A brief course in classical mechanics.

By Donald E. Simanek

These are "occasional" class notes from a course "Great Ideas in Physics" given in 2004 at Lycoming College in Pennsylvania. Suggestions for improvement are still welcome.

These essays may serve as a review of physics, and also as an introduction to the subject. They can supplement larger textbooks.

  1. What's classical physics all about? (In preparation.)
  2. Kinematics. The geometry of motion.
  3. Mechanics. Force, mass, Newton's laws and circular motion.
  4. The mechanical universe. A historical interlude about momentum and energy.
  5. Conservation laws. Energy and Momentum, closed systems.
  6. The assymetric Atwood machine. An example of linear and rotational kinematics.
  7. Conservation of mass. The 17th century overthrow of phlogiston and the caloric theory.
  8. Colliding balls. Energy and momentum in collisions.
  9. Ball bouncing from a massive wall. A surprising and instructive example.
  10. Thermodynamics. Heat engines, refrigerators and Carnot cycles.
  11. Kinetic Theory of Gases. Newtonian mechanics of gases.

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