Right now on the Canadian Television Network (CTV) they are airing an ad for the upcoming Vancouver Winter Olympics. I want to throttle the copywriter because they equate power with momentum and force, terms which don’t even come close to equating if you use the physics definitions.
I know what you’re thinking. “Larry,” this is your thought, “you are being too anal. Perhaps the copywriter is just using the looser English definitions of these three words.”
Now as much as I hate it, this is usually a bye. Ordinarily I’d have to just take back the threat to the copywriter and bite my tongue.
But, this time the copywriter takes pains to introduce the physics definition of momentum. He defines it as mass times velocity.
Why can’t the copywriter also look up the physics definition of force and power? If he did he would realize that these three terms are indeed very different.
This copywriter has confused a new crop of Canadian physics students. His lack of insight makes it harder for the rest of us to make clear what is meant by physical terms.
I guess I’m mildly pleased that he didn’t use the terms energy, work and inertia to totally take us back to the dark ages. Yes, I shall stick with that old saw, that things could even be worse than they are now. This way I won’t be thrown out of CTV’s copywriting office by a team of large security guards.
Post script. I thought I may have been overstating the idiocy of the copywriter from CTV. So I recorded the ad and transcribed the offending part. The transcription follows:
“Momentum. Momentum is the power that exists in a moving object. It is mass times velocity. It is the fundamental force of motion.”
Power is defined as energy/time. Since they explicitly say “the power that exists in a moving object” they presumably mean kinetic energy / time. But who can tell with such confusion about fundamental definitions?
And how about force being “the fundamental force of motion”? Force is so tied into the concept of motion that its definition is Newton’s Second Law of Motion.
Yup. Guaranteed to confuse the new crop of high school physics students.
Post script 2. I finished this Feb. 1, but will wait till tonight past midnight to publish. That way this B.S. science commercial will be called out on that ultimate B.S. science day : Groundhog Day.