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PHY450H1S (relativistic electrodynamics) Problem Set 3.

Posted by peeterjoot on March 2, 2011

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This problem set is as yet ungraded (although only the second question will be graded).

Problem 1. Fun with \epsilon_{\alpha\beta\gamma}, \epsilon^{ijkl}, F_{ij}, and the duality of Maxwell’s equations in vacuum.

1. Statement. rank 3 spatial antisymmetric tensor identities.

Prove that

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{\alpha \beta \gamma}\epsilon_{\mu \nu \gamma}=\delta_{\alpha\mu} \delta_{\beta\nu}-\delta_{\alpha\nu} \delta_{\beta\mu}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.1)

and use it to find the familiar relation for

\begin{aligned}(\mathbf{A} \times \mathbf{B}) \cdot (\mathbf{C} \times \mathbf{D})\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.2)

Also show that

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{\alpha \beta \gamma}\epsilon_{\mu \beta \gamma}=2 \delta_{\alpha\mu}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.3)

(Einstein summation implied all throughout this problem).

1. Solution

We can explicitly expand the (implied) sum over indexes \gamma. This is

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{\alpha \beta \gamma}\epsilon_{\mu \nu \gamma}=\epsilon_{\alpha \beta 1} \epsilon_{\mu \nu 1}+\epsilon_{\alpha \beta 2} \epsilon_{\mu \nu 2}+\epsilon_{\alpha \beta 3} \epsilon_{\mu \nu 3}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.4)

For any \alpha \ne \beta only one term is non-zero. For example with \alpha,\beta = 2,3, we have just a contribution from the \gamma = 1 part of the sum

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{2 3 1} \epsilon_{\mu \nu 1}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.5)

The value of this for (\mu,\nu) = (\alpha,\beta) is

\begin{aligned}(\epsilon_{2 3 1})^2\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.6)

whereas for (\mu,\nu) = (\beta,\alpha) we have

\begin{aligned}-(\epsilon_{2 3 1})^2\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.7)

Our sum has value one when (\alpha, \beta) matches (\mu, \nu), and value minus one for when (\mu, \nu) are permuted. We can summarize this, by saying that when \alpha \ne \beta we have

\begin{aligned}\boxed{\epsilon_{\alpha \beta \gamma}\epsilon_{\mu \nu \gamma}=\delta_{\alpha\mu} \delta_{\beta\nu}-\delta_{\alpha\nu} \delta_{\beta\mu}.}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.8)

However, observe that when \alpha = \beta the RHS is

\begin{aligned}\delta_{\alpha\mu} \delta_{\alpha\nu}-\delta_{\alpha\nu} \delta_{\alpha\mu} = 0,\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.9)

as desired, so this form works in general without any \alpha \ne \beta qualifier, completing this part of the problem.

\begin{aligned}(\mathbf{A} \times \mathbf{B}) \cdot (\mathbf{C} \times \mathbf{D})&=(\epsilon_{\alpha \beta \gamma} \mathbf{e}^\alpha A^\beta B^\gamma ) \cdot(\epsilon_{\mu \nu \sigma} \mathbf{e}^\mu C^\nu D^\sigma ) \\ &=\epsilon_{\alpha \beta \gamma} A^\beta B^\gamma\epsilon_{\alpha \nu \sigma} C^\nu D^\sigma \\ &=(\delta_{\beta \nu} \delta_{\gamma\sigma}-\delta_{\beta \sigma} \delta_{\gamma\nu} )A^\beta B^\gammaC^\nu D^\sigma \\ &=A^\nu B^\sigmaC^\nu D^\sigma-A^\sigma B^\nuC^\nu D^\sigma.\end{aligned}

This gives us

\begin{aligned}\boxed{(\mathbf{A} \times \mathbf{B}) \cdot (\mathbf{C} \times \mathbf{D})=(\mathbf{A} \cdot \mathbf{C})(\mathbf{B} \cdot \mathbf{D})-(\mathbf{A} \cdot \mathbf{D})(\mathbf{B} \cdot \mathbf{C}).}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.10)

We have one more identity to deal with.

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{\alpha \beta \gamma}\epsilon_{\mu \beta \gamma}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.11)

We can expand out this (implied) sum slow and dumb as well

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{\alpha \beta \gamma}\epsilon_{\mu \beta \gamma}&=\epsilon_{\alpha 1 2} \epsilon_{\mu 1 2}+\epsilon_{\alpha 2 1} \epsilon_{\mu 2 1} \\ &+\epsilon_{\alpha 1 3} \epsilon_{\mu 1 3}+\epsilon_{\alpha 3 1} \epsilon_{\mu 3 1} \\ &+\epsilon_{\alpha 2 3} \epsilon_{\mu 2 3}+\epsilon_{\alpha 3 2} \epsilon_{\mu 3 2} \\ &=2 \epsilon_{\alpha 1 2} \epsilon_{\mu 1 2}+ 2 \epsilon_{\alpha 1 3} \epsilon_{\mu 1 3}+ 2 \epsilon_{\alpha 2 3} \epsilon_{\mu 2 3}\end{aligned}

Now, observe that for any \alpha \in (1,2,3) only one term of this sum is picked up. For example, with no loss of generality, pick \alpha = 1. We are left with only

\begin{aligned}2 \epsilon_{1 2 3} \epsilon_{\mu 2 3}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.12)

This has the value

\begin{aligned}2 (\epsilon_{1 2 3})^2 = 2\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.13)

when \mu = \alpha and is zero otherwise. We can therefore summarize the evaluation of this sum as

\begin{aligned}\boxed{\epsilon_{\alpha \beta \gamma}\epsilon_{\mu \beta \gamma}=  2\delta_{\alpha\mu},}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.14)

completing this problem.

2. Statement. Determinant of three by three matrix.

Prove that for any 3 \times 3 matrix {\left\lVert{A_{\alpha\beta}}\right\rVert}: \epsilon_{\mu\nu\lambda} A_{\alpha \mu} A_{\beta\nu} A_{\gamma\lambda} = \epsilon_{\alpha \beta \gamma} \text{Det} A and that \epsilon_{\alpha\beta\gamma} \epsilon_{\mu\nu\lambda} A_{\alpha \mu} A_{\beta\nu} A_{\gamma\lambda} = 6 \text{Det} A.

2. Solution

In class Simon showed us how the first identity can be arrived at using the triple product \mathbf{a} \cdot (\mathbf{b} \times \mathbf{c}) = \text{Det}(\mathbf{a} \mathbf{b} \mathbf{c}). It occurred to me later that I’d seen the identity to be proven in the context of Geometric Algebra, but hadn’t recognized it in this tensor form. Basically, a wedge product can be expanded in sums of determinants, and when the dimension of the space is the same as the vector, we have a pseudoscalar times the determinant of the components.

For example, in \mathbb{R}^{2}, let’s take the wedge product of a pair of vectors. As preparation for the relativistic \mathbb{R}^{4} case We won’t require an orthonormal basis, but express the vector in terms of a reciprocal frame and the associated components

\begin{aligned}a = a^i e_i = a_j e^j\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.15)


\begin{aligned}e^i \cdot e_j = {\delta^i}_j.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.16)

When we get to the relativistic case, we can pick (but don’t have to) the standard basis

\begin{aligned}e_0 &= (1, 0, 0, 0) \\ e_1 &= (0, 1, 0, 0) \\ e_2 &= (0, 0, 1, 0) \\ e_3 &= (0, 0, 0, 1),\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.17)

for which our reciprocal frame is implicitly defined by the metric

\begin{aligned}e^0 &= (1, 0, 0, 0) \\ e^1 &= (0, -1, 0, 0) \\ e^2 &= (0, 0, -1, 0) \\ e^3 &= (0, 0, 0, -1).\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.21)

Anyways. Back to the problem. Let’s examine the \mathbb{R}^{2} case. Our wedge product in coordinates is

\begin{aligned}a \wedge b=a^i b^j (e_i \wedge e_j)\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.25)

Since there are only two basis vectors we have

\begin{aligned}a \wedge b=(a^1 b^2 - a^2 b^1) e_1 \wedge e_2 = \text{Det} {\left\lVert{a^i b^j}\right\rVert} (e_1 \wedge e_2).\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.26)

Our wedge product is a product of the determinant of the vector coordinates, times the \mathbb{R}^{2} pseudoscalar e_1 \wedge e_2.

