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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396 views

How to think of the harmonic oscillator equation in terms of “acceleration = gradient”

This is related to another question I just asked where I learned that the equation of motion of a harmonic oscillator is expressed as: $$\ddot{x}+kx=0$$ What little physics I grasp centers on ...
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2answers
319 views

Can cos(x) or sin(x) be the function of stationary action?

Is there a way to express $\cos(x(t))$ (or $\sin(x(t))$) as the solution to the Euler-Lagrange equation, in other words is there a sense in which this function is the path of stationary action?
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1answer
558 views

Lagrangian dynamics with initial conditions: motion of free particle

I am very new to Lagrangian dynamics so I am trying to get my head around the practical usage. So far on here all I could find were proofs and they did not make much sense to me, especially when time ...
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2answers
586 views

Gauge fixing and equations of motion

Consider an action that is gauge invariant. Do we obtain the same information from the following: Find the equations of motion, and then fix the gauge? Fix the gauge in the action, and then find the ...
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2answers
312 views

Is the Lagrangian “math” or “science”?

I've seen in class that we can get from Lagrangian to derive equations of motion (I know its used elsewhere in physics, but I haven't seen it yet). It's not clear to me whether the Lagrangian itself ...
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4answers
1k views

Is the principle of least action a boundary value or initial condition problem?

Here is a question that's been bothering me since I was a sophomore in university, and should have probably asked before graduating: In analytic (Lagrangian) mechanics, the derivation of the ...
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4answers
3k views

Lagrangian to Hamiltonian in Quantum Field Theory

While deriving Hamiltonian from Lagrangian density, we use the formula $$\mathcal{H} ~=~ \pi \dot{\phi} - \mathcal{L}.$$ But since we are considering space and time as parameters, why the formula ...
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2answers
1k views

Deriving the action and the Lagrangian for a free point particle in Special Relativity

My question relates to Landau & Lifshitz, Classical Theory of Field, Chapter 2: Relativistic Mechanics, Paragraph 8: The principle of least action. As stated there, to determine the action ...
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3answers
709 views

What is the difference between manifest Lorentz invariance and canonical Lorentz invariance?

I often read that the Lorentz symmetry is manifest in the path integral formulation but is not in the canonical quantization - what does this really mean?
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1answer
420 views

speed of sound and the potential energy of an ideal gas; Goldstein derivation

I am looking the derivation of the speed of sound in Goldstein's Classical Mechanics (sec. 11-3, pp. 356-358, 1st ed). In order to write down the Lagrangian, he needs the kinetic and potential ...
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1answer
371 views

Lagrangian and Equilibrium Points

I'm wondering whether you can tell quickly just from looking at a Lagrangian whether a given point $q^0$ is an equilibrium point. Obviously all you have to do is verify it satisfies the E-L equations, ...
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8answers
5k views

Why are L4 and L5 lagrangian points stable?

This diagram from wikipedia shows the gravitational potential energy of the sun-earth two body system, and demonstrates clearly the semi-stability of the L1, L2, and L3 lagrangian points. The blue ...
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1answer
533 views

Lagrangian density for a Piano String

So I'm trying to do this problem where I'm given the Lagrangian density for a piano string which can vibrate both transversely and longitudinally. $\eta(x,t)$ is the transverse displacement and ...
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1answer
298 views

Improved energy-momentum tensor

While still dealing with this issue, I've stumbled upon this answer to a question asking about the conserved quantity corresponding to a scaling transformation. It mentions that in accordance with ...
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2answers
223 views

Is the gravitational constant G a minimum value in some sense?

Assume a central body of mass $M$, and call $a$ the acceleration of a test body at a distance $r$ due to any interaction whatsoever with the central body. Is is correct to say that the ratio $a r^2/ ...
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1answer
2k views

How do you know if a coordinate is cyclic if its generalized velocity is not present in the Lagrangian?

Goldstein's Classical Mechanics says that a cyclic coordinate is one that doesn't appear in the Lagrangian of the system, even though its generalized velocity may appear in it (emphasis mine). For ...
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1answer
647 views

Elementary derivation of the motion equations for an inverted pendulum on a cart

Consider a cart of mass $M$ constrained to move on the horizontal axis. A massless rod is attached to the midpoint of the cart, having a mass $m$ on its endpoint. See wikipedia for a picture and for a ...
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2answers
642 views

What is the significance of action?

