We outline a story line that introduces Newtonian mechanics by employing conservation of energy to predict the motion of a particle in a one-dimensional potential. We show that incorporating constraints and constants of the motion into the energy expression allows us to analyze more complicated systems. A heuristic transition embeds kinetic and potential energy into the still more powerful principle of least action.

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Student exercise: Show that $B\u200acos\u200a\omega t$ and $C\u200acos\u200a\omega t+D\u200asin\u200a\omega t$ are also solutions. Use the occasion to discuss the importance of relative phase.

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Noether’s theorem10 implies that when the Lagrangian of a system $(L=K\u2212U$ for our simple cases) is not a function of an independent coordinate,

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