Classical Mechanics

In classical mechanics, historically, core concepts – space, time, mass, force, momentum, torque, and angular momentum – were introduced to solve the most famous problem in physics, the motion of the planets. Two alternative approaches are presented: force and conservation laws. Conservation laws involving energy, momentum and angular momentum provide a second parallel approach to solving many of the same problems. Galilean relativity is introduced. The main purpose of the course is to develop a conceptual understanding of the core concepts and understanding of how theoretical science work, a familiarity with the experimental verification of theoretical laws, and an ability to apply the theoretical framework to describe and predict the motions of bodies. The course explores the mathematical physics developed by Isaac Newton (1642–1727) and introduces some familiarity with the formulations of mechanics developed later by Joseph Lagrange (1736–1813) and William Hamilton (1805–1865). The relation between symmetries and conservation laws is introduced (Noether’s theorem).