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7.12: Symmetries and Invariance

  • Page ID
    14080
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    This chapter has shown that the symmetries of a system lead to invariance of physical quantities as was proposed by Noether. The symmetry properties of the Lagrangian can lead to the conservation laws summarized in Table \(\PageIndex{1}\).

    Symmetry Lagrange property Conserved quantity
    Spatial invariance Translational invariance Linear momentum
    Spatial homogeneous Rotational invariance Angular momentum
    Time invariance Time independence Total energy
    Table \(\PageIndex{1}\): Symmetries and conservation laws in classical mechanics

    The importance of the relations between invariance and symmetry cannot be overemphasized. It extends beyond classical mechanics to quantum physics and field theory. For a three-dimensional closed system, there are three possible constants for linear momentum, three for angular momentum, and one for energy. It is especially interesting in that these, and only these, seven integrals have the property that they are additive for the particles comprising a system, and this occurs independent of whether there is an interaction among the particles. That is, this behavior is obeyed by the whole assemble of particles for finite systems. Because of its profound importance to physics, these relations between symmetry and invariance are used extensively.


    This page titled 7.12: Symmetries and Invariance is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Douglas Cline via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.