Continuum mechanics is a branch of mechanics that deals with the analysis of the kinematics and the mechanical behavior of materials modeled as a continuous mass rather than as discrete particles.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

16
votes
3answers
4k views

Why can't a piece of paper (of non-zero thickness) be folded more than $N$ times?

Updated: In order to fold anything in half, it must be $\pi$ times longer than its thickness, and that depending on how something is folded, the amount its length decreases with each fold differs. ...
9
votes
6answers
1k views

Rotate a long bar in space and get close to (or even beyond) the speed of light $c$

Imagine a bar spinning like a helicopter propeller, At $\omega$ rad/s because the extremes of the bar goes at speed $$V = \omega * r$$ then we can reach near $c$ (speed of light) applying some ...
9
votes
2answers
666 views

Symmetry of the stress tensor

When presenting the stress tensor (say in a non-relativistic context), it is shown to be a tensor in the sense that it is a linear vector transformation: it operates on a vector $n$ (the normal to a ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

water flow in a sink

When one turns on the tap in the kitchen, a circle is observable in the water flowing in the sink. The circle is the boundary between laminar and turbulent flow of the water (maybe this is the wrong ...
8
votes
2answers
249 views

Shape of wall's deformation wave caused by baseball's impact

Clicking through this year's top sports pictures, I stumbled upon this one. I was wondering about the shape the baseball is leaving on the wall. What phenomenon causes this peculiar shape? Why is ...
8
votes
3answers
228 views

Continuum limit for solid mechanics

Is there a rigorous derivation of the limits for continuum properties in solid mechanics? For instance, the stress-strain relationship may be linear for large samples (the slope being the Young's ...
7
votes
1answer
567 views

What is Relativistic Navier-Stokes Equation Through Einstein Notation?

Navier-Stokes equation is non-relativistic, what is relativistic Navier-Stokes equation through Einstein notation?
7
votes
3answers
234 views

How wide does a wall of ice need to be to stay in place?

Let us say that we have unlimited manpower to construct a huge wall of water ice e.g. 200 m tall (700 feet). -and that the wall is placed in a climate, where the temperature never (for your purpose) ...
6
votes
3answers
697 views

Why are Navier-Stokes equations needed?

Can't we picture air or water molecules individually? Then, why are Navier-Stokes equations needed, after all? Can't we just aggregate individual ones? Or is it computationally difficult, or ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Modern references for continuum mechanics

I'm wondering what some standard, modern references might be for continuum mechanics. I imagine most references are probably more used by mechanical engineers than physicists but it's still a ...
5
votes
4answers
411 views

Why are stresses of continuum systems described via a tensor?

The tittle pretty much says enough. I have always been told so but no one really motivated it. So, I would like to know why do we use a tensor to describe the stresses in continuum mechanics.
5
votes
2answers
3k views

Conservation Vs Non-conservation Forms of conservation Equations

I understand mathematically how one can obtain the conservation equations in both the conservative $${\partial\rho\over\partial t}+\nabla\cdot(\rho \textbf{u})=0$$ ...
5
votes
1answer
86 views

Metric of following spacetime and refractive index

Let's have metrics $$ ds^{2} = f(\mathbf r)dt^{2} - h(\mathbf r )\delta_{ij}dx^{i}dx^{j}. $$ Hot to show that motion of light in spacetime with this metrics is equal to motion in continuous media with ...
5
votes
1answer
180 views

Relationship between the continuity equation and the wave equation

What exactly is the relationship between the continuity equation and the wave equation? Suppose $J^\mu$ is a contravariant vector that satisfies the continuity equation $\partial_\mu J^\mu=0$. Let ...
5
votes
0answers
496 views

Interpretation of Stiffness Matrix and Mass Matrix in Finite Element Method

I would like to have a general interpretation of the coefficients of the stiffness matrix that appears in FEM. For instance if we are solving a linear elasticity problem and we modelize the relation ...
4
votes
1answer
192 views

Normal modes of a flexible rod clamped at only one point

I am interested in the vibrations of a thin, flexible rod that would only be clamped at one point, properly I'd like to calculate its eigenvalue. But the way I learned it in wave mechanics doesn't ...
4
votes
2answers
908 views

Stress tensor in a cube with shear forces

I want to calculate stress matrix in a cube with two faces parallel to x axis and perpendicular to z axis (sorry I don't know how can I put a picture in this post). There are two force uniform ...
4
votes
1answer
126 views

Can Smoothed-Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) be used to simulate porous media flow and deformation?