This doesn’t look quite like the \mathbb{R}^{3} relation that we want to prove, which had an antisymmetric tensor factor for the determinant. Observe that we get the determinant by picking off the e_1 \wedge e_2 component of the bivector result (the only component in this case), and we can do that by dotting with e^2 \cdot e^1. To get an antisymmetric tensor times the determinant, we have only to dot with a different pseudoscalar (one that differs by a possible sign due to permutation of the indexes). That is

\begin{aligned}(e^t \wedge e^s) \cdot (a \wedge b)&=a^i b^j (e^t \wedge e^s) \cdot (e_i \wedge e_j) \\ &=a^i b^j\left( {\delta^{s}}_i {\delta^{t}}_j-{\delta^{t}}_i {\delta^{s}}_j  \right) \\ &=a^i b^j{\delta^{[t}}_j {\delta^{s]}}_i \\ &=a^i b^j{\delta^{t}}_{[j} {\delta^{s}}_{i]} \\ &=a^{[i} b^{j]}{\delta^{t}}_{j} {\delta^{s}}_{i} \\ &=a^{[s} b^{t]}\end{aligned}

Now, if we write a^i = A^{1 i} and b^j = A^{2 j} we have

\begin{aligned}(e^t \wedge e^s) \cdot (a \wedge b)=A^{1 s} A^{2 t} -A^{1 t} A^{2 s}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.27)

We can write this in two different ways. One of which is

\begin{aligned}A^{1 s} A^{2 t} -A^{1 t} A^{2 s} =\epsilon^{s t} \text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.28)

and the other of which is by introducing free indexes for 1 and 2, and summing antisymmetrically over these. That is

\begin{aligned}A^{1 s} A^{2 t} -A^{1 t} A^{2 s}=A^{a s} A^{b t} \epsilon_{a b}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.29)

So, we have

\begin{aligned}\boxed{A^{a s} A^{b t} \epsilon_{a b} =A^{1 i} A^{2 j} {\delta^{[t}}_j {\delta^{s]}}_i =\epsilon^{s t} \text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert},}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.30)

This result hold regardless of the metric for the space, and does not require that we were using an orthonormal basis. When the metric is Euclidean and we have an orthonormal basis, then all the indexes can be dropped.

The \mathbb{R}^{3} and \mathbb{R}^{4} cases follow in exactly the same way, we just need more vectors in the wedge products.

For the \mathbb{R}^{3} case we have

\begin{aligned}(e^u \wedge e^t \wedge e^s) \cdot ( a \wedge b \wedge c)&=a^i b^j c^k(e^u \wedge e^t \wedge e^s) \cdot (e_i \wedge e_j \wedge e_k) \\ &=a^i b^j c^k{\delta^{[u}}_k{\delta^{t}}_j{\delta^{s]}}_i \\ &=a^{[s} b^t c^{u]}\end{aligned}

Again, with a^i = A^{1 i} and b^j = A^{2 j}, and c^k = A^{3 k} we have

\begin{aligned}(e^u \wedge e^t \wedge e^s) \cdot ( a \wedge b \wedge c)=A^{1 i} A^{2 j} A^{3 k}{\delta^{[u}}_k{\delta^{t}}_j{\delta^{s]}}_i\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.31)

and we can choose to write this in either form, resulting in the identity

\begin{aligned}\boxed{\epsilon^{s t u} \text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert}=A^{1 i} A^{2 j} A^{3 k}{\delta^{[u}}_k{\delta^{t}}_j{\delta^{s]}}_i=\epsilon_{a b c} A^{a s} A^{b t} A^{c u}.}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.32)

The \mathbb{R}^{4} case follows exactly the same way, and we have

\begin{aligned}(e^v \wedge e^u \wedge e^t \wedge e^s) \cdot ( a \wedge b \wedge c \wedge d)&=a^i b^j c^k d^l(e^v \wedge e^u \wedge e^t \wedge e^s) \cdot (e_i \wedge e_j \wedge e_k \wedge e_l) \\ &=a^i b^j c^k d^l{\delta^{[v}}_l{\delta^{u}}_k{\delta^{t}}_j{\delta^{s]}}_i \\ &=a^{[s} b^t c^{u} d^{v]}.\end{aligned}

This time with a^i = A^{0 i} and b^j = A^{1 j}, and c^k = A^{2 k}, and d^l = A^{3 l} we have

\begin{aligned}\boxed{\epsilon^{s t u v} \text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert}=A^{0 i} A^{1 j} A^{2 k} A^{3 l}{\delta^{[v}}_l{\delta^{u}}_k{\delta^{t}}_j{\delta^{s]}}_i=\epsilon_{a b c d} A^{a s} A^{b t} A^{c u} A^{d v}.}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.33)

This one is almost the identity to be established later in problem 1.4. We have only to raise and lower some indexes to get that one. Note that in the Minkowski standard basis above, because s, t, u, v must be a permutation of 0,1,2,3 for a non-zero result, we must have

\begin{aligned}\epsilon^{s t u v} = (-1)^3 (+1) \epsilon_{s t u v}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.34)

So raising and lowering the identity above gives us

\begin{aligned}-\epsilon_{s t u v} \text{Det} {\left\lVert{A_{ij}}\right\rVert}=\epsilon^{a b c d} A_{a s} A_{b t} A_{c u} A_{d u}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.35)

No sign changes were required for the indexes a, b, c, d, since they are paired.

Until we did the raising and lowering operations here, there was no specific metric required, so our first result 2.33 is the more general one.

There’s one more part to this problem, doing the antisymmetric sums over the indexes s, t, \cdots. For the \mathbb{R}^{2} case we have

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{s t} \epsilon_{a b} A^{a s} A^{b t}&=\epsilon_{s t} \epsilon^{s t} \text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert} \\ &=\left( \epsilon_{1 2} \epsilon^{1 2} +\epsilon_{2 1} \epsilon^{2 1} \right)\text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert} \\ &=\left( 1^2 + (-1)^2\right)\text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert}\end{aligned}

We conclude that

\begin{aligned}\boxed{\epsilon_{s t} \epsilon_{a b} A^{a s} A^{b t} = 2! \text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert}.}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.36)

For the \mathbb{R}^{3} case we have the same operation

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{s t u} \epsilon_{a b c} A^{a s} A^{b t} A^{c u}&=\epsilon_{s t u} \epsilon^{s t u} \text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert} \\ &=\left( \epsilon_{1 2 3} \epsilon^{1 2 3} +\epsilon_{1 3 2} \epsilon^{1 3 2} + \cdots\right)\text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert} \\ &=(\pm 1)^2 (3!)\text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert}.\end{aligned}

So we conclude

\begin{aligned}\boxed{\epsilon_{s t u} \epsilon_{a b c} A^{a s} A^{b t} A^{c u}= 3! \text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert}.}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.37)

It’s clear what the pattern is, and if we evaluate the sum of the antisymmetric tensor squares in \mathbb{R}^{4} we have

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{s t u v} \epsilon_{s t u v}&=\epsilon_{0 1 2 3} \epsilon_{0 1 2 3}+\epsilon_{0 1 3 2} \epsilon_{0 1 3 2}+\epsilon_{0 2 1 3} \epsilon_{0 2 1 3}+ \cdots \\ &= (\pm 1)^2 (4!),\end{aligned}

So, for our SR case we have

\begin{aligned}\boxed{\epsilon_{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b c d} A^{a s} A^{b t} A^{c u} A^{d v}= 4! \text{Det} {\left\lVert{A^{ij}}\right\rVert}.}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.38)

This was part of question 1.4, albeit in lower index form. Here since all indexes are matched, we have the same result without major change

\begin{aligned}\boxed{\epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon^{a b c d} A_{a s} A_{b t} A_{c u} A_{d v}= 4! \text{Det} {\left\lVert{A_{ij}}\right\rVert}.}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.39)

The main difference is that we are now taking the determinant of a lower index tensor.

3. Statement. Rotational invariance of 3D antisymmetric tensor

Use the previous results to show that \epsilon_{\mu\nu\lambda} is invariant under rotations.

3. Solution

We apply transformations to coordinates (and thus indexes) of the form

\begin{aligned}x_\mu \rightarrow O_{\mu\nu} x_\nu\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.40)

With our tensor transforming as its indexes, we have

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{\mu\nu\lambda} \rightarrow \epsilon_{\alpha\beta\sigma} O_{\mu\alpha} O_{\nu\beta} O_{\lambda\sigma}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.41)

We’ve got 2.32, which after dropping indexes, because we are in a Euclidean space, we have

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{\mu \nu \lambda} \text{Det} {\left\lVert{A_{ij}}\right\rVert} = \epsilon_{\alpha \beta \sigma} A_{\alpha \mu} A_{\beta \nu} A_{\sigma \lambda}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.42)

Let A_{i j} = O_{j i}, which gives us

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{\mu\nu\lambda} \rightarrow \epsilon_{\mu\nu\lambda} \text{Det} A^\text{T}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.43)

but since \text{Det} O = \text{Det} O^\text{T}, we have shown that \epsilon_{\mu\nu\lambda} is invariant under rotation.

4. Statement. Rotational invariance of 4D antisymmetric tensor

Use the previous results to show that \epsilon_{i j k l} is invariant under Lorentz transformations.

4. Solution

This follows the same way. We assume a transformation of coordinates of the following form

\begin{aligned}(x')^i &= {O^i}_j x^j \\ (x')_i &= {O_i}^j x_j,\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.44)

where the determinant of {O^i}_j = 1 (sanity check of sign: {O^i}_j = {\delta^i}_j).

