Classical mechanics refers to the classical (i.e., non-relativistic, non-quantum) study of physics. Three major formulations of classical mechanics are newtonian mechanics, lagrangian mechanics, and hamiltonian mechanics. The latter two are rather useful in extensions to Classical Mechanics; ...

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How does a car turn without any skidding?

The rear wheels of a car always face in the direction the car is moving. The front wheels are able to turn left or right and thus can point in the direction the car is moving towards. What I don't ...
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Is my boss wrong about our mechanical advantage from our pulley system?

I work on a drilling rig as a roughneck and we had a lecture today (at the office) about mechanical advantage in pulley systems. Now, I know that my boss is well educated in oil drilling, but my ...
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Does the mass point move?

There is a question regarding basic physical understanding. Assume you have a mass point (or just a ball if you like) that is constrained on a line. You know that at $t=0$ its position is $0$, i.e., ...
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Are there other less famous yet accepted formalisms of Classical Mechanics?

I was lately studying about the Lagrange and Hamiltonian Mechanics. This gave me a perspective of looking at classical mechanics different from that of Newton's. I would like to know if there are ...
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Are there forces which do not involve a change in momentum?

I am familiar with the equation $$\vec{F}=m \vec{a}$$ I am wondering as to whether it is possible for something to exert a force on another object without changing the momentum of said object. My ...
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Book about classical mechanics

I am looking for a book about "advanced" classical mechanics. By advanced I mean a book considering directly Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulation, and also providing a firm basis in the geometrical ...
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Force as change in momentum vs. change in velocity

Is there ever a situation where the distinction between $F = m \frac{dv}{dt}$ and $F = \frac{dp}{dt}$ is important? I can't think of a situation where one is true and not the other (assuming only ...
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Is there a momentum for charge?

Since mass and charge behave similarly, so, just like center of mass, I define a point center of charge, that is defined by $$\vec r_{qm} = \frac {\sum{q_i \vec r_i}} {\sum{q_i}}$$ where $\vec r_i$ ...
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The natural metric of a phase space and the Lyapunov exponent

For me, it seems that there is no apparent metric on a phase space of a dynamical system. Of course one can naively define an Euclidean metric on it, but it seems that this metric has not much to do ...
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Why does a cuboid spin stably around two axes but not the third?

Let $C$ be a cuboid (rectangular parallelepiped) with edges of lengths $a < b < c$. Consider an axis that passes through the centers of two opposite faces of $C$. There are three such axes, ...
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Understanding Poisson brackets

In quantum mechanics, when two observables commute, it implies that the two can be measured simultaneously without perturbing each other's measurement results. Or in other words, the uncertainty in ...
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Why do we use operators in quantum mechanics?

In classical mechanics, physical quantities, such as, e.g. the coordinates of position, velocity, momentum, energy, etc, are real numbers, but in quantum mechanics they become operators. Why is this ...
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Significance of the second focus in elliptical orbits

1.In classical mechanics, using Newton's laws, the ellipticity of orbits is derived. It is also said that the center of mass is at one of the foci. 2.Each body will orbit the center of the mass of ...
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In the Lennard-Jones potential, why does the attractive part (dispersion) have an $r^{-6}$ dependence?

The Lennard-Jones potential has the form: $$U(r) = 4\epsilon\left[ \left(\frac{\sigma}{r}\right)^{12} - \left(\frac{\sigma}{r}\right)^{6} \right]$$ The (attractive) $r^{-6}$ term describes the ...
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What are good mechanics experiments for 10 year olds? [closed]

I'm trying to explain elementary mechanics - without the benefits of calculus or even algebra - and struggling. I'd like to find reasonable ways to demonstrate Newton's laws, minimally, and possibly ...
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Classical results proved using quantum mechanics

Are there any results in classical mechanics that are easier to show by deriving a corresponding result in quantum mechanics and then taking the limit as $\hbar\rightarrow0$? (Are there classical ...
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Are there examples in classical mechanics where D'Alembert's principle fails?

D'Alembert's principle suggests that the work done by the internal forces for a virtual displacement of a mechanical system in harmony with the constraints is zero. This is obviously true for the ...
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How to sail downwind faster than the wind?

Recently a group set a record for sailing a wind-powered land vehicle directly down wind, and a speed faster than wind speed. Wikipedia has a page talking about it, but it doesn't explain exactly how ...
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Why do we travel in a circle along the Earth?

I know that in order to travel in a circle I have to have a net centripetal force $F=mv^2/r$. I also know that my normal force and gravitational force cancel. How, then, am I traveling in a circle ...
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Is kinetic energy a relative quantity? Will it make inconsistent equations when applying it to the conservation of energy equations?

If the velocity is a relative quantity, will it make inconsistent equations when applying it to the conservation of energy equations? For example: In the train moving at $V$ relative to ground, ...
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Lagrangian Mechanics - Commutativity Rule $\frac{d}{dt}\delta q=\delta \frac{dq}{dt} $

I am reading about Lagrangian mechanics. At some point the difference between the temporal derivative of a variation and variation of the temporal derivative is discussed. The fact that the two are ...
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Can we quantize Aristotelian physics?

Aristotelian physics, shorn of whatever the historical Aristotle actually believed, is pretty similar to Newtonian physics. Instead of "An object in motion stays in motion unless acted on by an ...
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What exactly is a virtual displacement in classical mechanics?

I'm reading Goldstein's Classical Mechanics and he says the following: A virtual (infinitesimal) displacement of a system refers to a change in the configuration of the system as the result of any ...
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Is it possible to recover Classical Mechanics from Schrödinger's equation?

