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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Why does no physical energy-momentum tensor exist for the gravitational field?

Starting with the Einstein-Hilbert Lagrangian $$ L_{EH} = -\frac{1}{2}(R + 2\Lambda)$$ one can formally calculate a gravitational energy-momentum tensor $$ T_{EH}^{\mu\nu} = -2 \frac{\delta ...
5
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2answers
332 views

Landau Mechanics: why does adding Lagrangians remove the indefiniteness of multiplying each Lagrangian by a different constant?

In Landau Mechanics (third edition page 4), why does adding Lagrangians of two non interacting parts remove the indefiniteness of multiplying each Lagrangian by a different constant? If both systems ...
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2answers
401 views

Partial derivative of Lagrangian density for vector field

The lagrangian density of a massless vector field is $ \mathcal{L} = -\frac{1}{4}F_{\mu\nu}F^{\mu\nu}$, where $F_{\mu\nu}=\partial_{\mu}A_{\nu}-\partial_{\nu}A_{\mu}$ Expanding out gives ...
3
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1answer
243 views

Can I find a potential function in the usual way if the central field contains $t$ in its magnitude?

I'm working on a classical mechanics problem in which the problem states that a particle of mass $m$ moves in a central field of attractive force of magnitude: $$F(r, t) = \frac{k}{r^2}e^{-at}$$ ...
4
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2answers
497 views

How to apply Noether's theorem

Say I have a point transformation: $$x' ~=~ (1 +\epsilon)x,$$ $$t' ~=~ (1 +\epsilon)^2t,$$ and Lagrangian $$ L ~=~ \frac{1}{2}m\dot{x}^2 - \frac{\alpha}{x^2}.$$ How do I go out about showing ...
2
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1answer
326 views

Why has the trace of the energy-momentum tensor to vanish for conserved scaling currents to exist?

In this paper, the authors say that the trace of the energy-momentum tensor has to vanish to allow for the existence of conserved dilatation or scaling currents, as defined on p 10, Eq(22) $$ ...
11
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5answers
1k views

What is the physical meaning of the action in Lagrangian mechanics?

The action is defined as $S = \int_{t_1}^{t_2}L \, dt$ where $L$ is Lagrangian. I know that using Euler-Lagrange equation, all sorts of formula can be derived, but I remain unsure of the physical ...
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0answers
141 views

Describing the movement of the object in a particular situation in Lagrangian way

Suppose there is a object M, (sliding motion) moving by the initial speed $v$ and the initial location $x_0$. Otherwise noted, friction is assumed to be nonexistent. It then meets a circular mold ...
1
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1answer
297 views

Questions regarding solving the Brachistochrone problem using Lagrangian

brachistochrone problem: Suppose that there is a rollercoaster. There is point 1 ($0,0$) and point 2 ($x_2, y_2)$. Point 1 is at the higher place when compared to the point 2, so the rollercoaster ...
5
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2answers
543 views

The Lagrangian in Scalar Field Theory

This is perhaps a naive question, but why do we write down the Lagrangian $$\mathcal{L}=\frac{1}{2}\eta^{\mu\nu}\partial_{\mu}\phi\partial_{\nu}\phi - \frac{1}{2}m^2\phi^2$$ as the simplest ...
6
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2answers
289 views

What are the reasons for leaving the dissipative energy term out of the Hamiltonian when writing the Lyapunov function?

I have a problem with one of my study questions for an oral exam: The Hamiltonian of a nonlinear mechanical system, i.e. the sum of the kinetic and potential energies, is often used as a Lyapunov ...
2
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3answers
322 views

Can the Euler-Lagrange equations be derived from an infinitesimal Principle of Least Action?

The Euler-Lagrange equations can be derived from the Principle of Least Action using integration by parts and the fact that the variation is zero at the end points. This has a mystical air about it, ...
1
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1answer
377 views

Time dependent Lagrangian

Suppose I have a mechanical system with $\ell + m$ degrees of freedom and an associated Lagrangian: $$L(\alpha, \beta, \dot{\alpha}, \dot{\beta}, t),$$ where $\alpha \in \mathbb{R}^{\ell}$ and $\beta ...
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2answers
450 views

Charge, velocity-dependent potentials and Lagrangian

Given an electric charge $q$ of mass $m$ moving at a velocity ${\bf v}$ in a region containing both electric field ${\bf E}(t,x,y,z)$ and magnetic field ${\bf B}(t,x,y,z)$ (${\bf B}$ and ${\bf E}$ are ...
8
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1answer
394 views

About turbulence modeling

I have some questions about this paper: Lagrangian/Hamiltonian formalism for description of Navier-Stokes fluids. R. J. Becker. Phys. Rev. Lett. 58 no. 14 (1987), pp. 1419-1422. After reading ...
0
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2answers
313 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 ...
1
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2answers
284 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?
4
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1answer
407 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 ...
4
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2answers
360 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 ...
3
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3answers
268 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 ...
16
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4answers
720 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 ...
6
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4answers
1k 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 ...
9
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2answers
737 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 ...
3
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3answers
454 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?
4
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1answer
267 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 ...
2
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1answer
222 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, ...
20
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8answers
3k 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 ...
5
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1answer
403 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 ...
1
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1answer
212 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 ...
2
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2answers
185 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/ ...
3
votes
1answer
927 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 ...
5
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1answer
152 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 ...
2
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2answers
440 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?
2
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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 ...
2
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1answer
235 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 ...
1
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1answer
143 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 ...
0
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2answers
316 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 ...
3
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1answer
298 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 ...
12
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1answer
261 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 ...
4
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2answers
2k 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 ...
6
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2answers
952 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 ...
1
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1answer
79 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 ...
4
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1answer
496 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, ...
1
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2answers
328 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
445 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.
2
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1answer
341 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, ...
3
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2answers
251 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
439 views

Relation between 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
430 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 ...
5
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0answers
416 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 ...