Newton's Laws, and
dynamics as a whole, provide us
with fundamental axioms for the study of classical mechanics. Once these
foundations are laid, we can derive new concepts from the axioms, furthering our
understanding of mechanics and allowing us to extend our study to new and more
complex physical situations.
Perhaps the most significant concept derived in dynamics is that of work.
The understanding of work greatly simplifies many physical situations. Work, in
a sense, introduces a dynamic understanding to mechanics. It allows us to
evaluate forces over distance and time, to give us a broader understanding not
just of the forces acting on a given object, but about what happens to that
object over the course of a given journey. In addition, the concept of work
makes our complicated kinematics equations virtually obsolete. It makes
calculations easier, and allows us to extend our study to other realms.
We will begin by defining work, both mathematically and conceptually. Once we
have an understanding of work, we can apply it to a new concept, energy, the
measure of change within a system, and establish the Work-Energy Theorem.
We will also look at power, a practical concept that is derived from work.
Finally, as we begin to explore more complex situations, we will examine work
from a calculus standpoint, and examine variable forces. A good understanding
of work is essential for further studies in physics. Work is not only a gateway
to more advanced mechanics concepts, it is a concept used in all areas of
physics.