FHSST Physics/Forces/Examples

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The Free High School Science Texts: A Textbook for High School Students Studying Physics.
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Forces
TO DO LIST - Definition - Diagrams - Equilibrium of Forces - Newton's Laws of Motion - Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation - Examples - Important Quantities, Equations, and Concepts

Examples of Forces Studied Later[edit]

Most of physics revolves around forces. Although there are many different forces we deal with them all in the same way. The methods to find resultants and acceleration do not depend on the type of force we are considering.

At first glance, the number of different forces may seem overwhelming - gravity, drag, electrical forces, friction and many others. However, physicists have found that all these forces can be classified into four groups. These are gravitational forces, electromagnetic forces, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force. Even better, all the forces that you will come across at school are either gravitational or electromagnetic. Doesn't that make life easy?

Newtonian Gravity[edit]

Gravity is the attractive force between two objects due to the mass of the objects. When you throw a ball in the air, its mass and the Earth's mass attract each other, which leads to a force between them. The ball falls back towards the Earth, and the Earth accelerates towards the ball. The movement of the Earth toward the ball is, however, so small that you couldn't possibly measure it.

Electromagnetic Forces[edit]

Almost all of the forces that we experience in everyday life are electromagnetic in origin. They have this unusual name because long ago people thought that electric forces and magnetic forces were different things. After much work and experimentation, it has been realised that they are actually different manifestations of the same underlying theory.

The Electric Force[edit]

If we have objects carrying electrical charge, which are not moving, then we are dealing with electrostatic forces (Coulomb's Law). This force is actually much stronger than gravity. This may seem strange, since gravity is obviously very powerful, and holding a balloon to the wall seems to be the most impressive thing electrostatic forces have done, but think about it: for gravity to be detectable, we need to have a very large mass nearby. But a balloon rubbed in someone's hair can stick to a wall with a force so strong that it overcomes the force of gravity - with just the charges in the balloon and the wall!

Magnetic force[edit]

The magnetic force is a different manifestation of the electromagnetic force. It stems from the interaction between moving charges as opposed to the fixed charges involved in Coulomb's Law.

Examples of the magnetic force in action include magnets, compasses, car engines, computer data storage and your hair standing on end. Magnets are also used in the wrecking industry to pick up cars and move them around sites.

= Friction[edit]

Newton's First Law states that an object moving without a force acting on it will keep moving. Then why does a box sliding on a table stop? The answer is friction. Friction arises from the interaction between the molecules on the bottom of a box with the molecules on a table. This interaction is electromagnetic in origin, hence friction is just another view of the electromagnetic force. The great part about school physics is that most of the time we are told to neglect friction but it is good to be aware that there is friction in the real world.

Friction is also useful . If there was no friction and you tried to prop a ladder up against a wall, it would simply slide to the ground. Rock climbers use friction to maintain their grip on cliffs.

Friction is a force that impedes motion. It is in parallel to the contact surface and acts against the motion of the body.

Drag Force[edit]

This is the force an object experiences while travelling through a medium. When something travels through the air it needs to displace air as it travels and because of this the air exerts a force on the object. This becomes an important force when you move fast and a lot of thought is taken to try and reduce the amount of drag force a sports car experiences.

The drag force is very useful for parachutists. They jump from high altitudes and if there was no drag force, then they would continue accelerating all the way to the ground. Parachutes are wide because the more surface area you show, the greater the drag force and hence the slower you hit the ground.