My weblog ELECTRON BLUE, which concentrated on science and mathematics, ran from 2004-2008. It is no longer being updated. My current blog, which is more art-related, is here.

Mon, 16 Jan, 2006

Potential and kinetic

I'm into a new chapter in my physics studies. A reading from the Book of Conceptual Physics:

"Energy is the ability to do work. There are many types of energy, including electrical energy, heat, and nuclear energy. In this chapter we will be concerned primarily with with two types of energy: gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy."

This is the word of the, uh, Cosmic Order-Logos. There is mental energy and imagination energy, too, but no word on whether this also follows the rules for physical energy. And what of mental friction, the endlessly nagging lack of confidence, the nay-saying notions which relentlessly drag at me, and the underlying fear that my whole project is going nowhere? How is work defined? In newton/meters? Joules? Or in questions answered and problems solved?

The Book of Conceptual Physics is actually my early introductory text, BASIC PHYSICS, A self-teaching guide, by Karl Kuhn. I got this one long before I got Schaum's Outline. It has only mild mathematics, no more than basic algebra, and its teaching is very simplified. The printing and the graphics are easy to see and read, and it has a patient, easygoing attitude toward the reader, rather than the concentrated verbiage and numbrage of Schaum's. It's just right for my first encounter with important physics concepts, before I work on the heavier weight (mass times intellectual gravity) of Schaum's.

And so it is in Kuhn's text where I finally have been formally introduced to the equation for kinetic energy, which is the basis for That Famous Einstein Equation, as science writer David Bodanis made clear in his book about it. Kuhn of necessity only gives the formula, without its derivation, so the Kuhn book is of the "plug-in" school when it comes to physics. This formulaic approach is always condemned by sophisticated physics teachers, but I feel the need to keep this simple and memorized before I am faced with its derivations and complexities.

I regard physics formulas and concepts as if they were learned, high-placed authorities, into whose presence I am being introduced, as if I were meeting ambassadors or admirals. I must be excruciatingly polite, and not say anything out of order, and keep a respectful distance until I am cleared to work with them. So, good day, Doctor MV2. I hope that I will be able to work well in your service.

Posted at 2:43 am | link

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