
Understanding Momentum
Posted on August 17th, 2010 No commentsUnderstanding mechanics is nothing to do with mathematics, it is the reality of what is actually happening and why it is happening.
Momentum
Momentum is the oldest scientific principle. Virtually all living creatures are both actively aware of it, and both consciously and unconsciously make use of it in their everyday lives.
Its use and the understanding of it preceded the emergence of man from the primeval chaos, and billions of years before the first glimmering of ‘scientific’ thought.
Consider a grizzly bear. It will give its young cub a gentle ‘pat’ of affection, or it will give a more vigorous smack to warn it to behave itself. Later, it may (with the same arm and paw) give a killing blow to an enemy.
The bear is demonstrating a clear knowledge and understanding of momentum. All animal life demonstrates this understanding, from the amoeba through to the dinosaurs, fish, reptiles etc and mankind, a very late starter.
This knowledge of momentum is gained very early in an animals life because its survival depends on it. It learns about it whilst attempting its first steps, because walking depends on control of momentum. Early on it constantly falls, but with practice it learns to control it and starts to walk with more confidence. The adult stage really begins when the animal can control its momentum and gains survival capabilities, not by the strength of its parents but with the speed and agility to escape danger.
So, what is momentum? It is not a mathematical formula. Momentum is the effect of mass and speed and is real. When someone refers to momentum being mass x speed this is a means of relating the reality of momentum into a mathematical context. Mathematics is not reality, and the reality of any subject should be constantly in your mind when manipulating mathematics.
Mathematics is not a science, it is a tool. In many cases maths does not work, or only works by cheating. A term constantly used in engineering is ‘Moment of Inertia, (and I must have used this myself a thousand times or more) which is used in bending and stress calculations, but is purely a fiddle factor and is used to make the maths work out. The square root of 1 is still argued about in physics calculations, yet it has no real meaning due to mathematicians incorrectly applying normal mathematical rules to graphs.
Millions of hours have been spent trying to out a ‘true’ value for Pi in relation to circles, without mathematicians understanding that it is an impossible task. Each step closer changes the parameters, which means that the numbers after the decimal point will go on forever. I have no doubt that somewhere in the universe there is a mathematical system that will solve many of our problems, but it will not be our current system.
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Then, we’ll learn about forces, momentum , energy, and other concepts in lots of different physical situations. To get the most out of physics , you’ll need a solid understanding of algebra and a basic understanding of trigonometry.
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