Physics 311: Mechanics
OverviewThis course is an intermediate undergraduate level course in classical mechanics. The major topics for Physics 311 include the origin and development of classical mechanics; mathematical techniques, especially vector analysis; conservation laws and their relation to symmetry principles; brief introduction to orbit theory and rigid-body dynamics; accelerated coordinate systems; introduction to the generalized-coordinate formalisms of Lagrange and Hamilton; and an introduction to the theory of chaos and nonlinear dynamics. The main goal of the class is mathematical techniques and to introduce the students to the language and mathematical techniques used for solving problems of mechanics; it also prepares the students for advanced coursework in the physics sequence including electromagnetic fields, statistical physics and provides the foundation for quantum mechanics by introducing Hamiltonian mechanics. This class also provides the necessary background for advanced topical classes such as plasma physics and fluid mechanics. This course uses vector analysis heavily, and relies upon vector calculus for solving problems. As such, it is useful to have taken or be concurrently taking Math 321. Traditionally, the course is taught with three lectures per week and a weekly problem session.
Topics CoveredThis class is intended to give students an introduction to the concepts and mathematics used to describe electromagnetic phenomena. Physics topics usually covered include:
- Origin and development of classical mechanics
- conservation laws and their relation to symmetry principles;
- basic orbit theory including planets and scattering
- rigid-body dynamics
- accelerated coordinate systems
- introduction to the generalized-coordinates
- Introduction to Lagrangian and Hamilton mechanics
- chaos and nonlinear dynamics
- Vector analysis, coordinate transformations
- basic vector calculus, div, the Laplacian, Stoke's.
- Numerical solutions of coupled first order differential equations (Runge-Kutta integration)
- Experiments for this course are covered in Physics 307