Our antisymmetric tensor transforms as its coordinates individually

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{i j k l} &\rightarrow \epsilon_{a b c d} {O_i}^a{O_j}^b{O_k}^c{O_l}^d \\ &= \epsilon^{a b c d} O_{i a}O_{j b}O_{k c}O_{l d} \\ \end{aligned}

Let P_{ij} = O_{ji}, and raise and lower all the indexes in 2.46 for

\begin{aligned}-\epsilon_{s t u v} \text{Det} {\left\lVert{P_{ij}}\right\rVert}=\epsilon^{a b c d} P_{a s} P_{b t} P_{c u} P_{d v}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.46)

We have

\begin{aligned}\epsilon_{i j k l} &= \epsilon^{a b c d} P_{a i}P_{a j}P_{a k}P_{a l} \\ &=-\epsilon_{i j k l} \text{Det} {\left\lVert{P_{ij}}\right\rVert} \\ &=-\epsilon_{i j k l} \text{Det} {\left\lVert{O_{ij}}\right\rVert} \\ &=-\epsilon_{i j k l} \text{Det} {\left\lVert{g_{im} {O^m}_j }\right\rVert} \\ &=-\epsilon_{i j k l} (-1)(1) \\ &=\epsilon_{i j k l}\end{aligned}

Since \epsilon_{i j k l} = -\epsilon^{i j k l} both are therefore invariant under Lorentz transformation.

5. Statement. Sum of contracting symmetric and antisymmetric rank 2 tensors

Show that A^{ij} B_{ij} = 0 if A is symmetric and B is antisymmetric.

5. Solution

We swap indexes in B, switch dummy indexes, then swap indexes in A

\begin{aligned}A^{i j} B_{i j} &= -A^{i j} B_{j i} \\ &= -A^{j i} B_{i j} \\ &= -A^{i j} B_{i j} \\ \end{aligned}

Our result is the negative of itself, so must be zero.

6. Statement. Characteristic equation for the electromagnetic strength tensor

Show that P(\lambda) = \text{Det} {\left\lVert{F_{i j} - \lambda g_{i j}}\right\rVert} is invariant under Lorentz transformations. Consider the polynomial of P(\lambda), also called the characteristic polynomial of the matrix {\left\lVert{F_{i j}}\right\rVert}. Find the coefficients of the expansion of P(\lambda) in powers of \lambda in terms of the components of {\left\lVert{F_{i j}}\right\rVert}. Use the result to argue that \mathbf{E} \cdot \mathbf{B} and \mathbf{E}^2 - \mathbf{B}^2 are Lorentz invariant.

6. Solution

The invariance of the determinant

Let’s consider how any lower index rank 2 tensor transforms. Given a transformation of coordinates

\begin{aligned}(x^i)' &= {O^i}_j x^j \\ (x_i)' &= {O_i}^j x^j ,\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.47)

where \text{Det} {\left\lVert{ {O^i}_j }\right\rVert} = 1, and {O_i}^j = {O^m}_n g_{i m} g^{j n}. Let’s reflect briefly on why this determinant is unit valued. We have

\begin{aligned}(x^i)' (x_i)'= {O_i}^a x^a {O^i}_b x^b = x^b x_b,\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.49)

which implies that the transformation product is

\begin{aligned}{O_i}^a {O^i}_b = {\delta^a}_b,\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.50)

the identity matrix. The identity matrix has unit determinant, so we must have

\begin{aligned}1 = (\text{Det} \hat{G})^2 (\text{Det} {\left\lVert{ {O^i}_j }\right\rVert})^2.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.51)

Since \text{Det} \hat{G} = -1 we have

\begin{aligned}\text{Det} {\left\lVert{ {O^i}_j }\right\rVert} = \pm 1,\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.52)

which is all that we can say about the determinant of this class of transformations by considering just invariance. If we restrict the transformations of coordinates to those of the same determinant sign as the identity matrix, we rule out reflections in time or space. This seems to be the essence of the SO(1,3) labeling.

Why dwell on this? Well, I wanted to be clear on the conventions I’d chosen, since parts of the course notes used \hat{O} = {\left\lVert{O^{i j}}\right\rVert}, and X' = \hat{O} X, and gave that matrix unit determinant. That O^{i j} looks like it is equivalent to my {O^i}_j, except that the one in the course notes is loose when it comes to lower and upper indexes since it gives (x')^i = O^{i j} x^j.

I’ll write

\begin{aligned}\hat{O} = {\left\lVert{{O^i}_j}\right\rVert},\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.53)

and require this (not {\left\lVert{O^{i j}}\right\rVert}) to be the matrix with unit determinant. Having cleared the index upper and lower confusion I had trying to reconcile the class notes with the rules for index manipulation, let’s now consider the Lorentz transformation of a lower index rank 2 tensor (not necessarily antisymmetric or symmetric)

We have, transforming in the same fashion as a lower index coordinate four vector (but twice, once for each index)

\begin{aligned}A_{i j} \rightarrow A_{k m} {O_i}^k{O_j}^m.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.54)

The determinant of the transformation tensor {O_i}^j is

\begin{aligned}\text{Det} {\left\lVert{ {O_i}^j }\right\rVert} = \text{Det} {\left\lVert{ g^{i m} {O^m}_n g^{n j} }\right\rVert} = (\text{Det} \hat{G}) (1) (\text{Det} \hat{G} ) = (-1)^2 (1) = 1.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.55)

We see that the determinant of a lower index rank 2 tensor is invariant under Lorentz transformation. This would include our characteristic polynomial P(\lambda).

Expanding the determinant.

Utilizing 2.39 we can now calculate the characteristic polynomial. This is

\begin{aligned}\text{Det} {\left\lVert{F_{ij} - \lambda g_{ij} }\right\rVert}&= \frac{1}{{4!}}\epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon^{a b c d} (F_{ a s } - \lambda g_{a s}) (F_{ b t } - \lambda g_{b t}) (F_{ c u } - \lambda g_{c u}) (F_{ d v } - \lambda g_{d v}) \\ &=\frac{1}{{24}}\epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b c d} ({F^a}_s - \lambda {g^a}_s) ({F^b}_t - \lambda {g^b}_t) ({F^c}_u - \lambda {g^c}_u) ({F^d}_v - \lambda {g^d}_v) \\ \end{aligned}

However, {g^a}_b = g_{b c} g^{a c}, or {\left\lVert{{g^a}_b}\right\rVert} = \hat{G}^2 = I. This means we have

\begin{aligned}{g^a}_b = {\delta^a}_b,\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.56)

and our determinant is reduced to

\begin{aligned}\begin{aligned}P(\lambda) &=\frac{1}{{24}}\epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b c d} \Bigl({F^a}_s {F^b}_t - \lambda( {\delta^a}_s {F^b}_t + {\delta^b}_t {F^a}_s ) + \lambda^2 {\delta^a}_s {\delta^b}_t \Bigr) \\ &\times \qquad \qquad \Bigl({F^c}_u {F^d}_v - \lambda( {\delta^c}_u {F^d}_v + {\delta^d}_v {F^c}_u ) + \lambda^2 {\delta^c}_u {\delta^d}_v \Bigr) \end{aligned}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.57)

If we expand this out we have our powers of \lambda coefficients are

\begin{aligned}\lambda^0 &:\frac{1}{{24}} \epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b c d} {F^a}_s {F^b}_t {F^c}_u {F^d}_v \\ \lambda^1 &:\frac{1}{{24}} \epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b c d} \Bigl(- ({\delta^c}_u {F^d}_v + {\delta^d}_v {F^c}_u ) {F^a}_s {F^b}_t - ({\delta^a}_s {F^b}_t + {\delta^b}_t {F^a}_s ) {F^c}_u {F^d}_v \Bigr) \\ \lambda^2 &:\frac{1}{{24}} \epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b c d} \Bigl({\delta^c}_u {\delta^d}_v {F^a}_s {F^b}_t +( {\delta^a}_s {F^b}_t + {\delta^b}_t {F^a}_s ) ( {\delta^c}_u {F^d}_v + {\delta^d}_v {F^c}_u ) + {\delta^a}_s {\delta^b}_t  {F^c}_u {F^d}_v \Bigr) \\ \lambda^3 &:\frac{1}{{24}} \epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b c d} \Bigl(- ( {\delta^a}_s {F^b}_t + {\delta^b}_t {F^a}_s ) {\delta^c}_u {\delta^d}_v - {\delta^a}_s {\delta^b}_t  ( {\delta^c}_u {F^d}_v + {\delta^d}_v {F^c}_u ) \Bigr) \\ \lambda^4 &:\frac{1}{{24}} \epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b c d} \Bigl({\delta^a}_s {\delta^b}_t {\delta^c}_u {\delta^d}_v \Bigr) \\ \end{aligned}

By 2.39 the \lambda^0 coefficient is just \text{Det} {\left\lVert{F_{i j}}\right\rVert}.

The \lambda^3 terms can be seen to be zero. For example, the first one is

\begin{aligned}-\frac{1}{{24}} \epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b c d} {\delta^a}_s {F^b}_t {\delta^c}_u {\delta^d}_v &=-\frac{1}{{24}} \epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{s b u v} {F^b}_t \\ &=-\frac{1}{{12}} \delta^{t}_b {F^b}_t \\ &=-\frac{1}{{12}} {F^b}_b \\ &=-\frac{1}{{12}} F^{bu} g_{ub} \\ &= 0,\end{aligned}

where the final equality to zero comes from summing a symmetric and antisymmetric product.

