The main objective of continuum mechanics is to predict the response of a body that is under the action of external and/or internal influences, i.e. to capture and describe different mechanisms associated with the motion of a body that is under the action of loading. A body in continuum mechanics is considered to be matter continuously distributed in space. Hence, no attention is given to the microscopic (atomic) structure of real materials although non-classical generalized theories of continuum mechanics are able to deal with the mesoscopic structure of matter (i.e. defects, cracks, dispersive lengths, ...). Matter occupies space in time and the response of a body in continuum mechanics is restricted to the Newtonian space-time of classical mechanics in this volume. Einstein’s theory of relativity is not considered. In the classical sense, loading is considered as any action that changes the motion of the body. This includes, for instance, a change in temperature or a force applied. By introducing the concept of configurational forces a load may also be considered as a force that drives a change in the material space, for example the opening of a crack.
Continuum mechanics refers to field descriptions of phenomena that are usually modeled by partial differential equations and, from a mathematical point of view, require non-standard knowledge of non-simple technicalities. One purpose in this volume has been to present the different subjects in a self-contained way for a general audience. The organization of the volume is as follows. Mathematically, to predict the response of a body it is necessary to formulate boundary value problems governed by balance laws. The theme of the volume, that is an overview of the subject, has been written with this idea in mind for beginners in the topic. Chapter 1 is an introduction to continuum mechanics based on a one-dimensional framework in which, simultaneously, a more detailed organization of the chapters of this volume is given. A one-dimensional approach to continuum mechanics in some aspects maybe misleading since the analysis is oversimplified. Nevertheless, it allows us to introduce the subject through the early basic steps of the continuum analysis for a general audience. Chapters 3, 4 and 5 are devoted to the mathematical setting of continuum analysis: kinematics, balance laws and thermodynamics, respectively. Chapters 6 and 7 are devoted to constitutive equations. Chapters 8 and 9 deal with different issues in the context of linear elastostatics and linear elastodynamics and waves, respectively, for solids. Linear Elasticity is a classical and central theory of continuum mechanics. Chapter 10 deals with fluids while chapter 11 analyzes the coupled theory of thermoelasticity. Chapter 12 deals with nonlinear elasticity and its role in the continuum framework. Chapters 13 and 14 are dedicated to different applications of solid and fluid mechanics, respectively. The rest of the chapters involve some advanced topics. Chapter 15 is dedicated to turbulence, one of the main challenges in fluid mechanics. Chapter 16 deals with electro-magneto active materials (a coupled theory). Chapter 17 deals with specific ideas of soft matter and chapter 18 deals with configurational forces. In chapter 19, constitutive equations are introduced in a general (implicit) form. Well-posedness (existence, time of existence, uniqueness, continuity) of the equations of the mechanics of continua is an important topic which involves sophisticated mathematical machinery. Chapter 20 presents different analyses related to these topics.
Continuum Mechanics is an interdisciplinary subject that attracts the attention of engineers, mathematicians, physicists, etc., working in many different disciplines from a purely scientific environment to industrial applications including biology, materials science, engineering, and many other subjects.