- Title Pages
- Frontispiece
- Dedication
- Epigraph
- Preface
- List of Figures
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Antecedents
- 3 Mathematics and physics preliminaries: of hills and plains and other things
- 4 The Principle of Virtual Work
- 5 D’Alembert’s Principle
- 6 Lagrangian Mechanics
- 7 Hamiltonian Mechanics
- 8 The whole of physics
- 9 Final words
- Appendix A1.1 Newton’s Laws of Motion
- Appendix A2.1 Portraits of the physicists
- Appendix A3.1 Reversible displacements
- Appendix A6.1 Worked examples in Lagrangian Mechanics
- Appendix A6.2 Proof that <i>T</i> is a function of <i>v</i><sup>2</sup>
- Appendix A6.3 Energy conservation and the homogeneity of time
- Appendix A6.4 The method of Lagrange Multipliers
- Appendix A6.5 Generalized Forces
- Appendix A7.1 Hamilton’s Transformation, examples
- Appendix A7.2 Demonstration that the pi s are independent coordinates
- Appendix A7.3 Worked examples in Hamiltonian Mechanics
- Appendix A7.4 Incompressibility of the phase fluid
- Appendix A7.5 Energy conservation in extended phase space
- Appendix A7.6 Link between the action, <i>S</i>, and the ‘circulation’
- Appendix A7.7 Transformation equations linking <i>p</i> and <i>q</i> via <i>S</i>
- Appendix A7.8 Infinitesimal canonical transformations
- Appendix A7.9 Perpendicularity of wavefronts and rays
- Appendix A7.10 Problems solved using the Hamilton-Jacobi Equation
- Appendix A7.11 Quasi refractive index in mechanics
- Appendix A7.12 Einstein’s link between Action and the de Broglie waves
- Bibliography and Further Reading
- Index

# Introduction

# Introduction

- Chapter:
- (p.1) 1 Introduction
- Source:
- The Lazy Universe
- Author(s):
### Jennifer Coopersmith

- Publisher:
- Oxford University Press

The chapter explains how the Principle of Least Action yields a unique answer to a physical problem irrespective of the frame of reference. The motivation arises from d’Alembert’s rousing words: “To someone who could grasp the Universe from a unified standpoint the entire creation would appear as a unique truth and necessity.” The requirement is that one “algorithm” can cope with all the specificity, variety, and complexity across the whole of physics. That one algorithm could ever be up to the task is made plausible by use of an allegory involving a King, the princess, and some suitors. Finally, the link with Least Action is made. Note that the terms extremal, objectivity, observer, and viewpoint are explained.

*Keywords:*
extremal, algorithm, objectivity, reference frame, observer, d’Alembert, necessity, unique truth, viewpoint, standpoint

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- Title Pages
- Frontispiece
- Dedication
- Epigraph
- Preface
- List of Figures
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Antecedents
- 3 Mathematics and physics preliminaries: of hills and plains and other things
- 4 The Principle of Virtual Work
- 5 D’Alembert’s Principle
- 6 Lagrangian Mechanics
- 7 Hamiltonian Mechanics
- 8 The whole of physics
- 9 Final words
- Appendix A1.1 Newton’s Laws of Motion
- Appendix A2.1 Portraits of the physicists
- Appendix A3.1 Reversible displacements
- Appendix A6.1 Worked examples in Lagrangian Mechanics
- Appendix A6.2 Proof that <i>T</i> is a function of <i>v</i><sup>2</sup>
- Appendix A6.3 Energy conservation and the homogeneity of time
- Appendix A6.4 The method of Lagrange Multipliers
- Appendix A6.5 Generalized Forces
- Appendix A7.1 Hamilton’s Transformation, examples
- Appendix A7.2 Demonstration that the pi s are independent coordinates
- Appendix A7.3 Worked examples in Hamiltonian Mechanics
- Appendix A7.4 Incompressibility of the phase fluid
- Appendix A7.5 Energy conservation in extended phase space
- Appendix A7.6 Link between the action, <i>S</i>, and the ‘circulation’
- Appendix A7.7 Transformation equations linking <i>p</i> and <i>q</i> via <i>S</i>
- Appendix A7.8 Infinitesimal canonical transformations
- Appendix A7.9 Perpendicularity of wavefronts and rays
- Appendix A7.10 Problems solved using the Hamilton-Jacobi Equation
- Appendix A7.11 Quasi refractive index in mechanics
- Appendix A7.12 Einstein’s link between Action and the de Broglie waves
- Bibliography and Further Reading
- Index