Similarly the \lambda coefficients can be shown to be zero. Again the first as a sample is

\begin{aligned}-\frac{1}{{24}} \epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b c d} {\delta^c}_u {F^d}_v {F^a}_s {F^b}_t &=-\frac{1}{{24}} \epsilon^{u s t v} \epsilon_{u a b d} {F^d}_v {F^a}_s {F^b}_t  \\ &=-\frac{1}{{24}} \delta^{[s}_a\delta^{t}_b\delta^{v]}_d{F^d}_v {F^a}_s {F^b}_t  \\ &=-\frac{1}{{24}} {F^a}_{[s}{F^b}_{t}{F^d}_{v]} \\ \end{aligned}

Disregarding the -1/24 factor, let’s just expand this antisymmetric sum

\begin{aligned}{F^a}_{[a}{F^b}_{b}{F^d}_{d]}&={F^a}_{a}{F^b}_{b}{F^d}_{d}+{F^a}_{d}{F^b}_{a}{F^d}_{b}+{F^a}_{b}{F^b}_{d}{F^d}_{a}-{F^a}_{a}{F^b}_{d}{F^d}_{b}-{F^a}_{d}{F^b}_{b}{F^d}_{a}-{F^a}_{b}{F^b}_{a}{F^d}_{d} \\ &={F^a}_{d}{F^b}_{a}{F^d}_{b}+{F^a}_{b}{F^b}_{d}{F^d}_{a} \\ \end{aligned}

Of the two terms above that were retained, they are the only ones without a zero {F^i}_i factor. Consider the first part of this remaining part of the sum. Employing the metric tensor, to raise indexes so that the antisymmetry of F^{ij} can be utilized, and then finally relabeling all the dummy indexes we have

\begin{aligned}{F^a}_{d}{F^b}_{a}{F^d}_{b}&=F^{a u}F^{b v}F^{d w}g_{d u}g_{a v}g_{b w} \\ &=(-1)^3F^{u a}F^{v b}F^{w d}g_{d u}g_{a v}g_{b w} \\ &=-(F^{u a}g_{a v})(F^{v b}g_{b w} )(F^{w d}g_{d u})\\ &=-{F^u}_v{F^v}_w{F^w}_u\\ &=-{F^a}_b{F^b}_d{F^d}_a\\ \end{aligned}

This is just the negative of the second term in the sum, leaving us with zero.

Finally, we have for the \lambda^2 coefficient (\times 24)

\begin{aligned}&\epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b c d} \Bigl({\delta^c}_u {\delta^d}_v {F^a}_s {F^b}_t +{\delta^a}_s {F^b}_t {\delta^c}_u {F^d}_v +{\delta^b}_t {F^a}_s {\delta^d}_v {F^c}_u  \\ &\qquad +{\delta^b}_t {F^a}_s {\delta^c}_u {F^d}_v +{\delta^a}_s {F^b}_t {\delta^d}_v {F^c}_u + {\delta^a}_s {\delta^b}_t  {F^c}_u {F^d}_v \Bigr) \\ &=\epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b u v}   {F^a}_s {F^b}_t +\epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{s b u d}  {F^b}_t  {F^d}_v +\epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a t c v}  {F^a}_s  {F^c}_u  \\ &\qquad +\epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a t u d}  {F^a}_s  {F^d}_v +\epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{s b c v}  {F^b}_t  {F^c}_u + \epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{s t c d}    {F^c}_u {F^d}_v \\ &=\epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b u v}   {F^a}_s {F^b}_t +\epsilon^{t v s u } \epsilon_{b d s u}  {F^b}_t  {F^d}_v +\epsilon^{s u t v} \epsilon_{a c t v}  {F^a}_s  {F^c}_u  \\ &\qquad +\epsilon^{s v t u} \epsilon_{a d t u}  {F^a}_s  {F^d}_v +\epsilon^{t u s v} \epsilon_{b c s v}  {F^b}_t  {F^c}_u + \epsilon^{u v s t} \epsilon_{c d s t}    {F^c}_u {F^d}_v \\ &=6\epsilon^{s t u v} \epsilon_{a b u v} {F^a}_s {F^b}_t  \\ &=6 (2){\delta^{[s}}_a{\delta^{t]}}_b{F^a}_s {F^b}_t  \\ &=12{F^a}_{[a} {F^b}_{b]}  \\ &=12( {F^a}_{a} {F^b}_{b} - {F^a}_{b} {F^b}_{a} ) \\ &=-12 {F^a}_{b} {F^b}_{a} \\ &=-12 F^{a b} F_{b a} \\ &=12 F^{a b} F_{a b}\end{aligned}

Therefore, our characteristic polynomial is

\begin{aligned}\boxed{P(\lambda) = \text{Det} {\left\lVert{F_{i j}}\right\rVert} + \frac{\lambda^2}{2} F^{a b} F_{a b} + \lambda^4.}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.58)

Observe that in matrix form our strength tensors are

\begin{aligned}{\left\lVert{ F^{ij} }\right\rVert} &= \begin{bmatrix}0 & -E_x & -E_y & -E_z \\ E_x & 0 & -B_z & B_y \\ E_y & B_z & 0 & -B_x \\ E_z & -B_y & B_x & 0\end{bmatrix} \\ {\left\lVert{ F_{ij} }\right\rVert} &= \begin{bmatrix}0 & E_x & E_y & E_z \\ -E_x & 0 & -B_z & B_y \\ -E_y & B_z & 0 & -B_x \\ -E_z & -B_y & B_x & 0\end{bmatrix}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.59)

From these we can compute F^{a b} F_{a b} easily by inspection

\begin{aligned}F^{a b} F_{a b} = 2 (\mathbf{B}^2 - \mathbf{E}^2).\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.61)

Computing the determinant is not so easy. The dumb and simple way of expanding by cofactors takes two pages, and yields eventually

\begin{aligned}\text{Det} {\left\lVert{ F^{i j} }\right\rVert} = (\mathbf{E} \cdot \mathbf{B})^2.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.62)

That supplies us with a relation for the characteristic polynomial in \mathbf{E} and \mathbf{B}

\begin{aligned}\boxed{P(\lambda) = (\mathbf{E} \cdot \mathbf{B})^2 + \lambda^2 (\mathbf{B}^2 - \mathbf{E}^2) + \lambda^4.}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.63)

Observe that we found this for the special case where \mathbf{E} and \mathbf{B} were perpendicular in homework 2. Observe that when we have that perpendicularity, we can solve for the eigenvalues by inspection

\begin{aligned}\lambda \in \{ 0, 0, \pm \sqrt{ \mathbf{E}^2 - \mathbf{B}^2 } \},\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.64)

and were able to diagonalize the matrix {F^{i}}_j to solve the Lorentz force equation in parametric form. When {\left\lvert{\mathbf{E}}\right\rvert} > {\left\lvert{\mathbf{B}}\right\rvert} we had real eigenvalues and an orthogonal diagonalization when \mathbf{B} = 0. For the {\left\lvert{\mathbf{B}}\right\rvert} > {\left\lvert{\mathbf{E}}\right\rvert}, we had a two purely imaginary eigenvalues, and when \mathbf{E} = 0 this was a Hermitian diagonalization. For the general case, when one of \mathbf{E}, or \mathbf{B} was zero, things didn’t have the same nice closed form solution.

In general our eigenvalues are

\begin{aligned}\lambda = \pm \frac{1}{{\sqrt{2}}} \sqrt{ \mathbf{E}^2 - \mathbf{B}^2 \pm \sqrt{ (\mathbf{E}^2 - \mathbf{B}^2)^2 - 4 (\mathbf{E} \cdot \mathbf{B})^2 }}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.65)

For the purposes of this problem we really only wish to show that \mathbf{E} \cdot \mathbf{B} and \mathbf{E}^2 - \mathbf{B}^2 are Lorentz invariants. When \lambda = 0 we have P(\lambda) = (\mathbf{E} \cdot \mathbf{B})^2, a Lorentz invariant. This must mean that \mathbf{E} \cdot \mathbf{B} is itself a Lorentz invariant. Since that is invariant, and we require P(\lambda) to be invariant for any other possible values of \lambda, the difference \mathbf{E}^2 - \mathbf{B}^2 must also be Lorentz invariant.

7. Statement. Show that the pseudoscalar invariant has only boundary effects.

Use integration by parts to show that \int d^4 x \epsilon^{i j k l} F_{ i j } F_{ k l } only depends on the values of A^i(x) at the “boundary” of spacetime (e.g. the “surface” depicted on page 105 of the notes) and hence does not affect the equations of motion for the electromagnetic field.

