Jackson’s Laplacian in spherical Coordinates

If you took a look at one of the previous posts on how to remember the Laplacian in different forms by using a metric,  you will notice that the form of  the Laplacian that we get is:

$\nabla^2 \psi = \frac{1}{r^2} \frac{\partial}{\partial r} \left( r^2 \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial r} \right) + \frac{1}{r^2 \sin(\theta)} \frac{\partial}{\partial \theta} \left( sin(\theta) \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial \theta} \right) + \frac{1}{r^2 \sin^2(\theta)} \frac{\partial^2 \psi}{\partial \phi^2}$

But in Jackson’s Classical Electrodynamics, III edition he notes the following:

This is an interesting form of the Laplacian that perhaps not everyone has encountered. This can obtained from the known form by making the substitution $u = r \psi$ and simplifying. The steps to which have been outlined below:

Feynman’s trick applied to Contour Integration

A friend of mine was the TA for a graduate level  Math course for Physicists. And an exercise in that course was to solve  integrals using Contour Integration. Just for fun, I decided to mess with him by trying to solve all the contour integral problems in the prescribed textbook for the course [Arfken and Weber’s  ‘Mathematical methods for Physicists,7th edition”  exercise (11.8)] using anything BUT contour integration.

You can solve a lot of them them exclusively by using Feynman’s trick. ( If you would like to know about what the trick is – here is an introductory post) The following are my solutions:

All solutions in one pdf

Arfken-11.8.1

Arfken-11.8.2

Arfken-11.8.3

Arfken-11.8.4*

Arfken-11.8.5

Arfken-11.8.6 & 7 – not applicable

Arfken-11.8.8

Arfken-11.8.9

Arfken-11.8.10

Arfken-11.8.11

Arfken-11.8.12

Arfken-11.8.13

Arfken-11.8.14

Arfken-11.8.15

Arfken-11.8.16

Arfken-11.8.17

Arfken-11.8.18

Arfken-11.8.19

Arfken-11.8.20

Arfken-11.8.21 & Arfken-11.8.23* (Hint: Use 11.8.3)

Arfken-11.8.22

Arfken-11.8.24

Arfken-11.8.25*

Arfken-11.8.26

Arfken-11.8.27

Arfken-11.8.28

*I forgot how to solve these 4 problems without using Contour Integration. But I will update them when I remember how to do them. If you would like, you can take these to be challenge problems and if you solve them before I do send an email to 153armstrong(at)gmail.com and I will link the solution to your page. Cheers!

Using Complex numbers in Classical Mechanics

When one is solving problems on the two dimensional plane and you are using polar coordinates, it is always a challenge to remember what the velocity/acceleration in the radial and angular directions ($v_r , v_{\theta}, a_r, a_{\theta}$) are. Here’s one failsafe way using complex numbers that made things really easy :

$z = re^{i \theta}$

$\dot{z} = \dot{r}e^{i \theta} + ir\dot{\theta}e^{i \theta} = (\dot{r} + ir\dot{\theta} ) e^{i \theta}$

From the above expression, we can obtain $v_r = \dot{r}$ and $v_{\theta} = r\dot{\theta}$

$\ddot{z} = (\ddot{r} + ir\ddot{\theta} + i\dot{r}\dot{\theta} ) e^{i \theta} + (\dot{r} + ir\dot{\theta} )i \dot{\theta} e^{i \theta}$

$\ddot{z} = (\ddot{r} + ir\ddot{\theta} + i\dot{r}\dot{\theta} + i \dot{r} \dot{\theta} - r\dot{\theta}\dot{\theta} )e^{i \theta}$

$\ddot{z} = (\ddot{r} - r(\dot{\theta})^2+ i(r\ddot{\theta} + 2\dot{r}\dot{\theta} ) )e^{i \theta}$

From this we can obtain $a_r = \ddot{r} - r(\dot{\theta})^2$ and $a_{\theta} = (r\ddot{\theta} + 2\dot{r}\dot{\theta})$ with absolute ease.

Something that I realized only after a mechanics course in college was done and dusted but nevertheless a really cool and interesting place where complex numbers come in handy!