What is the physical interpretation of $$ \int_{t_1}^{t_2} (T -V) dt $$ where, $T$ is Kinetic Energy and $V$ is potential energy. How does it give trajectory?
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2answers
2k views

Deriving Lagrangian density for electromagnetic field

In considering the (special) relativistic EM field, I understand that assuming a Lagrangian density of the form $$\mathcal{L} =-\frac{1}{4}F_{\mu\nu}F^{\mu\nu} + \frac{1}{c}j_\mu A^\mu$$ and ...
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1answer
271 views

Do Lagrangian points actually maintain a fixed distance?

I was reading on up Lagrangian points and the restricted three-body problem. From what I was able to tell, the Lagrangian points are 5 points in a two-body system such that a third body would be ...
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1answer
158 views

Cyclic co-ordinates implying the constant velocity motion of center of mass of a system of particles

I'm reading the section on Central Force in my textbook (Goldstein's Classical Mechanics has a similar argument in the chapter titled "The Central Force Problem", first section), where we have the ...
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2answers
444 views

Advice on classes: Theoretical Mechanics vs E&M II

So I'm having a tough time deciding between courses next semester. I'm a rising 3rd year undergrad math major whose goal is to get a solid understanding of theoretical physics through advanced math ...
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1answer
407 views

Question about units in Lagrangian dynamics (inertia matrix)

I have a 3 degree of freedom system and my equation of motion is like this: $$M(q)q_{dd} + C(q,q_d)q_d+G(q)~=~0$$ $M(q)$: inertia matrix $C(q,q_d)$: Coriolis-centrifugal matrix $G(q)$: potential ...
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1answer
346 views

Is there some connection between the Virial theorem and a least action principle?

Both involve some 'averaging' over energies (kinetic and potential) and make some prediction about their mean values. As far as the least action principles, one could think of them as saying that the ...
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2answers
4k views

Lagrangian of two particles connected with a spring, free to rotate

Two particles of different masses $m_1$ and $m_2$ are connected by a massless spring of spring constant $k$ and equilibrium length $d$. The system rests on a frictionless table and may both oscillate ...
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2answers
2k views

Hamilton-Jacobi Equation

In the Hamilton-Jacobi equation, we take the partial time derivative of the action. But the action comes from integrating the Lagrangian over time, so time seems to just be a dummy variable here and ...
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1answer
93 views

Smooth trajectory on a smooth manifold

Physicists talk about a smooth trajectory of a particle on a smooth manifold and they label it as q(t) where q_1(t)....q_n(t) are component functions coming from the homeomorphism. I don't see how we ...
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1answer
688 views

Noether current for the Yang-mills-higgs lagrangian

I am trying to calculate the Noether's current, more specifically, the energy density of the Yang-mills-Higgs Lagrangian. Please refer to the equations in the Harvey lectures on Magnetic Monopoles, ...
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2answers
364 views

Why is ${\partial^i}{\partial_i\phi}$ = ${\partial^i {\phi}}{\partial_i{\phi}}$?

This notation can be found on page 254 of Victor Stenger's Comprehensible Cosmos and in David Tong's Lectures on QFT (Equation 2.4 http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/tong/qft/two.pdf), and in EDIT: on ...
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2answers
616 views

M-theory no lagrangian?

Is there any formulated lagrangian (density) for M-theory? If not, why is there no lagrangian? If not, is this related to many vacua existing? Thnx.
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1answer
493 views

Spontaneous symmetry breaking and 't Hooft and Polyakov monopoles

What is spontaneous symmetry breaking from a classical point of view. Could you give some examples, using classical systems.I am studying about the 't Hooft and Polyakov magnetic monopoles solutions, ...
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2answers
327 views

Elimination of velocities from momenta equations for singular Lagrangian

this doubt is related to Generalized Hamiltonian Dynamics paper by Dirac. Consider the set of $n$ equations : $p_i$ = $∂L/∂v_i$, (where $v_i$ is $q_i$(dot) = $dq_i/dt$, or time derivative of ...
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1answer
584 views

Relation between linear momentum and translational kinetic energy

The momentum $m v$ of a particle is formally the same as the derivative its translational kinetic energy $\frac{1}{2} m v^2$ with respect to $v$. Similarly the angular momentum $I \omega$ is the ...
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4answers
593 views

Why are coordinates and velocities sufficient to completely determine the state and determine the subsequent motion of a mechanical system?