7. Solution

This proceeds in a fairly straightforward fashion

\begin{aligned}\int d^4 x \epsilon^{i j k l} F_{ i j } F_{ k l }&=\int d^4 x \epsilon^{i j k l} (\partial_i A_j - \partial_j A_i) F_{ k l } \\ &=\int d^4 x \epsilon^{i j k l} (\partial_i A_j) F_{ k l } -\epsilon^{j i k l} (\partial_i A_j) F_{ k l } \\ &=2 \int d^4 x \epsilon^{i j k l} (\partial_i A_j) F_{ k l } \\ &=2 \int d^4 x \epsilon^{i j k l} \left( \frac{\partial {}}{\partial {x^i}}(A_j F_{ k l }-A_j \frac{\partial { F_{ k l } }}{\partial {x^i}}\right)\\ \end{aligned}

Now, observe that by the Bianchi identity, this second term is zero

\begin{aligned}\epsilon^{i j k l} \frac{\partial { F_{ k l } }}{\partial {x^i}}=-\epsilon^{j i k l} \partial_i F_{ k l } = 0\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.66)

Now we have a set of perfect differentials, and can integrate

\begin{aligned}\int d^4 x \epsilon^{i j k l} F_{ i j } F_{ k l }&= 2 \int d^4 x \epsilon^{i j k l} \frac{\partial {}}{\partial {x^i}}(A_j F_{ k l })\\ &= 2 \int dx^j dx^k dx^l\epsilon^{i j k l} {\left.{{(A_j F_{ k l })}}\right\vert}_{{\Delta x^i}}\\ \end{aligned}

We are left with a only contributions to the integral from the boundary terms on the spacetime hypervolume, three-volume normals bounding the four-volume integration in the original integral.

8. Statement. Electromagnetic duality transformations.

Show that the Maxwell equations in vacuum are invariant under the transformation: F_{i j} \rightarrow \tilde{F}_{i j}, where \tilde{F}_{i j} = \frac{1}{{2}} \epsilon_{i j k l} F^{k l} is the dual electromagnetic stress tensor. Replacing F with \tilde{F} is known as “electric-magnetic duality”. Explain this name by considering the transformation in terms of \mathbf{E} and \mathbf{B}. Are the Maxwell equations with sources invariant under electric-magnetic duality transformations?

8. Solution

Let’s first consider the explanation of the name. First recall what the expansions are of F_{i j} and F^{i j} in terms of \mathbf{E} and \mathbf{E}. These are

\begin{aligned}F_{0 \alpha} &= \partial_0 A_\alpha - \partial_\alpha A_0 \\ &= -\frac{1}{{c}} \frac{\partial {A^\alpha}}{\partial {t}} - \frac{\partial {\phi}}{\partial {x^\alpha}} \\ &= E_\alpha\end{aligned}

with F^{0 \alpha} = -E^\alpha, and E^\alpha = E_\alpha.

The magnetic field components are

\begin{aligned}F_{\beta \alpha} &= \partial_\beta A_\alpha - \partial_\alpha A_\beta \\ &= -\partial_\beta A^\alpha + \partial_\alpha A^\beta \\ &= \epsilon_{\alpha \beta \sigma} B^\sigma\end{aligned}

with F^{\beta \alpha} = \epsilon^{\alpha \beta \sigma} B_\sigma and B_\sigma = B^\sigma.

Now let’s expand the dual tensors. These are

\begin{aligned}\tilde{F}_{0 \alpha} &=\frac{1}{{2}} \epsilon_{0 \alpha i j} F^{i j} \\ &=\frac{1}{{2}} \epsilon_{0 \alpha \beta \sigma} F^{\beta \sigma} \\ &=\frac{1}{{2}} \epsilon_{0 \alpha \beta \sigma} \epsilon^{\sigma \beta \mu} B_\mu \\ &=-\frac{1}{{2}} \epsilon_{0 \alpha \beta \sigma} \epsilon^{\mu \beta \sigma} B_\mu \\ &=-\frac{1}{{2}} (2!) {\delta_\alpha}^\mu B_\mu \\ &=- B_\alpha \\ \end{aligned}


\begin{aligned}\tilde{F}_{\beta \alpha} &=\frac{1}{{2}} \epsilon_{\beta \alpha i j} F^{i j} \\ &=\frac{1}{{2}} \left(\epsilon_{\beta \alpha 0 \sigma} F^{0 \sigma} +\epsilon_{\beta \alpha \sigma 0} F^{\sigma 0} \right) \\ &=\epsilon_{0 \beta \alpha \sigma} (-E^\sigma) \\ &=\epsilon_{\alpha \beta \sigma} E^\sigma\end{aligned}

Summarizing we have

\begin{aligned}F_{0 \alpha} &= E^\alpha \\ F^{0 \alpha} &= -E^\alpha \\ F^{\beta \alpha} &= F_{\beta \alpha} = \epsilon_{\alpha \beta \sigma} B^\sigma \\ \tilde{F}_{0 \alpha} &= - B_\alpha \\ \tilde{F}^{0 \alpha} &= B_\alpha \\ \tilde{F}_{\beta \alpha} &= \tilde{F}^{\beta \alpha} = \epsilon_{\alpha \beta \sigma} E^\sigma\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.67)

Is there a sign error in the \tilde{F}_{0 \alpha} = - B_\alpha result? Other than that we have the same sort of structure for the tensor with E and B switched around.

Let’s write these in matrix form, to compare

\begin{aligned}\begin{array}{l l l l}{\left\lVert{ \tilde{F}_{i j} }\right\rVert} &= \begin{bmatrix}0 & -B_x & -B_y & -B_z \\ B_x & 0 & -E_z & E_y \\ B_y & E_z & 0 & E_x \\ B_z & -E_y & -E_x & 0 \\ \end{bmatrix} ^{i j} }\right\rVert} &= \begin{bmatrix}0 & B_x & B_y & B_z \\ -B_x & 0 & -E_z & E_y \\ -B_y & E_z & 0 & -E_x \\ -B_z & -E_y & E_x & 0 \\ \end{bmatrix} \\ {\left\lVert{ F^{ij} }\right\rVert} &= \begin{bmatrix}0 & -E_x & -E_y & -E_z \\ E_x & 0 & -B_z & B_y \\ E_y & B_z & 0 & -B_x \\ E_z & -B_y & B_x & 0\end{bmatrix} }\right\rVert} &= \begin{bmatrix}0 & E_x & E_y & E_z \\ -E_x & 0 & -B_z & B_y \\ -E_y & B_z & 0 & -B_x \\ -E_z & -B_y & B_x & 0\end{bmatrix}.\end{array}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.73)

From these we can see by inspection that we have

\begin{aligned}\tilde{F}^{i j} F_{ij} = \tilde{F}_{i j} F^{ij} = 4 (\mathbf{E} \cdot \mathbf{B})\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.74)

This is consistent with the stated result in [1] (except for a factor of c due to units differences), so it appears the signs above are all kosher.

Now, let’s see if the if the dual tensor satisfies the vacuum equations.

\begin{aligned}\partial_j \tilde{F}^{i j}&=\partial_j \frac{1}{{2}} \epsilon^{i j k l} F_{k l} \\ &=\frac{1}{{2}} \epsilon^{i j k l} \partial_j (\partial_k A_l - \partial_l A_k) \\ &=\frac{1}{{2}} \epsilon^{i j k l} \partial_j \partial_k A_l - \frac{1}{{2}} \epsilon^{i j l k} \partial_k A_l \\ &=\frac{1}{{2}} (\epsilon^{i j k l} - \epsilon^{i j k l} \partial_k A_l \\ &= 0 \qquad\square\end{aligned}

So the first checks out, provided we have no sources. If we have sources, then we see here that Maxwell’s equations do not hold since this would imply that the four current density must be zero.

How about the Bianchi identity? That gives us

\begin{aligned}\epsilon^{i j k l} \partial_j \tilde{F}_{k l} &=\epsilon^{i j k l} \partial_j \frac{1}{{2}} \epsilon_{k l a b} F^{a b} \\ &=\frac{1}{{2}} \epsilon^{k l i j} \epsilon_{k l a b} \partial_j F^{a b} \\ &=\frac{1}{{2}} (2!) {\delta^i}_{[a} {\delta^j}_{b]} \partial_j F^{a b} \\ &=\partial_j (F^{i j} - F^{j i} ) \\ &=2 \partial_j F^{i j} .\end{aligned}

The factor of two is slightly curious. Is there a mistake above? If there is a mistake, it doesn’t change the fact that Maxwell’s equation

\begin{aligned}\partial_k F^{k i} = \frac{4 \pi}{c} j^i\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(2.75)

Gives us zero for the Bianchi identity under source free conditions of j^i = 0.

Problem 2. Transformation properties of \mathbf{E} and \mathbf{B}, again.

1. Statement

Use the form of F^{i j} from page 82 in the class notes, the transformation law for {\left\lVert{ F^{i j} }\right\rVert} given further down that same page, and the explicit form of the SO(1,3) matrix \hat{O} (say, corresponding to motion in the positive x_1 direction with speed v) to derive the transformation law of the fields \mathbf{E} and \mathbf{B}. Use the transformation law to find the electromagnetic field of a charged particle moving with constant speed v in the positive x_1 direction and check that the result agrees with the one that you obtained in Homework 2.

