# Energy-Momentum Tensor: How Much Do University Students Learn?

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• kent davidge
In summary, the conversation discusses the topic of the energy momentum tensor and the extent to which it is covered in textbooks and university courses. It is suggested that while textbooks may only cover introductory aspects of the tensor, university physics students may learn more about it through detailed discussions and difficult problems. It is also mentioned that textbooks may not cover all the material that can be taught in a course, such as in the case of electromagnetism.
kent davidge
There are plentty of textbooks and online papers that talk about the energy momentum tensor, but they all look to me as if they're only covering the very introductory aspects of it. To put another way, it seems that there's much more to be learn.

I would like to know if university physics students are taught a lot more about the energy momentum tensor than one can find in the textbooks? I mean, I would want to know whether they have detailed disscusions about it in a physics course in the uni.

I am myself an undergrad physics student, but we have not even had special relativity classes as of yet.

From my own experience, for example in introductory linear algebra (aka matrices) we are required to know more than what's covered in textbooks, because our exams are very hard, and we won't pass them otherwise. Therefore we end up with a much more deeper knowledge compared to someone who taught himself this only by reading textbooks.

Does the same thing happens regarding the EM tensor?

Just to understand what you mean by more than what's in the textbooks, can you give examples from your linear algebra course of things you learned in lectures that cannot be found in the textbooks?

You are given some very difficult problems involving matrices or vector spaces to solve. You need to memorize things such as properties of determinants and operations with matrices.

Textbooks don't treat these very much.

These exercises are an integral part of the material to be learnt. It's as important for a physicist to learn both the concepts and then do tons of problems to be able to solve concrete problems.

It depends a bit on the professor who teaches electromagnetism. Many teach it in the conventional non-relativistic way and mention the covariant formalism only at the very end. That's why usually one learns about the energy density, the Poynting vector, and Maxwell stresses without ever being told that all together are just components of the energy-momentum tensor of the em. field. Also usually in em. textbooks is more material than can be covered in a one-semester lecture.

kent davidge

## 1. What is an energy-momentum tensor?

An energy-momentum tensor is a mathematical object used in physics to describe the distribution of energy and momentum in a given space. It is a tensor because it has multiple components that correspond to different directions in space.

## 2. How is the energy-momentum tensor used in physics?

The energy-momentum tensor is used in various areas of physics, including general relativity, quantum field theory, and fluid dynamics. It helps to describe the flow of energy and momentum in a given system and is crucial in understanding the behavior of particles and fields.

## 3. What do university students typically learn about the energy-momentum tensor?

University students typically learn about the mathematical properties and equations associated with the energy-momentum tensor, as well as its applications in different areas of physics. They also learn about the conservation laws that govern the behavior of the energy-momentum tensor.

## 4. What are some real-world applications of the energy-momentum tensor?

The energy-momentum tensor has many practical applications, such as predicting the behavior of fluids in pipes, understanding the motion of objects in space, and describing the behavior of particles in particle accelerators. It is also used in the development of new technologies, such as quantum computers.

## 5. Are there any limitations to the energy-momentum tensor?

While the energy-momentum tensor is a powerful tool in physics, it does have some limitations. For example, it does not account for the effects of gravity, and it cannot fully describe the behavior of quantum systems. However, it is still a fundamental concept in physics and has greatly contributed to our understanding of the universe.

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