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Questions tagged [symmetry]

We say that something is symmetric if there is some transformation we can perform on that object that leaves some property unchanged. The set of symmetry transformations of an object form a group, and the name of this group is used as the name of the symmetry of the object.

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83
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4answers
7k views

Why does nature favour the Laplacian?

The three-dimensional Laplacian can be defined as $$\nabla^2=\frac{\partial^2}{\partial x^2}+\frac{\partial^2}{\partial y^2}+\frac{\partial^2}{\partial z^2}.$$ Expressed in spherical coordinates, it ...
83
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10answers
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Is there something similar to Noether's theorem for discrete symmetries?

Noether's theorem states that, for every continuous symmetry of an action, there exists a conserved quantity, e.g. energy conservation for time invariance, charge conservation for $U(1)$. Is there any ...
77
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1answer
14k views

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 ...
68
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1answer
7k views

Classical and quantum anomalies

I have read about anomalies in different contexts and ways. I would like to read an explanation that unified all these statements or points of view: Anomalies are due to the fact that quantum field ...
52
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5answers
6k 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 ...
52
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1answer
3k views

Why exactly do sometimes universal covers, and sometimes central extensions feature in the application of a symmetry group to quantum physics?

There seem to be two different things one must consider when representing a symmetry group in quantum mechanics: The universal cover: For instance, when representing the rotation group $\mathrm{SO}(3)...
51
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2answers
2k views

Symmetries of the Standard Model: exact, anomalous, spontaneously broken

There are a number of possible symmetries in fundamental physics, such as: Lorentz invariance (or actually, Poincaré invariance, which can itself be broken down into translation invariance and ...
42
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6answers
8k 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. ...
36
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5answers
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When is it useful to distinguish between vectors and pseudovectors in experimental & theoretical physics?

My understanding of pseudovectors vs vectors is pretty basic. Both transform in the same way under a rotation, but differently upon reflection. I might even be able to summarize that using an equation,...
34
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5answers
12k views

What is the usefulness of the Wigner-Eckart theorem?

I am doing some self-study in between undergrad and grad school and I came across the beastly Wigner-Eckart theorem in Sakurai's Modern Quantum Mechanics. I was wondering if someone could tell me why ...
31
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3answers
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Why is Noether's theorem important?

I am just starting to wrap my head around analytical mechanics, so this question might sound weird or trivial to some of you. In class I have been introduced to Noether's theorem, which states that ...
31
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1answer
3k views

Do an action and its Euler-Lagrange equations have the same symmetries?

Assume a certain action $S$ with certain symmetries, from which according to the Lagrangian formalism, the equations of motion (EOM) of the system are the corresponding Euler-Lagrange equations. Can ...
30
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1answer
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Emergent symmetries

As we know, spontaneous symmetry breaking(SSB) is a very important concept in physics. Loosely speaking, zero temprature SSB says that the Hamiltonian of a quantum system has some symmetry, but the ...
29
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6answers
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Why are Killing fields relevant in physics?

I'm taking a course on General Relativity and the notes that I'm following define a Killing vector field $X$ as those verifying: $$\mathcal{L}_Xg~=~ 0.$$ They seem to be very important in physics ...
28
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5answers
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Noether charge of local symmetries

If our Lagrangian is invariant under a local symmetry, then, by simply restricting our local symmetry to the case in which the transformation is constant over space-time, we obtain a global symmetry, ...
28
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4answers
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Are black holes perfect spheroids?

What I know about black holes (correct me if I'm wrong) is that they are the most compact objects in the universe that have been discovered. Due to all that gravity, wouldn't black holes be a perfect ...
28
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4answers
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When can a global symmetry be gauged?

Take a classical field theory described by a local Lagrangian depending on a set of fields and their derivatives. Suppose that the action possesses some global symmetry. What conditions have to be ...
27
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3answers
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What role does “spontaneously symmetry breaking” played in the “Higgs Mechanism”?

