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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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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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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Why does higher acceleration minimize a car's fuel consumption?

I generally try to optimize my car's fuel consumption when driving, using my car's real-time MPG gauge and average-trip MPG indicator. Until recently, I believed the slower the acceleration, the ...
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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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Why do non-Newtonian fluids go hard when having a sudden force exerted on them?

You can dip your hands into a bowl of non-Newtonian fluid but if you are to punch it, it goes hard all of a sudden and is more like a solid than anything else. What is it about a non-Newtonian fluid ...
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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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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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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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Connection between Poisson Brackets and Symplectic Form

Jose and Saletan say the matrix elements of the Poisson Brackets (PB) in the $ {q,p} $ basis are the same as those of the inverse of the symplectic matrix $ \Omega^{-1} $, whereas the matrix elements ...
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How fast does force propagate through matter? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it possible for information to be transmitted faster than light? Consider the following thought experiment. You have a long perfectly rigid beam (for the sake of ...
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Why is the symplectic manifold version of Hamiltonian mechanics used in Newtonian mechanics?

Books such as Mathematical methods of classical mechanics describe an approach to classical (Newtonian/Galilean) mechanics where Hamiltonian mechanics turn into a theory of symplectic forms on ...
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Does Hamilton Mechanics give a general phase-space conserving flux?

Hamiltonian dynamics fulfil the Liouville's theorem, which means that one can imagine the flux of a phase space volume under a Hamiltonian theory like the flux of an ideal fluid, which doesn't change ...
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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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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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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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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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Why is the Hodge dual so essential?

It seems unnatural to me that it is so often worthwhile to replace physical objects with their Hodge duals. For instance, if the magnetic field is properly thought of as a 2-form and the electric ...
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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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Why was the Stark effect discovered much later than the Zeeman effect?

This is strange. The Zeeman effect involves the magnetic field. The Stark effect involves the electric field. In the course of classical electrodynamics, we get the impression that for many physical ...
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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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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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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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930 views

What's the optimal shape for a continuous Galilean Cannon?

A Galilean Cannon is a toy similar to the famous basketball-and-tennis-ball demonstration. You take a tennis ball, balance it on top a basketball, and drop them both. The tennis ball will bounce up to ...
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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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Does Dirac's argument against classical mechanics stand in contradiction to Bohm's theory?

In his book on Quantum Mechanics, P.A.M. Dirac talks about the stability of the atom as a means of demonstrating the need for quantum mechanics. He writes: The necessity for a departure from ...
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959 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 ...
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Constants of motion vs. integrals of motion

Since the equation of mechanics are of second order in time, we know that for $N$ degrees of freedom we have to specify $2N$ initial conditions. One of them is the initial time $t_0$ and the rest of ...
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Why does motion help you balance on ice skates?

It's almost impossible to balance on a single ice skate if you're standing still. But give yourself just a little forward motion—it doesn't take very much—and it suddenly becomes easy. You can stand ...
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138 views

Are Carnot engine efficieny and Fourier heat trasmission law related?

It just occured to me that the efficiency of Carnot cycles is $\eta= \frac{T_1 - T_2}{T_1}$, that is, the efficiency decreases as the difference between reservoir temperatures decreases. On the other ...
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Is $k_B \rightarrow 0$ the classical limit of stat. mech., as $\hbar \rightarrow 0$ is in QM?

I hear very often among my peers and seniors that just as how $\hbar\rightarrow0$ takes me to classical mechanics from quantum mechanics, $k_B\rightarrow0$ will take me to classical thermodynamics ...
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Is “Causality” the equivalent of a claim that the future is predictable based on the present and the past?

In classical (Newtonian) mechanics, every observer had the same past and the same future and if you had perfect knowledge about the current state of all particles in the universe, you could ...
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Quantum systems without a classical analogue? [closed]

I am now reading the quantum mechanics textbook by Dirac (chap. 4, $\S21$, p. 88). He says that his quantization procedure does not include all possible systems in quantum mechanics and there are ...
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Lagrangian formalism and Contact Bundles

In his Applied Differential Geometry book, William Burke says the following after telling that the action should be the integral of a function $L$: A line integral makes geometric sense only if ...
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492 views

Liouville's theorem and gravitationally deflected lightpaths

It is customary in gravitational lensing problems, to project both the background source and the deflecting mass (e.g. a background quasar, and a foreground galaxy acting as a lens) in a plane. Then, ...
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Extended Rigid Bodies in Special Relativity

I was reading Landau & Lifshitz's Classical Theory of Fields and I noticed that they mention that an extended rigid body isn't "relativistically correct". For example, if you consider a rigid ...
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How is Liouville's theorem compatible with the Second Law?

The second law says that entropy can only increase, and entropy is proportional to phase space volume. But Liouville's theorem says that phase space volume is constant. Taken naively, this seems to ...
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Is there a fundamental reason not to define the work vice-versa

My question arises from something which has never been really clear: in continuum mechanics, why is strain energy defined as: $$W=\int_\Omega ...
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Shouldn't the Uncertainty Principle be intuitively obvious, at least when talking about the position and momentum of an object?

Please forgive me if I'm wrong, as I have no formal physics training (apart from some in high school and personal reading), but there's something about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle that strikes ...
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Why is tunneling not a classical idea?

There is no tunneling in the case of infinite potential barrier, but there is when we have a finite well. In the classical analog, in the first case we have a particle bouncing between to infinitely ...
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Why can't we ascribe a (possibly velocity dependent) potential to a dissipative force?

Sorry if this is a silly question but I cant get my head around it.
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How do I show that there exists variational/action principle for a given classical system?

We see variational principles coming into play in different places such as Classical Mechanics (Hamilton's principle which gives rise to the Euler-Lagrange equations), Optics (in the form of Fermat's ...
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Which is more efficient: a larger wheel or a smaller wheel?

I'm designing a 2-wheeled cart that I plan to rig to a donkey for hauling work around a farm. I'm wondering if there are mechanical advantages to using smaller wheels (like 40 cm diameter) vs. using ...
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Non-Integrable systems

Integrable systems are systems which have $2n-1$ time-independent, functionally independent conserved quantities (n being the number of degrees of freedom), or n whose Poisson brackets with each other ...
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Why are infinitesimal rotations commutative, whereas finite rotations are not?

Infinitesimal rotations commute and every finite rotation is the composition of infinitesimal rotations which should logically mean they also commute; but they don't. Why?