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Physical Applications of Vector CalculusRatings:

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Published by chachunasayan

An excellent handout on Physical Applications of Vector Calculus

An excellent handout on Physical Applications of Vector Calculus

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https://www.scribd.com/doc/48629567/Physical-Applications-of-Vector-Calculus

06/18/2013

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SOME PHYSICAL APPLICATIONS OF VECTOR CALCULUS

1.

Fundamental Theorems of Vector Calculus

Let us ﬁrst recall the fundamental theorems of vector calculus. They will beused many times in what follows.

Theorem 1.1.

Let

γ

be an oriented curve in

R

3

with initial and ﬁnal points

p

0

and

p

1

, respectively. Let

h

(

x,y,z

)

be a scalar function. Then

(1.1)

γ

∇

h

·

d

r

=

h

(

p

1

)

−

h

(

p

0

)

Theorem 1.2.

Let

M

be a oriented surface in

R

3

with boundary given by the closed curve

γ

, with orientation induced from that of

M

. Let

F

(

x,y,z

)

be a vector ﬁeld.Then

(1.2)

M

(

∇×

F

)

·

n

dS

=

γ

F

·

d

rTheorem 1.3.

Let

E

be a bounded solid region in

R

3

with boundary given by theclosed surface

M

, with the outward pointing orientation. Let

F

(

x,y,z

)

be a vector ﬁeld. Then

(1.3)

E

(

∇·

F

)

dV

=

M

F

·

n

dS

We also have the following two theorems which characterize

conservative

and

solendoidal

ﬁelds, respectively:

Theorem 1.4.

A vector ﬁeld

F

in

R

3

is said to be

conservative

or

irrotational

if any of the following equivalent conditions hold:

∇×

F

=

0

at every point.

γ

F

·

d

r

is independent of the path joining the same two endpoints.

γ

F

·

d

r

= 0

for any

closed

path

γ

.

F

=

∇

h

for some scalar potential

h

.

In fact this theorem is true for vector ﬁelds deﬁned in any region where all closed

paths

can be shrunk to a point without leaving the region.

1

2 SOME PHYSICAL APPLICATIONS OF VECTOR CALCULUS

Theorem 1.5.

A vector ﬁeld

F

in

R

3

is said to be

solenoidal

or

incompressible

if any of the following equivalent conditions hold:

∇·

F

= 0

at every point.

M

F

·

n

dS

is independent of the surface

M

having the same boundary curve.

M

F

·

n

dS

= 0

for any

closed

surface

M

.

F

=

∇×

A

for some vector potential

A

.

Similarly, this theorem is actually true for vector ﬁelds deﬁned in any regionwhere all closed

surfaces

can be shrunk to a point without leaving the region.The above two theorems should look very similar. Everything is shifted up byone dimension and the curl is replaced by the divergence, but the theorems areidentical in form.2.

Fluid Dynamics

Let

v

(

x,y,z,t

) be a time dependent vector ﬁeld whose value at any point givesthe

velocity

of a ﬂuid at that point in space and time. Note that since ﬂuids (liquidsand gases) are not rigid like solids, diﬀerent parts of the ﬂuid can be moving atdiﬀerent velocities. Similarly let

ρ

(

x,y,z,t

) denote the density of the ﬂuid, a scalarquantity. We can compute the total mass

m

(

t

) of a three dimensional boundedsolid region

R

of the ﬂuid by integrating the density over

R

:

m

(

t

) =

R

ρ

(

x,y,z

)

dxdydz

The rate of change of the mass of the ﬂuid in the region

R

is given by the timederivative of this expression:

dmdt

=

ddt

R

ρdxdydz

=

R

∂ρ∂tdxdydz

where we can diﬀerentiate under the integral sign since we are assuming that theregion