I am trying to use Smoothed-Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) to study fluid flow in and around porous media. The aim is to observe how it causes erosion and failure. For this, from my understanding, there ...
4
votes
3answers
679 views

Why is the (nonrelativistic) stress tensor linear and symmetric?

From wikipedia: "...the stress vector $T$ across a surface will always be a linear function of the surface's normal vector $n$, the unit-length vector that is perpendicular to it. ...The linear ...
4
votes
1answer
197 views

(Botanical) branch bending under gravity

I'm a PhD student in maths, and attended my last physics class some 15 years ago, so you can imagine my competences in the field. My supervisor (also not a mechanist) cant tell me how to proceed ...
4
votes
1answer
611 views

A conceptual problem with Euler-Bernoulli beam theory and Euler buckling

Euler-Bernoulli beam theory states that in static conditions the deflection $w(x)$ of a beam relative to its axis $x$ satisfies $$EI\frac{\partial^4}{\partial x^4}w(x)=q(x)\ \ \ \ (1)$$ where $E$ is ...
4
votes
1answer
176 views

Equations of motion of displacement field

We have an action: $$S[\boldsymbol{u}] = \frac{1}{2} \int dt \int d^3x \left\{ \mu (\frac{\partial u_{i}}{\partial t})^{2} - \nu (u_{ii})^{2} - \rho(u_{ij})^{2}\right\} $$ Where $u_{ij} = ...
3
votes
2answers
576 views

Why are continuum fluid mechanics accurate when constituents are discrete objects of finite size?

Suppose we view fluids classically, i.e., as a collection of molecules (with some finite size) interacting via e&m and gravitational forces. Presumably we model fluids as continuous objects that ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Good books on elasticity

Can someone suggest good books/textbooks/treatises/etc on elasticity?
3
votes
1answer
68 views

Free energy variations

In a paper, I found this: $\mathbf{h}=\mathbf{h}(\mathbf{r})$ is called molecular field and is defined as the variation field of the Frank free energy functional $F_{d}$ with respect to the ...
3
votes
2answers
198 views

Extension to continuous in proofs of rigid body mechanics

I'm studying rigid body mechanics and I've seen several proofs of properties related to total angular momentum, kinetic energy, etc. that all regard discrete set of points. For example, to show that ...
3
votes
1answer
84 views

References on wave solutions in continuum mechanics [closed]

I am interested in literature on known wave solutions in continnum mechanics, precisely the following mechanical equation: $$\rho\partial_t^2u_i = C_{ijkl}\nabla_j\nabla_ku_{l}$$ My interest is spread ...
3
votes
2answers
116 views

A problem of approximation [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why are continuum fluid mechanics accurate when constituents are discrete objects of finite size? When we apply differentiation on charge being conducted with respect to ...
3
votes
2answers
145 views

What is the “discrete” analogue to “continuum” mechanics?

If I wanted to explore a discrete mathematics approach to continuum mechanics, what textbooks should I look into? I suppose a ready answer to the question might be: "computational continuum ...
3
votes
1answer
346 views

Explain $\rho_{0}\dot{e} - \bf{P}^{T} : \bf{\dot{F}}+\nabla_{0} \cdot \bf{q} -\rho_{0}S = 0$

I am trying to understand the balance of energy -law from continuum mechanics, fourth law here. Could someone break this a bit to help me understand it? From chemistry, I can recall $$dU = \partial Q ...
3
votes
1answer
185 views

How practical is fracture mechanics?

I have been reading fracture mechanics recently and have encountered many beautifully elegant theories. However, one thing keeps bothering me: How practical is fracture mechanics in the real world? ...
3
votes
1answer
185 views

Decomposition of deformation into bend, stretch and twist?