1. Solution

Given a transformation of coordinates

\begin{aligned}{x'}^i \rightarrow {O^i}_j x^j\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.76)

our rank 2 tensor F^{i j} transforms as

\begin{aligned}F^{i j} \rightarrow {O^i}_aF^{a b}{O^j}_b.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.77)

Introducing matrices

\begin{aligned}\hat{O} &= {\left\lVert{{O^i}_j}\right\rVert} \\ \hat{F} &= {\left\lVert{F^{ij}}\right\rVert} = \begin{bmatrix}0 & -E_x & -E_y & -E_z \\ E_x & 0 & -B_z & B_y \\ E_y & B_z & 0 & -B_x \\ E_z & -B_y & B_x & 0\end{bmatrix} \end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.78)

and noting that \hat{O}^\text{T} = {\left\lVert{{O^j}_i}\right\rVert}, we can express the electromagnetic strength tensor transformation as

\begin{aligned}\hat{F} \rightarrow \hat{O} \hat{F} \hat{O}^\text{T}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.80)

The class notes use {x'}^i \rightarrow O^{ij} x^j, which violates our conventions on mixed upper and lower indexes, but the end result 3.80 is the same.

\begin{aligned}{\left\lVert{{O^i}_j}\right\rVert} =\begin{bmatrix}\cosh\alpha & -\sinh\alpha & 0 & 0 \\ -\sinh\alpha & \cosh\alpha & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 1\end{bmatrix}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.81)


\begin{aligned}C &= \cosh\alpha = \gamma \\ S &= -\sinh\alpha = -\gamma \beta,\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.82)

we can compute the transformed field strength tensor

\begin{aligned}\hat{F}' &=\begin{bmatrix}C & S & 0 & 0 \\ S & C & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 1\end{bmatrix}\begin{bmatrix}0 & -E_x & -E_y & -E_z \\ E_x & 0 & -B_z & B_y \\ E_y & B_z & 0 & -B_x \\ E_z & -B_y & B_x & 0\end{bmatrix} \begin{bmatrix}C & S & 0 & 0 \\ S & C & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 1\end{bmatrix} \\ &=\begin{bmatrix}C & S & 0 & 0 \\ S & C & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 1\end{bmatrix}\begin{bmatrix}- S E_x        & -C E_x        & -E_y  & -E_z \\ C E_x          & S E_x         & -B_z  & B_y \\ C E_y + S B_z  & S E_y + C B_z & 0     & -B_x \\ C E_z - S B_y  & S E_z - C B_y & B_x   & 0 \end{bmatrix} \\ &=\begin{bmatrix}0 & -E_x & -C E_y - S B_z & - C E_z + S B_y \\ E_x & 0 & -S E_y - C B_z & - S E_z + C B_y \\ C E_y + S B_z & S E_y + C B_z & 0 & -B_x \\ C E_z - S B_y & S E_z - C B_y & B_x & 0\end{bmatrix} \\ &=\begin{bmatrix}0 & -E_x & -\gamma(E_y - \beta B_z) & - \gamma(E_z + \beta B_y) \\ E_x & 0 & - \gamma (-\beta E_y + B_z) & \gamma( \beta E_z + B_y) \\ \gamma (E_y - \beta B_z) & \gamma(-\beta E_y + B_z) & 0 & -B_x \\ \gamma (E_z + \beta B_y) & -\gamma(\beta E_z + B_y) & B_x & 0\end{bmatrix}.\end{aligned}

As a check we have the antisymmetry that is expected. There is also a regularity to the end result that is aesthetically pleasing, hinting that things are hopefully error free. In coordinates for \mathbf{E} and \mathbf{B} this is

\begin{aligned}E_x &\rightarrow E_x \\ E_y &\rightarrow \gamma ( E_y - \beta B_z ) \\ E_z &\rightarrow \gamma ( E_z + \beta B_y ) \\ B_z &\rightarrow B_x \\ B_y &\rightarrow \gamma ( B_y + \beta E_z ) \\ B_z &\rightarrow \gamma ( B_z - \beta E_y ) \end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.84)

Writing \boldsymbol{\beta} = \mathbf{e}_1 \beta, we have

\begin{aligned}\boldsymbol{\beta} \times \mathbf{B} = \begin{vmatrix} \mathbf{e}_1 & \mathbf{e}_2 & \mathbf{e}_3 \\ \beta & 0 & 0 \\ B_x & B_y & B_z\end{vmatrix} = \mathbf{e}_2 (-\beta B_z) + \mathbf{e}_3( \beta B_y ),\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.90)

which puts us enroute to a tidier vector form

\begin{aligned}E_x &\rightarrow E_x \\ E_y &\rightarrow \gamma ( E_y + (\boldsymbol{\beta} \times \mathbf{B})_y ) \\ E_z &\rightarrow \gamma ( E_z + (\boldsymbol{\beta} \times \mathbf{B})_z ) \\ B_z &\rightarrow B_x \\ B_y &\rightarrow \gamma ( B_y - (\boldsymbol{\beta} \times \mathbf{E})_y ) \\ B_z &\rightarrow \gamma ( B_z - (\boldsymbol{\beta} \times \mathbf{E})_z ).\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.91)

For a vector \mathbf{A}, write \mathbf{A}_\parallel = (\mathbf{A} \cdot \hat{\mathbf{v}})\hat{\mathbf{v}}, \mathbf{A}_\perp = \mathbf{A} - \mathbf{A}_\parallel, allowing a compact description of the field transformation

\begin{aligned}\mathbf{E} &\rightarrow \mathbf{E}_\parallel + \gamma \mathbf{E}_\perp + \gamma (\boldsymbol{\beta} \times \mathbf{B})_\perp \\ \mathbf{B} &\rightarrow \mathbf{B}_\parallel + \gamma \mathbf{B}_\perp - \gamma (\boldsymbol{\beta} \times \mathbf{E})_\perp.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.97)

Now, we want to consider the field of a moving particle. In the particle’s (unprimed) rest frame the field due to its potential \phi = q/r is

\begin{aligned}\mathbf{E} &= \frac{q}{r^2} \hat{\mathbf{r}} \\ \mathbf{B} &= 0.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.99)

Coordinates for a “stationary” observer, who sees this particle moving along the x-axis at speed v are related by a boost in the -v direction

\begin{aligned}\begin{bmatrix}ct' \\ x' \\ y' \\ z'\end{bmatrix}\begin{bmatrix}\gamma & \gamma (v/c) & 0 & 0 \\ \gamma (v/c) & \gamma & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 1\end{bmatrix}\begin{bmatrix}ct \\ x \\ y \\ z\end{bmatrix}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.101)

Therefore the fields in the observer frame will be

\begin{aligned}\mathbf{E}' &= \mathbf{E}_\parallel + \gamma \mathbf{E}_\perp - \gamma \frac{v}{c}(\mathbf{e}_1 \times \mathbf{B})_\perp = \mathbf{E}_\parallel + \gamma \mathbf{E}_\perp \\ \mathbf{B}' &= \mathbf{B}_\parallel + \gamma \mathbf{B}_\perp + \gamma \frac{v}{c}(\mathbf{e}_1 \times \mathbf{E})_\perp = \gamma \frac{v}{c}(\mathbf{e}_1 \times \mathbf{E})_\perp \end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.102)

More explicitly with \mathbf{E} = \frac{q}{r^3}(x, y, z) this is

\begin{aligned}\mathbf{E}' &= \frac{q}{r^3}(x, \gamma y, \gamma z) \\ \mathbf{B}' &= \gamma \frac{q v}{c r^3} ( 0, -z, y )\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.104)

Comparing to Problem 3 in Problem set 2, I see that this matches the result obtained by separately transforming the gradient, the time partial, and the scalar potential. Actually, if I am being honest, I see that I made a sign error in all the coordinates of \mathbf{E}' when I initially did (this ungraded problem) in problem set 2. That sign error should have been obvious by considering the v=0 case which would have mysteriously resulted in inversion of all the coordinates of the observed electric field.

2. Statement

A particle is moving with velocity \mathbf{v} in perpendicular \mathbf{E} and \mathbf{B} fields, all given in some particular “stationary” frame of reference.

\item Show that there exists a frame where the problem of finding the particle trajectory can be reduced to having either only an electric or only a magnetic field.
\item Explain what determines which case takes place.
\item Find the velocity \mathbf{v}_0 of that frame relative to the “stationary” frame.

2. Solution

\paragraph{Part 1 and 2:} Existence of the transformation.

In the single particle Lorentz trajectory problem we wish to solve

\begin{aligned}m c \frac{du^i}{ds} = \frac{e}{c} F^{i j} u_j,\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.106)

which in matrix form we can write as

\begin{aligned}\frac{d U}{ds} = \frac{e}{m c^2} \hat{F} \hat{G} U.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.107)

where we write our column vector proper velocity as U = {\left\lVert{u^i}\right\rVert}. Under transformation of coordinates {u'}^i = {O^i}_j x^j, with \hat{O} = {\left\lVert{{O^i}_j}\right\rVert}, this becomes

\begin{aligned}\hat{O} \frac{d U}{ds} = \frac{e}{m c^2} \hat{O} \hat{F} \hat{O}^\text{T} \hat{G} \hat{O} U.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.108)

Suppose we can find eigenvectors for the matrix \hat{O} \hat{F} \hat{O}^\text{T} \hat{G}. That is for some eigenvalue \lambda, we can find an eigenvector \Sigma

\begin{aligned}\hat{O} \hat{F} \hat{O}^\text{T} \hat{G} \Sigma = \lambda \Sigma.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.109)

Rearranging we have

\begin{aligned}(\hat{O} \hat{F} \hat{O}^\text{T} \hat{G} - \lambda I) \Sigma = 0\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.110)

and conclude that \Sigma lies in the null space of the matrix \hat{O} \hat{F} \hat{O}^\text{T} \hat{G} - \lambda I and that this difference of matrices must have a zero determinant

\begin{aligned}\text{Det} (\hat{O} \hat{F} \hat{O}^\text{T} \hat{G} - \lambda I) = -\text{Det} (\hat{O} \hat{F} \hat{O}^\text{T} - \lambda \hat{G}) = 0.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.111)

Since \hat{G} = \hat{O} \hat{G} \hat{O}^\text{T} for any Lorentz transformation \hat{O} in SO(1,3), and \text{Det} ABC = \text{Det} A \text{Det} B \text{Det} C we have

\begin{aligned}\text{Det} (\hat{O} \hat{F} \hat{O}^\text{T} - \lambda G)= \text{Det} (\hat{F} - \lambda \hat{G}).\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.112)

In problem 1.6, we called this our characteristic equation P(\lambda) = \text{Det} (\hat{F} - \lambda \hat{G}). Observe that the characteristic equation is Lorentz invariant for any \lambda, which requires that the eigenvalues \lambda are also Lorentz invariants.

