Classical Physics refers specifically to the branch of physics that doesn’t make use of quantum mechanics or the theory of relativity. Unlike quantum physics, classical physics is generally characterized by the principle of complete determinism. It can be split into two major, seemingly unrelated, branches: Classical mechanics, pioneered in the 17-th century by Newton, which describes the motion of particles, and the classical theory of electromagnetism, brought to completion in the 19-th century by Maxwell, which, among other things, describes electromagnetic radiation in terms of waves. The term classical physics is relative to the context. In terms of general relativity classical physics refers to the result of modifying Newtonian physics to incorporate special relativity. In terms of special relativity, it refers to the Newtonian physics which preceded relativity, i.e. the branches of physics based on principles developed before the rise of relativity and quantum mechanics. In terms of quantum mechanics, it refers to non-quantum physics, including special relativity, and general relativity. Classical mechanics, acoustics, optics, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism are the main components of classical physics.
The main problem with classical physics, particularly classical mechanics, is that its theories start to break down when one applies it to very small objects like atoms or particles moving close to the speed of light. The classical theory of electromagnetic radiation too is somewhat limited in its ability to provide correct descriptions, since quantum effects are observable in more everyday circumstances than quantum effects of matter.
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