What is Kinematics?

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Isaac Newton is considered the 'father of classical mechanics'

Isaac Newton is considered the ‘father of classical mechanics’

Mechanics is a field of science that studies how and why things move. The origins of the area of study resulted largely from the work of Galileo and Isaac Newton.


You will often hear the term, Newtonian Physics, when you are studying physics. Newtonian Physics is also known as classical mechanics. Classical Mechanics deals with relatively large physical bodies (anything from something the size of a cell to planets and solar systems) which are moving at relatively slow speeds (basically anything less than the speed of light). Quantum mechanics is another area of mechanics that deals with physical bodies on the atomic level (atoms, quarks, strings) which are moving at or near the speed of light.


Mechanics is a broad area of study that can be further divide into two subcategories:

  1. Kinematics is the study of how things move.
  2. Dynamics is the study of why things move.

In this unit, we will be focusing on kinematics. Kinematics is the foundation of physics and it is very important to have a good understanding of the concepts of kinematics before moving on to more complex areas of physics. We will be describing how things move without getting into the causes of motion.

We will describe motion of a physical body by using following measurements:

  1. Distance
  2. Displacement
  3. Speed
  4. Velocity
  5. Acceleration

We will explore each of these measurements in the sequential lessons.


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