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The 10 most important concepts in physics

  1. Apr 27, 2005 #1
    I'm trying to collect the 10 (at most, 7 optimum) most important concepts of physics in classical mechanics.

    If you were left with 7 different concepts, what would you pick? (Assuming you have to live the rest of your life with the 7 concepts that you picked)

    This is "just for fun", not a question

    Some concepts include:
    1. Moment of inertia
    2. Conservation of mechanical energy
    3. Newton's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd laws
    4. Newton's law of universal gravitation
    5. Conservation of angular momentum
    6. Torques and their conditions of equilibrium
    7. Rotational kinetic energy
    so on so forth

    What would your list be??
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 28, 2005 #2


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    Actually, when I used to teach intro physics, I wrote this on the board the very first day the students came in:

    1. Conservation of momentum (linear and angular)
    2. Conservation of energy (mass+energy)

    I told them that for most of their physics student years, these are the ONLY two "concepts" or principles that they will be studying. Period! All the different subject matter in physics are nothing more than various "application" or manifestation of these two principles. Example: the conservation of momentum results in F=dp/dt, which is the basis for Newton's Laws.

    So you'll understand if I think you have way too many....

  4. Apr 28, 2005 #3

    Chi Meson

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    The only other thing that I would add is the third great law of Physics:

    "You can't push a rope."

    Seriously, add to Zz's list: "conservation of electric charge" and "2nd Law of thermodynamics" and you take care of pretty much all of classical physics.

    But referring to your list, I would definitely include "centripetal force/circular motion" and "buoyant force" high on the list of "important concepts. Also, Newton's 3 laws are three different concepts: the concept of inertia, of acceleration, and of mutual interactions. They can be rolled up into one grand concept, but if you do that,then you end up with Zz's short list again.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2005
  5. Apr 28, 2005 #4
    No no no, the only law that matters is : nature is as lazy as possible...

  6. Apr 28, 2005 #5


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    Is this a reference to the "Principle of Least Action"?
  7. Apr 28, 2005 #6
    besides for 'physicsincalifornia' the most important aspect will certainly be static equilibrium



  8. Apr 28, 2005 #7
    well, why do you fall down ?

    where are raindrops always quasi spherical and why is oil on water always a formation of little circles?

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