R

in question is not changing with time. Now the mass of the ﬂuid inthe region

R

can change only because of ﬂuid entering or leaving

R

through itsboundary surface

M

. The rate of ﬂow of ﬂuid out through the surface

M

is givenby the ﬂux integral of

ρ

v

over

M

. Note that the ﬂux of

v

gives the rate of volumeﬂow, and we need to multiply by the density at each point to get a rate of massﬂow. Now the mass

m

(

t

) will

decrease

if ﬂuid is ﬂowing

outward

, so we need aminus sign:

dmdt

=

−

M

ρ

v

·

n

dS

Setting equal the two expressions for the rate of change of mass ﬂow, and using thedivergence theorem 1.3, we obtain:(2.1)

R

∂ρ∂tdxdydz

+

M

ρ

v

·

n

dS

=

R

∂ρ∂t

+

∇·

(

ρ

v

)

dxdydz

= 0Since this must hold for

any

region

R

, the integrand must be identically zero.This yields the

equation of continuity

:(2.2)

∂ρ∂t

+

∇·

(

ρ

v

) = 0

SOME PHYSICAL APPLICATIONS OF VECTOR CALCULUS 3

This is the mathematical formulation of

conservation of mass

.If the ﬂuid is incompressible, then the density

ρ

is a constant, independent of po-sition and time, and equation 2.2 reduces to

∇·

v

= 0, which is the historical reasonfor calling such vector ﬁelds incompressible. In this case, applying the divergencetheorem to

∇·

v

= 0 tells us that the ﬂux through any

closed

surface

M

is zero.This makes sense physically because since the ﬂuid is incompressible, it cannot bepiling up inside the region, so whatever volume of ﬂuid goes in must come out andhence the total ﬂux must be zero.We can also use Stokes’ Theorem 1.2 to calculate the

circulation

of the ﬂuidabout a closed curve

γ

. This is just the line integral of

v

over

γ

, which we canrewrite as

M

(

∇×

v

)

·

n

dS

for any surface

M

which has

γ

as boundary. Thisis a measure of the ﬂuid’s tendency to circulate around this path. If the ﬂuid isirrotational,

∇×

v

= 0, and the circulation is zero. Hence we see here the reasonfor calling such ﬁelds irrotational.We can also use vector calculus to determine the equation of motion for theﬂuid, which is governed by Newton’s second law. The time rate of change of thetotal momentum of the ﬂuid must equal the total force acting on the ﬂuid. Themomentum in a solid bounded region can change due to ﬂow of the ﬂuid out of the region, due to the pressure exerted on the ﬂuid inside by the rest of the ﬂuidexterior to the region, and by various external forces such as gravity or electricityand magnetism, in the case of charged ﬂuids. This situation occurs in the interiorsof stars, for example. An analysis that is similar to that which led to equation 2.2but somewhat more involved yields the classical equation of motion for ﬂuids:(2.3)

ρ∂

v

∂t

+

ρ

(

v

·∇

)

v

=

−∇

P

+

ρ

F

where

P

is the pressure of the ﬂuid and

F

is the external force density. This isthe

Navier-Stokes equation

. This is an example of a nonlinear diﬀerential equation.Even today, we know very little about the behaviour of solutions to this equation,which is part of the reason why the weather is so diﬃcult to predict. Phenomenalike turbulence, tornadoes, and whirlpools are mathematical consequences of thenonlinearity of this equation.3.

Electricity and Magnetism

We begin by stating

Maxwell’s equations

of electromagnetism. We will not con-cern ourselves here with the physical derivations of these equations and insteadexamine their mathematical consequences. Let

E

(

x,y,z,t

) and

B

(

x,y,z,t

) denotethe electric and magnetic ﬁelds in space, respectively. These depend on both po-sition and time, in general. Further, we denote by

ρ

(

x,y,z,t

) the

charge density

and

J

(

x,y,z,t

) the

current density

in space. Note the current density is a vectorﬁeld, since a current is given by both a magnitude and a direction. Here are theequations:

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