In problem 1.6 of this problem set we computed that this characteristic equation expands to

\begin{aligned}P(\lambda) = \text{Det} (\hat{F} - \lambda \hat{G}) = (\mathbf{E} \cdot \mathbf{B})^2 + \lambda^2 (\mathbf{B}^2 - \mathbf{E}^2) + \lambda^4.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.113)

The eigenvalues for the system, also each necessarily Lorentz invariants, are

\begin{aligned}\lambda = \pm \frac{1}{{\sqrt{2}}} \sqrt{ \mathbf{E}^2 - \mathbf{B}^2 \pm \sqrt{ (\mathbf{E}^2 - \mathbf{B}^2)^2 - 4 (\mathbf{E} \cdot \mathbf{B})^2 }}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.114)

Observe that in the specific case where \mathbf{E} \cdot \mathbf{B} = 0, as in this problem, we must have \mathbf{E}' \cdot \mathbf{B}' in all frames, and the two non-zero eigenvalues of our characteristic polynomial are simply

\begin{aligned}\lambda = \pm \sqrt{\mathbf{E}^2 - \mathbf{B}^2}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.115)

These and \mathbf{E} \cdot \mathbf{B} = 0 are the invariants for this system. If we have \mathbf{E}^2 > \mathbf{B}^2 in one frame, we must also have {\mathbf{E}'}^2 > {\mathbf{B}'}^2 in another frame, still maintaining perpendicular fields. In particular if \mathbf{B}' = 0 we maintain real eigenvalues. Similarly if \mathbf{B}^2 > \mathbf{E}^2 in some frame, we must always have imaginary eigenvalues, and this is also true in the \mathbf{E}' = 0 case.

While the problem can be posed as a pure diagonalization problem (and even solved numerically this way for the general constant fields case), we can also work symbolically, thinking of the trajectories problem as simply seeking a transformation of frames that reduce the scope of the problem to one that is more tractable. That does not have to be the linear transformation that diagonalizes the system. Instead we are free to transform to a frame where one of the two fields \mathbf{E}' or \mathbf{B}' is zero, provided the invariants discussed are maintained.

\paragraph{Part 3:} Finding the boost velocity that wipes out one of the fields.

Let’s now consider a Lorentz boost \hat{O}, and seek to solve for the boost velocity that wipes out one of the fields, given the invariants that must be maintained for the system

To make things concrete, suppose that our perpendicular fields are given by \mathbf{E} = E \mathbf{e}_2 and \mathbf{B} = B \mathbf{e}_3.

Let also assume that we can find the velocity \mathbf{v}_0 for which one or more of the transformed fields is zero. Suppose that velocity is

\begin{aligned}\mathbf{v}_0 = v_0 (\alpha_1, \alpha_2, \alpha_3) = v_0 \hat{\mathbf{v}}_0,\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.116)

where \alpha_i are the direction cosines of \mathbf{v}_0 so that \sum_i \alpha_i^2 = 1. We will want to compute the components of \mathbf{E} and \mathbf{B} parallel and perpendicular to this velocity.

Those are

\begin{aligned}\mathbf{E}_\parallel &= E \mathbf{e}_2 \cdot (\alpha_1, \alpha_2, \alpha_3) (\alpha_1, \alpha_2, \alpha_3) \\ &= E \alpha_2 (\alpha_1, \alpha_2, \alpha_3) \\ \end{aligned}

\begin{aligned}\mathbf{E}_\perp &= E \mathbf{e}_2 - \mathbf{E}_\parallel \\ &= E (-\alpha_1 \alpha_2, 1 - \alpha_2^2, -\alpha_2 \alpha_3) \\ &= E (-\alpha_1 \alpha_2, \alpha_1^2 + \alpha_3^2, -\alpha_2 \alpha_3) \\ \end{aligned}

For the magnetic field we have

\begin{aligned}\mathbf{B}_\parallel &= B \alpha_3 (\alpha_1, \alpha_2, \alpha_3),\end{aligned}


\begin{aligned}\mathbf{B}_\perp &= B \mathbf{e}_3 - \mathbf{B}_\parallel \\ &= B (-\alpha_1 \alpha_3, -\alpha_2 \alpha_3, \alpha_1^2 + \alpha_2^2)  \\ \end{aligned}

Now, observe that (\boldsymbol{\beta} \times \mathbf{B})_\parallel \propto ((\mathbf{v}_0 \times \mathbf{B}) \cdot \mathbf{v}_0) \mathbf{v}_0, but this is just zero. So we have (\boldsymbol{\beta} \times \mathbf{B})_\parallel = \boldsymbol{\beta} \times \mathbf{B}. So our cross products terms are just

\begin{aligned}\hat{\mathbf{v}}_0 \times \mathbf{B} &=         \begin{vmatrix}         \mathbf{e}_1 & \mathbf{e}_2 & \mathbf{e}_3 \\         \alpha_1 & \alpha_2 & \alpha_3 \\         0 & 0 & B         \end{vmatrix} = B (\alpha_2, -\alpha_1, 0) \\ \hat{\mathbf{v}}_0 \times \mathbf{E} &=         \begin{vmatrix}         \mathbf{e}_1 & \mathbf{e}_2 & \mathbf{e}_3 \\         \alpha_1 & \alpha_2 & \alpha_3 \\         0 & E & 0         \end{vmatrix} = E (-\alpha_3, 0, \alpha_1)\end{aligned}

We can now express how the fields transform, given this arbitrary boost velocity. From 3.97, this is

\begin{aligned}\mathbf{E} &\rightarrow E \alpha_2 (\alpha_1, \alpha_2, \alpha_3) + \gamma E (-\alpha_1 \alpha_2, \alpha_1^2 + \alpha_3^2, -\alpha_2 \alpha_3) + \gamma \frac{v_0^2}{c^2} B (\alpha_2, -\alpha_1, 0) \\ \mathbf{B} &\rightarrowB \alpha_3 (\alpha_1, \alpha_2, \alpha_3)+ \gamma B (-\alpha_1 \alpha_3, -\alpha_2 \alpha_3, \alpha_1^2 + \alpha_2^2)  - \gamma \frac{v_0^2}{c^2} E (-\alpha_3, 0, \alpha_1)\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.117)

Zero Electric field case.

Let’s tackle the two cases separately. First when {\left\lvert{\mathbf{B}}\right\rvert} > {\left\lvert{\mathbf{E}}\right\rvert}, we can transform to a frame where \mathbf{E}'=0. In coordinates from 3.117 this supplies us three sets of equations. These are

\begin{aligned}0 &= E \alpha_2 \alpha_1 (1 - \gamma) + \gamma \frac{v_0^2}{c^2} B \alpha_2  \\ 0 &= E \alpha_2^2 + \gamma E (\alpha_1^2 + \alpha_3^2) - \gamma \frac{v_0^2}{c^2} B \alpha_1  \\ 0 &= E \alpha_2 \alpha_3 (1 - \gamma).\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.119)

With an assumed solution the \mathbf{e}_3 coordinate equation implies that one of \alpha_2 or \alpha_3 is zero. Perhaps there are solutions with \alpha_3 = 0 too, but inspection shows that \alpha_2 = 0 nicely kills off the first equation. Since \alpha_1^2 + \alpha_2^2 + \alpha_3^2 = 1, that also implies that we are left with

\begin{aligned}0 = E - \frac{v_0^2}{c^2} B \alpha_1 \end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.122)


\begin{aligned}\alpha_1 &= \frac{E}{B} \frac{c^2}{v_0^2} \\ \alpha_2 &= 0 \\ \alpha_3 &= \sqrt{1 - \frac{E^2}{B^2} \frac{c^4}{v_0^4} }\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.123)

Our velocity was \mathbf{v}_0 = v_0 (\alpha_1, \alpha_2, \alpha_3) solving the problem for the {\left\lvert{\mathbf{B}}\right\rvert}^2 > {\left\lvert{\mathbf{E}}\right\rvert}^2 case up to an adjustable constant v_0. That constant comes with constraints however, since we must also have our cosine \alpha_1 \le 1. Expressed another way, the magnitude of the boost velocity is constrained by the relation

\begin{aligned}\frac{\mathbf{v}_0^2}{c^2} \ge {\left\lvert{\frac{E}{B}}\right\rvert}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.126)

It appears we may also pick the equality case, so one velocity (not unique) that should transform away the electric field is

\begin{aligned}\boxed{\mathbf{v}_0 = c \sqrt{{\left\lvert{\frac{E}{B}}\right\rvert}} \mathbf{e}_1 = \pm c \sqrt{{\left\lvert{\frac{E}{B}}\right\rvert}} \frac{\mathbf{E} \times \mathbf{B}}{{\left\lvert{\mathbf{E}}\right\rvert} {\left\lvert{\mathbf{B}}\right\rvert}}.}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.127)

This particular boost direction is perpendicular to both fields. Observe that this highlights the invariance condition {\left\lvert{\frac{E}{B}}\right\rvert} < 1 since we see this is required for a physically realizable velocity. Boosting in this direction will reduce our problem to one that has only the magnetic field component.

