Spacetime Metric: Which signature is better?

  • #1
referframe
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Main Question or Discussion Point

It seems that, in general, mathematicians prefer the (-,+,+,+) signature for the Minkowski spacetime metric while most physicists prefer the (+,-,-,-) signature. Is there any evidence that Nature actually prefers one over the other?

As usual, thanks in advance.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
PAllen
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Nature cannot have a preference since no physics is changed. The only possible answer, IMO, is the one that you will make fewer mistakes with.
 
  • #3
Meir Achuz
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I think physicists prefer +--- for several reasons.
Time goes forward, space can go in either direction.
The four vector (E;p,p,p) has the length^2: E ^2-p^2=m^2. -m^2 would be awkward.
 
  • #4
Ben Niehoff
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I think pretty much anyone who works in dimensions other than 4 prefers (-+++...). There is a great benefit to not having to remember exactly how many minus signs you have to think about when working with Levi-Cività tensors, for example.
 
  • #5
Orodruin
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The question was what Nature prefers, not what physicists or mathematicians prefer. PAllen nailed it in the first sentence:
Nature cannot have a preference since no physics is changed.
The thread could have been locked at that point.
 
  • #6
PeterDonis
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The thread could have been locked at that point.
And now it is.
 

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