5.2 Classification and behavior of forces by Benjamin Crowell,licensed under the .
|vCalc Companion Formulas|
|vCalc Formulary||5.2 Classification and behavior of forces|
|`F_(s,max)=mu_s*F_N`||Max Static Friction Force|
One of the most basic and important tasks of physics is to classify the forces of nature. I have already referred informally to “types” of forces such as friction, magnetism, gravitational forces, and so on. Classification systems are creations of the human mind, so there is always some degree of arbitrariness in them. For one thing, the level of detail that is appropriate for a classification system depends on what you're trying to find out. Some linguists, the “lumpers,” like to emphasize the similarities among languages, and a few extremists have even tried to find signs of similarities between words in languages as different as English and Chinese, lumping the world's languages into only a few large groups. Other linguists, the “splitters,” might be more interested in studying the differences in pronunciation between English speakers in New York and Connecticut. The splitters call the lumpers sloppy, but the lumpers say that science isn't worthwhile unless it can find broad, simple patterns within the seemingly complex universe.
h / A scientific classification system.
Scientific classification systems are also usually compromises between practicality and naturalness. An example is the question of how to classify flowering plants. Most people think that biological classification is about discovering new species, naming them, and classifying them in the class-order-family-genus-species system according to guidelines set long ago. In reality, the whole system is in a constant state of flux and controversy. One very practical way of classifying flowering plants is according to whether their petals are separate or joined into a tube or cone --- the criterion is so clear that it can be applied to a plant seen from across the street. But here practicality conflicts with naturalness. For instance, the begonia has separate petals and the pumpkin has joined petals, but they are so similar in so many other ways that they are usually placed within the same order. Some taxonomists have come up with classification criteria that they claim correspond more naturally to the apparent relationships among plants, without having to make special exceptions, but these may be far less practical, requiring for instance the examination of pollen grains under an electron microscope.
In physics, there are two main systems of classification for forces. At this point in the course, you are going to learn one that is very practical and easy to use, and that splits the forces up into a relatively large number of types: seven very common ones that we'll discuss explicitly in this chapter, plus perhaps ten less important ones such as surface tension, which we will not bother with right now.
l / Kinetic friction: the car skids.
Physicists, however, are obsessed with finding simple patterns, so recognizing as many as fifteen or twenty types of forces strikes them as distasteful and overly complex. Since about the year 1900, physics has been on an aggressive program to discover ways in which these many seemingly different types of forces arise from a smaller number of fundamental ones. For instance, when you press your hands together, the force that keeps them from passing through each other may seem to have nothing to do with electricity, but at the atomic level, it actually does arise from electrical repulsion between atoms. By about 1950, all the forces of nature had been explained as arising from four fundamental types of forces at the atomic and nuclear level, and the lumping-together process didn't stop there. By the 1960's the length of the list had been reduced to three, and some theorists even believe that they may be able to reduce it to two or one. Although the unification of the forces of nature is one of the most beautiful and important achievements of physics, it makes much more sense to start this course with the more practical and easy system of classification. The unified system of four forces will be one of the highlights of the end of your introductory physics sequence.
j / A model that correctly explains many properties of friction. The microscopic bumps and holes in two surfaces dig into each other.
i / A practical classification scheme for forces.
The practical classification scheme which concerns us now can be laid out in the form of the tree shown in figure. The most specific types of forces are shown at the tips of the branches, and it is these types of forces that are referred to in the POFOSTITO mnemonic. For example, electrical and magnetic forces belong to the same general group, but Newton's third law would never relate an electrical force to a magnetic force.
The broadest distinction is that between contact and noncontact forces, which has been discussed in ch.. Among the contact forces, we distinguish between those that involve solids only and those that have to do with fluids, a term used in physics to include both gases and liquids.
It should not be necessary to memorize this diagram by rote. It is better to reinforce your memory of this system by calling to mind your commonsense knowledge of certain ordinary phenomena. For instance, we know that the gravitational attraction between us and the planet earth will act even if our feet momentarily leave the ground, and that although magnets have mass and are affected by gravity, most objects that have mass are nonmagnetic.
k / Static friction: the tray doesn't slip on the waiter's fingers.
? A bullet, flying horizontally, hits a steel wall. What type of force is there between the bullet and the wall?
