For questions involving the Lagrangian formulation of a dynamical system. Namely, the application of an action principle to a suitably chosen Lagrangian or Lagrangian Density in order to obtain the equations of motion of the system.

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The meaning of action

The action $$S=\int L \;\mathrm{d}t$$ is an important physical quantity. But can it be understood more intuitively? The Hamiltonian corresponds to the energy, whereas the action has dimension of ...
2
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1answer
597 views

What gauge is used in the Lagrangian for a non-relativistic point particle in an electromagnetic potential

For the Lagrangian $$L = \frac{1}{2}mu^2 - q(\phi - \frac{\vec{A}}{c}\cdot \vec{u})$$ of a non-relativistic point particle in an electromagnetic potential, what gauge is used for the electromagnetic ...
12
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5answers
860 views

Making symmetry between E and B fields manifest in Lagrangian

Maxwell's equations are nearly symmetric between $E$ and $B$. If we add magnetic monopoles, or of course if we restrict ourselves to the sourceless case, then this symmetry is exact. This is not ...
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7answers
12k views

What is the difference between Newtonian and Lagrangian mechanics in a nutshell?

What is Lagrangian mechanics, and what's the difference compared to Newtonian mechanics? I'm a mathematician/computer scientist, not a physicist, so I'm kind of looking for something like the ...
12
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2answers
2k views

Are there examples in classical mechanics where D'Alembert's principle fails?

D'Alembert's principle suggests that the work done by the internal forces for a virtual displacement of a mechanical system in harmony with the constraints is zero. This is obviously true for the ...
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3answers
524 views

Noether theorem with semigroup of symmetry instead of group

Suppose You have semigroup instead of typical group construction in Noether theorem. Is this interesting? In fact there is no time-reversal symmetry in the nature, right? At least not in the same ...
4
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3answers
794 views

Hanging chain in a planet's gravitational field

The curve for a chain hanging between two poles in a uniform gravitational field is known as the catenary. Is there known an expression for the curve of a hanging chain on a planet of mass $M$ which ...
5
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1answer
313 views

formal framework for talking about 'minimal couplings'

usually on physical theories one would have Lagrangians or Hamiltonians with multiple fields; say, a vector $A_{\mu}$ and a scalar $\phi$ and one would postulate ad hoc a coupling between the fields ...
3
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3answers
175 views

Are there measurable effects to scaling the action by a constant?

Classically, we obtain the equations of motion by finding a path which has an action that is stationary with respect to small changes in the path. That is the path for which: $\delta S =0$ Scaling ...
11
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1answer
660 views

What is the historical origin of the term action

In Physics ordinary terms often acquire a strange meaning, action is one of them. Most people I talk to about the term action just respond with "its dimension is energy*time". But what is its ...
5
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2answers
923 views

How the Lagrangian of classical system can be derived from basic assumptions?

It is well known that the Lagrangian of a classical free particle equal to kinetic energy. This statement can be derived from some basic assumptions about the symmetries of the space-time. Is there ...
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2answers
447 views

Geodesics and trajectories

I'm a mathematician studying Arnold's Mathematical Methods of Classical Mechanics. On p. 83 the following definition is given. Let $M$ be a differentiable manifold, $TM$ its tangent bundle, and ...
22
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6answers
3k 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. ...
3
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4answers
697 views

Is there any physics that cannot be expressed in terms of Lagrange equations?

A lot of physics, such as classical mechanics, General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics etc can be expressed in terms of Lagrangian Mechanics and Hamiltonian Principles. But sometimes I just can't help ...
14
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3answers
3k views

Physical meaning of Legendre transformation

I would like to know the physical meaning of the Legendre transformation, if there is any? I've used it in thermodynamics and classical mechanics and it seemed only a change of coordinates?
22
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6answers
4k views

Why are there only derivatives to the first order in the Lagrangian?

Why is the Lagrangian a function of the position and velocity (possibly also of time) and why are dependences on higher order derivatives (acceleration, jerk,...) excluded? Is there a good reason for ...
3
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2answers
355 views

Variational method applied to brownian motion

It's possible apply the variational method to the brownian motion ? I mean, one of requisites on $y(t)$ is that it must be continuous and $\partial_t{y(t)}$ too, and in this case, $\partial_t{y(t)}$ ...
2
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1answer
669 views

Does Action in Classical Mechanics have a Interpretation? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Hamilton's Principle The Lagrangian formulation of Classical Mechanics seem to suggest strongly that "action" is more than a mathematical trick. I suspect strongly ...
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2answers
1k views

Why is lagrangian density correct?

The textbooks I have available explain that due to the infinite degrees of freedom of a field, the relevant object in QFT is the lagrangian density. A lagrangian is then obtained for the field by ...
16
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3answers
1k views

How general is the Lagrangian quantization approach to field theory?

It is an usual practice that any quantum field theory starts with a suitable Lagrangian density. It has been proved enormously successful. I understand, it automatically ensures valuable symmetries of ...
10
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4answers
4k views

Derivation of Maxwell's equations from field tensor lagrangian

I've started reading Peskin and Schroeder on my own time, and I'm a bit confused about how to obtain Maxwell's equations from the (source-free) lagrangian density $L = ...
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1answer
411 views

Lagrangian density of linear elastic solid

I need the general expression for the lagrangian density of a linear elastic solid. I haven't been able to find this anywhere. Thanks.
9
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1answer
3k views

The Euler-Lagrange equation in special relativity

How can I derive the Euler-Lagrange equations valid in the field of special relativity? Specifically, consider a scalar field.
3
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2answers
630 views

Is there a conserved quantity that enforces planar orbits in central force motion?

From what I remember, one of the first steps in finding the equations of motion for an orbiting body is to argue that the body's motion has to be restricted to a plane, because the central force has ...
2
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3answers
356 views

What is the definition of momentum when a mass distribution $\rho(r,t)$ is given?

This question is Edited after recieving comments. What is the definition of momentum when a mass distribution $\rho(r,t)$ is given? Assuming a particle as a point mass we know the definition of ...
3
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1answer
311 views

Distinguishing mechanical systems from general dynamical systems

[Remark: I admit that my first attempt on What makes a space a real space? was rather ill-posed and led to some confusion. Sorry for that, but please give me a second try. Part of the confusion arose ...
3
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3answers
495 views

Type of stationary point in Hamilton's principle

In this question it is discussed why by Hamilton's principle the action integral must be stationary. Most examples deal with the case that the action integral is minimal: this makes sense - we all ...
31
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6answers
3k views

Why does calculus of variations work?

How does it make sense to vary the position and the velocity independently? Edit: Velocity is the derivative of position, so how can you treat them as independent variables? Doesn't every physics ...
6
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3answers
2k views

Constraint force on a rod

I really hope someone will take a quick look at the following, I would just love to better understand it... This exercise is from Arnold's "Mathematical Methods of Classical Mechanics", p. 97 in the ...
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9answers
4k views

Book about classical mechanics

I am looking for a book about "advanced" classical mechanics. By advanced I mean a book considering directly Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulation, and also providing a firm basis in the geometrical ...
26
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5answers
3k views

Hamilton's Principle

Hamilton's principle states that a dynamic system always follows a path such that its action integral is stationary (that is, maximum or minimum). Why should the action integral be stationary? On ...