What is Kinematics? - Studying the Motion of Objects

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  • 0:01 The Languages of Science
  • 0:39 What Is Kinematics?
  • 2:04 What Is Not Kinematics?
  • 2:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Hartsock

Angela has taught college Microbiology and has a doctoral degree in Microbiology.

Kinematics is the study of the motion of objects. Kinematics can tell you a lot about motion, but not everything. In this lesson, we will examine the types of questions kinematics can and cannot answer.

The Languages of Science

It has always both fascinated and frustrated me that scientists are always speaking different languages. For example, we can't just say we're studying life. We have to say biology, which is Greek and Latin for studying life. The deeper you dive into the sciences, the more Greek and Latin you're forced to learn.

At first, it seems like you'll never get it all straight. But I want to challenge you. From this point forward, embrace the Greek and Latin. Take the time to break down words and figure out what these scientific terms actually mean. You'll be surprised at how much better you understand the concepts. And how much better you'll do on your exams.

What Is Kinematics?

But you didn't come here for a lecture on understanding the origins of scientific language. You came here to learn about kinematics. Well, let's put our new philosophy to the test. The beginning of the word, 'kinemat-,' is Greek and means 'motion.' The end of the word, '-ics,' is Latin and means 'the study of.' Putting it together, kinematics is 'the study of motion.'

Kinematics deals with any motion of any object. I'm sure you've seen those carpet robots that zip around vacuuming floors. That little robot zips back and forth, stops, turns, speeds up, and hits every corner of the room. But what if you wanted to know how far it traveled, in what direction it moved, how fast it moved, and how quickly it can go from a dead stop to full speed?

These are the exact questions kinematics answers for you. You can use rulers to measure distance traveled, a compass to assess direction, and rulers and timers to figure out the time it takes to travel a certain distance, in other words, the speed and how the speed increases and decreases.

But kinematics is not limited to vacuum cleaners. These same kinds of questions can be answered for any moving object. Kinematics applies to how rapidly your car speeds up after stopping at a red light, where a baseball travels after you've thrown it, and even the paths of stars and planets in the galaxy. If you can see something moving and make measurements, you can use kinematics to figure out the details.

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