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Energy, the Subtle ConceptThe discovery of Feynman's blocks from Leibniz to Einstein$
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Jennifer Coopersmith

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198716747

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716747.001.0001

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Vis viva, the First ‘Block’ of Energy

Vis viva, the First ‘Block’ of Energy

(p.15) 3 Vis viva, the First ‘Block’ of Energy
Energy, the Subtle Concept

Jennifer Coopersmith

Oxford University Press

Galileo brought in ‘time’, the relativity of motion, and v2h; Descartes brought in ‘quantity of motion’ (mv) and ‘work of a machine’ (weight × height); Huygens, from his percussion and compound pendulum experiments, discovered that mv2was constant; he analysed percussion by appealing to symmetries and conservation laws, and was the first to use ‘Galilean Relativity’ quantitatively(in a thought experiment). Newton brought ‘force’ into an anaemic forceless world and founded Newtonian mechanics. Finally, Leibniz seized upon mv2as ‘live force’, the cause of all effect in the universe. His new dynamics was modern in all respects except that he didn’t recognize the ‘motion of the small parts’ as—heat. Newton was not particularly interested in engines and missed seeing the significance of mv2.

Keywords:   Galileo, Descartes, Huygens, Newton, Leibniz, Galilean Relativity, mv2, vis viva, quantity of motion, work of machine

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