the motivations for Riemannian geometry as a whole, even before GR came along.
     
  20. Jun 13, 2013 #19
    ok so that link one of you posted about variable curvature is proving to be very useful....

    since we have access to only the 4 dimensions we know of, we obviously treat spacetime curvature as intrinsic...which makes perfect sense to me.

    so if we visualize ourselves like some 2D flatlanders drawn on a sheet of paper, the intrinsic curvature of spacetime would be analogous to rolling the flatlander's sheet of paper into any number of curved geometric shapes. is this correct?

    i'll stop there for now, make sure we are on same page
     
  21. Jun 13, 2013 #20

    WannabeNewton

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I am still unsure of what it is you are asking exactly but it seems like you are asking: how do we actually measure/quantify intrinsic curvature? If so, see the following passage from the textbook "General Relativity"- M.Wald: http://postimg.org/image/58tua25td/ [Broken]

    A creature living on a given Riemannian manifold could construct such an small closed loop in some region of the manifold, parallel transport the vector around the loop, and see how the vector changes when it comes back to its initial starting point. This will allow the creature to measure the Riemann curvature in that region (the Riemann curvature is a type of intrinsic curvature).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Curvature of Spacetime?
  1. Spacetime curvature (Replies: 13)

  2. Curvature of Spacetime (Replies: 4)

  3. Spacetime curvature (Replies: 47)

Loading...