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Lagrangian vs Hamiltonian: The best approach to relativistic orbits

Price, Richard H. and Thorne, Kip S. (2018) Lagrangian vs Hamiltonian: The best approach to relativistic orbits. American Journal of Physics, 86 (9). pp. 678-682. ISSN 0002-9505. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20180823-131125022

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Abstract

In introductory general relativity courses, free particle trajectories, such as astronomical orbits, are generally developed via a Lagrangian and variational calculus, so that physical examples can precede the mathematics of tensor calculus. The use of a Hamiltonian is viewed as more advanced and typically comes later if at all. We suggest here that this might not be the optimal order in a first course in general relativity, especially if orbits are to be solved with numerical methods. We discuss some of the issues that arise in both the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian approaches.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
https://doi.org/10.1119/1.5047439DOIArticle
Additional Information:© 2018 American Association of Physics Teachers. Received 28 July 2017; accepted 6 July 2018.
Group:Astronomy Department
Issue or Number:9
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180823-131125022
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20180823-131125022
Official Citation:Lagrangian vs Hamiltonian: The best approach to relativistic orbits. Richard H. Price, Kip S. Thorne. American Journal of Physics 2018 86:9, 678-682
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:89088
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:23 Aug 2018 20:26
Last Modified:20 Apr 2020 08:47

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