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

Random walk in spherical coordinates

  1. Aug 10, 2010 #1

    I'm modeling receptors moving along a cell surface that interact with proteins inside of a cell. I figured it would be easier to model the receptors in spherical coordinates, however I'm unsure of how to model a random walk. In cartesian coordinates, I basically model a step as:

    x = x + sqrt(6*D*timeStep)*randn
    y = y + sqrt(6*D*timeStep)*randn
    z = z + sqrt(6*D*timeStep)*randn

    Where D is my diffusion constant. How can I do this just using theta and phi? Modeling random walk in spherical coordinates will be really nice, because I can fix r such that the receptors can't leave the membrane of the cell, and just focus on how it moves in 2D with respect to the membrane.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2010 #2
    Because the receptors are so much smaller than the size of the cell, it should be fine if you treat theta and phi just like x-y; i.e. pretend its a 2D random walk in Cartesian coordinates.
  4. Aug 10, 2010 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    To choose points on the surface of a sphere uniformly, the two angles should be chosen as follows (I'll call them latitude and longitude):

    Longitude (θ) - θ uniform between 0 and 2π.
    Latitude (φ) - sinφ uniform between -1 and 1.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook