ABC of Physics : A Very Brief Guide by Lev Okun

By Lev Okun

Translated from Russian by means of Vitaly Kisin

This little booklet concentrates at the foundations of contemporary physics (its "ABC's") and its so much basic constants: c the rate of sunshine and ħ— the quantum of motion.

to start with, the publication is addressed to specialist physicists, yet so as to in achieving maximal focus and readability it makes use of the best (high college) arithmetic. consequently many pages of the publication should be invaluable to school scholars and should attract a extra normal viewers.

Readership: students and readers within the actual sciences.

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The central role of action in physics is due to the existence of the basic law of physics — the principle of least action. This principle was first formulated by Fermat. The universal, the key role of action in physics became clear only in the 20th century. In the simplest case the action of a free particle that covered in time t the distance from the origin to the point r is defined as S = −Et + pr. 15) If a free particle is at rest, the action for it is S = −E0 t = −mc2 t. The solution of the wave equation can be written as eiS/ .

8 Particle’s mass A different understanding of the mass of a body or particle thus arises. g. all electrons) are absolutely identical and have the same mass m. For a free particle m2 = E 2 c−4 − p2 c−2 . 9 Rest energy If a free particle is at rest, the rest energy of the particle is given by E(p = 0) ≡ E0 = mc2 . 8) imply an approximate equality p ≈ mv, which in Newtonian physics takes the form p = mv. 10 Massless photon Astronomical observations tell us that the photon mass is very small: mγ < 10−51 g.

This means, however, that Newton’s formula eq. 1) for kinetic energy becomes inapplicable for |v| ≈ c. 10) is that they cover not only massive particles but also arbitrarily light particles, and particles whose mass is zero. 8 Particle’s mass A different understanding of the mass of a body or particle thus arises. g. all electrons) are absolutely identical and have the same mass m. For a free particle m2 = E 2 c−4 − p2 c−2 . 9 Rest energy If a free particle is at rest, the rest energy of the particle is given by E(p = 0) ≡ E0 = mc2 .

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