In talking about Higgs mechanism, the first part is always some introduction to the concept of spontaneously symmetry breaking (SSB), some people saying that Higgs mechanism is the results of SSB of ...
27
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5answers
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Rigorous approaches to quantum field theory

I have been reading Quantum Mechanics: A Modern Development by L. Ballentine. I like the way everything is deduced starting from symmetry principles. I was wondering if anyone familiar with the book ...
27
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6answers
9k views

Why are snowflakes symmetrical?

The title says it all. Why are snowflakes symmetrical in shape and not a mush of ice? Is it a property of water freezing or what? Does anyone care to explain it to me? I'm intrigued by this and ...
26
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1answer
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As the sun expands, will its Roche limit also expand?

So my friend and I had a debate. He stated that we don't have to worry about the sun consuming the Earth ─ we'll already be broken apart by then. He states that as the sun expands, its Roche limit ...
25
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4answers
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What is difference between homogeneous and isotropic material?

When do we say a material is isotropic? When properties such as density, Young's modulus etc. are same in all directions. If these properties are direction-dependent then we can say that the material ...
24
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2answers
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Why am I wrong about how to view gauge theory?

Edit: I know there have been some similar questions but I don't think any had quite articulated my particular confusion. If gauge symmetries are really just redundancies in our description accounting ...
23
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2answers
1k views

Vibrational anharmonic coupling and noise-induced spontaneous symmetry breaking in a hexagonal finite mechanical lattice

Happy holidays, everyone! The following is part question, part visual gallery, and part classical mechanics problem. Inspired by snow over the weekend I began simulating the vibrations of the ...
22
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2answers
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Dirac spinors under Parity transformation or what do the Weyl spinors in a Dirac spinor really stand for?

My problem is understanding the transformation behaviour of a Dirac spinor (in the Weyl basis) under parity transformations. The standard textbook answer is $$\Psi^P = \gamma_0 \Psi = \begin{...
21
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4answers
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QM and Renormalization (layman)

I was reading Michio Kaku's Beyond Einstein. In it, I think, he explains that when physicsts treat a particle as a geometric point they end up with infinity when calculating the strength of the ...
21
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4answers
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What sort of experiment would directly test time reversal invariance?

I guess the title says it all: how could/would you experimentally test whether our universe is truly time reversal invariant, without relying on the CPT theorem? What experiments have been proposed to ...
21
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3answers
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Why is the Symmetry Group for the Electroweak force $SU(2) \times U(1)$ and not $U(2)$?

Let me first say that I'm a layman who's trying to understand group theory and gauge theory, so excuse me if my question doesn't make sense. Before symmetry breaking, the Electroweak force has 4 ...
21
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1answer
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How to prove that a spacetime is maximally symmetric?

In Carroll's book on general relativity ("Spacetime and Geometry"), I found the following remark: In two dimensions, finding that $R$ is a constant suffices to prove that the space is maximally ...
21
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2answers
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Why does the classical Noether charge become the quantum symmetry generator?

It is often said that the classical charge $Q$ becomes the quantum generator $X$ after quantization. Indeed this is certainly the case for simple examples of energy and momentum. But why should this ...
21
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1answer
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Why does charge conservation due to gauge symmetry only hold on-shell?

While deriving Noether's theorem or the generator(and hence conserved current) for a continuous symmetry, we work modulo the assumption that the field equations hold. Considering the case of gauge ...
20
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3answers
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Definite Parity of Solutions to a Schrödinger Equation with even Potential?

I am reading up on the Schrödinger equation and I quote: Because the potential is symmetric under $x\to-x$, we expect that there will be solutions of definite parity. Could someone kindly explain ...
20
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2answers
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Conformal Compactification of spacetime

I have been reading Penrose's paper titled "Relativistic Symmetry Groups" where the concept of conformal compactification of a space-time is discussed. My other references have been this and this. In ...
20
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1answer
900 views

Why do we assume local conformal transformations are symmetries in 2D CFT

The global conformal group in 2D is $SL(2,\mathbb{C})$. It consists of the fractional linear transforms that map the Riemann sphere into itself bijectively and is finite dimensional. However, when ...
20
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1answer
333 views

Any use for $F_4$ in hep-th?

