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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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 happens when a ball stops bouncing?

If I were to drop a bouncy ball onto a surface, each successive bounce will be lower in height as energy is dissipated. Eventually, however, the ball will cease to bounce and will remain in contact ...
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Why does water gulp out of a water bottle with a narrow opening instead of a steady flow?

For example, take a water bottle. Fill it with water and then turn it upside down. Instead of flowing steadily downward, it gulps down in parts. Why?
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Which is easier, pushing or pulling?

It is generally assumed, from a person's perspective, that pushing a cart is more easier than pulling one. But why? Is there any difference in terms of force required to achieve the same amount of ...
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Hamilton-Jacobi Equation

In the Hamilton-Jacobi equation, we take the partial time derivative of the action. But the action comes from integrating the Lagrangian over time, so time seems to just be a dummy variable here and ...
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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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Why Do Hurricane Balls Spin So Fast?

I was wondering if anyone could offer an explanation as to why the balls described in this video spin so fast. Here's the setup: Two metal balls are wielded together. When spun with air, they ...
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Deriving the action and the Lagrangian for a free point particle in Special Relativity

My question relates to Landau & Lifshitz, Classical Theory of Field, Chapter 2: Relativistic Mechanics, Paragraph 8: The principle of least action. As stated there, to determine the action ...
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Confusion regarding the principle of least action in Landau's “The Classical Theory of Fields”

Edit: The previous title didn't really ask the same thing as the question (sorry about that), so I've changed it. To clarify, I understand that the action isn't always a minimum. My questions are in ...
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How does the period of an hourglass depend on the grain size?

Suppose I have an hourglass that takes 1 full hour on average to drain. The grains of sand are, say, $1 \pm 0.1\ {\rm mm}$ in diameter. If I replace this with very finely-grained sand $0.1 \pm 0.01\ ...
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How do we explain accelerated motion in Newtonian physics and in modern physics?

Maybe my question will seem stupid, but I am not a physicist so I have some problems understanding a classic Newtonian experiment: in the bucket experiment, why does he have to introduce the absolute ...
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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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When “unphysical” solutions are not actually unphysical

When solving problems in physics, one often finds, and ignores, "unphysical" solutions. For example, when solving for the velocity and time taken to fall a distance h (from rest) under earth gravity: ...
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Is the quantization of the harmonic oscillator unique?

To put it a little better: Is there more than one quantum system, which ends up in the classical harmonic oscillator in the classial limit? I'm specifically, but not only, interested in an ...
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Fractal nature of turbulence

Someone described to me the difficulty of numerically simulating turbulence as that as you look at smaller length scales you see more structure like you do in a fractal. Searching on google for ...
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677 views

Coriolis force and Newton's third law

I would like to ask a stupid question here. If a body 'b' moving downward with a velocity v in a rotating frame of reference with angular velocity w, and w and v not being parallel and anti parallel. ...
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999 views

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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Hamiltonian is conserved, but is not the total mechanical energy

I wondering about the interpretation for the energy difference between the Hamiltonian and the total mechanical energy for systems where the Hamiltonian is conserved, but it is not equal to the total ...
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Can the coefficient of friction be derived from fundamentals?

It is common to want to derive macroscopic laws from what we know microscopically - after all, given a (correct) microscopic description, everything larger should follow. Has it ever been done to ...
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Cutting a circle and moving endpoints

A metal (or otherwise, suitably elastic) circle is cut and the points are slid up and down a vertical axis as shown: How would one describe the resultant curves mathematically?
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Shape of rotating rope (lasso problem?)

Let's take a wire or a rope. I usually do this with a chain or my scarf. I fixate one end in my hand and apply rotation (by subtle movements of this endpoint like spinning a lasso). The rope gets ...
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D'Alembert's Principle: Necesssity of virtual displacements

Why is the D'Alembert's Principle $$\sum_{i} ( {F}_{i} - m_i \bf{a}_i )\cdot \delta \bf r_i = 0$$ stated in terms of "virtual" displacements instead of actual displacements? Why is it so necessary ...
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Vibrational anharmonic coupling and noise-induced spontaneous symmetry breaking in a hexagonal finite mechanical lattice

Happy holidays, everyone! The following is part question, part visual gallery, and part classical mechanics problem. Inspired by snow over the weekend I began simulating the vibrations of the ...
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Classical mechanics: Generating function of lagrangian submanifold

I have a short question regarding the geometrical interpretation of the Hamilton-Jacobi-equation. One has the geometric version of $H \circ dS = E$ as an lagrangian submanifold $L=im(dS)$, which is ...
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How can things be chaotic on a quantum level, yet tangible on a classical level?

This may seem basic, but I am wondering if anyone has any input on this topic. It doesn't make any sense to me (I mean I don't need to use the Schrödinger equation to find my cell phone...). I just do ...
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Why can't we obtain a Hamiltonian by substituting?

This question may sound a bit dumb. Why can't we obtain the Hamiltonian of a system simply by finding $\dot{q}$ in terms of $p$ and then evaluating the Lagrangian with $\dot{q} = \dot{q}(p)$? Wouldn't ...
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Are water waves (i.e. on the surface of the ocean) longitudinal or transverse?

