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Shall we consider photoelasticity a non-mathematical, or purely visual, proof of the existence of stresses in mechanical structures undergoing external loading?

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  • $\begingroup$ Why wouldn't it be? The theory matches the experiments. $\endgroup$ – fffred Sep 1 '13 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ @fffred It looks to me that the existence of stresses in classical (continuum) mechanics stems from various assumptions/principles at a macroscopic scale (continuity, Newton's laws...) while in physics, at a microscopic scale, the notion of stress is replaced by atomic forces acting between particles. It looks to me that photoelasticity is, in a sense, a visual bridge between these two separate worlds. It somehow illustrates how continuum mechanics can be seen as a homogenized version of the physics of particles. $\endgroup$ – pluton Sep 2 '13 at 20:40

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