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Physics/Application of Calculus in Physics


Why do we apply Calculus in Physics when most of the quantities are not continuous and are not symmetrical at all levels of magnification ? Aren't most, if not all, forms of Matter and Energy discrete ? We talk about differential elements of energy, charge, fields, current, liquids and so many other quantities which don't or can't exist and we derive results from such assumptions. How is this right ?

At the levels where we apply calculus to physics the granular nature of matter just doesn't matter! In reality matter at the level with which we interact with it behaves as if it is continuous. You are correct, of course, that this approach would not be appropriate at the atomic level since the granular nature would dominate at that level or below.


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James J. Kovalcin


I am teaching or have taught AP physics B and C [calculus based mechanics & electricity and magnetism] as well as Lab Physics for college bound students. I have a BS in Physics from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Arts in Teaching from same. I have been teaching physics for 34 years. I am constantly updating my skills and have a particular interest in modern physics topics.

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