Continuum mechanics vs Classical mechanics are they the same?

  • #1
Will taking a course is continuum mechanics give me the same background as in classical mechanics or would I need to take both separately? Can any one explain the difference if there is one between classical mechanic vs continuum mechanics in simple nontechnical terms.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
461
130
Continuum mechanics is math course and classical mechanics is a physics course. So, yes there is a difference, you should probably take classical mechanics before continuum mechanics (it is a graduate level math course at my local university).
 
  • #3
Andy Resnick
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
7,537
2,137
Will taking a course is continuum mechanics give me the same background as in classical mechanics or would I need to take both separately? Can any one explain the difference if there is one between classical mechanic vs continuum mechanics in simple nontechnical terms.
Continuum mechanics is a field theory, while classical mechanics is a theory of mass-points.
 
  • #4
367
1
To elaborate on what Andy is saying, what you spend most of your time doing in courses called "classical mechanics" is to analyze the dynamics of particles or bodies that act like particles (e.g. relative distances between the planets and the sun vs. their diameters makes the analysis particle-like, and similar for the trajectory of an ICBM over a rotating Earth). Some/most physics books (both at the grad and undergrad levels) on classical mechanics will give some sort of (limited) introduction to continuum mechanics though.

So continuum mechanics is the mechanics of "real" objects that have spatial extent. Think of placing a bunch of heavy physics textbooks on a wood bookshelf. Over time, that specific shelf will start to sag; can you calculate how so? Not with particle dynamics!

The first sentence of Post #2 is actually a bit misleading, although sometimes correct. The majority of "mechanics" that a mechanical engineer does is actually continuum mechanics (fluids, deformations of solids, etc.). Furthermore, plasma physics (MHD specifically) is essentially continuum mechanics!

This http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuum_mechanics#Major_areas_of_continuum_mechanics" actually gives a good synopsis.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Related Threads on Continuum mechanics vs Classical mechanics are they the same?

Replies
15
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
9K
  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
671
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
865
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
6K
Replies
3
Views
1K
Replies
14
Views
478
Top