Tweet | ## Perfect Form: |

What does the path taken by a ray of light share with the trajectory of a thrown baseball and the curve of a wheat stalk bending in the breeze? Each is the subject of a different study yet all are optimal shapes; light rays minimize travel time while a thrown baseball minimizes action. All natural curves and shapes, and many artificial ones, manifest such "perfect form" because physical principles can be expressed as a statement requiring some important physical quantity to be mathematically maximum, minimum, or stationary. The text gradually unfolds the physics and mathematics. While other treatments postulate Hamilton's principle and deduce all results from it, "[The] ability of variational methods to derive fundamental results in physics hints at their being a kind of short cut towards truly fundamental insights into the design of the cosmos. . . . Don Lemon's short book is aimed at bringing these techniques within reach of the average undergraduate physics student."
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