7R7. Engineering Dynamics: A Primer. - OM O’Reilly (Dept of Mech Eng, UCB, 6137 Etcheverry Hall, Berkeley CA 94720-1740). Springer-Verlag, New York. 2001. 203 pp. Softcover. ISBN 0-387-95145-8. $29.95.

Reviewed by M Pascal (Lab de Modelisation en Mec, Univ Pierre et Marie Curie, Tour 66, 4 Place Jussieu, Paris, 75252 Cedex 05, France).

This book is a standard elementary book aimed at providing an initial background on dynamics of particles and rigid bodies. It is intended for undergraduate students taking an engineering dynamics course. The book is a rather small one (203 pages), divided into ten chapters, followed by two Appendices and a reference list. Each chapter is followed by a summary and several exercises. The book also includes several figures. The topics originate from a course taught by the author at the University of California at Berkeley.

The main part of the book (Chs 1–6) is concerned with the dynamics of one single particle, including kinematics, dynamics, friction forces, spring forces, work and energy, conservative forces, linear and angular momenta. Chapter 7 is devoted to systems of particles, while in Chapters 8 and 9, elementary motions of rigid body (pure translational motion, rotational motion around a fixed axis) are presented. At last, in Chapter 10, the dynamics of material systems composed of a set of particles and rigid bodies is briefly investigated.

The author presents the fundamental laws of the mechanics (balance of the linear momentum, law of action and reaction) without reference to the concept of absolute reference frame (Galilean frame). When the definition of velocity and acceleration is introduced, it is not underlined that all these concepts are relative to the choice of a reference frame: nothing is mentioned about relative and absolute velocities, relative, Coriolis and absolute accelerations. The author provides a systematic approach in four steps to solve dynamical problems. Unfortunately in this method, one of the most important steps involving the determination of the number of degrees of freedom and the choice of the parameters is missing. Another unusual presentation is that for each example, the motion equations are not solved, even for the elementary problem of the motion of a particle under the influence of gravity: the motion equations are solved in this case, but the kind of trajectory (indeed a parabola) is not given.

On the other hand, the book includes several interesting topics, such as Serret-Frenet triad and related formulas, Coulomb friction forces, and collision of particles with several definitions of the restitution coefficient. The kinematics of rolling and sliding of a rigid body in contact with another body is also explained. Interesting illustrative examples like four bar linkage or unbalanced rotor are presented. A set of footnotes provides a short biography of well-known scientists like Euler, Newton, Coulomb, Hook, and so on. As a remark, the author regrets that the works of the Russian scientist Chaplygin have not been translated into English. Obviously, the author did not know that many studies from the work of Chaplygin in the field of non-holonomic systems have been performed and are now available in English!

In conclusion, Engineering Dynamics can provide a first insight about dynamics of particles and rigid bodies to undergraduate students. However, among the numerous textbooks related to the same topics, this reviewer is not convinced that it is the best one. Perhaps, this book can be used as a complement to other more extended texts mainly for the great amount of exercises and also for specific topics like friction problems or rolling and sliding of rigid bodies.