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mechanics

Introduction

mechanics, branch of physics concerned with motion and the forces that tend to cause it; it includes study of the mechanical properties of matter, such as density, elasticity, and viscosity. Mechanics may be roughly divided into statics and dynamics; statics deals with bodies at rest and is concerned with such topics as buoyancy, equilibrium, and the principles of simple machines, while dynamics deals with bodies in motion and is sometimes further divided into kinematics (description of motion without regard to its cause) and kinetics (explanation of changes in motion as a result of forces). A recent subdiscipline of dynamics is nonlinear dynamics, the study of systems in which small changes in a variable may have large effects. The science of mechanics may also be broken down, according to the state of matter being studied, into solid mechanics and fluid mechanics. The latter, the mechanics of liquids and gases, includes hydrostatics, hydrodynamics, pneumatics, aerodynamics, and other fields.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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