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Re: [Phys-L] Figuring Physics solution Jan 2018

In the context of:

The most interesting thing about particle C2 is
/not/ its speed.

On 01/23/2018 09:04 PM, bernard cleyet wrote:

The separation is more important than the speed?

I said /interesting/ (which is more subjective and transient
than saying "important") and I didn't mean to suggest any
sort of general rule about the importance of PE versus KE.

It's more like that TV show: "Separate but equally important."

OTOH all-too-often one encounters a pedagogical situation
where gross misconceptions have been imparted to the students,
e.g. "thermal energy" being "defined" as a form of microscopic
/kinetic/ energy ... which is wrong coming and going. In
such situations one must put extra emphasis on the PE. For
example, in an ordinary solid material, half of the heat capacity
is explained by KE and the other half is explained by PE.

Also, in any given nontrivial problem, one can probably find
some sub-part in which either the KE or the PE is more
interesting than the other. In a mass-on-a-spring oscillator,
to a first approximation we are interested in the KE of the
mass and the PE of the spring.