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The Nature of Forces

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What is Force? A force is a push or pull that gives energy to an object, sometimes causing it to start moving, stop moving, or slow down.

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Combining Forces Forces occur in pairs and can be either balanced or unbalanced.

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**Balanced forces do not cause a change in motion**

Balanced forces do not cause a change in motion. They are equal in size and can be opposite in direction. Have you ever had an arm wrestling competition with someone? If you compete against someone who is just about as strong as you are, there will probably be a time when both of you are pushing as hard as you can, but your arms stay in the same place. This is an example of balanced forces. The force exerted by each person is equal, but they are pushing in opposite directions, in this case together. It would look something like this.

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Because the force that each of you is exerting is equal, the two forces cancel each other out and the resulting force is zero. Therefore, there is no change in motion. Another great place to see balanced forces in action is in a tug of war. This is similar to an arm wrestling match, only in this case the forces are moving away from each other. Just like in arm wrestling, if the two teams have equal strength, or force, the rope will stay pretty much in the same place. It would look like this. Again the resulting force is zero and there is no change in motion.

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**Unbalanced forces always cause a change in motion**

Unbalanced forces always cause a change in motion. They are not equal and opposite. When two unbalanced forces are exerted in opposite directions, their combined force is equal to the difference between the two forces and is exerted in the direction of the larger force.

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Example One: Think again about the arm wrestling match. Only this time imagine that you are competing against a world famous body builder. Chances are that his force will be much greater than yours. Your arms will move in the direction he is pushing with a force that is equal to his force minus your force. It will look like this.

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Example Two Or imagine that you and your friends are having a tug of war with the U.S. Olympic weight lifting team. Again their force will probably be a little larger than yours. You will move in the direction they are pulling with a force that is equal to their force minus your force. It will look like this.

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Example Three Unbalanced forces can also be exerted in the same direction. For example, imagine that your family's car breaks down on the road and you have to push it into a parking lot. If you and your brother or sister both push on the car, the resulting force on the car will be the sum of your forces and of course be in the direction that you are applying the force. The figure below shows how this would work.

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**Two important things to remember when working with balanced and unbalanced forces are:**

1) forces in the same direction combine by addition, and 2) forces in opposite directions combine by subtraction.

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**Friction: A Force Opposing Motion**

Friction is a force that acts in the opposite direction of the motion; it will cause a moving object to slow down and finally stop.

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The amount of friction depends on factors such as the roughness of the surfaces and the force pushing the surfaces together. The number one way to reduce friction is to add a lubricant.

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**Types of Friction Three types of friction: 1) sliding friction**

2) rolling friction 3) fluid friction (water, oil, air…)

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**Inertia is the property of matter that tends to resist any change in motion.**

The more massive an object is, the more difficult it is to change its motion. (The more massive an object is, the more inertia it has.)

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**Newton’s First Law of Motion**

An object at rest will remain at rest and an object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

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**Newton’s Second Law of Motion**

The second law of motion describes how force, acceleration and mass are related. Force = Mass x Acceleration

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**Newton’s Third Law of Motion**

The third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Another way to state the third law is to say that every force must have an equal and opposite force.

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Newtons Third Law

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**Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation**

This law states that all objects in the universe attract each other by the force of gravity. (The size of the force of gravity depends on the masses of the two objects and the distance between them.)

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**Gravity is a force of attraction that exists between all objects in the universe.**

Acceleration due to gravity at the surface of the Earth is 9.8 m/sec/sec.

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Weight and Mass Weight is a measure of the pull of gravity on an object. Since weight is a force, its unit is the newton (N).

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**Mass is a measure of the amount of matter in an object**

Mass is a measure of the amount of matter in an object. Mass is constant. Mass and weight are not the same. Your mass will always stay the same unless you diet and exercise. Weight can change with location. (On top of a tall mountain, you weigh less, your mass however, remains the same.)

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