Let me explain in details. Let $\Psi=\Psi(x,t)$ be the wave function of a particle moving in a unidimensional space. Is there a way of writing $\Psi(x,t)$ so that $|\Psi(x,t)|^2$ represents the ...
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Why do rockets have multiple stages?

What is the advantage for rockets to have multiple stages? Wouldn't a single stage with the same amount of fuel weigh less? Note I would like a quantitative answer, if possible :-)
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Which Mechanics book is the best for beginner in math major?

I'm a bachelor student majoring in math, and pretty interested in physics. I would like a book to study for classical mechanics, that will prepare me to work through Goldstein's Classical Mechanics. ...
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Non-linear systems in classical mechanics

In general, what is meant by non-linear system in classical mechanics? Does it always concern the differential equations one ends up with (any examples would be greatly appreciated)? If so, is it ...
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638 views

When/why does the principle of least action plus boundary conditions not uniquely specify a path?

A few months ago I was telling high school students about Fermat's principle. You can use it to show that light reflects off a surface at equal angles. To set it up, you put in boundary conditions, ...
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Why does vibration loosen screws?

I am trying to figure out why vibrations (say, from an engine) loosen screws. It seems to me that there is evident symmetry between loosening and tightening a screw. I am wondering what breaks this ...
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Spontaneous symmetry breaking in classical mechanics, quantum mechanics and quantum field theory

I wondered if someone could help me understand spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) in classical mechanics, quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. Consider a Higgs-like potential, with a local ...
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Basic mechanics problems, unsolvable by brute-force numerical integration

I'm looking for simple problems in theoretical mechanics that are impossible or unreasonably difficult to solve by means of "brute-force" numerical integration of Newton or Euler-lagrange equations. ...
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What is the difference between translation and rotation?

What is the difference between translation and rotation ? If this were a mathematics site, the question would be at best naive. But this is physics site, and the question must be interpreted as a ...
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Why does my door shut faster when the window is open?

I've noticed that if I shut my door when the window is open in a room, the door will tend to shut faster. If I shut the door when the window is closed with a normal force it will not fully close as if ...
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What's the physical intuition for symplectic structures?

I always thought about symplectic forms as elements of areas in little subspaces because of the Darboux theorem, however I cannot get the physical intuition for it and for the hamiltonian vector ...
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What makes a Lagrangian a Lagrangian?

I just wanted to know what the characteristic property of a Lagrangian is? How do you see without referring to Newtonian Mechanics that it has to be $L=T-V$? People constructed a Lagrangian in ...
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Small oscillations of heavy string

I'm solving problem in classical field theory and I have some difficulties. I'm trying to study small oscilations of heavy string with fixed points. First of all I wrote down this Lagrangian: ...
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A problem inspired by the ice hockey game

Question shortly: How far would a hockey puck slide in two different cases: The puck is sliding (translation) on ice and spinning on its flat surface. The puck is sliding on ice without spinning. ...
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Question about canonical transformation

I was going through my professor's notes about Canonical transformations. He states that a canonical transformation from $(q, p)$ to $(Q, P)$ is one that if which the original coordinates obey ...
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Classical limit of quantum mechanics

I have heard that one can recover classical mechanics from quantum mechanics in the limit the $\hbar$ goes to zero. How can this be done? (Ideally, I would love to see something like: as $\hbar$ ...
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2answers
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Essential background for QFT study

The preface to Mark Srednicki's "Quantum Field Theory" says that to be prepared for the book, one must recognize and understand the following equations: $$\frac{d\sigma}{d\Omega} = ...
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Meaning of the Poisson bracket as a coordinate transformation

Well, the Possion bracket: $ \{ A(q,p),B(q,p) \} \equiv \sum_{s} \left( \dfrac{\partial A}{\partial q_{s}} \dfrac{\partial B}{\partial p_{s}} - \dfrac{\partial A}{\partial p_{s}} \dfrac{\partial ...
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Imagine a long bar floating in space. What force does it exert on itself in the middle due to gravity?

Problem If you had a long bar floating in space, what would be the compressive force at the centre of the bar, due to the self-weight of both ends? Diagram - what is the force at point X in the ...
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What could cause an asymmetric orbit in a symmetric potential?

My question can be summarized as: Given a potential with a symmetry (e.g. $z\rightarrow-z$), should I expect orbits in that potential to exhibit the same symmetry? Below is the full motivation for ...
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If the Earth didn't rotate, how would a Foucault pendulum work?

How does the Foucault pendulum work exactly, and would it work at all, if the Earth didn't rotate?
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Car accident, put in park or neutral?

I was waiting on a red light the other day and was wondering. If I'm in my car, not moving and I see a car that's going to hit me from behind. Would I (my body) be safer if I put on the break or if ...
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Why does the classical Noether charge become the quantum symmetry generator?

It is often said that the classical charge $Q$ becomes the quantum generator $X$ after quantization. Indeed this is certainly the case for simple examples of energy and momentum. But why should this ...
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Conservation of phase space volume in Rindler space-time

Let us consider Rindler space-time, i.e. Minkowski space-time as seen by a constantly accelerating observer. My question is, does Liouville's theorem, i.e. the conservation of phase space volume in ...
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How to model/simulate pressures and flows in a network of pipes

I'm having a hard time finding information on how to model/simulate this. I attached a couple files, both of which show an example tank & pump network. It's just nonsense that I made up for this ...
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Theorems on instability of classical systems of charged particles?

Classically, a hydrogen atom should not be stable, since it should radiate away all its energy. I remember hearing from my favorite freshman physics prof ca. 1983 about a general theorem to the effect ...
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Which direction will Coriolis forces deflect a bubble?

If I throw a ball straight up, it deflects slightly to the west due to Coriolis forces. If instead I watch a bubble float up in water, is the bubble deflected west, east, or neither? I think the ...