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Spherical Coordinates

  1. Sep 3, 2005 #1
    Just curious, why is [tex] \phi [/tex] calculated as the angle between the +z axis and a position vector of a point of a function, as projected onto the yz plane? Why this convention?

    In polar & cylindrical, [tex] \theta [/tex] is calculated from the +x axis to the +y axis (counterclockwise) for position vectors.

    *So, why not extrapolate alphabetically, to have the [tex] \phi [/tex] be the angle between the +y axis and the position vector of a point as projected onto the yz plane? :smile:
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 3, 2005 #2

    arildno

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    Use whatever convention you like, there is no general agreement on this issue.
     
  4. Sep 3, 2005 #3
    But nowhere have I found [tex] \phi [/tex] calculated as the angle between the +y axis and the position vector of a point, projected onto the yz plane...
     
  5. Sep 3, 2005 #4
    You will see why once you start working with problems involving these. For example, take the intersection between a sphere and a cone (I posted about this before). This can be computed by a double integral, but if you use a triple integral and spherical coordinates, it becomes much simpler (thanks to HallsofIvy on this).
     
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