The Lazy Universe: An Introduction to the Principle of Least Action by Jennifer CoopersmithThe Lazy Universe: An Introduction to the Principle of Least Action by Jennifer Coopersmith

The Lazy Universe: An Introduction to the Principle of Least Action

byJennifer Coopersmith

Hardcover | June 10, 2017

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This is a rare book on a rare topic: it is about "action" and the Principle of Least Action. A surprisingly well-kept secret, these ideas are at the heart of physical science and engineering. Physics is well known as being concerned with grand conservatory principles (e.g. the conservation ofenergy) but equally important is the optimization principle (such as getting somewhere in the shortest time or with the least resistance). The book explains: why an optimization principle underlies physics, what action is, what `the Hamiltonian' is, and how new insights into energy, space, and timearise. It assumes some background in the physical sciences, at the level of undergraduate science, but it is not a textbook. The requisite derivations and worked examples are given but may be skim-read if desired. The author draws from Cornelius Lanczos's book The Variational Principles of Mechanics (1949 and 1970). Lanczos was a brilliant mathematician and educator, but his book was for a postgraduate audience. The present book is no mere copy with the difficult bits left out - it is original, and apopularization. It aims to explain ideas rather than achieve technical competence, and to show how Least Action leads into the whole of physics.
Jennifer Coopersmith took her PhD in nuclear physics from the University of London, and was later a research fellow at TRIUMF, University of British Columbia. She was for many years an associate lecturer for the Open University (London and Oxford), and was then a tutor on astrophysics courses at Swinburne University of Technology in Me...
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Title:The Lazy Universe: An Introduction to the Principle of Least ActionFormat:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0 inPublished:June 10, 2017Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198743041

ISBN - 13:9780198743040

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Antecedents3. Mathematics and physics preliminaries4. The Principle of Virtual Work5. D'Alembert's Principle6. Lagrangian Mechanics7. Hamiltonian Mechanics8. The whole of physics9. Final wordsAppendicesA1.1 Newton's Laws of MotionA3.1 Reversible DisplacementsA2.1 Protraits of the physicistsA6.1 Worked examples in Langrangian MechanicsA6.2 Proof that T is a function of v2A6.3 Energy coservation and the homogeneity of timeA6.4 The method of Lagrange MultiplesA6.5 Generalized ForcesA7.1 Hamilton's Transformation, ExamplesA7.2 Demonstration tha the pis are independent coordinatesA7.3 Worked examples in Hamiltonian MechanicsA7.4 Incompressibility of the phase fluidA7.5 Energy conservation in extended phase spaceA7.6 Link between the action, S, and the 'circulation'A7.7 Transformation equations linking p and q via SA7.8 Infinitesimal canonical transformationsA7.9 PerpendicularityA7.10 Problems solved using the Hamilton-Jacobi EquationA7.11 Quasi refractive index in mechanicsA7.12 Einstein's link between Action and the de Broglie waves