January 24, 2008

East Coast Relativity keeps it real

I learned today that the widely used metric signatures in general relativity are referred to as East coast and West coast. Somehow, I have been through 2 GR courses and a ton of cosmology without ever seeing this. A spacetime interval dS2 = -c2 dt2 + dx2 + dy2 + dz2, is Eastern while (+---) on the right side would be Western.

So in keeping with my general ambivalence towards other parts of the country, I am happy to find out that my choice of coast also suits my choice of metric convention. Still, it's no wonder physicists are always shooting each other.

2 comments:

Doug said...

I've also seen it given as a HEP / GR difference, with GR being East. We like our space-like hyper surfaces to have reasonable metrics on them. Wald's chapter on spinors says you need +--- for them though, I can't tell why and they made me give the book back after a year, so I can't check.

(Ryan) said...

As I understand it, high-energy theorists use +--- mostly due to Weinberg, whose book uses that convention. I don't know what Wald was up to.