We live in a time with flaws. There’s terrorism, world hunger, an economic crisis and our education system. Our education system is notorious for it’s glorification of rote learning without any real emphasis on making the learning experience relatable to students in order to help them appreciate the content better.
We can go about this in a couple of ways. We could either spend all our time complaining about it, or we could find a work around. Take for example, the mechanics part of physics. Finding the trajectories of projectiles and spending hours trying to find out whether that block would slide down after all seem mundane and pointless. Maybe they are. But there’s no way you can avoid doing it. Think of it as a rite of passage.
One of the best parts about mechanics is the fact that you actually get to see it in action around you. Any mechanical system can be visualized or simulated using the principles you learn in high school mechanics. Try to question why bikes tip over to one side at such a scary angle when they try to navigate a sharp turn. Why do pulleys work that way? What’s going on in a game of carrom?
True learning happens not from the ‘whats’ and ‘whens’, but from the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’.
For example, ever see those fat things near the wheels under trucks and automobiles in general (you may not notice it in smaller vehicles)? That thing is called the differential. Why put that ugly thing there, you ask? Remember how for the same angular velocity, objects at different radii have different linear velocities?
(v = r*w <- This thing)
So while turning, these wheels turn at different velocities.If it weren’t for the differential, the wheels would be locked together, forcing one of the wheels to slip. The differential divides the engine torque in two ways, allowing the wheels to spin with different velocities.
Did you know that? Neither did I.
Ever wondered why it is usually easier to pull objects like trolleys than push them? The reason is deceptively simple. The normal component of the force you apply while pushing adds to the weight adds to the frictional force, while pulling reduces the effective weight of the trolley in the vertical direction. So keep this in mind the next time you try to impress those girls! 😉
The flaws in the education system never do justice to subjects like this.
The best way to appreciate it is to observe everything around you. Question everything and come up with something. Do you think some contraption around you is stupid? Great! Come up with ways to fix or improve on it.
The next step is to use the right resources. Textbooks aside, look for sources – online and offline – that encourage observation and exploration and don’t just slap a bunch of formulae on your face. Exposure to the right things goes a long way. YouTube has an enormous arsenal of creative videos which help drive your learning process. Do not hesitate to annoy your teachers with all of your doubts. Consult with seniors and people who have experienced this before.
A major part of mechanics is the math. All concepts are represented in simple equations. This could reflect either beauty and slavery, depending on who you are. So go ahead, clench your fists, grit your teeth and solve those differential equations. Knowing how and when to use the tools in your mathematical armoury gets half the job done!
In the end, the world is your oyster and is what you choose to make of it. Your subjects could either be your worst nightmare or just a trip to the park – literally!
At the end of the day, mechanics forms a huge portion of your JEE paper; it is inevitable to study it thoroughly. Read about cracking JEE Advanced mechanics in this article!