The statement that a property of a system does not change if the system is isolated.

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97
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4answers
13k views

Why do electrons, according to my textbook, exist forever?

Does that mean that electrons are infinitely stable? The neutrinos of the three leptons are also listed as having a mean lifespan of infinity.
65
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3answers
3k views

Why do travelling waves continue after amplitude sum = 0?

My professor asked an interesting question at the end of the last class, but I can't figure out the answer. The question is this (recalled from memory): There are two travelling wave pulses moving in ...
57
votes
6answers
4k views

Is there a way for an astronaut to rotate?

We know that if an imaginary astronaut is in the intergalactic (no external forces) and has an initial velocity zero, then he has is no way to change the position of his center of mass. The law of ...
46
votes
1answer
6k views

What conservation law corresponds to Lorentz boosts?

Noether's Theorem is used to related the invariance under certain continuous transformations to conserved currents. A common example is that translations in spacetime correspond to the conservation of ...
41
votes
7answers
5k views

Why does everything spin?

The origin of spin is some what a puzzle to me, everything spin from galaxies to planets to weather to electrons. Where has all the angular momentum come from? Why is it so natural? I was also ...
38
votes
1answer
2k views

Why was the first discovered neutrino an anti-neutrino?

In the search for neutrinos, Cowan and Reines discovered the electron anti-neutrino and named it as such. Why is the particle they discovered the anti-variety? The reason we call electrons 'electrons'...
36
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6answers
7k views

Do all the conservation laws of Physics take no time to propagate?

For instance, conservation of momentum, does it take time to propagate between two or more objects? If it does, then there would be some moment that the momentum is not conserved. If it doesn't take ...
36
votes
4answers
17k views

Why can't energy be created or destroyed?

My physics instructor told the class, when lecturing about energy, that it can't be created or destroyed. Why is that? Is there a theory or scientific evidence that proves his statement true or ...
34
votes
4answers
2k views

Intuition as to why the orientation (of a 3D object) is not a conserved quantity?

Say you start off floating in space, in a fixed position and orientation, with zero linear and angular velocity, with no external forces. So you are a closed mechanical system. By twisting your body ...
30
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5answers
3k views

Is the converse of Noether's first theorem true: Every conservation law has a symmetry?

Noether's (first) theorem states that any differentiable symmetry of the action of a physical system has a corresponding conservation law. Is the converse true: Any conservation law of a physical ...
27
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6answers
4k views

Can Noether's theorem be understood intuitively?

Noether's theorem is one of those surprisingly clear results of mathematical calculations, for which I am inclined to think that some kind of intuitive understanding should or must be possible. ...
25
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5answers
14k views

Is it possible to shoot bullets in space or would the recoil of the gun be too strong?

I've read a few articles that say that astronauts have already brought guns in space and that shooting bullets in space is possible. But won't the recoil of the gun be too strong? Law of ...
25
votes
6answers
16k views

Newton's cradle

Why, when one releases 2 balls in Newton's cradle, two balls on the opposite side bounce out at approximately the same speed as the 1st pair, rather than one ball at higher speed, or 3 balls at lower ...
25
votes
1answer
779 views

Best current bounds on nonconservation of momentum?

It's not straightforward to test conservation of momentum experimentally, and many experiments that seem like tests really aren't. For example, in a Newtonian system of identical particles that ...
23
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14answers
9k views

Is it possible to walk in a friction-less world?

Is it possible to walk in a frictionless world. I think you won't be able to walk because walking depends on friction acting on your feet. I think about it like an ice rink because when you try to ...
22
votes
6answers
9k views

Can a car steer on a frictionless surface?

Do the front tires of a car act like gyroscopes, such that a car could steer on a frictionless surface?
21
votes
6answers
3k views

Conservation of momentum when rain pours into a wagon

Suppose a wagon is moving at constant velocity on a friction-less surface, and rain begins to fill the wagon. The net force on the wagon is zero, so momentum is conserved; as the mass of the wagon ...
21
votes
5answers
3k views

How can there be net linear momentum in a static electromagnetic field (not propagating)?

