Kinematics

Kinematics is the study of motion. It is the branch of classical mechanics that describes the motion of objects or groups of objects. It is concerned with how objects move, not why they move, and is often referred to as the geometry of motion.

Fun Facts

• An understanding of motion is critical in understanding other aspects of physics. Everything from a soccer game to a satellite orbiting the earth involves motion.
• Mathematics plays an important part in kinematics. Algebraic geometry is used and kinematics can be simplified into purely mathematical functions.
• Kinematics describes motion by studying the paths of points, lines, and other geometric objects in space. Equations can be used to calculate various characteristics of motion like displacement, velocity, acceleration, and time.
• With information about things like direction, magnitude, and time, predictions can be made about the motion of objects.
• Astrophysicists use kinematics to describe the motion of celestial bodies and systems. There is endless motion in space as objects orbit other objects and also rotate, such as the rotation of the earth on its own axis.
• The word “kinematics” comes from the Greek word “kinesis” which means motion. Cinema is a related word that we are familiar with. We think of it as a place to go to see a movie, but it’s word origin has to do with motion, or moving pictures.
• Kinesiology is also a related word. It is the study of human and non-human animal body movement. This study of movement applies to many things such as; health and well-being, exercise, sports, rehabilitation, and even psychology.
• Kinematics is a basic part of the study of physics. Physics is basically the study of how things work, and motion is involved in everything from simple experiments to study of the universe.
• Stellar kinematics is the study of the movement of stars. The observable changes in position of stars throughout the year have to do with the rotation of the earth, but stars do actually move. They are just so far away that we can’t detect the movement.

Vocabulary

1. Displacement: The change in position of an object. It is not concerned with the path the object took, but the comparison of the original position and the ending position.
2. Astrophysicist: A scientist who tries to understand the universe and its celestial bodies like planets, stars, galaxies using the laws of physics.