Questions tagged [conservation-laws]

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

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62
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7answers
10k 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 ...
62
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5answers
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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 ...
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2answers
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Is there a kind of Noether's theorem for the Hamiltonian formalism?

The original Noether's theorem assumes a Lagrangian formulation. Is there a kind of Noether's theorem for the Hamiltonian formalism?
32
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4answers
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Where does the extra kinetic energy of the rocket come from?

Consider a rocket in deep space with no external forces. Using the formula for linear kinetic energy $$\text{KE} = mv^2/2$$ we find that adding $100\ \text{m/s}$ while initially travelling at $1000\ \...
38
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6answers
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Apparent Violation of Newton's $3^{\text{rd}}$ Law and the Conservation of Momentum (and Angular Momentum) For a Pair of Charged Particles

Consider a system of the two identical positive point charges situated in free space (isolated from the influence of any other external fields) as shown in the attached diagram. Particle $1$ is at $(a,...
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17answers
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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?
62
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4answers
33k 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 ...
13
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1answer
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Noether's first theorem and classical proof of electric charge conservation

How to prove conservation of electric charge using Noether's first theorem according to classical (non-quantum) mechanics? I know the proof based on using Klein–Gordon field, but that derivation use ...
18
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4answers
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Why do all the planets of the solar system orbit in roughly the same 2D plane?

Most images you see of the solar system are 2D and all planets orbit in the same plane. In a 3D view, are really all planets orbiting in similar planes? Is there a reason for this? I'd expect that the ...
11
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5answers
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How do the Planets and Sun get their initial spin?

How do the Planets and Sun get their initial rotation? Why do Venus and Mercury rotate so slowly compared to other planets? Why does Venus rotate in a different direction to Mercury, Earth and Mars?
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3answers
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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 ...
19
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1answer
10k views

Constants of motion vs. integrals of motion vs. first integrals

Since the equation of mechanics are of second order in time, we know that for $N$ degrees of freedom we have to specify $2N$ initial conditions. One of them is the initial time $t_0$ and the rest of ...
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1answer
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Kepler problem in time: how do two gravitationally attracted particles move? [duplicate]

Two particles with initial positions and velocities $r_1,v_1$ and $r_2,v_2$ are interacting by the inverse square law (with G=1), so that $$ {d^2r_1\over dt^2} = - { m_2(r_1-r_2)\over |r_1-r_2|^3} $$ ...
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2answers
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What conservation law corresponds to Lorentz boosts?

Noether's Theorem is used to relate the invariance of the action under certain continuous transformations to conserved currents. A common example is that translations in spacetime correspond to the ...
13
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8answers
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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 ...
51
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7answers
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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. ...
19
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1answer
2k views

How does one account for the momentum of an absorbed photon?

Suppose I have an atom in its ground state $|g⟩$, and it has an excited state $|e⟩$ sitting at an energy $E_a=\hbar\omega_0$ above it. To excite the atom, one generally uses a photon of frequency $\...
23
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8answers
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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. My ...
9
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2answers
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Pass to globally conserved currents from locally conserved currents in curved spacetime

Let us begin with a Lagrangian of the form $$\mathscr L= \frac 12 \sqrt{-g}g^{\mu\nu}\partial_\mu\phi(x)\partial_\nu\phi(x)+\mathscr L_g,$$ where $$\mathscr L_g=\frac 1{16\pi k}\sqrt{-g}R.$$ ...
24
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1answer
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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 ...
11
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3answers
6k 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 ...
120
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11answers
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Why does Newton's Third Law actually work?

My father explained to me how rockets work and he told me that Newton's Third Law of motion worked here. I asked him why it works and he didn't answer. I have wasted over a week thinking about this ...
70
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6answers
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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 ...
18
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4answers
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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
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5answers
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Spontaneous pair production?

So I've been looking into particle-antiparticle pair production from a gamma ray and don't understand one thing. Let's say I have a 1,1 MeV photon and it hits a nucleus - electron-positron pair with ...
23
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4answers
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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 ...
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3answers
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Can linear momentum be conserved before and after collision in the presence of an external force?

