What type of physicist works in the field of Classical Mechanics?

In summary, classical mechanics encompasses general relativity. Classical mechanics is used in many fields, but there is very little development of it today.
  • #1
Zackphysicswak
3
0
What type of physicist works in the field of Classical Mechanics? And yes, this does encompass the general theory of relativity.
 
Last edited:
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
It depends on what you mean by "classical mechanics." Does this term encompass general relativity? General relativity is after all a classical (i.e., non-quantum) theory.

If not, the answer is for the most part they don't. The only exception might be physicists who work in the field of fluid dynamics. Otherwise, classical mechanics is now in the domain of engineering.
 
  • #3
There are many fields where physicists work with engineers and programmers and thus use CM for their everyday projects. Underwater acoustics comes to mind as one example.
 
  • #4
Yes, it does.
 
  • #5
Zackphysicswak said:
Yes, it does.

You should quote what you're responding to otherwise us poor PF forum readers will get confused.
 
  • #6
Zackphysicswak said:
What type of physicist works in the field of Classical Mechanics?

A dead one!

Sorry...couldn't resist.

As pointed out, many fields use Classical Mechanics. However, there is very little development of CM going on today.
 
  • #7
D H said:
It depends on what you mean by "classical mechanics." Does this term encompass general relativity? General relativity is after all a classical (i.e., non-quantum) theory.

If not, the answer is for the most part they don't. The only exception might be physicists who work in the field of fluid dynamics. Otherwise, classical mechanics is now in the domain of engineering.

But someone doing theoretical research in fluid mechanics would be regarded as an engineer... or?
 
  • #8
Bunsen said:
But someone doing theoretical research in fluid mechanics would be regarded as an engineer... or?
Fluid dynamics gathers interests from many corners. People who study fluid dynamics include engineers (many disciplines), but also chemists, biologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, geologists, mathematicians, ...

... and physicists. Fluid dynamics is a topic of interest to biophysicists, geophysicists, astrophysicists, and of course statistical physicists. I'm sure I left some others off the list.

The American Physics Society has an entire division devoted to fluid dynamics. Their website: http://www.aps.org/units/dfd.
 
  • #9
Are you using Classical Mechanics to mean all physics that isn't Quantum Mechanics?
 
  • #10
jesse73 said:
Are you using Classical Mechanics to mean all physics that isn't Quantum Mechanics?
Yes I am
 
  • #11
In my opinion , "all physics that is not quantum mechanics is classical mechanics" is not acceptable.
The many microscopic problems that's were not explained correct by classical mechanics were successfully got solutions by taking quantum theory into consideration. And other branches like astrophysics ,geophysics ,biophysics ...etc will use classical and quantum mechanical principles but are not come into neither quantum nor classical mechanics.
 
  • #12
This is the type of work this is involved in mechanics research nowadays, it's mostly involved in aerospace and mechanical engineering:

http://www.ae.utexas.edu/
 
  • #13
It might be better to widen D.H.'s "fluid dynamics" to "continuum mechanics."

There has certainly been mathematical research over say the last 30 years, to make the idea that "classical mechanics is the limiting case of quantum mechanics as quantum effects become unimportant" into a mathematically rigorous argument, and then use some of the mathematical tools of quantum field theory (symplectic manifolds, etc) to get deeper insight into classical mechanics.

"Newtonian mechanics of point particles" is then a limiting case of "classical continuum mechanics". A typical example of the way that with hindsight, science get discovered (or invented) back to front!
 
  • #14
GR is used for example in Cosmology and Astrophysics, and areas where they investigate theories beyond GR, like String Theory, Quantum Loop Gravity, etc. Note that these fields also use Quantum Theory. If you are looking for fields which only use GR without including QM-aspects, then I think of Numerical Relativity (focused on trying to understand solutions of the Einstein equations using computers) and there is also work done on the mathematical development of GR, which is usually done by people in the math departement, although I can't give details (but to namedrop I'm thinking of twistory theory by R. Penrose). On a sidenote there are also people in philosophy departments investigating the conceptual foundations of GR, in case that is of your liking (a famous name in this area is John Earman).

