Mechanical Comprehension Flash Card Set 151491

Cards 10
Topics Block and Tackle, Gear Trains, Hydraulic Pressure, Modulus of Elasticity, Pascal's Law, Power, Screw, Specific Gravity, Torque

Study Guide

Block and Tackle

Two or more pulleys used together constitute a block and tackle which, unlike a fixed pulley, does impart mechanical advantage as a function of the number of pulleys that make up the arrangement. So, for example, a block and tackle with three pulleys would have a mechanical advantage of three.

Gear Trains

Connected gears of different numbers of teeth are used together to change the rotational speed and torque of the input force. If the smaller gear drives the larger gear, the speed of rotation will be reduced and the torque will increase. If the larger gear drives the smaller gear, the speed of rotation will increase and the torque will be reduced.

Hydraulic Pressure

Hydraulics is the transmission of force through the use of liquids. Liquids are especially suited for transferring force in complex machines because they compress very little and can occupy very small spaces. Hydraulic pressure is calculated by dividing force by the area over which it is applied: P = F/A where F is force in pounds, A is area in square inches, and the resulting pressure is in pounds per square inch (psi).

Modulus of Elasticity

The modulus of elasticity measures how much a material or structure will deflect under stress. Stretch modulus is longitudinal stretch (like stretching raw bread dough), shear modulus is longitudinal deflection (like the horizontal displacement of a stack of magzines when a heavy object is placed upon them), and bulk modulus is compression of volume (like the compression of a loaf of bread under a heavy can at the bottom of a grocery bag).

Pascal's Law

Pascal's law states that a pressure change occurring anywhere in a confined incompressible fluid is transmitted throughout the fluid such that the same change occurs everywhere. For a hydraulic system, this means that a pressure applied to the input of the system will increase the pressure everywhere in the system.


Power is the rate at which work is done, P = w/t, or work per unit time. The watt (W) is the unit for power and is equal to 1 joule (or newton-meter) per second. Horsepower (hp) is another familiar unit of power used primarily for rating internal combustion engines. A 1 hp machine does 550 ft⋅lb of work in 1 second and 1 hp equals 746 watts.


A screw is an inclined plane wrapped in ridges (threads) around a cylinder. The distance between these ridges defines the pitch of the screw and this distance is how far the screw advances when it is turned once. The mechanical advantage of a screw is its circumference divided by the pitch.

Specific Gravity

Specific gravity is the ratio of the density of equal volumes of a substance and water and is measured by a hyrdometer.


Torque measures force applied during rotation: τ = rF. Torque (τ, the Greek letter tau) = the radius of the lever arm (r) multiplied by the force (F) applied. Radius is measured from the center of rotation or fulcrum to the point at which the perpendicular force is being applied. The resulting unit for torque is newton-meter (N-m) or foot-pound (ft-lb).