I'm convinced that water waves for example: are a combination of longitudinal and transverse. Any references or proofs of this or otherwise?
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Formalism to deal with discontinuous potentials in classical mechanics (hard wall, hard spheres)

It seems to me that Hamiltonian formalism does not suit well for problems involving instantaneous change of momentum, like particle collisions with hard wall or hard sphere gas model. At least I could ...
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Examples where momentum is not equal to $mv$?

I am aware that momentum is the thing which is conserved due to symmetries in space (rotational symmetry, translaitonal symmetry, etc). I am aware that in some systems, the generalized momentum, ...
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How long it will take for a upright rigid body to fall on a ground

Let's suppose there is a straight rigid bar with height $h$ and center of mass at the middle of height $h/2$. Now if the bar is vertically upright from ground, how long will it take to fall on the ...
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Partition function containing QM?

I am wondering about the partition function of the classical microcanonical ensemble. It contains Planck's constant and also an indistinguishability argument about the particles I am looking at and I ...
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What do the derivatives in these Hamilton equations mean?

I have a Hamiltonian: $$H=\dot qp - L = \frac 1 2 m\dot q^2+kq^2\frac 1 2 - aq$$ In a system with one coordinate $q$ (where $L$ is the Lagrangian). One of the Hamilton equations is: $$\dot q ...
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Force through quantum mechanics

In classical physics force is: $$F=\frac {dp}{dt}$$ How about quantum mechanics? In Old Quantum Mechanics momentum is: $p=\hbar \cdot k$ so force will be: $$F=\hbar \frac {dk}{dt}$$ what does $\frac ...
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Why does a ping pong ball change direction when I spin it on a table?

When I spin a ping pong ball on the table, it rolls forward in the opposite direction of the spin, and then eventually changes direction and rolls backward. Here's a video demonstrating the effect. ...
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Shaking a jar of balls

A jar is filled with two types of balls, red and green. Red balls have radius $r_1$ and mass $m_1$, green balls have radius $r_2$ and mass $m_2$. If initially the balls are randomly placed throughout ...
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Why does a car engine not do work if the wheels don't slip?

I saw this mind boggling result that if the tires don't slip then the work done by an engine to move a car is zero. Why is this true? Moreover, what does this truly mean? Update: Sorry about not ...
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Are there any fully analytically solvable nonlinear oscillators?

I'm trying to find a simple one-dimensional problem, in which a particle would oscillate with some energy, and the period of oscillation would depend on particle energy (unlike in harmonic ...
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Any good resources for Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Dynamics?

I'm taking a course on Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Dynamics, and I would like to find a good book/resource with lots of practice questions and answers on either or both topics. So far at my university ...
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Why can't any term which is added to the Lagrangian be written as a total derivative (or divergence)?

All right, I know there must be an elementary proof of this, but I am not sure why I never came across it before. Adding a total time derivative to the Lagrangian (or a 4D divergence of some 4 ...
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Forget Hooke's law. Why does a spring exert a force?

Forgetting Hooke's law for a minute why, from a microscopic perspective (preferably quantum) on up to a macroscopic one, does a spring under tension exert a force? I was thinking that there might be ...
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Quantum version of the Galton Board

If classical particles fall through a Galton Board they pile up in the limit of large numbers like a normal distribution, see e.g. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/GaltonBoard.html What kind of ...
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When does $\hbar \rightarrow 0$ provide a valid transition from quantum to classcial mechanics? When and why does it fail?

Lets look at the transition amplitude $U(x_{b},x_{a})$ for a free particle between two points $x_{a}$ and $x_{b}$ in the Feynman path integral formulation $U(x_{b},x_{a}) = \int_{x_{a}}^{x_{b}} ...
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How to prove that a hamiltonian system is not integrable?

To show that a system is integrable, we just need to find $N$ independent functions $f_j$ such that $\{ f_i, f_j \} = 0$. But how to prove that such a set of functions do not exist? For example, ...
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Translation Invariance without Momentum Conservation?

Instead of the actual gravitational force, in which the two masses enter symmetrically, consider something like $$\vec F_{ab} = G\frac{m_a m_b^2}{|\vec r_a - \vec r_b|^2}\hat r_{ab}$$ where $\vec ...
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Ball Rolling in a Parabolic Bowl

I encountered a physics problem which inquired about a ball rolling inside a parabolic bowl (i.e. a bowl where any cross section through the vertex would make a parabolic shape given by $y = kx^2$). ...
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When motion begins, do objects go through an infinite number of position derivatives?

This might be a very vague and unclear question, but let me explain. When an object at rest moves, or moves from point $A$ to point $B$, we know the object must have had some velocity (1st derivative ...
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How does such strange microscopic behavior at the atomic level (quantum mechanics) lead to the macroscopic behavior at our level?

So, I'm only a high school student researching quantum physics, and I find it very interesting. However, there's one question that keeps nagging at me in the back of my head. How exactly do odd ...
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Brachistochrone Problem for Inhomogeneous Potential

This recent question about holes dug through the Earth led me to wonder: if I wanted to dig out a tube from the north pole to the equator and build a water slide in it, which shape would be the ...
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875 views

Intrinsic angular momentum in classical mechanics

Please note, I am only interested in classical mechanics discussion on this. Please do not involve quantum mechanics. Inspired by this question: Is Angular Momentum truly fundamental? My question ...
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How far does a trampoline vertically deform based on the mass of the object?

If a baseball is dropped on a trampoline, the point under the object will move a certain distance downward before starting to travel upward again. If a bowling ball is dropped, it will deform further ...