Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The legality of physical Laws

Should Newton's laws, the laws of thermodynamics, and Ohm's law all be called Laws?

Phil Nelson gives a nice summary of The Character of Physical Law by Feynman in Biological Physics, Section 5.4. The common features of physical Laws (with a capital L) are:
  • They have a very great degree of generality.
  • Although they are general, they need not be, and generally cannot be, exact.
  • They are intrinsically mathematical in their expression.
  • Out of the simplicity of a Law, there always emerge subtle, unexpected, and true conclusions revealed by mathematical analysis.

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