---

If we thinking "classical mechanics without GR" then indeed there is fluid dynamics as mentioned above. It is also used in classical statistical mechanics which is perhaps not researched a lot but still quite a bit. Related to statistical mechanics there are a lot of mathematicians studying the mathematical structures of classical mechanics, c.f. ergodic theory, chaos theory etc. I'm not sure who else to think of besides classical stat mech people and mathematicians, I might be overlooking others...

---

I hope this helps somewhat?
 
  • #15
There are many good answers here, but just to add another:

Plasma physics is a surprising rich field that is mostly classical. Closely related to fluid dynamics.

(edit: Wrongly said "entirely classical")
 
Last edited:
  • #16
georgej116 said:
There are many good answers here, but just to add another:

Plasma physics is a surprising rich field that is entirely classical. Closely related to fluid dynamics.

Entirely? I'm not entirely sure I would say that.

I know I have encountered a few math/mathematical physics/applied math departmental webpages describing research on dynamical systems, solving many body problems in classical mechanics just for the sake of it and not with specific subfields or applications in mind. Googling departments with "complex systems" or "dynamical systems" as buzzwords will probably find you a good few.
 
  • #17
Lavabug said:
Entirely? I'm not entirely sure I would say that.

Good point, I suppose I was just thinking about the majority of plasma physics. Poor choice of adverb on my part.
 
  • #18
If it hasn't been mentioned yet, biophysics mostly occurs in the domain of classical mechanics; quantum effects are avoided as much as possible in computational biophysics. Theoretical biophysics tends to concentrate on bridging the gap between the two by developing valid approximations, which is quite the challenge (for instance, properly modeling the electrical potential of an ion like Calcium or Magnesium remains an open problem when you are talking about a huge ensemble of atoms composing a protein, while models such as Lennard-Jones are used to approximate atomic interactions). If you love statistical mechanics, you'll love biophysics.

Astrophysicists in many regards (here I am stepping outside of the limits of my own knowledge) try to avoid even relativistic physics depending upon the project, since, like quantum mechanics, the computational modelling becomes vastly more complicated.
 
  • #19
There are probably more (applied) mathematicians working within classical mechanics than there are physicists.
To develop more powerful approximative methods, simplified yet retaining accuracy, is a typical research area.
 
  • #20
Geophysicists, and in particular seismologists, use almost exclusively classical mechanics. Seismology involves extremely complex wave mechanics as well as plenty of continuum mechanics. I would even dare to say that seismology might involve the most complex wave mechanics of any branch of physics. Not much in the way of QM though.
 

1. What is classical mechanics?

Classical mechanics is a branch of physics that deals with the motion of macroscopic objects and the forces that act upon them. It is based on the laws of motion and gravitation as described by Isaac Newton in the 17th century.

2. What type of physicist works in the field of Classical Mechanics?

A theoretical physicist typically works in the field of classical mechanics. They use mathematical models and equations to understand and predict the behavior of physical systems.

3. What are some key concepts in Classical Mechanics?

Some key concepts in classical mechanics include Newton's laws of motion, conservation of energy and momentum, and the equations of motion (such as the famous F=ma equation).

4. How is classical mechanics different from quantum mechanics?

Classical mechanics and quantum mechanics are two different branches of physics that deal with different scales of matter. Classical mechanics applies to objects at macroscopic scales, while quantum mechanics is used to describe the behavior of particles at microscopic scales.

5. What are some applications of Classical Mechanics?

Classical mechanics has numerous practical applications, including understanding the motion of planets and satellites, designing structures and machines, and predicting the behavior of fluids. It also forms the basis for other branches of physics, such as thermodynamics and electromagnetism.

Similar threads

  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
9
Views
2K
Replies
14
Views
1K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
5
Views
1K
  • Other Physics Topics
Replies
1
Views
274
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
26
Views
2K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
1
Views
939
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
16
Views
400
Replies
21
Views
2K
Replies
8
Views
878
Back
Top