FHSST Physics/Newtonian Gravitation/Terminal Velocity

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Newtonian Gravitation The Free High School Science Texts: A Textbook for High School Students Studying Physics Main Page - << Previous Chapter (Collisions and Explosions) - Next Chapter (Pressure) >> Properties - Mass and Weight - Normal Forces - Comparative Problems - Falling Bodies - Terminal Velocity - Drag Force - Important Equations and Quantities

Terminal Velocity

Physics is all about being simple - all we do is look at the world around us and notice how it really works. It is the one thing everyone is qualified to do - we spend most of our time when we are really young experimenting to find out how things work.

Take a book - wave it in the air - change the angle and direction. what happens of course there is resistance. different angles make it greater - the faster the book moves the greater it is. The bigger the area of the book moving in the direction of motion the greater the force.

So we know that air resistance exists! it is a force. So what happens when an object falls? of course there is air resistance - or drag as it is normally called. There is an approximate formula for the drag force as well.

The important thing to realise is that when the drag force and the gravitational force are equal for a falling body there is no net force acting on it - which means no net acceleration. That does not mean it does not move - but it means that its speed does not change.

It falls at a constant velocity! This velocity is called terminal velocity.