basics

Dot Physics

Tag archives for basics

Unit conversions for mere mortals

So, you are taking a college science course. Maybe it is physics, maybe it is chemistry, maybe its a lab. Either way, you always end up with these problems that involve unit conversions. You think you have the hang of it, but sometimes you make some mistakes. Here is my explanation for converting units. Convert…

Pre Reqs: momentum principle, forces,energy, vectors Really, there is not much new here. This is an introduction to objects that interact. To describe this, I will need to pull several different ideas together (that you have probably already looked at). Let me start with a simple case. Suppose I have two objects, maybe they are…

Basics: Potential Energy

**Pre Reqs:** [Work-Energy](http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/2008/10/basics-work-energy.php) You need to be familiar with work and energy to understand this. If you are not familiar, look at the pre requisite link. Ok? Now, let’s begin. Suppose a ball moves from point A (3 m, 3 m) to B (1 m, 1 m) at a constant speed as shown in the…

Basics: Work Energy

**Pre Reqs:** [What is a Force](http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/2008/09/basics-what-is-a-force.php) [Previously, I talked about the momentum principle](http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/2008/10/basics-forces-and-the-momentum-principle.php). Very useful and very fundamental idea. The other big (and useful) idea in introductory physics is the work-energy theorem. Really, with work-energy and momentum principle, you will be like a Jedi with a lightsaber and The Force – extremely powerful. Well, what…

Maybe you know I like numerical calculations, well I do. I think they are swell. [VPython](http://vpython.org) is my tool of choice. In the post [Basics: Numerical Calculations](http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/2008/10/basics-numerical-calculations.php) I used vpython and excel to do something simple. I will do that again today (in that this problem could also be solved analytically). However, there is one…

Basics: Numerical Calculations

**Pre Reqs:** [Kinematics](http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/2008/09/basics-kinematics.php), [Momentum Principle](http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/2008/10/basics-forces-and-the-momentum-principle.php) What are “numerical calculations”? Why are they in the “basics”? I will give you really brief answer and then a more detailed answer. Numerical calculations (also called many other things – like computational physics) takes a problem and breaks into a WHOLE bunch of smaller easier problems. This is great…

**Pre reqs:** [Free Body Diagrams](http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/2008/09/basics-free-body-diagrams.php), [Force](http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/2008/09/basics-what-is-a-force.php) The time has come to look at things that are NOT in equilibrium. The most basic question to ask yourself is: *”What do forces do to an object”*? Aristotle would say that forces make things move. Constant forces make things move constantly. Actually, Aristotle said there were two types…

Basics: Friction

**Pre reqs:** [Free body diagrams](http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/2008/09/basics-free-body-diagrams.php) Friction is an interaction between two objects in contact that opposes relative motion of those two objects. It is not something fundamental (like gravity, or electromagnetic force), but it comes up enough that it will be worthwhile to talk about it. Let me start with a simple example. Suppose I…

Basics: Free Body Diagrams

**Pre Reqs:** [Intro to Forces](http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/2008/09/basics-what-is-a-force.php), [Vectors](http://scienceblogs.com/dotphysics/2008/09/basics-vectors-and-vector-addition.php) Hopefully now you have an idea of what a force is and what it isn’t. What do you do with them? The useful thing to do with forces is to determine the total force acting on an object. At the beginning of the introductory physics course, you will likely…

Basics: What is a Force?

**Pre-reqs:** None. I intend to talk about forces and force diagrams, but there is a more fundamental question to address first. What is a force? Most texts define it as a push or a pull. That really isn’t a bad definition. Maybe a better (or maybe worse) definition would be “forces are things that change…