Help on physical meaning

  • Thread starter mtarek16
  • Start date
  • #1
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 :)


Answers and Replies

  • #2
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?
  • #4
Oops, my bad. Ignore everything I said.
  • #5
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.
  • #6
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.