Mechanics, Heat, and the Human Body

Prentice Hall
Howard D. Goldick  
Total pages
August 2001
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For one-semester, introductory-level courses in Applied Physics. Especially well-suited for students preparing to study Occupational or Physical Therapy.

This unique introduction to physics for students who are particularly interested in the human body covers a limited number of distinct physics topics (related to mechanics and heat) in great depth and with many examples and problems that relate directly to specific functions and characteristics of the human body.


  • Focus on major topics-Mechanics and Heat . explores these topics in great depth with many examples and problems relating directly to the human body. Gives special emphasis to topics such as equilibrium problems involving joints (e.g., hip, knee, elbow and lower back), heat generation within the body, and heat transfer both within the body and between the body and the environment.
    • Demonstrates the roles that physics and mathematical analysis play in understanding the body. Ex.___

  • Quantitative presentation-Each topic is developed quantitatively using introductory-level algebra. Analysis requiring critical reasoning is employed throughout.
    • Many students have qualitative knowledge of aspects of the human body. E.g., “You should bend your knees when you lift.” The application of quantitative analysis to these and many other human body activities shows to a much greater degree just how dangerous it is to bend over to pick something up, etc. Through examples and problems, the student learns not only about the body but the utility of quantitative analysis. Ex.___

  • Guides to the analytic method-Each type of problem is represented by a set of steps that provides a guide to the analytical method.
    • Students often become overwhelmed with what they perceive as a vast collection of formulas and techniques. The use of step-by-step procedures and the repetitive use of basic formulas works to reduce this cause of anxiety. Ex.___

  • Applications examples and problems-Features sequences of examples that lead to understanding of the need for and proper use of a cane, and the need for heat transfer from the body to the environment during exercise and the relative contributions of the various mechanisms (convection, radiation, evaporation of sweat).
    • Spans a range from straight-forward application of basic physics principles to those requiring significant analysis. Ex.___

  • Answers to all of the quantitative problems are provided-The results of the examples and problems are themselves, part of the process of learning about the body.
    • Enables students to gain useful information from examples and problems, not just “do physics.” Ex.___

  • Anatomy of the body-Discussed at a level sufficient for understanding the examples and problems. Does not assume a previous anatomy course.
    • Provides a link to material that students may have already studied and reduces the need to refer to other texts for drawings, data, etc. Ex.___

  • Modeling-Used throughout. E.g. muscles are treated as if they are simple line forces-but the results of the analyses are illustrative of the body's functions.
    • Provides examples and problems that are as realistic as possible. Ex.___

  • SI and USA systems of units throughout.
    • Allows students who are much more familiar with the USA system to focus on the concepts developed, yet gives them the opportunity to learn the new system at the same time. Ex.___

  • Tables-Indicate sources of the data by the use of superscripted symbols that are keyed to entries in the bibliography.
    • Gives students access to real data to solve problems. Ex.___

Table of Contents




1. Linear Motion and Force.

Motion. Force. Vectors. Newton's Second Law. Centripetal Force. Momentum and Impulse.

2. Angular Motion and Torque.

Angular Motion. Torque: Introduction. Mechanical Advantage.

3. Heat and Energy.

Introduction to Heat and Energy. Mechanical Energy. Conservation of Energy. Internal Energy. Chemical Energy. Measurement of the rate of energy consumption. Elastic Energy. Nuclear Energy. Thermal Energy and Efficiency. Thermal Energy Related to Change in Temperature. Latent Heat. Thermal Energy Transfer.

Appendix 1: Conversion Factors.

Appendix 2: Scientific Notation.

Appendix 3: Significant Figures.

Appendix 4: Mathematical Prefixes.

Appendix 5: Solving Word Problems.

Appendix 6: Algebra.

Appendix 7: Trigonometry.

Appendix 8: Reasonable Values for Physical Quantities, as Used in the Text.

Appendix 9: Anatomy.



Back Cover

The first basic physics book written specifically for students pursuing careers in physical and occupational therapy, Mechanics, Heat and the Human Body emphasizes physics principles as they relate to the human body. Using a wealth of problems taken from human and animal anatomy and physiology, this accessible book provides readers with an understanding of the physics that influence human movement.


  • Presents a wide range of examples and problems that demonstrate basic physics concepts as they relate to human movement, increasing readers' understanding of both physics and why and how physical therapy methods work.
  • Emphasizes topics such as equilibrium problems involving joints (e.g., hip, knee, elbow, and lower back), heat generation within the body, and heat transfer both within the body and between the body and the environment.
  • Each topic is developed quantitatively using high-school-level algebra (linear equations, simultaneous equations), trigonometric functions, and vectors, making topics more accessible to readers.
  • SI and USA systems of units are used throughout, allowing readers to use the system with which they are most familiar.