# Physics of power

Taking all this into consideration, which punches harder, a large person or a small person? The large person has bigger muscles and more mass, but it requires more muscle power to move the greater mass so acceleration and velocity of the punch is reduced. The smaller person has smaller muscles and less mass, but the acceleration and velocity of the punch is greater. This, striking pressures of the two punches may actually be equal. The striking force of a speeding bullet and speeding locomotive may be equal, but which would you rather be hit by?

A larger person has more reach, more mass to absorb blows, and more strength. The farther a punch travels, the more time it has to accelerate, so a larger person with longer arms may generate more power. However, it takes more time to cover the longer distance, which may give the smaller person time to avoid or block the punch. John Jerome, in his work The Sweet Spot in Time, states that large, muscular athletes are generally faster than smaller, thinner people when moving about. So, in general, a large person hits with more force than a small person.

The momentum of an object is its mass multiplied by its velocity. By adding up the momentum of all individual objects in a system, the system's total momentum can be calculated. In a "closed" system, the net momentum never changes. This is a useful fact when analyzing an impact, because we know that the total momentum of the system will be the same after the impact as it was before the impact, even though the momentum of its parts may have changed. Momentum is a "vector" quantity, which means that two equal masses moving in opposite directions with the same velocity have zero net momentum.

Energy takes many forms, such as the kinetic energy of a moving mass. Energy is a "scalar" quantity, which means that two equal masses moving at the same velocity have the same total kinetic energy, regardless of their direction of movement. The kinetic energy of an object is equal to half its mass times the square of its velocity.

Energy, like momentum, is always conserved. However, sometimes it changes from kinetic energy, which is easily observed by measuring velocities and masses, to other forms that are harder to measure, most notably heat. The process of changing kinetic energy to heat is usually damaging to the material being heated. If the material is human tissue, it can be crushed, torn, or broken by the conversion of kinetic energy to heat. If the material is wood, it will break. A process that slowly or gradually converts kinetic energy to heat is usually called friction. A process that suddenly converts kinetic energy to heat is called an inelastic collision.