Principle of Least Action (Part One)

Yes, we are lazy most of the time; we constantly persist in an inertial state of being, we tend to not strain ourselves in our daily actions, we incline toward alleviating either psychological or physiological effort or even both simultaneously, we prefer saving numbers to memorizing them, we prefer plugging digits into calculators to crunching them, riding to walking, screaming to reasoning, plunging to planning, common sense to scientific reasoning, “half-knowledge”* to “full-knowledge” and the rest… In response, our “elders” constantly nag at us and try to compel us to act against this innate inclination to slack-off — although they themselves may be staunch militants of the famous “Do as I say, not as I do”, which is in a way another form of the above described tendency. But what if I told you that this penchant has a foundation in both macroscopic and microscopic Physics?

First things first: after reading this post, don’t go running off to your parents and telling them that you won’t do your chores just because some quirky scientist on the Internet said that such laborious tasks will violate some LAW of Physics. “And we wouldn’t want that mum, would we?” Primo, it’s a principle not a law. Secundo, I’m not a scientist (not yet at least). And tertio, if necessary, I prefer the term “outlandish”. Having stopped that snowball from falling down the slope, let’s start by defining the “Principle of Least Action”. In layman’s terms, it is a principle that governs the action of a mechanical system, hence allowing scientists to foresee its motion, trajectory, etc. In this sense, a rope suspended by both ends takes on a shape corresponding to the minimal value of gravitational potential energy (GPE). In other words, its center of gravity will be at its lowest possible altitude in these conditions…

(Is this article worth continuing? Is the topic interesting?  Please share your thoughts!)


5 thoughts on “Principle of Least Action (Part One)”

  1. Hey George,
    I definitely think you should write MORE on this topic. This is exactly what my book “Breaking out of Homeostasis” is about. Except there’s no math in it whatsoever. Just my philosophy and slight touch of self-development in practical terms.

    Anyway. I’d love to see you expand on this whenever you get the time. You will probably come up with completely different conclusions than I have seeing as how I’ve only thought “abstract” terms as well as used a lot of knowledge from other people (mostly neurology and physiology).

    btw are you reading any interting books atm, or are you focusing fully on school?

    1. Hey,

      I really must! I’ve done a lot of research on the topic ever since our physics teacher (a truly insightful person!), casually mentioned Maupertuis’ Principle when he was jesting about our laziness in class. So I thought I could link it to human behavior, pointing out our intrinsic capacity of overcoming it through our Will. And I’d be glad to expand on the subject if and when I get some free time. Nine hours of University, Tuesday through Saturday, plus Musical courses every Monday can really mess up your schedule 😛

      In spite of that, I still manage to read a bit everyday. I’m currently “scrutinizing” Hofstadter’s “Gödel, Escher, Bach”. It probes the depths of our creative minds in a very interesting way.

      1. I have about the same study schedule. But That is a lot for a first year student in my opinion. 🙂

        Very impressive though.

        “..pointing out our intrisinsic capacity of overcoming it through our will”
        – Right on. My conclusion, stated simply, is that we ‘travel’ along the path of least resistance UNLESS we redirect our course by using our willpower (prefrontal cortex).

        People with weak prefrontal cortices/willpower suck at concentrating and lose focus a lot. They lose sight of what they were supposed to do and just go back to comfortable routine behavior rather than enforcing their new goals.

      2. Totally agree, concentration is a big issue today, especially with all the talk (rather exaggerated) about ADD.

        Plus, I really like the neurological twist of your arguments. I’ve been meaning to dive into that domain, …would you recommend a book or a website?

  2. You could read the “brain parts” of my book for the basics of it.

    A book that’s pretty easy to read and very worthwhile is Joe Dispenza – Evolve your Brain. There are lots of books about the brain at piratebay if you do a search. Or you could simply read a bunch of scientific papers of neurology, or look at some of the references given at wikipedia.

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