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The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics by George Hrabovsky, Leonard Susskind

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Lecture 4: Systems of More Than One Particle

It’s a lazy, warm evening. Lenny and George are lying in the grass looking up at the sky.

“Tell me about the stars George. Are they particles?”

“Kind of, Lenny.”

“How come they don’t move?”

“They do, Lenny. It’s just that they’re very far away.”

“There’s an awful lot of them, George. Do you think that guy Laplace could really figure them all out?”

Systems of Particles

If—as Laplace believed—natural systems are composed of particles, then the laws of nature must be the dynamical laws of motion that determine the motion of those systems of particles. Again, Laplace: “An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces . . . and all positions . . . .” What is it that determines the force on a ...

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