# Continuum mechanics vs Classical mechanics are they the same?

• Eng_physicist
In summary: Essentially, classical mechanics is a physics theory that deals with the dynamics of particles (e.g. relative distances between planets and sun vs. their diameters makes the analysis particle-like), while continuum mechanics is the mechanics of "real" objects that have spatial extent. This article goes on to list some areas of continuum mechanics, including fluid mechanics, deformations of solids, and thermodynamics.
Eng_physicist
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 anyone explain the difference if there is one between classical mechanic vs continuum mechanics in simple nontechnical terms.

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).

Eng_physicist said:
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 anyone 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.

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.

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Continuum mechanics and classical mechanics are two distinct branches of physics that have some similarities but also significant differences. While both deal with the study of motion and the behavior of physical systems, they have different approaches and applications.

Classical mechanics is a well-established field that describes the motion of macroscopic objects, such as planets, cars, and projectiles. It is based on Newton's laws of motion and can accurately predict the behavior of objects under the influence of forces. Classical mechanics is also the foundation for many engineering and technological applications, such as building bridges and designing airplanes.

On the other hand, continuum mechanics is a more advanced field that deals with the behavior of continuous matter, such as fluids and solids. It takes into account the small-scale interactions between particles and how they affect the overall behavior of the material. This approach is necessary to understand and analyze complex systems, such as fluid flow in pipes or the behavior of materials under stress.

While there are some similarities between the two fields, continuum mechanics goes beyond classical mechanics by considering the microscopic details of a system. This allows for a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the behavior of materials and fluids.

Taking a course in continuum mechanics will provide you with a more in-depth understanding of the behavior of continuous matter, while a course in classical mechanics will focus on the motion of macroscopic objects. So, while there may be some overlap in concepts and principles, it is beneficial to take both courses separately to gain a complete understanding of these two important fields of physics.

In simple terms, classical mechanics deals with the motion of large objects, while continuum mechanics deals with the behavior of matter at a smaller scale, taking into account microscopic interactions. Both are important in understanding and predicting the behavior of physical systems, but they have different approaches and applications.

## 1. What is the difference between continuum mechanics and classical mechanics?

Continuum mechanics is a branch of physics that studies the behavior of continuous materials, such as fluids and solids, while classical mechanics is a branch of physics that studies the motion of particles and rigid bodies. Continuum mechanics takes into account the macroscopic properties of materials, while classical mechanics focuses on the microscopic behavior of particles.

## 2. Are continuum mechanics and classical mechanics the same thing?

No, continuum mechanics and classical mechanics are not the same thing. They are two distinct branches of physics that study different aspects of matter and motion. While they may have some overlapping principles, they have different approaches and applications.

## 3. Which branch of mechanics is more applicable in real-world situations?

It depends on the situation. Continuum mechanics is more applicable to macroscopic systems, such as the flow of fluids and the deformation of solids, while classical mechanics is more applicable to microscopic systems, such as the motion of particles and the behavior of rigid bodies. Both branches have their own strengths and limitations, and their applicability depends on the specific problem being studied.

## 4. Can continuum mechanics and classical mechanics be used together?

Yes, continuum mechanics and classical mechanics can be used together in certain situations. For example, in fluid mechanics, continuum mechanics is used to study the overall behavior of a fluid, while classical mechanics is used to analyze the individual particles within the fluid. This allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the system.

## 5. Is continuum mechanics a more advanced form of classical mechanics?

No, continuum mechanics is not a more advanced form of classical mechanics. They are two separate branches of mechanics that study different systems and use different mathematical approaches. Neither is more advanced than the other, but they both play important roles in understanding the behavior of matter and motion.

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