I understand from basic conservation of energy and momentum considerations, it is clear in classical electrodynamics that the fields should be able to have energy and momentum. This leads to the usual ...
20
votes
3answers
2k views

No hair theorem for black holes and the baryon number

The no hair theorem says that a black hole can be characterized by a small number of parameters that are visible from distance - mass, angular momentum and electric charge. For me it is puzzling why ...
18
votes
4answers
3k views

Decay of massless particles

We don't normally consider the possibility that massless particles could undergo radioactive decay. There are elementary arguments that make it sound implausible. (A bunch of the following is ...
18
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1answer
1k views

Gauge redundancies and global symmetries [closed]

It is often said that local (gauge) transformation is only redundancy of description of spin one massless particles, to make the number degrees of freedom from three to two. It is often said that ...
17
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the conserved quantity of a scale-invariant universe?

Consider that we have a system described by a wavefunction $\psi(x)$. We then make an exact copy of the system, and anything associated with it, (including the inner cogs and gears of the elementary ...
16
votes
4answers
4k views

Deriving Newton's Third Law from homogeneity of Space

I am following the first volume of the course of theoretical physics by Landau. So, whatever I say below mainly talks regarding the first 2 chapters of Landau and the approach of deriving Newton's ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the symmetry which is responsible for preservation/conservation of electrical charges?

Another Noether's theorem question, this time about electrical charge. According to Noether's theorem, all conservation laws originate from invariance of a system to shifts in a certain space. For ...
15
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6answers
2k views

Is there any way to annihilate matter without the use of anti-matter?

Is there any way to annihilate matter without the use of anti-matter? And vice versa? I mean, for example is it possible to totally convert the mass of a proton into "pure energy" without use an anti-...
15
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4answers
1k views

NASA's “Impossible” Space Engine

Recently, there was some news that said that the researchers at NASA have come across some impossible kind of space engine which does not require any fuel. I have read at a few places like here, here ...
15
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6answers
1k views

Is there a momentum for charge?

Since mass and charge behave similarly, so, just like center of mass, I define a point center of charge, that is defined by $$\vec r_{qm} = \frac {\sum{q_i \vec r_i}} {\sum{q_i}}$$ where $\vec r_i$ ...
15
votes
4answers
5k views

Why does each celestial object spin on its own axis?

AFAIK all the celestial objects have a spin motion around its axis. What is the reason for this? If it must rotate by some theory, what decides it's direction and speed of rotation? Is there any ...
15
votes
2answers
310 views

What symmetry is associated with conservation of Lipkin's zilch?

The 'zilch' of an electromagnetic field is the tensor $$ Z^{\mu}_{\ \ \ \nu\rho}=^*\!\!F^{\mu\lambda}F_{\lambda\nu,\rho}-F^{\mu\lambda}\,{}^*\!F_{\lambda\nu,\rho} \tag1 $$ given in terms of the ...
14
votes
1answer
848 views

Neutrino Oscillations and Conservation of Momentum

I would like to better understand how neutrino oscillations are consistent with conservation of momentum because I'm encountering some conceptual difficulties when thinking about it. I do have a ...
13
votes
11answers
53k views

How can momentum but not energy be conserved in an inelastic collision?

In inelastic collisions, kinetic energy changes, so the velocities of the objects also change. So how is momentum conserved in inelastic collisions?
13
votes
6answers
3k views

What is the symmetry which is responsible for conservation of mass?

According to Noether's theorem, all conservation laws originate from invariance of a system to shifts in a certain space. For example conservation of energy stems from invariance to time translation. ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Can one black hole suck in another black hole?

