*Jennifer Coopersmith*

- Published in print:
- 2017
- Published Online:
- June 2017
- ISBN:
- 9780198743040
- eISBN:
- 9780191802966
- Item type:
- chapter

- Publisher:
- Oxford University Press
- DOI:
- 10.1093/oso/9780198743040.003.0008
- Subject:
- Physics, Particle Physics / Astrophysics / Cosmology, History of Physics

How the Principle of Least Action underlies all physics (all physics that can be reduced to mathematical equations) is explained at a qualitative, semi-popular level. It even applies to smartphones. ...
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How the Principle of Least Action underlies all physics (all physics that can be reduced to mathematical equations) is explained at a qualitative, semi-popular level. It even applies to smartphones. The domains of classical mechanics, continuum mechanics, materials science, light and electromagnetic waves, special and general relativity (Einstein’s Theory of Gravitation), electrodynamics, quantumelectrodynamics (QED), hydrodynamics, physical chemistry, statistical mechanics, and the quantum world, are examined. It is shown that the Principles of Least Time, Least Resistance, and Maximal Ageing, and Lenz’s Law are, in fact, examples of the Principle of Least Action. It is also shown how Planck’s constant is a measure of “absolute smallness,” and its units are the units of action. Never again, post quantum mechanics, can there be any doubt about the deep significance of action in physics.Less

How the Principle of Least Action underlies all physics (all physics that can be reduced to mathematical equations) is explained at a qualitative, semi-popular level. It even applies to smartphones. The domains of classical mechanics, continuum mechanics, materials science, light and electromagnetic waves, special and general relativity (Einstein’s Theory of Gravitation), electrodynamics, quantumelectrodynamics (QED), hydrodynamics, physical chemistry, statistical mechanics, and the quantum world, are examined. It is shown that the Principles of Least Time, Least Resistance, and Maximal Ageing, and Lenz’s Law are, in fact, examples of the Principle of Least Action. It is also shown how Planck’s constant is a measure of “absolute smallness,” and its units are the units of action. Never again, post quantum mechanics, can there be any doubt about the deep significance of action in physics.