Mechanical Comprehension Flash Card Set 518535

Cards 10
Topics Block and Tackle, Efficiency, Fixed Pulley, Force Lines of Action, Gravitational Potential Energy, Hydraulic Pressure, Inclined Plane, Kinetic Energy, Modulus of Elasticity, Potential Energy

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.


The efficiency of a machine describes how much of the power put into the machine is turned into movement or force. A 100% efficient machine would turn all of the input power into output movement or force. However, no machine is 100% efficient due to friction, heat, wear and other imperfections that consume input power without delivering any output.

Fixed Pulley

A fixed pulley is used to change the direction of a force and does not multiply the force applied. As such, it has a mechanical advantage of one. The benefit of a fixed pulley is that it can allow the force to be applied at a more convenient angle, for example, pulling downward or horizontally to lift an object instead of upward.

Force Lines of Action

Collinear forces act along the same line of action, concurrent forces pass through a common point and coplanar forces act in a common plane.

Gravitational Potential Energy

Gravitational potential energy is energy by virtue of gravity. The higher an object is raised above a surface the greater the distance it must fall to reach that surface and the more velocity it will build as it falls. For gravitational potential energy, PE = mgh where m is mass (kilograms), h is height (meters), and g is acceleration due to gravity which is a constant (9.8 m/s2).

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).

Inclined Plane

An inclined plane is a simple machine that reduces the force needed to raise an object to a certain height. Work equals force x distance and, by increasing the distance that the object travels, an inclined plane reduces the force necessary to raise it to a particular height. In this case, the mechanical advantage is to make the task easier. An example of an inclined plane is a ramp.

Kinetic Energy

Kinetic energy is the energy of movement and is a function of the mass of an object and its speed: \(KE = {1 \over 2}mv^2\) where m is mass in kilograms, v is speed in meters per second, and KE is in joules. The most impactful quantity to kinetic energy is velocity as an increase in mass increases KE linearly while an increase in speed increases KE exponentially.

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).

Potential Energy

Potential energy is the energy of an object by virtue of its position relative to other objects. It is energy that has the potential to be converted into kinetic energy.