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

Vector Calculus: Question about the origin of the term 'divergence'

  1. Sep 10, 2009 #1
    Why is the divergence operation called the 'divergence?' What is the significance of this operation on a vector-valued function? And what about "the curl?" The curl seems self-explanatory (at least it does in electrodynamics), but I need someone to expound on 'the curl' as well.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 10, 2009 #2
    The divergence gives you flux density of a vector field. If it's positive in a region then the vector field spreads outward from itself. That's why it's called divergence.

    And the curl is a sort of rotational density of a vector field. Curl is a vector whose magnitude is proportional to the strength of rotation of the vector field. Hence it's called curl.
     
  4. Sep 12, 2009 #3

    tiny-tim

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Hi waht! Hi Vectronix! :smile:

    And, conversely, if the divergence is negative, then the field lines converge. :wink:

    In particular, you get divergence round sources, and convergence round sinks.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Vector Calculus: Question about the origin of the term 'divergence'
Loading...