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Circular symmetrySymmetry generally conveys two primary meanings. The first is an imprecise sense of harmonious or aesthetically pleasing proportionality and balance; such that it reflects beauty or perfection...
in
mathematical physicsMathematical physics refers to development of mathematical methods for application to problems in physics. The Journal of Mathematical Physics defines this area as: "the application of mathematics to problems in physics and the development of mathematical methods suitable for such applications and...
applies to a 2dimensional
fieldIn physics, a field is a physical quantity associated with each point of spacetime. A field can be classified as a scalar field, a vector field, a spinor field, or a tensor field according to whether the value of the field at each point is a scalar, a vector, a spinor or, more generally, a tensor,...
which can be expressed as a function of distance from a central point only. This means that all points on each
circleA circle is a simple shape of Euclidean geometry consisting of those points in a plane that are a given distance from a given point, the centre. The distance between any of the points and the centre is called the radius....
take the same value.
An example would be
magnetic fieldA magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...
intensity in a plane perpendicular to a currentcarrying wire. A pattern with circular symmetry would consist of concentric circles.
The 3dimensional equivalent term is
spherical symmetry. A
scalar fieldIn mathematics and physics, a scalar field associates a scalar value to every point in a space. The scalar may either be a mathematical number, or a physical quantity. Scalar fields are required to be coordinateindependent, meaning that any two observers using the same units will agree on the...
has spherical symmetry if it depends on the distance to the origin only, such as the
potential*In linguistics, the potential mood*The mathematical study of potentials is known as potential theory; it is the study of harmonic functions on manifolds...
of a
central force. A
vector fieldIn vector calculus, a vector field is an assignmentof a vector to each point in a subset of Euclidean space. A vector field in the plane for instance can be visualized as an arrow, with a given magnitude and direction, attached to each point in the plane...
has spherical symmetry if it is in radially inward or outward direction with a magnitude and orientation (inward/outward) depending on the distance to the origin only, such as a central force.
See also
 Rotational symmetry
Generally speaking, an object with rotational symmetry is an object that looks the same after a certain amount of rotation. An object may have more than one rotational symmetry; for instance, if reflections or turning it over are not counted, the triskelion appearing on the Isle of Man's flag has...
 Particle in a spherically symmetric potential
 Gauss's theorem