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Momentum Formula

  1. Apr 5, 2015 #1
    While teaching momentum, we use the formula p=mv.

    Every year it comes up as to why the letter p is used in the formula and not other letters or symbols. I have conducted on-line searches and I stumble across explanations that mention Newton and his Principia along with other possible suggestions stated here:


    Is there a reliable source out there that can difinitively explain the p in the formula p=mv?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2015 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    We get similar questions a lot, such as "why m for slope". I think these questions tend to obscure the important thing in the equations: they express relations between quantities, and are not formulas (i.e. recipes) to be memorized and incanted later as needed. No, I don't know why p, but why not p?
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