I'm a physics tutor for 11th and 12th grade students. I taught my students that momentum is conserved only when the net external force on the system is zero. But in the books we are following, ...
22
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3answers
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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 ...
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5answers
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Why does a ballerina speed up when she pulls in her arms?

My friend thinks it's because she has less air resistance but I'm not sure.
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3answers
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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 ...
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1answer
380 views

Why are there e.m. vacuüm fluctuations?

According to the rules of qft there are virtual photons in the vacuüm. But how can this be if for the production of photons you need an electric charge?
15
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1answer
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Is there a systematic way to obtain all conserved quantities of a system?

I'd like to know whether, given a system, there's a way to obtain all the conserved quantities. For instance if the system consists of electric and magnetic fields, the fields must satisfy Maxwell's ...
5
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2answers
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Ice skater increase of energy

This may be a very basic question but I am not seeing how it works. Consider the standard example of an ice skate rotating about his/her center of mass and pulling in his/her arms. The torque is zero ...
25
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4answers
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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 ...
14
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1answer
2k 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....
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3answers
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What happens to the quantum information of a particle and an antiparticle when they annihilate?

I understand that the quantum no-deleting theorem dictates that it's impossible to delete quantum information, so what happens to the quantum information of a particle and an antiparticle when they ...
16
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4answers
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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 ...
4
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1answer
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Collisions between an object and a wall

Is momentum conserved when an object bounces back against a wall? The wall doesn’t move, but the object moves in the opposite direction. Assume this is an ideal, elastic collision. If, initially, the ...
19
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3answers
9k views

Noether theorem, gauge symmetry and conservation of charge

I'm trying to understand Noether's theorem, and it's application to gauge symmetry. Below what I've done so far. First, the global gauge symmetry. I'm starting with the Lagragian $$L_{1}=\partial^{\...
82
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3answers
5k 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 ...
26
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5answers
4k 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 ...
37
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6answers
24k 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 ...
12
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2answers
2k views

Classical EM : clear link between gauge symmetry and charge conservation

In the case of classical field theory, Noether's theorem ensures that for a given action $$S=\int \mathrm{d}^dx\,\mathcal{L}(\phi_\mu,\partial_\nu\phi_\mu,x^i)$$ that stays invariant under the ...
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1answer
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Violation of Newton's 3rd law and momentum conservation [closed]

Why and when does Newton's 3rd law violate in relativistic mechanics? Check this link.
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4answers
3k views

Contradiction between law of conservation of energy and law of conservation of momentum?

Yesterday, while studying a simple question, a rather strange doubt hit my mind: Consider a ball of mass $m$ moving with velocity $v$ that collides with a wall in a perfectly elastic collision and ...
9
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1answer
647 views

Why is only the third component of weak isospin used as a conserved quantity?

Using Noether's theorem \begin{equation} \partial_0 \int d^3x \left(\frac{\partial L}{\partial(\partial_0\Psi)} \delta \Psi \right) = 0 \end{equation} we get three conserved quantites $Q_i$ from ...
8
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3answers
10k views

Energy conservation limited by uncertainty principle

The way I learned it from practicing Fourier analysis and signal processing besides quantum mechanics, is that Energy conservation cannot be achieved in short time scales, and that limits energy ...
10
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3answers
1k views

What is the actual form of Noether current in field theory?

Let us consider $N$ independent scalar fields which satisfy the Euler-Lagrange equations of motion and are denoted by $\phi^{(i)}(x) \ ( i = 1,...,N)$, and are extended in a region $\Omega$ in a $D$-...
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6answers
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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 ...
18
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3answers
1k views

Elementary argument for conservation laws from symmetries *without* using the Lagrangian formalism

It is well known from Noether's Theorem how from continuous symmetries in the Lagrangian one gets a conserved charge which corresponds to linear momentum, angular momentum for translational and ...

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