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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 7: Symmetries and Conservation Laws

Lenny had trouble reading maps. It always seemed like whichever way he was facing must be north. He wondered why he had more trouble with NSEW than he did with up and down. He could almost always get up and down right.

Preliminaries

The relationship between symmetries and conservation laws is one of the big main themes of modern physics. We’re going to begin by giving some examples of conservation laws for some simple systems. At first, the fact that certain quantities are conserved will seem somewhat accidental—hardly things of deep principle. Our real goal, however, is not to identify accidental conserved quantities, but to identify a set of principles connecting them to something deeper.

We’ll begin ...

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