? Starting at the bottom of the tree, we determine that the force is a contact force, because it only occurs once the bullet touches the wall. Both objects are solid. The wall forms a vertical plane. If the nose of the bullet was some shape like a sphere, you might imagine that it would only touch the wall at one point. Realistically, however, we know that a lead bullet will flatten out a lot on impact, so there is a surface of contact between the two, and its orientation is vertical. The effect of the force on the bullet is to stop the horizontal motion of the bullet, and this horizontal acceleration must be produced by a horizontal force. The force is therefore perpendicular to the surface of contact, and it's also repulsive (tending to keep the bullet from entering the wall), so it must be a normal force.
m / Many landfowl, even those that are competent fliers, prefer to escape from a predator by running upward rather than by flying. This partridge is running up a vertical tree trunk. Humans can't walk up walls because there is no normal force and therefore no frictional force; when `FN=0`, the maximum force of static friction `F_(s,max)=mu_sF_N` is also zero. The partridge, however, has wings that it can flap in order to create a force between it and the air. Typically when a bird flaps its wings, the resulting force from the air is in the direction that would tend to lift the bird up. In this situation, however, the partridge changes its style of flapping so that the direction is reversed. The normal force between the feet and the tree allows a nonzero static frictional force. The mechanism is similar to that of a spoiler fin on a racing car. Some evolutionary biologists believe that when vertebrate flight first evolved, in dinosaurs, there was first a stage in which the wings were used only as an aid in running up steep inclines, and only later a transition to flight. (Redrawn from a figure by K.P. Dial.)
Diagram is meant to be as simple as possible while including most of the forces we deal with in everyday life. If you were an insect, you would be much more interested in the force of surface tension, which allowed you to walk on water. I have not included the nuclear forces, which are responsible for holding the nuclei of atoms, because they are not evident in everyday life.
You should not be afraid to invent your own names for types of forces that do not fit into the diagram. For instance, the force that holds a piece of tape to the wall has been left off of the tree, and if you were analyzing a situation involving scotch tape, you would be absolutely right to refer to it by some commonsense name such as “sticky force.”
On the other hand, if you are having trouble classifying a certain force, you should also consider whether it is a force at all. For instance, if someone asks you to classify the force that the earth has because of its rotation, you would have great difficulty creating a place for it on the diagram. That's because it's a type of motion, not a type of force!
A normal force, `F_N`, is a force that keeps one solid object from passing through another. “Normal” is simply a fancy word for “perpendicular,” meaning that the force is perpendicular to the surface of contact. Intuitively, it seems the normal force magically adjusts itself to provide whatever force is needed to keep the objects from occupying the same space. If your muscles press your hands together gently, there is a gentle normal force. Press harder, and the normal force gets stronger. How does the normal force know how strong to be? The answer is that the harder you jam your hands together, the more compressed your flesh becomes. Your flesh is acting like a spring: more force is required to compress it more. The same is true when you push on a wall. The wall flexes imperceptibly in proportion to your force on it. If you exerted enough force, would it be possible for two objects to pass through each other? No, typically the result is simply to strain the objects so much that one of them breaks.
As we'll discuss in more detail later in the course, a gravitational force exists between any two things that have mass. In everyday life, the gravitational force between two cars or two people is negligible, so the only noticeable gravitational forces are the ones between the earth and various human-scale objects. We refer to these planet-earth-induced gravitational forces as weight forces, and as we have already seen, their magnitude is given by `|FW|=mg`.
? Solved problem: Weight and mass — problem 26
If you have pushed a refrigerator across a kitchen floor, you have felt a certain series of sensations. At first, you gradually increased your force on the refrigerator, but it didn't move. Finally, you supplied enough force to unstick the fridge, and there was a sudden jerk as the fridge started moving. Once the fridge was unstuck, you could reduce your force significantly and still keep it moving.
While you were gradually increasing your force, the floor's frictional force on the fridge increased in response. The two forces on the fridge canceled, and the fridge didn't accelerate. How did the floor know how to respond with just the right amount of force? Figureshows one possible model of friction that explains this behavior. (A scientific model is a description that we expect to be incomplete, approximate, or unrealistic in some ways, but that nevertheless succeeds in explaining a variety of phenomena.) Figure /1 shows a microscopic view of the tiny bumps and holes in the surfaces of the floor and the refrigerator. The weight of the fridge presses the two surfaces together, and some of the bumps in one surface will settle as deeply as possible into some of the holes in the other surface. In /2, your leftward force on the fridge has caused it to ride up a little higher on the bump in the floor labeled with a small arrow. Still more force is needed to get the fridge over the bump and allow it to start moving. Of course, this is occurring simultaneously at millions of places on the two surfaces.
q / Fluid friction depends on the fluid's pattern of flow, so it is more complicated than friction between solids, and there are no simple, universally applicable formulas to calculate it. From top to bottom: supersonic wind tunnel, vortex created by a crop duster, series of vortices created by a single object, turbulence.
