fluid mechanics, branch of mechanics dealing with the properties and behavior of fluids, i.e., liquids and gases. Because of their ability to flow, liquids and gases have many properties in common not shared by solids. The special study of fluids in motion, or fluid dynamics, makes up the larger part of fluid mechanics. Branches of fluid dynamics include hydrodynamics (study of liquids in motion) and aerodynamics (study of gases in motion). Hydrodynamics is often used synonymously with fluid dynamics, since most of the results from the study of liquids also apply to gases. A plasma is also a fluid (see states of matter) and can be described by many of the principles of fluid mechanics, but its electromagnetic properties must also be taken into account. The study of plasmas in motion is known as magnetohydrodynamics and includes principles from several fields.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.