variational principles in physics


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variational principles in physics

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Out 12, 2008, 8:17am

Hi there,

Recently I have read Ted Chiang's "Stories of Your Life and Others", a collection of his short stories. One of the stories was about variational principles in physics (Story of your life) and it piqued my interest. I am a mechanical engineer and naturally familiar to some concepts in physics however never been into quantum physics. Can you recommend a good book on this subject that does not delve too deeply into theoretical physics and explains the subject in layman's terms maybe?

I am looking forward to hearing responses from you. Any advice will be appreciated.

Out 12, 2008, 8:07pm

The principle of least action (or "action principle") is the variational principle most prominent in modern physics, and should be addressed at least briefly in any popular science book on modern physics. The one I have closest to hand is Fearful Symmetry by A. Zee, which discusses this in chapter seven. There is more information in the Wikipedia articles I have linked above.