Mechanics: Motion, Forces, Energy and Gravity, from Particles to Planets

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Description

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About this course: Most of the phenomena in the world around you are, at the fundamental level, based on physics, and much of physics is based on mechanics. Mechanics begins by quantifying motion, and then explaining it in terms of forces, energy and momentum. This allows us to analyse the operation of many familiar phenomena around us, but also the mechanics of planets, stars and galaxies. This on-demand course is recommended for senior high school and beginning university students and anyone with a curiosity about basic physics. (The survey tells us that it's often used by science teachers, too.) The course uses rich multimedia tutorials to present the material: film clips of key expe…

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Didn't find what you were looking for? See also: Mechanical, Physics, Teaching Skills, Biology, and Mathematics.

When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: Most of the phenomena in the world around you are, at the fundamental level, based on physics, and much of physics is based on mechanics. Mechanics begins by quantifying motion, and then explaining it in terms of forces, energy and momentum. This allows us to analyse the operation of many familiar phenomena around us, but also the mechanics of planets, stars and galaxies. This on-demand course is recommended for senior high school and beginning university students and anyone with a curiosity about basic physics. (The survey tells us that it's often used by science teachers, too.) The course uses rich multimedia tutorials to present the material: film clips of key experiments, animations and worked example problems, all with a friendly narrator. You'll do a range of interesting practice problems, and in an optional component, you will use your ingenuity to complete at-home experiments using simple, everyday materials. You will need some high-school mathematics: arithmetic, a little algebra, quadratic equations, and the sine, cosine and tangent functions from trigonometry. The course does not use calculus. However, we do provide a study aid introducing the calculus that would accompany this course if it were taught in a university. By studying mechanics in this course, you will understand with greater depth many of the wonders around you in everyday life, in technology and in the universe at large. Meanwhile, we think you'll have some fun, too.

Created by:  UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales)
  • Taught by:  Prof. Joe Wolfe, Professor

    School of Physics, Faculty of Science
  • Taught by:  Dr Elizabeth J. Angstmann, First Year Physics Director

    School of Physics, Faculty of Science
  • Taught by:  Mr Sebastian Fricke, Teacher and laboratory manager

    School of Physics, Faculty of Science
Level Beginner Commitment 1-4 hours/week Language English How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.3 stars Average User Rating 4.3See what learners said Coursework

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UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales) UNSW Australia, based in Sydney, was established in 1949 and is one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities with more than 50,000 students from over 120 countries. UNSW aspires to provide students with an outstanding educational experience, which both reflects our strong traditions of excellence, innovation and social justice, and builds on our strengths in scientific, technological and professional disciplines.

Syllabus


WEEK 1


Introduction and Basic Tools
This introductory section covers some basic tools you will need to solve some of the physics problems we will encounter later.


5 videos, 2 readings, 4 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Course Welcome
  2. Reading: Course structure and grading
  3. Video: Lesson 1.1: Introduction and Context
  4. Practice Quiz: Introduction and Context
  5. Video: Lesson 1.2: Units and Significant Figures
  6. Practice Quiz: Units and Significant Figures (Important skills in this course!)
  7. Video: Lesson 1.3: Vectors and Scalars
  8. Practice Quiz: Vectors and Scalars
  9. Video: Lesson 1.4: Estimating
  10. Practice Quiz: Estimating
  11. Reading: Week 1 Study Aids

Graded: Start of course survey
Graded: Week 1 Test

WEEK 2


Velocity and Acceleration



Here we introduce kinematics, in which we describe and quantify movement of objects through space over time. Motion is so important to mechanics (and most of physics) that we'll spend a few weeks establishing the tools and techniques we'll need. We'll leave explaining motion to the later weeks, starting with Newton's laws in week 4. Here we study the simplest case: motion in a straight line.


4 videos, 1 reading, 4 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Lesson 2.1: Graphing Displacement and Velocity
  2. Practice Quiz: Graphing Displacement and Velocity
  3. Video: Lesson 2.2: Acceleration
  4. Practice Quiz: Acceleration
  5. Video: Lesson 2.3: Relating Velocity, Acceleration and Displacement
  6. Practice Quiz: Relating Velocity, Acceleration and Displacement
  7. Video: Lesson 2.4: Relative Motion
  8. Practice Quiz: Relative Motion
  9. Reading: Week 2 Study Aids

Graded: Week 2 Test

WEEK 3


Motion in Two Dimensions
Here we look at kinematics in two-dimensions – specifically, projectiles and objects in circular motion.


4 videos, 1 reading, 4 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Lesson 3.1: Projectiles, Falling Vertically Under Gravity
  2. Practice Quiz: Projectiles, Falling Vertically Under Gravity
  3. Video: Lesson 3.2: Combining Vertical and Horizontal Motion
  4. Practice Quiz: Combining Vertical and Horizontal Motion
  5. Video: Lesson 3.3: Trajectories and Range
  6. Practice Quiz: Trajectories and Range
  7. Video: Lesson 3.4: Uniform Circular Motion
  8. Practice Quiz: Uniform Circular Motion
  9. Reading: Week 3 Study Aids
  10. Peer Review: Accelerations in the Wild (optional)

Graded: Week 3 Test

WEEK 4


Newton's Laws of Motion



After describing and quantifying motion (weeks 2 and 3), we now start explaining it with Newton's three laws of motion. Knowledge of Newton's laws and the ability to apply them to various situations will allow us to explain much of the motion we observe in the world around us. They are also very important for analysing things (like bridges) that don't move much (a subject called Statics that's important in some Engineering programs). Because Newton's laws are so important, week 4 has five lessons, as well as slightly longer quizzes than the previous chapters. 


