We review some applications of fractional calculus developed by the author (partly in collaboration with others) to treat some basic problems in continuum and statistical mechanics. The problems in continuum mechanics concern mathematical modelling of viscoelastic bodies (Sect. 1), and unsteady motion of a particle in a viscous fluid, i.e. the Basset problem (Sect. 2). In the former analysis fractional calculus leads us to introduce intermediate models of viscoelasticity which generalize the classical spring-dashpot models. The latter analysis induces us to introduce a hydrodynamic model suitable to revisit in Sect. 3 the classical theory of the Brownian motion, which is a relevant topic in statistical mechanics. By the tools of fractional calculus we explain the long tails in the velocity correlation and in the displacement variance. In Sect. 4 we consider the fractional diffusion-wave equation, which is obtained from the classical diffusion equation by replacing the first-order time derivative by a fractional derivative of order $0< \beta <2$. Led by our analysis we express the fundamental solutions (the Green functions) in terms of two interrelated auxiliary functions in the similarity variable, which turn out to be of Wright type (see Appendix), and to distinguish slow-diffusion processes ($0 < \beta < 1$) from intermediate processes ($1 < \beta < 2$). |