In high energy physics, the use of the classical Lie groups are common place, and in the Grand Unification the use of $E_{6,7,8}$ is also common place. In string theory $G_2$ is sometimes utilized, ...
20
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3answers
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Is there a mathematical reason for the Lagrangian to be Lorentz invariant?

The Hamiltonian is the energy, which is just one component of a four-vector and therefore not Lorentz invariant. The Lagrangian is the Legendre transform of the Hamiltonian and I was wondering if ...
20
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1answer
2k views

Gauge redundancies and global symmetries [closed]

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 ...
19
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4answers
5k views

Galilean invariance of Lagrangian for non-relativistic free point particle?

In QFT, the Lagrangian density is explicitly constructed to be Lorentz-invariant from the beginning. However the Lagrangian $$L = \frac{1}{2} mv^2$$ for a non-relativistic free point particle is ...
19
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3answers
2k views

What does “the ${\bf N}$ of a group” mean?

In the context of group theory (in my case, applications to physics), I frequently come across the phrase "the ${\bf N}$ of a group", for example "a ${\bf 24}$ of $\mathrm{SU}(5)$" or "the ${\bf 1}$ ...
19
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5answers
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Noether Theorem and Energy conservation in classical mechanics

I have a problem deriving the conservation of energy from time translation invariance. The invariance of the Lagrangian under infinitesimal time displacements $t \rightarrow t' = t + \epsilon$ can be ...
19
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2answers
3k views

What is the role of the vacuum expectation value in symmetry breaking and the generation of mass?

Consider a theory of one complex scalar field with the following Lagrangian. $$ \mathcal{L}=\partial _\mu \phi ^*\partial ^\mu \phi +\mu ^2\phi ^*\phi -\frac{\lambda}{2}(\phi ^*\phi )^2. $$ The ...
19
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2answers
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Spontaneous Time Reversal Symmetry Breaking?

It is known that you can break P spontaneously--- look at any chiral molecule for an example. Spontaneous T breaking is harder for me to visualize. Is there a well known condensed matter system which ...
19
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3answers
3k 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 ...
19
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2answers
1k views

What is precisely a Yangian symmetry?

The terms Yangian and Yangian symmetry appear in a list of physical problems (spin chains, Hubbard model, ABJM theory, $\mathcal{N}= 4$ super Yang-Mills in $d=4$, $\mathcal{N}= 8$ SUGRA in $d=4$), ...
18
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2answers
308 views

Can symmetry generators be used for quantization?

Take the Poincaré group for example. The conservation of rest-mass $m_0$ is generated by the invariance with respect to $p^2 = -\partial_\mu\partial^\mu$. Now if one simply claims The state where ...
18
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3answers
2k views

How are symmetries precisely defined?

How are symmetries precisely defined? In basic physics courses it is usual to see arguments on symmetry to derive some equations. This, however, is done in a kind of sloppy way: "we are calculating ...
18
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4answers
3k 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 ...
18
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1answer
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How do symmetries “define” physical laws?

First of all, I do not have any problems concerning what symmetries are or how to describe them. However, I do not have any knowledge concerning how the reasoning for quantum field theory and thus ...
18
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2answers
1k views

Layman's version of Noether's Theorem (or the intuition behind it)

As part of a science project, I have to give a presentation to my classmates about a topic of my choice (within some constraints) - and I chose symmetry, and it's importance in physics. One important ...
18
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3answers
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Symmetrizing the Canonical Energy-Momentum Tensor

The Canonical energy momentum tensor is given by $$T_{\mu\nu} = \frac{\partial {\cal L}}{\partial (\partial^\mu \phi_s)} \partial_\nu \phi_s - g_{\mu\nu} {\cal L}. $$ A priori, there is no reason to ...