7 videos, 1 reading, 5 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Lesson 4.1: Newton's Laws of Motion
  2. Practice Quiz: Newton's Laws of Motion
  3. Video: Lesson 4.2: Inertial and Non-inertial Frames
  4. Practice Quiz: Inertial and Non-inertial Frames
  5. Video: Lesson 4.3: Newton's Third Law
  6. Practice Quiz: Newton's Third Law
  7. Video: Lesson 4.4: Calculating Total Force
  8. Practice Quiz: Calculating Total Force
  9. Video: Lesson 4.5: Practice Problems
  10. Practice Quiz: Practice Problems
  11. Reading: Week 4 Study Aids
  12. Video: Historical Interlude
  13. Video: The Syllogism

Graded: Week 4 Test

WEEK 5


Weight, Friction and Spring Forces



We return to the difference between weight and mass. We introduce Hooke's law for elastic deformations. We consider forces between objects in contact and (for convenience) resolve them into their normal and frictional components – and as usual give you some problems to solve.


4 videos, 1 reading, 4 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Lesson 5.1: Weight versus Mass
  2. Practice Quiz: Weight versus Mass
  3. Video: Lesson 5.2: Springs and Hooke's Law
  4. Practice Quiz: Springs and Hooke's Law
  5. Video: Lesson 5.3: Normal and Frictional Forces
  6. Practice Quiz: Normal and Frictional Forces
  7. Video: Lesson 5.4: Friction Problems
  8. Practice Quiz: Friction Problems
  9. Reading: Week 5 Study Aids

Graded: Week 5 Test

WEEK 6


Work, Energy and Power



In week 6 we explore work and energy, then power – the rate of doing work. We'll use work and Newton's second law to derive the quantity called kinetic energy. Looking at where work comes from, we'll distinguish two sorts of force – conservative and non-conservative. That will allow us to introduce potential energy and mechanical energy. Power is the rate of doing work. We'll spend some time relating these quantities and their units to your everyday experience, relating Joules to kilowatt hours (the unit used by electricity companies) and kilowatts to horsepower and to human power.


5 videos, 1 reading, 5 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Lesson 6.1: What is Work?
  2. Practice Quiz: What is Work?
  3. Video: Lesson 6.2: Work and Kinetic Energy
  4. Practice Quiz: Work and Kinetic Energy
  5. Video: Lesson 6.3: Work and Potential Energy
  6. Practice Quiz: Work and Potential Energy
  7. Video: Lesson 6.4: Energy Conservation
  8. Practice Quiz: Energy Conservation
  9. Video: Lesson 6.5: Energy, Work and Power
  10. Practice Quiz: Energy, Work and Power
  11. Reading: Week 6 Study Aids
  12. Peer Review: Slip Sliding Away (optional)

Graded: Week 6 Test

WEEK 7


Momentum and Collisions
It’s time for some smashing fun! Once we've defined momentum we'll use momentum to analyse elastic and inelastic collisions. Stand by for hammers, skateboards, car crashes and a bed of nails…


4 videos, 1 reading, 4 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Lesson 7.1: Momentum and Collisions
  2. Practice Quiz: Momentum and Collisions
  3. Video: Lesson 7.2: Impulse and About Collisions
  4. Practice Quiz: Impulse and About Collisions
  5. Video: Lesson 7.3: Centre of Mass, Elastic and Inelastic Collisions
  6. Practice Quiz: Centre of Mass, Elastic and Inelastic Collisions
  7. Video: Lesson 7.4: Problems Involving Collisions
  8. Practice Quiz: Problems Involving Collisions
  9. Reading: Week 7 Study Aids

Graded: Week 7 Test

WEEK 8


Gravity



For as long as history – and probably much longer – people have stared at the planets and stars and wondered. Why do they shine? What keeps them moving? Why don't they fall down? So next is gravity – and how it runs the solar system, the galaxy and the universe. Escape speed, orbits, satellite manoeuvring, black holes: yes, all of the these.


5 videos, 1 reading, 4 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Lesson 8.1: Gravity, Orbits, Planets, Stars...
  2. Practice Quiz: Gravity, Orbits, Planets, Stars...
  3. Video: Lesson 8.2: g Varies with Latitude and Altitude; Gravitational Potential Energy
  4. Practice Quiz: g Varies with Latitude and Altitude; Gravitational Potential Energy
  5. Video: Lesson 8.3: Orbits
  6. Practice Quiz: Orbits
  7. Video: Lesson 8.4: Gravity and Other Forces
  8. Practice Quiz: Gravity and Other Forces
  9. Reading: Week 8 Study Aids
  10. Video: Another Historical Interlude

Graded: Week 8 Test
Graded: End of course survey
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