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Etymological link between moments and momentum?

  1. Jun 4, 2010 #1
    What is the common origin of the terms:
    (1) "moment" as in "moment of interia"
    (2) "moment" as in the math terms first moment, second moment, etc.
    (3) "momentum"?

    The first two are somewhat easy to see, though I'd like see someone familiar with it spell it out. But I've always wondered about (3).
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 12, 2010 #2

    Anyone? How is momentum related to the concept of moment?
  4. Nov 12, 2010 #3


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    hi pellman! :smile:

    my smith's latin-english dictionary (3rd edition, 1933) defines momentum, i, n, [contracted from movimentum, from the verb moveo, i move] as …

    I. a movement, motion

    II. a moving force, impulse

    (both are supported by quotations from cicero and ovid)
  5. Nov 12, 2010 #4


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    The common origin is "momentum", which itself must be a contraction of a pre-existing latin word, as tiny-tim mentions.

    The other meanings arose later.

    A speculative reconstruction: 'momentum' was thought of as akin to weight. Weights on a pair of scales that are unbalanced make the scale tip over, hence 'moment' as akin to torque.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010
  6. Nov 12, 2010 #5


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    pellman, I think you should get an award for having the longest patience...waiting 4 months before bumping a thread :biggrin:!

    It chaps my hide when people do it after 20 minutes!
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