Zero Magnetic field case.

Now, let’s consider the case where we transform the magnetic field away, the case when our characteristic polynomial has strictly real eigenvalues \lambda = \pm \sqrt{\mathbf{E}^2 - \mathbf{B}^2}. In this case, if we write out our equations for the transformed magnetic field and require these to separately equal zero, we have

\begin{aligned}0 &= B \alpha_3 \alpha_1 ( 1 - \gamma ) + \gamma \frac{v_0^2}{c^2} E \alpha_3 \\ 0 &= B \alpha_2 \alpha_3 ( 1 - \gamma ) \\ 0 &= B (\alpha_3^2 + \gamma (\alpha_1^2 + \alpha_2^2)) - \gamma \frac{v_0^2}{c^2} E \alpha_1.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.128)

Similar to before we see that \alpha_3 = 0 kills off the first and second equations, leaving just

\begin{aligned}0 = B - \frac{v_0^2}{c^2} E \alpha_1.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.131)

We now have a solution for the family of direction vectors that kill the magnetic field off

\begin{aligned}\alpha_1 &= \frac{B}{E} \frac{c^2}{v_0^2} \\ \alpha_2 &= \sqrt{ 1 - \frac{B^2}{E^2} \frac{c^4}{v_0^4} } \\ \alpha_3 &= 0.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.132)

In addition to the initial constraint that {\left\lvert{\frac{B}{E}}\right\rvert} < 1, we have as before, constraints on the allowable values of v_0

\begin{aligned}\frac{\mathbf{v}_0^2}{c^2} \ge {\left\lvert{\frac{B}{E}}\right\rvert}.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.135)

Like before we can pick the equality \alpha_1^2 = 1, yielding a boost direction of

\begin{aligned}\boxed{\mathbf{v}_0 = c \sqrt{{\left\lvert{\frac{B}{E}}\right\rvert}} \mathbf{e}_1 = \pm c \sqrt{{\left\lvert{\frac{B}{E}}\right\rvert}} \frac{\mathbf{E} \times \mathbf{B}}{{\left\lvert{\mathbf{E}}\right\rvert} {\left\lvert{\mathbf{B}}\right\rvert}}.}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(3.136)

Again, we see that the invariance condition {\left\lvert{\mathbf{B}}\right\rvert} < {\left\lvert{\mathbf{E}}\right\rvert} is required for a physically realizable velocity if that velocity is entirely perpendicular to the fields.

Problem 3. Continuity equation for delta function current distributions.


Show explicitly that the electromagnetic 4-current j^i for a particle moving with constant velocity (considered in class, p. 100-101 of notes) is conserved \partial_i j^i = 0. Give a physical interpretation of this conservation law, for example by integrating \partial_i j^i over some spacetime region and giving an integral form to the conservation law (\partial_i j^i = 0 is known as the “continuity equation”).


First lets review. Our four current was defined as

\begin{aligned}j^i(x) = \sum_A c e_A \int_{x(\tau)} dx_A^i(\tau) \delta^4(x - x_A(\tau)).\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(4.137)

If each of the trajectories x_A(\tau) represents constant motion we have

\begin{aligned}x_A(\tau) = x_A(0) + \gamma_A \tau ( c, \mathbf{v}_A ).\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(4.138)

The spacetime split of this four vector is

\begin{aligned}x_A^0(\tau) &= x_A^0(0) + \gamma_A \tau c \\ \mathbf{x}_A(\tau) &= \mathbf{x}_A(0) + \gamma_A \tau \mathbf{v},\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(4.139)

with differentials

\begin{aligned}dx_A^0(\tau) &= \gamma_A d\tau c \\ d\mathbf{x}_A(\tau) &= \gamma_A d\tau \mathbf{v}_A.\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(4.141)

Writing out the delta functions explicitly we have

\begin{aligned}\begin{aligned}j^i(x) = \sum_A &c e_A \int_{x(\tau)} dx_A^i(\tau) \delta(x^0 - x_A^0(0) - \gamma_A c \tau) \delta(x^1 - x_A^1(0) - \gamma_A v_A^1 \tau) \\ &\delta(x^2 - x_A^2(0) - \gamma_A v_A^2 \tau) \delta(x^3 - x_A^3(0) - \gamma_A v_A^3 \tau)\end{aligned}\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(4.143)

So our time and space components of the current can be written

\begin{aligned}j^0(x) &= \sum_A c^2 e_A \gamma_A \int_{x(\tau)} d\tau\delta(x^0 - x_A^0(0) - \gamma_A c \tau)\delta^3(\mathbf{x} - \mathbf{x}_A(0) - \gamma_A \mathbf{v}_A \tau) \\ \mathbf{j}(x) &= \sum_A c e_A \mathbf{v}_A \gamma_A \int_{x(\tau)} d\tau\delta(x^0 - x_A^0(0) - \gamma_A c \tau)\delta^3(\mathbf{x} - \mathbf{x}_A(0) - \gamma_A \mathbf{v}_A \tau).\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(4.144)

Each of these integrals can be evaluated with respect to the time coordinate delta function leaving the distribution

\begin{aligned}j^0(x) &= \sum_A c e_A \delta^3(\mathbf{x} - \mathbf{x}_A(0) - \frac{\mathbf{v}_A}{c} (x^0 - x_A^0(0))) \\ \mathbf{j}(x) &= \sum_A e_A \mathbf{v}_A \delta^3(\mathbf{x} - \mathbf{x}_A(0) - \frac{\mathbf{v}_A}{c} (x^0 - x_A^0(0)))\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(4.146)

With this more general expression (multi-particle case) it should be possible to show that the four divergence is zero, however, the problem only asks for one particle. For the one particle case, we can make things really easy by taking the initial point in space and time as the origin, and aligning our velocity with one of the coordinates (say x).

Doing so we have the result derived in class

\begin{aligned}j = e \begin{bmatrix}c \\ v \\ 0 \\ 0 \end{bmatrix}\delta(x - v x^0/c)\delta(y)\delta(z).\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(4.148)

Our divergence then has only two portions

\begin{aligned}\frac{\partial {j^0}}{\partial {x^0}} &= e c (-v/c) \delta'(x - v x^0/c) \delta(y) \delta(z) \\ \frac{\partial {j^1}}{\partial {x}} &= e v \delta'(x - v x^0/c) \delta(y) \delta(z).\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(4.149)

and these cancel out when summed. Note that this requires us to be loose with our delta functions, treating them like regular functions that are differentiable.

For the more general multiparticle case, we can treat the sum one particle at a time, and in each case, rotate coordinates so that the four divergence only picks up one term.

As for physical interpretation via integral, we have using the four dimensional divergence theorem

\begin{aligned}\int d^4 x \partial_i j^i = \int j^i dS_i\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(4.151)

where dS_i is the three-volume element perpendicular to a x^i = \text{constant} plane. These volume elements are detailed generally in the text [2], however, they do note that one special case specifically dS_0 = dx dy dz, the element of the three-dimensional (spatial) volume “normal” to hyperplanes ct = \text{constant}.

Without actually computing the determinants, we have something that is roughly of the form

\begin{aligned}0 = \int j^i dS_i=\int c \rho dx dy dz+\int \mathbf{j} \cdot (\mathbf{n}_x c dt dy dz + \mathbf{n}_y c dt dx dz + \mathbf{n}_z c dt dx dy).\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(4.152)

This is cheating a bit to just write \mathbf{n}_x, \mathbf{n}_y, \mathbf{n}_z. Are there specific orientations required by the metric. To be precise we’d have to calculate the determinants detailed in the text, and then do the duality transformations.

Per unit time, we can write instead

\begin{aligned}\frac{\partial {}}{\partial {t}} \int \rho dV= -\int \mathbf{j} \cdot (\mathbf{n}_x dy dz + \mathbf{n}_y dx dz + \mathbf{n}_z dx dy)\end{aligned} \hspace{\stretch{1}}(4.153)

Rather loosely this appears to roughly describe that the rate of change of charge in a volume must be matched with the “flow” of current through the surface within that amount of time.


[1] Wikipedia. Electromagnetic tensor — wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [online]. 2011. [Online; accessed 27-February-2011].

[2] L.D. Landau and E.M. Lifshitz. The classical theory of fields. Butterworth-Heinemann, 1980.


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