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Unformatted text preview: Lectures on Classical Mechanics by John C. Baez notes by Derek K. Wise Department of Mathematics University of California, Riverside LaTeXed by Blair Smith Department of Physics and Astronomy Louisiana State University 2005 i c 2005 John C. Baez & Derek K. Wise ii iii Preface These are notes for a mathematics graduate course on classical mechanics. I’ve taught this course twice recently. The first time I focused on the Hamiltonian approach. This time I started with the Lagrangian approach, with a heavy emphasis on action principles, and derived the Hamiltonian approach from that. Derek Wise took notes. The chapters in this L A T E X version are in the same order as the weekly lectures, but I’ve merged weeks together, and sometimes split them over chapter, to obtain a more textbook feel to these notes. For reference, the weekly lectures are outlined here. Week 1: (Mar. 28, 30, Apr. 1)—The Lagrangian approach to classical mechanics: deriving F = ma from the requirement that the particle’s path be a critical point of the action. The prehistory of the Lagrangian approach: D’Alembert’s “principle of least energy” in statics, Fermat’s “principle of least time” in optics, and how D’Alembert generalized his principle from statics to dynamics using the concept of “inertia force”. Week 2: (Apr. 4, 6, 8)—Deriving the EulerLagrange equations for a particle on an arbitrary manifold. Generalized momentum and force. Noether’s theorem on conserved quantities coming from symmetries. Examples of conserved quantities: energy, momen tum and angular momentum. Week 3 (Apr. 11, 13, 15)—Example problems: (1) The Atwood machine. (2) A frictionless mass on a table attached to a string threaded through a hole in the table, with a mass hanging on the string. (3) A specialrelativistic free particle: two Lagrangians, one with reparametrization invariance as a gauge symmetry. (4) A specialrelativistic charged particle in an electromagnetic field. Week 4 (Apr. 18, 20, 22)—More example problems: (4) A specialrelativistic charged particle in an electromagnetic field in special relativity, continued. (5) A generalrelativistic free particle. Week 5 (Apr. 25, 27, 29)—How Jacobi unified Fermat’s principle of least time and Lagrange’s principle of least action by seeing the classical mechanics of a particle in a potential as a special case of optics with a positiondependent index of refraction. The ubiquity of geodesic motion. KaluzaKlein theory. From Lagrangians to Hamiltonians. Week 6 (May 2, 4, 6)—From Lagrangians to Hamiltonians, continued. Regular and strongly regular Lagrangians. The cotangent bundle as phase space. Hamilton’s equa tions. Getting Hamilton’s equations directly from a least action principle....
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This note was uploaded on 05/17/2011 for the course PHYSICS 123 taught by Professor Hayes during the Spring '07 term at Harvard.
 Spring '07
 Hayes
 mechanics

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