35 6.0 Introduction

Two dolphins are shown in a pool at Lisbon Zoo. One is in the water, and the other is in the air diving back into water
Figure 1. Newton’s laws of motion describe the motion of the dolphin’s path. (credit: Jin Jang)

Motion itself can be beautiful, causing us to marvel at the forces needed to achieve spectacular motion, such as that of a dolphin jumping out of the water, or a pole vaulter, or the flight of a bird, or the orbit of a satellite. The study of motion is kinematics, but kinematics only describes the way objects move—their velocity and their acceleration. Kinetics considers the forces that affect the motion of moving objects and systems. Newton’s laws of motion are the foundation of kinetics. These laws provide an example of the breadth and simplicity of principles under which nature functions.

Isaac Newton’s (1642–1727) laws of motion were just one part of the monumental work that has made him legendary. The development of Newton’s laws marks the transition from the Renaissance into the modern era. This transition was characterized by a revolutionary change in the way people thought about the physical universe and describe motion.

Cover page of the first edition of a book, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, written by Isaac Newton.
Figure 2. Isaac Newton’s monumental work, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, was published in 1687. It proposed scientific laws that are still used today to describe the motion of objects. (credit: Service commun de la documentation de l’Université de Strasbourg)


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Biomechanics of Human Movement Copyright © August 22, 2016 by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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