State diagrams and the nature of physical laws

Classical Mechanics (Fall, 2011)

September 26, 2011

This first lecture is a general discussion of the nature of the laws of physics and in particular classical mechanics. The notions of configuration, reversibility, determinism, and conservation law are introduced for simple systems with a finite number of states.

  • Allowable laws of physics
  • Configurations of a coin
  • Equations of motion of a coin and a die
  • The concept of conserved quantities and conservation laws
  • Systems with infinite number of configurations
  • Laws of physics that are not allowable
  • Non reversibility
  • Predictability in the real world
  • Determinism in the past and future
  • System of point particles in space
  • Mathematics: coordinate systems, vector algebra, vector dot product, triangle law of cosines
  • Motion of a particle: position, velocity and acceleration
  • Circular motion and centripetal acceleration