Distance Formula in Curvilinear Coordinates

  • Static Fields 2021

    The distance \(\left\vert\vec r -\vec r\,{}'\right\vert\) between the point \(\vec r\) and the point \(\vec r'\) is a coordinate-independent, physical and geometric quantity. But, in practice, you will need to know how to express this quantity in different coordinate systems.

    Hint: Be sure to use the textbook: https://books.physics.oregonstate.edu/GSF/coords2.html

    1. (2 pts) Find the distance \(\left\vert\vec r -\vec r\,{}'\right\vert\) between the point \(\vec r\) and the point \(\vec r'\) in rectangular coordinates.

    2. (2 pts) Show that this same distance written in cylindrical coordinates is: \begin{equation*} \left|\vec r -\vec r\,{}'\right| =\sqrt{s^2+s\,{}'^2-2ss\,{}'\cos(\phi-\phi\,{}') +(z-z\,{}')^2} \end{equation*}
    3. (2 pts) Show that this same distance written in spherical coordinates is: \begin{equation*} \left\vert\vec r -\vec r\,{}'\right\vert =\sqrt{r'^2+r\,{}^2-2rr\,{}' \left[\sin\theta\sin\theta\,{}'\cos(\phi-\phi\,{}') +\cos\theta\cos\theta\,{}'\right]} \end{equation*}
    4. (2 pts) Now assume that \(\vec r\,{}'\) and \(\vec r\) are in the \(x\)-\(y\) plane. Simplify the previous two formulas.