View Full Version : Is there more than one type of kinetic energy

Richard Baker
03-16-2000, 02:47 AM
In calculating the total amount of work done on the basis of the movements
of body segments, during gait for example, it is common (Winter 1979,
Pierrynowski 1980, Viswanath 1999) to consider the potential energy, the
translational kinetic energy and the rotational kinetic energy. In
calculating total work done the translational and rotational energy terms
are treated as separate. Is this justified?

It is my understanding that there is just one scalar quantity, kinetic
energy, and that the translational and rotational "components" are simply a
means of calculating this total. Given this surely the total kinetic energy
for each segment should be treated as a single term for the calculation of
total work.

Whilst we are on this subject, there is at least one series of papers which
talks of the forward, lateral and vertical components of translational
kinetic energy (although the use of the terms does not affect the
mathematical analysis). Surely kinetic energy is a scalar and there is no
physical meaning to these "components"?

Am I right? Right, but overly pedantic? Plain wrong?

I'd be interested in anyone's comments.


Richard Baker PhD
Gait Analysis Service Manager
Musgrave Park Hospital, Stockman's Lane, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT9 7JB
Tel: +44 2890 669501 ext 2155 or 2849
Fax: +44 2890 382008

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