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Confused about the terminology moment

  1. Sep 29, 2013 #1

    I am confused about the terminology moment, specifically that there is a 1st moment and 2nd moment. What does moment even mean, and why does it have numbers associated with them?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    What context is it being used in?
  4. Sep 29, 2013 #3
  5. Sep 29, 2013 #4


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    Gold Member

    Are you referring to the 1st Moment of Area and 2nd Moment of Area?

    If so, these are relations based on the distributions of points in an area, e.g.:
    1st Moment of Area:
    ##S_x = \int_A y {\rm d}A##
    (This is often used to find the centroid of an object.)

    2nd Moment of Area:
    ##I_x = \int_A y^2 {\rm d}A##
    (This is an important quantity in strength of materials/Euler-Bernoulli beam theory.)
  6. Sep 29, 2013 #5
    What the heck does Moment mean though? So before it was torque, now it is something associated with area? Then there is moment of inertia, I am confused with the repeated use of the word moment. Does it have some sort of general meaning?
  7. Sep 29, 2013 #6


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    Moment can be many things. In engineering we often use moment and torque interchangeably.

    Moment of inertia can also have multiple meanings: it can be a measure of how mass is distributed about an axis (mass moment of inertia; used in dynamics) or a measure of how area is distributed about an axis (in strength of materials). This latter definition is also known as the Second Moment of Area.

    You can think of moments as being quantities measured about an axis or surface. More abstractly, in mathematics a moment is a measure about a set of points (this is ultimately where the term comes from). The multiplicity of meaning of the term "moment" can get confusing when you're first exposed to it.
  8. Sep 29, 2013 #7


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    Homework Helper

    There's all kinds of moments. This should help you learn the physics ones:


    Don't worry, there's some moments associated with mathematics, particularly statistics.

    The concept is a general one. You can even find it used in thermodynamics.
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