Once you had gotten the fridge moving at constant speed, you found that you needed to exert less force on it. Since zero total force is needed to make an object move with constant velocity, the floor's rightward frictional force on the fridge has apparently decreased somewhat, making it easier for you to cancel it out. Our model also gives a plausible explanation for this fact: as the surfaces slide past each other, they don't have time to settle down and mesh with one another, so there is less friction.
Even though this model is intuitively appealing and fairly successful, it should not be taken too seriously, and in some situations it is misleading. For instance, fancy racing bikes these days are made with smooth tires that have no tread --- contrary to what we'd expect from our model, this does not cause any decrease in friction. Machinists know that two very smooth and clean metal surfaces may stick to each other firmly and be very difficult to slide apart. This cannot be explained in our model, but makes more sense in terms of a model in which friction is described as arising from chemical bonds between the atoms of the two surfaces at their points of contact: very flat surfaces allow more atoms to come in contact.
Since friction changes its behavior dramatically once the surfaces come unstuck, we define two separate types of frictional forces. Static friction is friction that occurs between surfaces that are not slipping over each other. Slipping surfaces experience kinetic friction. The forces of static and kinetic friction, notated `Fs` and `Fk`, are always parallel to the surface of contact between the two objects.
self-check:1. When a baseball player slides in to a base, is the friction static, or kinetic?
2. A mattress stays on the roof of a slowly accelerating car. Is the friction static, or kinetic?
3. Does static friction create heat? Kinetic friction?
(answer in the back of the PDF version of the book)
The maximum possible force of static friction depends on what kinds of surfaces they are, and also on how hard they are being pressed together. The approximate mathematical relationships can be expressed as follows:
where `mu_s` is a unitless number, called the coefficient of static friction, which depends on what kinds of surfaces they are. The maximum force that static friction can supply, `mu_sF_N`, represents the boundary between static and kinetic friction. It depends on the normal force, which is numerically equal to whatever force is pressing the two surfaces together. In terms of our model, if the two surfaces are being pressed together more firmly, a greater sideways force will be required in order to make the irregularities in the surfaces ride up and over each other.
r / What do the golf ball and the shark have in common? Both use the same trick to reduce fluid friction. The dimples on the golf ball modify the pattern of flow of the air around it, counterintuitively reducing friction. Recent studies have shown that sharks can accomplish the same thing by raising, or “bristling,” the scales on their skin at high speeds.
Note that just because we use an adjective such as “applied” to refer to a force, that doesn't mean that there is some special type of force called the “applied force.” The applied force could be any type of force, or it could be the sum of more than one force trying to make an object move.
self-check:The arrows in figureshow the forces of the tree trunk on the partridge. Describe the forces the bird makes on the tree.
(answer in the back of the PDF version of the book)
The force of kinetic friction on each of the two objects is in the direction that resists the slippage of the surfaces. Its magnitude is usually well approximated as
is the coefficient of kinetic friction. Kinetic friction is usually more or less independent of velocity.
n / We choose a coordinate system in which the applied force, i.e., the force trying to move the objects, is positive. The friction force is then negative, since it is in the opposite direction. As you increase the applied force, the force of static friction increases to match it and cancel it out, until the maximum force of static friction is surpassed. The surfaces then begin slipping past each other, and the friction force becomes smaller in absolute value.
self-check:Can a frictionless surface exert a normal force? Can a frictional force exist without a normal force?
(answer in the back of the PDF version of the book)
If you try to accelerate or decelerate your car too quickly, the forces between your wheels and the road become too great, and they begin slipping. This is not good, because kinetic friction is weaker than static friction, resulting in less control. Also, if this occurs while you are turning, the car's handling changes abruptly because the kinetic friction force is in a different direction than the static friction force had been: contrary to the car's direction of motion, rather than contrary to the forces applied to the tire.
Most people respond with disbelief when told of the experimental evidence that both static and kinetic friction are approximately independent of the amount of surface area in contact. Even after doing a hands-on exercise with spring scales to show that it is true, many students are unwilling to believe their own observations, and insist that bigger tires “give more traction.” In fact, the main reason why you would not want to put small tires on a big heavy car is that the tires would burst!
Although many people expect that friction would be proportional to surface area, such a proportionality would make predictions contrary to many everyday observations. A dog's feet, for example, have very little surface area in contact with the ground compared to a human's feet, and yet we know that a dog can often win a tug-of-war with a person.
