View Full Version : Re: Centrifugal and the other wrong forces

Arnold Mitnitski
12-11-2000, 06:59 PM
Dear all and everybody,

Probably because of my laziness I did not go back through the BIOMECH
archives to a discussion in March, 1999 on this subject before writing
this letter, though I think that Prof. Gottlieb gave a good advice. If
I (and not only me, as I can see) did not find time to look at this
materials readily available with a click of the mouse, why to be
surprised that somebody did not have time (or energy, not necessarily
kinetic one, though it is not excluded) to read some good books in
mechanics, specifically the chapters devoted to two basic concepts:
"inertial frame of reference" and "relative motion". Theoretical
mechanics (sometimes called "classical") had been developed a while ago
and good OLD books have all the information necessary to understand the
concepts as well as to apply them. I've got an impression that
contemporary manuals (I did see some of them) are very much biased
towards the applications. I am not complaining about that, at all, but
it seems that "public opinion" is to leave the Theory and basic concepts
for Physics. May be it is possible to design bridges, mechanisms and
even robots without such concepts (I tempted to say, without
understanding what the laws of Newton are all about, but I don't say
that!) especially if any software is available. I am not so sure that
for satellite dynamics it is enough, however. But Space problems are not
the most important yet, at least for biomechanics. Trying to finish
this message with a more optimistic tone, I am thinking what book may be
recommended to get insight into the concepts of Inertial Systems and
Relative Movement. I know some excellent books in Russian (may the best
is classical "Physical Foundations of Mechanics", by Khaikin published
sometimes around 50s) bit I don't know if English translation is
available. You will probably find it curious that during Stalin, it was
a noisy discussion in Russia about inertial forces, they were condemned
to be the wrong concepts and the scientists who were not very careful in
introducing them to the students could be considered as the ideological
enemies and could be persecuted (some of them were, and D'Alambert would
be the first if he was alive). What I like about the present discussion
is that nobody will be persecuted (either feel offended, I hope) and may
voice any opinion openly and freely. Is it not a triumph of our
democracy? Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas!

Arnold B. Mitnitski

Ecole Polytechnique, Applied Mechanics Dept. P.O. Box 6079,
Station "centre- ville", Montreal, PQ, H3C 3A7, Canada
Tel.:(514) 340-4711 X-4861; Fax: (514) 340-4176
E-mail: arnold@grbb.polymtl.ca; armitn@meca.polymtl.ca
web: http://www.grbb.polymtl.ca/~arnold

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