How distinct is fluid dynamics from continuum physics? I've heard it is a subset and by the definition of the subject's name, it seems likely to be the case. Can anyone please clarify?

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    $\begingroup$ Doesn't this Wiki article answer your question? $\endgroup$
    – Deep
    Jul 3 '18 at 10:19
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    $\begingroup$ Continuum Mechanics also includes solid mechanics. $\endgroup$ Jul 3 '18 at 11:35

Continuum physics, or more specifically continuum mechanics is paradigm that seeks to describe the bulk properties of a system by treating it as a continuum. This can include fluids and bulk deformation and vibrations in solids. One could argue that the liquid drop model of the nucleus was an example of continuum physics. From a fundamental perspective, before we understood the structure of the atom, continuum mechanics could have been seen as "fundamental" in the sense that the continuum equations defined the irreducible characteristics of a system. We even has the pudding+raisin model of matter before the Rutherford scattering experiment illuminated the internal structure of matter. Now we still use continuum models as a modeling, or computational, and theoretical tool for describing bulk properties of matter. A continuum model can be developed from first principles using a discrete N-body system and taking the limit as N-->infinity while other properties go to zero. Or it can be hypothesized to have certain properties based on observational evidence. A good book on continuum methods is Classical Field Theory by Davison Soper.


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