The continuum is a range, series, or spectrum that gradually changes. There are no clear dividing points or lines between adjacent parts, but the extremes are quite different from the rest. For example, the rainbow is a continuum of color; no two colors are completely separate from each other.
Continuum mechanics is a mathematics theory that explains the behaviour of fluids such as air and water by assuming that they are continuous rather than particles (like atoms) in motion. This approach is used to study a wide variety of physical phenomena, including the movement of rock slides, snow avalanches, and blood flow.
This hypothesis abrogates the heterogeneous atomic micro-structure of matter, and enables approximation of fluid properties at infinitesimally small scales by resolving them at a macroscopic level defined by a representative elementary volume, or REV. The REV is as small as necessary to resolve the fluid’s spatial variations in its properties, but considerably larger than the scale of molecular action.
It is derived from differential calculus and the principle of continuity.
The continuum is the mathematical basis for many important ideas in classical hydrodynamics, including the concept of a representative elementary volume and the idea that all fluid properties tend to a common value as the REV gets smaller. It also explains the existence of a geometric volume, called the fluid continuum, which is infinitesimally small, but can be measured with standard instruments, and the concept of a uniformly distributed substance that fills the space that it occupies in the REV.
Mathematicians have long been interested in the question of whether or not the fluid continuum is true, and it has come to be known as the “continuum hypothesis”. It was listed by Hilbert, in 1900, as the first problem that he considered on his list of open problems, though it took him several years to give a proof of it.
In the late twentieth century, it became clear that the continuum hypothesis did not hold for all sets. In particular, it was not solvable for a class of sets called the Borel sets, which is a concrete set class that includes all the usual sets that mathematicians work with.
However, there are some new methods in development that could allow the continuum hypothesis to be solved. For instance, there is a program in progress that will attempt to solve the problem for larger and larger part of the mathematical universe, beyond the world of the Borel sets.
Using these new methods, it is likely that the continuum hypothesis will be formally proved in the future. It would be an amazing achievement and a great leap forward for mathematicians.
Continuum mechanics is a powerful tool for studying fluids, and it is used to understand many complex physical processes, such as the movement of rock slides and snow avalanches, the flow of blood, and the evolution of galaxies. It is an extremely useful approach, and one that has shaped a huge amount of our understanding of the natural world. the continuum