In continuum mechanics, stress is a physical quantity that expresses the internal forces that neighbouring particles of a continuous material exert on each other. For example, when a solid vertical bar is supporting a weight, each particle in the bar pulls on the particles immediately above and below it. When a liquid is under pressure, each particle gets pushed inwards by all the surrounding particles, and, in reaction, pushes them outwards. These macroscopic forces are actually the average of a very large number of intermolecular forces and collisions between the particles in those molecules.
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