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Classical Mechanics Lect Notes by Sunil Golwala

Classical Mechanics Lect Notes by Sunil Golwala

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Lecture Notes on Classical Mechanics for Physics 106ab
Sunil Golwala
Revision Date: September 25, 2006
Introduction
These notes were written during the Fall, 2004, and Winter, 2005, terms. They are indeedlecture
notes\u2013 I literally lecture from these notes. They combine material from Hand and Finch (mostly),
Thornton, and Goldstein, but cover the material in a di\ufb00erent order than any one of these texts
and deviate from them widely in some places and less so in others.

The reader will no doubt ask the question I asked myself many times while writing these notes: why bother? There are a large number of mechanics textbooks available all covering this very standard material, complete with worked examples and end-of-chapter problems. I can only defend myself by saying that all teachers understand their material in a slightly di\ufb00erent way and it is very di\ufb03cult to teach from someone else\u2019s point of view \u2013 it\u2019s like walking in shoes that are two sizes wrong. It is inevitable that every teacher will want to present some of the material in a way that di\ufb00ers from the available texts. These notes simply put my particular presentation down on the page for your reference.

These notes are not a substitute for a proper textbook; I have not provided nearly as many examples or illustrations, and have provided no exercises. They are a supplement. I suggest you skim them in parallel while reading one of the recommended texts for the course, focusing your attention on places where these notes deviate from the texts.

ii
Contents
1 Elementary Mechanics
1

1.1 NewtonianMechanics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 1.1.1 The equation of motion for a single particle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 1.1.2 AngularMotion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 1.1.3 Energy and Work. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

1.2 Gravitation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 1.2.1 GravitationalForce. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 1.2.2 GravitationalPotential. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26

1.3 Dynamics of Systems of Particles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 1.3.1 Newtonian Mechanical Concepts for Systems of Particles. . . . . . . . . . .32 1.3.2 Collisions of Particles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

2 Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Dynamics
59

2.1 The Lagrangian Approach to Mechanics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 2.1.1 Degrees of Freedom, Constraints, and Generalized Coordinates. . . . . . . .61 2.1.2 Virtual Displacement, Virtual Work, and Generalized Forces. . . . . . . . .67 2.1.3 d\u2019Alembert\u2019s Principle and the Generalized Equation of Motion. . . . . . . .72 2.1.4 The Lagrangian and the Euler-Lagrange Equations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76 2.1.5 TheHamiltonian. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .79 2.1.6 Cyclic Coordinates and Canonical Momenta. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80 2.1.7 Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81 2.1.8 Moreexamples. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82 2.1.9 Special Nonconservative Cases. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .88 2.1.10 Symmetry Transformations, Conserved Quantities, Cyclic Coordinates and

Noether\u2019s Theorem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91
2.2 Variational Calculus and Dynamics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .99
2.2.1 The Variational Calculus and the Euler Equation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .99
2.2.2 The Principle of Least Action and the Euler-Lagrange Equation. . . . . . .104
2.2.3 Imposing Constraints in Variational Dynamics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105

2.2.4 Incorporating Nonintegrable Nonholonomic Constraints in Variational Dy-
namics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .115
2.3 HamiltonianDynamics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .117

2.3.1 Legendre Transformations and Hamilton\u2019s Equations of Motion. . . . . . . .117
2.3.2 Phase Space and Liouville\u2019s Theorem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .124
2.4 Topics in Theoretical Mechanics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131
2.4.1 Canonical Transformations and Generating Functions. . . . . . . . . . . . .131

2.4.2 SymplecticNotation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140
iii

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