Gingrich, Newell S. Department of Physics, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri.
Safko, John L. Formerly, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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The science dealing with the description of the positions of objects in space under the action of forces as a function of time. Some of the laws of mechanics were recognized at least as early as the time of Archimedes (287?–212 b.c.). In 1638, Galileo stated some of the fundamental concepts of mechanics, and in 1687, Isaac Newton published his Principia, which presents the basic laws of motion, the law of gravitation, the theory of tides, and the theory of the solar system. This monumental work and the writings of J. d'Alembert, J. L. Lagrange, P. S. Laplace, and others in the eighteenth century are recognized as classic works in the field of mechanics. Jointly they serve as the base of the broad field of study known as classical mechanics, or Newtonian mechanics. This field does not encompass the more recent developments in mechanics, such as statistical, relativistic, or quantum mechanics.
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