PBC Lecture Notes Series, Classical Mechanics I: by Dr. Abhijit Kar Gupta, kg.abhi@gmail.


Classical Mechanics I, Lecture-1 (Mechanics of a single particle)
Abhijit Kar Gupta, kg.abhi@gmail.com The formal description of mechanics of a particle starts from the position vector. To describe motion, we need a coordinate system. Position vector is defined with respect to that. The position vector of a particle or a point in Cartesian coordinate system, ⃗ we derive velocity, ⃗ ⃗̇ ̂ ̇ ̂ ̇ ̂ ̇ and acceleration, ⃗ ⃗̈ ̂ ̈ ̂ ̈ ̂ ̂ ̈. ̂ ̂ . From this , ̈ etc.]

[Note: ̇ From Newton’s second law of motion: Force, ⃗



⃗, where ⃗ =

⃗ , the linear momentum and ⃗ = acceleration of the particle. , we have

When there is no external force acting on the body, ⃗

= 0. Since

≠ 0, we can say ⃗ =

0 or const. That is the body is either at rest or moving with a uniform velocity (Newton’s 1st law of motion). Note that the weight of a body is a force exerted by Earth on it. ⃗ due to gravity. ⃗, where ⃗ is the acceleration

Now the coordinate system, with respect to which we are describing the position and hence motion of the particle, should be fixed in a frame. We call this reference frame. If the reference frame is at absolute rest or that is in uniform motion with respect to another fixed frame, we call this inertial frame. Suppose, we have two frames and where is moving with a speed with respect to along the Xdirection. Now the position coordinates of a point seen from two frames are and , respectively.



Fig. 1

P (x, y, z) (x’, y’, z’) 𝑣






PBC Lecture Notes Series, Classical Mechanics I: by Dr. Abhijit Kar Gupta, kg.abhi@gmail.com

At any time the frame

is displaced by a distance 𝑥 𝑦 𝑧 𝑥 − 𝑣𝑡 𝑦 𝑧

along the X-direction. Therefore, we can write

The above relation between two sets of coordinates in the two reference frames is called Galilean transformation. We can conclude from the above relations that

= ̂ ̂


= (̂

and ̂


. Therefore,
̂ )

Newton’s 2nd law of motion ⃗

remains invariant under such transformation. Newton’s 2nd law of motion is called law of inertia. Thus we say, the frame of reference which is either fixed (or at absolute rest) or in uniform motion relative to other fixed frame, the law of inertia holds good in it. Such a reference frame is called inertial reference frame.

●Different motions of a particle:
A particle can have two types of motions: (i) Translational or linear motion and (ii) Rotational or angular motion. Any kind of motion of a particle or a body can be either of the above or can be written as a combination of the two. For linear motion, we define linear momentum ⃗

⃗. Differentiating this we get


⃗ (Force).

For angular motion, the similar physical quantity is angular momentum. We define, ⃗⃗ ⃗ ⃗ (moment of momentum!). Differentiating this we get But ∴
⃗⃗ ⃗ ⃗⃗

⃗ ⃗




⃗⃗ ⃗

⃗ = ⃗

⃗ (moment of force!)

We now thus define a quantity, ⃗ =

⃗⃗, where ⃗ is called torque.


PBC Lecture Notes Series, Classical Mechanics I: by Dr. Abhijit Kar Gupta, kg.abhi@gmail.com ⃗⃗

We can say, ⃗ =

= 0 leads to ⃗⃗ = Constant. When there is no torque on a particle, its

angular momentum remains constant. (Think of this just in the line of Newton’s 1st law of motion.) Example: Planets moving around the Sun in closed orbits where angular momenta of the planets remain constant! Conservation of angular momentum comes from the fact that there is no external torque acting on the planets. (We shall discuss more on this in a next lecture on

⃗⃗ 𝐿 𝑟 ⃗ 𝑝 (Angular momentum = moment of momentum) ⃗ ⃗ 𝐹 (Torque = moment of Force) 𝜏

= 𝑟 ⃗ ⃗



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