Feb 2nd 2015

How Stuff Moves, Part 1: Linear Motion (edX)

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A Calculus-based introduction to Newtonian mechanics that emphasizes problem-solving.


Mechanics is the study of how things move. It was the first quantitative science to achieve wide power to predict behavior, including things never before directly observed. Newton, Leibniz, and others invented calculus to describe motion and we will find both differential and integral calculus extremely useful throughout this course.

This is the first in a 3-part series of courses that parallels the second-semester mechanics course taught at Harvey Mudd College. Part 1 explores the concepts of momentum, force, and energy, and how these properties define the motion of objects at everyday speeds. Part 2 examines angular motion, and Part 3 examines wave motion. This course is an invitation to develop your problem-solving skills and to learn how to apply mathematics to all sorts of problems of the physical world. Learning the rules that govern how stuff moves in the world around us is exciting; using those rules to predict correctly something that you haven’t observed means that you really understand something. It‘s a great feeling.