Kinetic Energy, And Her Slacker Brother, Potential Energy.








Letter K

The funny thing about Physics? It doesn’t matter if you’re thinking about it non-stop, or you gave it up for Lent in the 3rd grade and never looked back, Physics thinks about you. “Yea, right Zulu; like anyone in the third grade knows about Lent or Physics!” (Whoa….Catholic Jokes). That’s the thing about Physics, it’s omnipresent; going about its business with no regard for recognition, praise, or glory, and yet so deft, that often, when it appears we almost miss it.

There’s the times when we read, study, or observe physics in definitions, mathematical formulas, and working models, and the other times we aim to understand concepts better in “real-time and means.”

I could talk about kinetic and potential energy in deep and complex terms (if I had a 3rd grader around to explain it to me), but I love the times when someone shows me in a simple but perfect example, and helps me understand things maybe I should already know, but forgot, misplaced, or confused. This occurred one time when I was watching a long ago cancelled TV show; but one of my favorites, Joan Of Arcadia. The Science teacher is walking around the room with a Yo-yo in her hand. With the device at eye level, and still, she screams out Potential! With a flip of the wrist, she cracks the Yo-yo and down and out the toy spins while screaming out KINETIC! “Potential-Kinetic!! Potential-Kinetic!!  Potential-Kinetic!!” Spectacular!

Could you imagine life at the Energy Household? ; Kinetic yells at her brother, “it’s your turn to take out the trash.” “Quit bugging me!” yells Potential, “I’m going to take out the trash. I said I would do it 10 times!” Two hours later while Potential lies on the couch, Kinetic walks by with the trash in her hand on the way out. “Loser” she says.

The other day out on the bike path, a young kid passed 3 of us on our road bikes. He was riding a razor scooter with a “see-saw” foot pump like the one in the picture above. After a bit, Cyndi said; “I don’t get it. That kid has smaller tires, is working way harder than us, and weaving around wasting energy, but yet he continues to hold his lead over us, and we’re moving along pretty good. I understand some physics, but it doesn’t make sense.”

“Oh,” I said knowing, Physics was out for the ride on a beautiful day, just like us. “It’s not about physics; he’s uncover; the science, not the kid.” I said. She looked at me oddly (yea, I know, I know; don’t say it) and I continued; “It’s about anatomy, and biology. That kid is about 14 years old. He’s probably working on 15 hours of sleep, and “jacked up” on Mountain Dew and 4 boxes of Sour Patch gummy candy, while he’s on his way over to his friend’s house who just thinks he’s there to play video games, unaware his friend only came over because he has a crush on his sister.”

She burst out laughing. “That Physics is clever; hiding like that.”

“Very,” I said.




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