Mechanics (Greek Μηχανική “for machines”) is a branch of physics whose purpose is to study the motion, deformations, or states of equilibrium of physical systems. This science aims to describe the movements of different body types, from subatomic particles with quantum mechanics, to galaxies with celestial mechanics.
Until the nineteenth century, the concept of mechanics besides the scientific study of body movement included the theory of machinery. In the twenty-first century, if the mechanics as a science does not lose sight of the question of its practical application (for example the case of biomechanics), it is no longer primarily an activity aimed at the machinery development.
The foundations of mechanics, as science in modern sense of the term, were posed by Galileo. It was then associated with the mechanical arts, that is to say, with the machinery construction techniques. In 1559, the term “mechanics” referred to “the part of mathematics that aimed to study the laws of motion and the theory of machinery.” Later the term “mechanic” was invented (certified in 1696) to designate a person who “has the science of mechanics and the one who invents, designs and built machines.” It was not until the nineteenth century, from 1840, that term acquired the value of “the one who fix and maintains machines,” and that have made the distinction between mechanics as a science and mechanics as a technique more clearly.
The origins of mechanics, which did not have then even that name, includes reflections, even philosophical or religious, in particular to explain the movements of the stars. The regularity of the motions of celestial objects cannot escape the early astronomers, who then conceived the sky and moving as a kind of giant machine.
Archimedes’ contribution to the construction of the mechanical science was absolutely fundamental. His thoughts on the balance of body helped Galilee lay the foundation of modern mechanics. It was not yet theory of motion, but statics, that is to say, a science to understand the arrangement of the body at rest.
It was Aristotle, who laid the first foundations of a true mechanical theory. According to him, all bodies in the universe take it as the origin of their movement a first motor, the movement is transmitted by contact. In addition to that, he believed that objects move to reach the proper place intended for them where they can find stillness.
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