In the recent news, scientists at NASA have found “unprecedented” black hole cluster near Andromeda’s central bulge. I wonder why doesn't all these black holes merge and such each other in until just ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

What are some phenomena that can not be described without the help of Newton's third law of motion? [closed]

What are some phenomena that can not be described without the help of Newton's third law of motion? All the phenomena I can think of can be explained with the help of Newton's first law or second law. ...
12
votes
4answers
6k views

Is it possible to create matter? [duplicate]

Is it possible to create matter? In a recent discussion I had, it was suggested that with enough energy in the future, "particles" could be created. It seems like this shouldn't be possible due to ...
12
votes
3answers
616 views

Why $\log \rho$ in the continuity equation?

I just saw the continuity equation, in a manuscript, written as $$\frac{\partial \log \rho }{\partial t} + \vec v \cdot \nabla \log \rho= - \nabla \cdot \vec v.$$ Now, just calculating the derivatives ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

If all conserved quantities of a system are known, can they be explained by symmetries?

If a system has $N$ degrees of freedom (DOF) and therefore $N$ independent1 conserved quantities integrals of motion, can continuous symmetries with a total of $N$ parameters be found that deliver ...
12
votes
1answer
893 views

How can a planet gravitationally capture objects?

I would expect that any asteroid or other object originating far away but passing near a planet would pick up speed and energy as it approaches, but unless it comes into contact with the atmosphere (...
12
votes
1answer
300 views

How do higher-order optical chiralities look like?

The optical chirality of the electromagnetic field is a conserved quantity, analogous to the energy density, linear momentum density, and angular momentum density, which describes how chiral the EM ...
11
votes
8answers
7k views

What is a rocket engine thrusting against in space?

I know Newton's third law of motion might be the answer for this but still I am wondering how the rockets could thrust in the empty space and move in the opposite direction. I guess an astronaut ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Changing Rotation Direction in Mid Air

Not sure whether this is an appropriate question for this site, but could anyone explain the physics behind how this skier is able to change his direction of rotation mid-air? https://www.youtube.com/...
11
votes
10answers
3k views

How to explain independence of momentum and energy conservation in elementary terms?

I'm trying to explain to someone learning elementary physics (16 year old) that linear momentum and energy are conserved independently. I'm not a professional physicist and haven't tried to explain ...
11
votes
0answers
452 views

Noether currents for the BRST tranformation of Yang-Mills fields

The Lagrangian of the Yang-Mills fields is given by $$ \mathcal{L}=-\frac{1}{4}(F^a_{\mu\nu})^2+\bar{\psi}(i\gamma^{\mu} D_{\mu}-m)\psi-\frac{1}{2\xi}(\partial\cdot A^a)^2+ \bar{c}^a(\partial\...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Can a mouse rotating a wheel violate conservation of angular momentum?

I have been thinking on the following problem. Part I. Imagine we have a mouse enclosed in a rigid box. We placed the box on a frictionless surface (ice might be a good example). Can the box start ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

Noether's current expression in Peskin and Schroeder

In the second chapter of Peskin and Schroeder, An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory, it is said that the action is invariant if the Lagrangian density changes by a four-divergence. But if we ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

How does Newtonian mechanics explain why orbiting objects do not fall to the object they are orbiting?

The force of gravity is constantly being applied to an orbiting object. And therefore the object is constantly accelerating. Why doesn't gravity eventually "win" over the object's momentum, like a ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

Neutron to antiproton decay

Would it be possible for a neutron to lose a positron and become an antiproton? Or would would it need to be the decay of an antineutron to antiproton instead?
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Does a particle annihilate only with its antiparticle? If yes, why?

Or to put the question another way - what is the result of a proton-positron collision, or an up quark-charm antiquark collision, etc.? As far as I know, annihilation happens only between particles of ...
10
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4answers
3k views

Apparent violation of Newton's 3rd law and the conservation of angular momentum for a pair of charged particles interacting magnetically

Consider a system of the two identical point positive charges situated in free space (isolated from influence of any other external fields) as shown in the figure below. Particle 1 is at $(a,a,0)$ and ...
10
votes
1answer
894 views

Effect of the tail of the cat in the falling cat problem

To explain why a falling cat can turn by 180 degree without external torque and without violation of the conservation of angular momentum, one usually models the cat as two cylinders as in http://en....