What is mechanics? Mechanics in Physics: Concept and Classification

What is mechanics?

We explain to you what mechanics is in physics and the interests in which it focuses its studies. Also, how this discipline can be classified.

What is mechanics

Mechanics studies the movement, repose and evolution of bodies.

In physics, mechanics is the study and analysis of the movement and repose of bodies, as well as their temporal evolution under the action of one or several forces.

Its name comes from the Latin word mechanica, which translates “the art of building machines”, which makes sense, given the tendency of this discipline to understand the phenomena and bodies of interest as systems.

According to this approach, the dynamics of physical systems, such as electromagnetic fields or particle systems, are also of interest to mechanics, even though they cannot properly be considered as bodies.

Like the rest of physics, this discipline borrows its formal language from mathematics to express its contents, and at the same time lays the foundation for most classical engineering knowledge.

How is mechanics classified?

Quantum mechanics studies the atom and its fundamental particles.

The mechanics is subdivided into four large content blocks:

  • Classic mechanics. Also known as Newtonian mechanics, since it is based on the studies of Isaac Newton (especially in relation to the mechanics of vectors), it deals with macroscopic bodies at rest or moving at small speeds compared to that of light. It can be said that it aspires to form a system that explains the movement of bodies and relates it to the causes that originate it (causality).
  • Relativistic mechanics. Its name comes from the famous Theory of Relativity formulated by Albert Einstein, whose studies revolutionized the field of physics by trying to combine Newton’s theories with the phenomenon of electromagnetism (1905) and then proposing a new explanation of gravity (1915). This whole field is based on the principle that the dimensions of time and space, which in classical mechanics are considered fixed and universal, really depend on the motion of the observer, and are therefore relative.
  • Quantum mechanics. This branch of physics deals with the relationships between particles of infinitesimal size, i.e. the laws of nature concerning the atom and its fundamental particles: protons, neutrons and electrons. This theory does not mathematically contemplate what Einstein described in Relativity, and has nevertheless been able to explain all the fundamental interactions of matter, with the exception of gravitational force.

Quantum field theory. This branch of mechanics is the most recent (first half of the 20th century) and its approach attempts to apply the principles of quantum mechanics to classical continuous field systems such as electromagnetic fields.

It is also capable of incorporating the principles of relativity concerning the physics of high energies, used for the study of interactions between subatomic particles.

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