Symmetries as by-products of conserved quantities

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Abstract

There is general consensus among physicists in considering symmetries as a source of conserved quantities, a conclusion allegedly supported by Emmy Noether's theorems. Recently it has been pointed out that no arrow of explanation can be extracted from Noether's work, and there are also criticisms against the priority of particular symmetries over specific conserved quantities under Noether's ideas, but there are no general arguments against the aforementioned consensus, nor proposals promoting an explanation that leads from conserved quantities to symmetries. In this paper a general argument is built which favours conserved quantities over symmetries inasmuch as the presence of the former seems to allow (i.e. it seems to be a sufficient condition leading to) symmetrical descriptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-368
Number of pages11
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Volume52
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015

Keywords

  • Conserved quantities
  • Noether's theorems
  • Symmetries

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