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

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89
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4answers
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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.
52
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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 ...
37
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7answers
4k 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 ...
33
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1answer
5k 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 ...
32
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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 ...
31
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4answers
13k 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 ...
25
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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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1answer
717 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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6answers
2k 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 ...
22
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5answers
8k 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 ...
21
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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
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6answers
12k 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 ...
20
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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 ...
20
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14answers
6k 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 ...
16
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3answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
6answers
883 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
3answers
1k 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 ...
14
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4answers
3k 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 ...
14
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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 ...
14
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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 ...
14
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6answers
2k 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. ...
14
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4answers
3k 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 ...
14
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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 ...
13
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1answer
1k 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
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4answers
4k 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
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5answers
2k 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 ...
12
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3answers
531 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
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0answers
839 views

Gauge redundancies and global symmetries

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 ...
11
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8answers
5k 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
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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? ...
11
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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 ...
10
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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
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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 ...
10
votes
2answers
406 views

Is electric charge truly conserved for bosonic matter?

Even before quantization, charged bosonic fields exhibit a certain "self-interaction". The body of this post demonstrates this fact, and the last paragraph asks the question. Notation/ Lagrangians ...
10
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1answer
145 views

Is there a trajectory which is not a solution of the equation of motion but satisfies all conservation laws?

I'm wondering whether conservation laws are sufficient to imply equations of motions. Specifically: 1) In classical mechanics of point particles, are conservation of energy, conservation of momentum ...
10
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1answer
641 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
450 views

Can vorticity be destroyed?

I have a professor that is fond of saying that vorticity cannot be destroyed. I see how this is true for inviscid flows, but is this also true for viscous flow? The vorticity equation is shown below ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

If angular momentum is conserved, what's wrong with this scenario?

I understand that, in a given system with no external torques applied, angular momentum is conserved. However, consider the following situation: Let's say the earth revolves around the Sun in a ...
9
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
9
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3answers
371 views

Entire Universe's Momentum

I was thinking about the definition of the conservation of momentum, which says that momentum is conserved unless outside forces are acting on the system, and I was wondering that if the system is the ...
9
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1answer
115 views

Global symmetry in string theory

It is often stated that in quantum gravity only charges coupled to gauge fields can be conserved. This is because of the no hair theorem. If a charge is coupled to a gauge field then when it falls ...
9
votes
1answer
697 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
405 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 ...
9
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3answers
378 views

Continuum limit for solid mechanics

Is there a rigorous derivation of the limits for continuum properties in solid mechanics? For instance, the stress-strain relationship may be linear for large samples (the slope being the Young's ...
9
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0answers
373 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+ ...
8
votes
7answers
2k views

Does electron being many places at the same time violate Physics laws?

The following passage has been extracted from the book Parallel Worlds, by Michio Kaku: Because of uncertainty, the electron does not exist at any single point, but exists in all possible ...
8
votes
4answers
6k views

Why can't a single photon produce an electron-positron pair?

In reading through old course material, I found the assignment (my translation): Show that a single photon cannot produce an electron-positron pair, but needs additional matter or light quanta. ...
8
votes
6answers
899 views

Is (rest) mass conserved in special relativity?

I don't understand why it is said that the (rest) mass of a system is not conserved in relativity. I mean, the momentum of a system is conserved (i.e.: it remains constant in a frame of reference ...
8
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 ...
8
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2answers
917 views

Huge buildings affect Earth's rotation?

Does constructing huge buildings affect the rotation of the Earth, similar to skater whose angular rotation increases when her arms are closed comparatively than open?