I'm wondering is there any way to decompose the deformation of an object into different components? For example, into stretching, bending and twisting part respectively? The decomposition could be ...
3
votes
0answers
74 views

How to quantize a rubber band stretched between two poles? [closed]

Consider a classical non-relativistic material string obeying Hooke's law stretched between two poles with either Neumann or Dirichlet or periodic boundary conditions and subject to either traversal ...
3
votes
3answers
150 views

Particles scattering on fluids: breakdown of the effective continuum description

When does the macroscopic continuum description of a medium like a fluid break down? Say I'm interested in a scattering process of some particles with momentum $p$ and energy $E$ off a fluid of ...
3
votes
0answers
226 views

Does a thermally expanding torus experience internal stress?

I'm trying to learn continuum mechanics and thermo-mechanics. As we know, heating an object increases the mean atomic distance $a_0$ of the atoms in a rigid body. Let's assume it is a linear elastic ...
3
votes
1answer
94 views

Can convection cells evolve in stably stratified fluid?

Assume stably stratified fluid but not in equilibrium, e.g. with non-constant temperature gradient for example. Can convection cells be present? Typical example of convection cells is Rayleigh–Bénard ...
3
votes
1answer
270 views

Can we have non continuous models of reality? Why don't we have them?

This question is about Godel's theorem, continuity of reality and the Luvenheim-Skolem theorem. I know that all leading physical theories assume reality is continuous. These are my questions: 1) Is ...
2
votes
2answers
290 views

What is the motivation for Mohr's circle?

I am very puzzled by the motivation for Mohr's circle in Wikipedia here. Please, explain why we need something called "Mohr's circle". Use as little words as possible and be precise. Helper questions ...
2
votes
2answers
447 views

Physical description of momentum flux tensor

In the field of fluid mechanics, what is the momentum flux tensor? Is there an easy explanation for how it "works"?
2
votes
1answer
126 views

Equivalence of turbulence in solid materials

The governing equations for a fluid and a solid are effectively the same and many times analysis can be done for a solid using the Navier-Stokes equations with the equation of state and/or the stress ...
2
votes
1answer
281 views

What is the two dimensional equivalent of a spring?

I'm trying to model isotropic linear elastic deformation in two dimensions. In one dimension, I know that a linear elastic material can be thought of as a spring which obeys Hooke's law $F=-k\Delta ...
2
votes
2answers
62 views

pure compression or pure traction?

I know that if we are given a stress tensor that is diagonal, the sign on the diagonal entries tell us whether we have traction or compression. Now, imagine that we are given a non diagonal stress ...
2
votes
1answer
148 views

Viscosity coefficients

I'm using the 2nd edition of "Transport Phenomena" by Bird and Stewart. I am having trouble with one of the equations: $$\tau_{ij} = \sum_k \sum_l \mu_{ijkl} \frac{\partial v_k}{\partial x_l} $$ ...
2
votes
1answer
70 views

Why does shape of elements matter in finite elements analysis? [closed]

I have used FEA for a couple of years now, but using it and using it correctly are two different things, safety factor is not the solution to everything. I have the feeling I won't be using it right ...
2
votes
3answers
123 views

Configuration space of particles in the box

The notion of entropy says that we can count microstates that correspond to macrostate. But, I do not understand how this can be done. Does it imply that the state space is discrete (finite or ...
2
votes
2answers
183 views

In continuum mechanics, what is work potential in the context of total potential energy?

I'm reading a book on the finite element method. Specifically I'm looking at the background material where they are discussing potential energy, equilibrium, and the Rayleigh–Ritz method. The book ...
2
votes
1answer
63 views

stress work of uniformly deforming continuum

I have a volume which is deforming (using explicit time-integration scheme) uniformly with velocity gradient $L$ and stress tensor $\sigma$. I would like to determine work done by the volume ...
2
votes
2answers
60 views

Is it possible that Cauchy stress be asymmetric?

According to conservation of linear momentum and angular momentum, one can derive that Cauchy stress tensor is symmetric and hence has only 6 independent components. Is it possible that, when breaking ...
2
votes
1answer
79 views

Why is general relativity only formulated in continuum terms?

So, when we are discussing Newtonian mechanics, we treat particles as point particles. In continuum mechanics, which I understand to be a version in which mass is continuously distributed, we have ...
2
votes
1answer
167 views

Dispersion relation in continuum mechanics

I'm looking at the vibration of a solid having a lattice structure, they obey the following equation: $$\rho\partial_t^2u_i = C_{ijkl}\nabla_j\nabla_ku_{l}$$ with $u(\vec{x},t)$ the displacement to ...