I am a Physics undergraduate, so provide references with your responses. Landau & Lifshitz write in page one of their mechanics textbook: If all the co-ordinates and velocities are ...
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0answers
564 views

General equation of motion for elementary particles

Elementary particles can be grouped into spin-classes and described by specific equations, see below: Is there a general Lagrangian density from which all these equations can be derived? A ...
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1answer
476 views

Gauge-invariant field strength term in Yang-Mills Lagrangian

I am reading the chapter of non-abelian gauge invariance from Peskin and Schroeder. Why is the term $-\frac{1}{4}(L_{\mu\nu}^i)^{2} $ gauge invariant?
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1answer
275 views

Derivation of the supergravity action in 11D

The Einstein-Hilbert action of general relativity is uniquely determined by general covariance and the requirement that only second derivatives in the metric appear. Yang-Mills theory can be motivated ...
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2answers
759 views

The Faddeev-Popov Lagrangian

This is a non-abelian continuation of this QED question. The Lagrangian for a non-abelian gauge theory with gauge group $G$, and with fermion fields and ghost fields included is given by $$ ...
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1answer
311 views

How does General Relativity Emerge from Brans-Dicke Gravity with an Infinite Omega Parameter?

The action for the Brans-Dicke-Jordan theory of gravity is $$ \\S =\int d^4x\sqrt{-g} \; \left(\frac{\phi R - \omega\frac{\partial_a\phi\partial^a\phi}{\phi}}{16\pi} + ...
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1answer
211 views

Orbit through L4 and L5

I was reading the Wikipedia article on Lagrangian points and doing the requisite wiki walk through the various quasi-satellites of Earth when a question occurred to me: Could there be a stable or ...
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2answers
1k views

Can a force in an explicitly time dependent classical system be conservative?

If I consider equations of motion derived from the pinciple of least action for an explicilty time dependend Lagrangian $$\delta S[L[q(\text{t}),q'(\text{t}),{\bf t}]]=0,$$ under what ...
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3answers
651 views

The number of independent variables in the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian methods in Classical Mechanics

It's told in Landau - Classical Mechanics, that in the Hamiltonian method, generalized coordinates $q_j$ and generalized momenta $p_j$ are independent variables of a mechanical system. Anyway, in the ...
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0answers
192 views

Comparing Lagrangian in Special Relativity vs General Relativity for a weak gravitational field

This is a sequel to this question. Who knows a difference between the Lagrangian in SR and GR for a weak gravitational field in non-relativistic case? What is the reason of this difference?
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3answers
491 views

Generalizing Heisenberg Uncertainty Priniciple

Writing the relationship between canonical momenta $\pi _i$ and canonical coordinates $x_i$ $$\pi _i =\text{ }\frac{\partial \mathcal{L}}{\partial \left(\frac{\partial x_i}{\partial t}\right)}$$ ...
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2answers
88 views

A charged particle moves in a plane subject to the oscillatory potential

A charged particle moves in a plane subject to the oscillatory potential: $U(r)=\frac{m\omega^2 r^2}{2}$ There is also a constant EM-field described by: $\vec{A}=\frac{1}{2}[\vec{B}\times\vec{r}]$ ...
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2answers
2k views

Lagrangian mechanics vs Hamiltonian mechanics [duplicate]

First of all, what are the differences between these two: Lagrangian mechanics and Hamiltonian mechanics? And secondly, do I need to learn both in order to study quantum mechanics and quantum field ...
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2answers
562 views

Is it circular reasoning to derive Newton's laws from action minimization?

Usually, a typical example of the use of the action principle that I've read a lot is the derivation of Newton's equation (generalized to coordinate $q(t)$). However, in the classical mechanics ...
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4answers
492 views

Is the Lagrangian of a quantum field really a 'functional'?

Weinberg says, page 299, The quantum theory of fields, Vol 1, that The Lagrangian is, in general, a functional $L[\Psi(t),\dot{\Psi}(t)$], of a set of generic fields $\Psi[x,t]$ and their time ...
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1answer
520 views

The form of Lagrangian for a free particle

I've just registred here, and I'm very glad that finally I have found such a place for questions. I have small question about Classical Mechanics, Lagrangian of a free particle. I just read Deriving ...
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2answers
3k views

Deriving the Lagrangian for a free particle

I'm a newbie in physics. Sorry, if the following questions are dumb. I began reading "Mechanics" by Landau and Lifshitz recently and hit a few roadblocks right away. Proving that a free particle ...