My question essentially contains two parts: one practical question and one philosophical question.
I am an engineering student working in the field of Multi Body Dynamics (MBD). My current research is in the application side of Mechanics, but I've always been fascinated by the more pure side of things, appreciating the beauty of Physics (Mechanics) and Mathematics in general.
Current trend today in MBD is towards writing code, doing simulations for some practical problems. While gratifying, this isn't quite as satisfying as the pleasure one gets in studying pure classical/analytical mechanics. Owing to this, I am thinking of moving into classical/analytical mechanics for my further studies. However, I have some sincere doubts.
- Research prospects in this field: since the field is so old, are there enough problems left to solve?
- What are the current research trends? Besides the applications of existing mechanics theories in various areas, what are the research trends in the "pure" side of mechanics?
- Should I join the Maths department? Is the actual research in the "pure" side going in the Maths department?
Let us now imagine a (hypothetical) near future where some software has been written which can simulate any mechanics problem and optimize designs perfectly. In that case, what use is a mechanician going to be?
As for me, I've been very impressed by the thoughts of Papastavridis given in his book Analytical Mechanics: A Comprehensive Treatise on the Dynamics of Constrained Systems. He has put some deep, nice views on this. His view is that Analytical Mechanics is something to be pursued for its own sake, not for some end goal. This is something which I personally agree with. But this poses a practical problem of being useless to the society.
Given that finding something new in this domain is very tough and practical utility of theories being covered by the softwares, the philosophical question is essentially this : What's a mechanician to do?