The reason a smaller surface area does not lead to less friction is that the force between the two surfaces is more concentrated, causing their bumps and holes to dig into each other more deeply.
s / The wheelbases of the Hummer H3 and the Toyota Prius are surprisingly similar, differing by only 10%. The main difference in shape is that the Hummer is much taller and wider. It presents a much greater cross-sectional area to the wind, and this is the main reason that it uses about 2.5 times more gas on the freeway.
self-check:Find the direction of each of the forces in figure .
(answer in the back of the PDF version of the book)
o / 1. The cliff's normal force on the climber's feet. 2. The track's static frictional force on the wheel of the accelerating dragster. 3. The ball's normal force on the bat.
Looking at a picture of a locomotive,, we notice two obvious things that are different from an automobile. Where a car typically has two drive wheels, a locomotive normally has many --- ten in this example. (Some also have smaller, unpowered wheels in front of and behind the drive wheels, but this example doesn't.) Also, cars these days are generally built to be as light as possible for their size, whereas locomotives are very massive, and no effort seems to be made to keep their weight low. (The steam locomotive in the photo is from about 1900, but this is true even for modern diesel and electric trains.)
p / Example.
The reason locomotives are built to be so heavy is for traction. The upward normal force of the rails on the wheels, `F_N`, cancels the downward force of gravity, `F_W`, so ignoring plus and minus signs, these two forces are equal in absolute value, `F_N=F_W`. Given this amount of normal force, the maximum force of static friction is `F_s=mu_sF_N=mu_sF_W`. This static frictional force, of the rails pushing forward on the wheels, is the only force that can accelerate the train, pull it uphill, or cancel out the force of air resistance while cruising at constant speed. The coefficient of static friction for steel on steel is about 1/4, so no locomotive can pull with a force greater than about 1/4 of its own weight. If the engine is capable of supplying more than that amount of force, the result will be simply to break static friction and spin the wheels.
The reason this is all so different from the situation with a car is that a car isn't pulling something else. If you put extra weight in a car, you improve the traction, but you also increase the inertia of the car, and make it just as hard to accelerate. In a train, the inertia is almost all in the cars being pulled, not in the locomotive.
The other fact we have to explain is the large number of driving wheels. First, we have to realize that increasing the number of driving wheels neither increases nor decreases the total amount of static friction, because static friction is independent of the amount of surface area in contact. (The reason four-wheel-drive is good in a car is that if one or more of the wheels is slipping on ice or in mud, the other wheels may still have traction. This isn't typically an issue for a train, since all the wheels experience the same conditions.) The advantage of having more driving wheels on a train is that it allows us to increase the weight of the locomotive without crushing the rails, or damaging bridges.
Try to drive a nail into a waterfall and you will be confronted with the main difference between solid friction and fluid friction. Fluid friction is purely kinetic; there is no static fluid friction. The nail in the waterfall may tend to get dragged along by the water flowing past it, but it does not stick in the water. The same is true for gases such as air: recall that we are using the word “fluid” to include both gases and liquids.
Unlike kinetic friction between solids, fluid friction increases rapidly with velocity. It also depends on the shape of the object, which is why a fighter jet is more streamlined than a Model T. For objects of the same shape but different sizes, fluid friction typically scales up with the cross-sectional area of the object, which is one of the main reasons that an SUV gets worse mileage on the freeway than a compact car.
? A student states that when he tries to push his refrigerator, the reason it won't move is because Newton's third law says there's an equal and opposite frictional force pushing back. After all, the static friction force is equal and opposite to the applied force. How would you convince him he is wrong?
? Kinetic friction is usually more or less independent of velocity. However, inexperienced drivers tend to produce a jerk at the last moment of deceleration when they stop at a stop light. What does this tell you about the kinetic friction between the brake shoes and the brake drums?
? Some of the following are correct descriptions of types of forces that could be added on as new branches of the classification tree. Others are not really types of forces, and still others are not force phenomena at all. In each case, decide what's going on, and if appropriate, figure out how you would incorporate them into the tree.
|sticky force||makes tape stick to things|
|opposite force||the force that Newton’s third law says relates to every force you make|
|flowing force||the force that water carries with it as it flows out of a hose|
|surface tension||lets insects walk on water|
|horizontal force||a force that is horizontal|
|motor force||the force that a motor makes on the thing it is turning|
|canceled force||a force that is being canceled out by some other force|
5.2 Classification and behavior of forces by Benjamin Crowell,licensed under the .