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Re: This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics (Week 232)

  1. Jun 12, 2006 #1
    Ralph Hartley wrote:

    >There is no problem defining the group valued momentum for a particle,
    >as long as you specify both a loop, a base point and a coordinate frame
    >at the base point. You also need to be careful defining the "ordinary"
    >velocity. A reference frame is not enough. You need a reference frame at
    >a some chosen point, *and* a path from that point to the particle.


    By specifying a path and a loop, do you mean homotopy classes of these
    things?

    >An *arbitrary* spacelike surface can have curvature anywhere, not just
    >at the particles.


    Good point! Your comment made me think of the hyperbolic plane, and the
    opportunity it gives for the sums of angles in triangles to be less than
    2pi.

    I'm not sure if the following construction is the kind of thing you had
    in mind ...

    Consider the unit timelike hyperboloid in Minkowski space,
    -t^2+x^2+y^2=-1. Suppose we have a particle moving with speed v e_x in
    some reference frame, so its world line lies in the xt plane, and
    punctures the hyperboloid at:

    u = (1, v, 0) / sqrt(1-v^2)

    Now consider the two planes with unit spacelike normals n1 and n2:

    n1 = (v, 1, v)
    n2 = (v, 1, -v)
    n1.n2 = 1 - 2v^2 (Lorentzian dot product)

    Note that n1.u = n2.u = 0, so the intersection of these two planes is the
    world line of our particle.

    These two planes intersect the unit hyperboloid along the curves:

    y = +/- (v^2 - (1 - v^2) x^2) / (2vx)
    t = (v^2 + (1 + v^2) x^2) / (2vx)

    which can be confirmed by checking that (t,x,y) with the above
    substitutions is always a unit timelike vector, and is orthogonal to n1
    or n2 respectively.

    Both curves are asymptotic to the yt plane, with y->+/-infinity as x->0.
    So these two hyperbolas meet in a cusp on our particle's worldline, at u,
    and then spread out as they approach the yt plane. Their projection into
    the xy plane will be something like this:

    y
    ^
    |.
    |.
    | .
    | .
    | .
    |______.____ x
    | .
    | .
    | .
    |.
    |.

    The Lorentz transformation that rotates around the particle's worldline
    and carries n2 into -n1 will carry the bottom curve into the top curve,
    counterclockwise around this diagram. So if we identify the bottom curve
    with the top one this way, we will have an angular deficit of
    pi+arccos(1-2v^2) associated with this particle (choosing the branch 0 <
    arccos < pi).

    We can turn this pair of curves into a pair of surfaces meeting in a cusp
    along the world line by linearly rescaling everything by a factor lambda
    over some range of positive values. The same rotation around the world
    line will take one surface into the other, and although the angular
    deficit will be greater than pi the excised wedge will never encroach
    into the region x<=0. (We have to stick to +ve lambda, so we can't
    extend things back into the indefinite past, though it might be possible
    to get around that with some further tricks.)

    We can then use a mirror-reversed version of the same construction to add
    a second particle. We don't have to use the same value for v, and we
    could displace the origin by some vector if we liked. And of course it's
    not compulsory to make either rotation exactly pi+arccos(1-2v^2), that's
    just an upper bound.

    I realise that the boundary in the past is a bit messy, but I don't have
    the energy to try to fix that up just yet.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2006 #2
    Greg Egan wrote:
    > Ralph Hartley wrote:
    >
    >> There is no problem defining the group valued momentum for a particle,
    >> as long as you specify both a loop, a base point and a coordinate frame
    >> at the base point. You also need to be careful defining the "ordinary"
    >> velocity. A reference frame is not enough. You need a reference frame at
    >> a some chosen point, *and* a path from that point to the particle.

    >
    > By specifying a path and a loop, do you mean homotopy classes of these
    > things?


    Yes.

    >> An *arbitrary* spacelike surface can have curvature anywhere, not just
    >> at the particles.

    >
    > Good point! Your comment made me think of the hyperbolic plane, and the
    > opportunity it gives for the sums of angles in triangles to be less than
    > 2pi.
    >
    > I'm not sure if the following construction is the kind of thing you had
    > in mind ...


    I didn't really have any construction in mind. With one exception, I am
    not convinced that it *is* possible to have a (connected) manifold with
    total deficits > 2Pi. I had just noticed that my proof that there aren't
    had a hole in it.

    The one exception is a big bang with a total deficit of *exactly* 4Pi.

    Consider a polyhedron inscribed in a sphere of radius 1, centered at the
    origin. Let the surface of the polyhedron inherit the metric from R^3
    (which will be flat except at the vertexes).

    For any point p other than the origin, let p_1 be the intersection of
    the polyhedron with the ray from the origin through p. Let t(p) = |p|/|p_1|.

    The metric (on R^3-O) ds^2 = -dt(p)^2 + dp_1^2 is flat except at the
    rays from the origin through the vertexes, and any timelike surface has
    total deficit 4Pi.

    Any loop divides the surface into two parts, either of which can be
    viewed as "inside". The holonomy around the loop can only have one
    value, and should be the sum of the deficits of the points it encloses.
    This only works if holonomy is modulo 2Pi.

    This solution is static, but there should be dynamic variants as well.
    They shouldn't be too complicated in principle, but I would have to
    abandon pencil and paper and start programing to figure them out (which
    I don't have time to do).

    I would also have to do a great deal more reading than I have so far.

    > We can turn this pair of curves into a pair of surfaces meeting in a cusp
    > along the world line by linearly rescaling everything by a factor lambda
    > over some range of positive values.


    I'm afraid you lost me about there.

    > The same rotation around the world
    > line will take one surface into the other, and although the angular
    > deficit will be greater than pi the excised wedge will never encroach
    > into the region x<=0. (We have to stick to +ve lambda, so we can't
    > extend things back into the indefinite past, though it might be possible
    > to get around that with some further tricks.)


    It is possible that you have a piece of the solution I outlined above.

    > I can't see how to extend this solution to infinite -ve time, but why not
    > make a virtue out of necessity and consider a family of Big Bang style
    > solutions which start from a singularity?


    I'm not sure if what you describe is the same as mine.

    > If we pick an origin in Minkowski spacetime, we can take the topological
    > interior of the forward light cone of the origin and declare that this
    > set, minus some wedges excluded along particle world lines, will be our
    > entire solution.


    It looks like your construction has a boundary, other than the origin.
    If so, then it can't be the same as my big bang, but it could be a piece
    of it (e.g. with a hole cut out).

    Ralph Hartley
     
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