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How Surface Area Affects the Force of Friction

The force of friction comes from the surface characteristics of materials that come into contact. How does physics predict those characteristics theoretically? It doesn’t. Detailed knowledge of surfaces [more…]

How Static Friction Prevents Movement

When two surfaces aren’t moving but are pressing together, they have the chance to interlock on the microscopic level. When this happens, it creates static friction. In physics, the coefficient of static [more…]

How Kinetic Friction Opposes Movement

In physics, when two objects are in contact with each other and are also moving, you get what’s called kinetic friction. The force due to kinetic friction has its own coefficient, called the [more…]

How to Calculate Work Based on Force Applied at an Angle

If you apply force at an angle instead of parallel to the direction of motion, you have to supply more force to perform the same amount of work. You can use physics to calculate how much work is required [more…]

How to Calculate the Maximum Height of a Projectile

According to the laws of physics, when a projectile flies into the air, its trajectory is shaped by Earth’s gravitational pull. Because the force of gravity only acts downward — that is, in the vertical [more…]

How to Calculate How Long a Projectile Is Airborne

When you launch a projectile into the air, you can use physics to determine how long it will remain airborne. Because the force of gravity only acts downward — that is, in the vertical direction — you [more…]

How Centripetal Action Keeps an Object Moving in a Circle

According to the laws of physics, in order to keep an object moving in circular motion, its velocity constantly changes direction. Whenever velocity changes, you have acceleration. Specifically, you have [more…]

Calculating the Speed of an Object with Uniform Circular Motion

An object with uniform circular motion travels in a circle with a constant speed. Outside a physics class, practical examples may be hard to come by, unless you see a race car driver on a perfectly circular [more…]

How Centripetal Acceleration Keeps an Object Moving in a Constant Circle

In physics, when an object travels in uniform circular motion, its speed is constant, which means that the magnitude of the object’s velocity doesn’t change. Therefore, acceleration can have no component [more…]

How Mass, Velocity, and Radius Affect Centripetal Force

Mass, velocity, and radius are all related when you calculate centripetal force. In fact, when you know this information, you can use physics equations to calculate how much force is required to keep an [more…]

Relating Linear and Angular Motion

In physics, just as you can use formulas to calculate linear velocity, acceleration, displacement, and motion, you can also use equivalent formulas for angular [more…]

Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation

Sir Isaac Newton came up with one of the heavyweight laws in physics for you: the law of universal gravitation. This law says that every mass exerts an attractive force on every other mass. If the two [more…]

How to Calculate the Force of Gravity on the Earth’s Surface

Starting with the physics equation for the force of gravity, you can plug in the mass and radius of the Earth to calculate the force of gravity near the surface of the Earth. [more…]

How to Calculate a Satellite’s Speed around the Earth

In space, gravity supplies the centripetal force that causes satellites (like the moon) to orbit larger bodies (like the Earth). Thanks to physics, if you know the mass and altitude of a satellite in orbit [more…]

How to Calculate the Period and Orbiting Radius of a Geosynchronous Satellite

When a satellite travels in a geosynchronous orbit around the Earth, it needs to travel at a certain orbiting radius and period to maintain this orbit. Because the radius and period are related, you can [more…]

Calculate the Velocity Necessary to Counteract Gravity in a Loop

If you know the radius of a circular track, you can use physics to calculate how fast an object needs to move in order to stay in contact with the track without falling when it reaches the top of the loop [more…]

Calculating the Density of an Object

In physics, density is the ratio of mass to volume. Any solid object that’s less dense than water floats. Density is an important property of a fluid because mass is continuously distributed throughout [more…]

How to Calculate Force Based on Pressure

Pressure and force are related, and so you can calculate one if you know the other by using the physics equation, P = F/A. Because pressure is force divided by area, its meter-kilogram-second [more…]

How Changing Depth Affects Pressure

You know that pressure increases the farther you go underwater, but by how much? As a physicist, you can put some numbers in and get numerical results out. Just what pressure would you expect for a given [more…]

Understanding Pressure Using Pascal’s Principle

In physics, Pascal’s principle says that given a fluid in a totally enclosed system, a change in pressure at one point in the fluid is transmitted to all points in the fluid, as well as to the enclosing [more…]

The Different Types of Fluid Flow

In physics, fluid flow has all kinds of aspects — steady or unsteady, compressible or incompressible, viscous or nonviscous, and rotational or irrotational, to name a few. Some of these characteristics [more…]

Streamlines Indicate Liquid Flow

In physics, a handy way of visualizing the flow of a fluid is through streamlines. You draw a fluid’s streamline so that a tangent to the streamline at any point is parallel to the fluid’s velocity at [more…]

Use Bernoulli's Equation to Calculate Pressure Difference between Two Points

Because Bernoulli’s equation relates pressure, fluid speed, and height, you can use this important physics equation to find the difference in fluid pressure between two points. All you need to know is [more…]

How to Calculate Work Based on Force Applied to an Object over a Distance

Using physics, you can calculate the work required to move an object over a given distance. Motion is needed for work to be done. For work to be done, a net force has to move an object through a displacement [more…]

How to Convert Potential Energy into Kinetic Energy

When an object falls, its gravitational potential energy is changed to kinetic energy. You can use this relationship to calculate the speed of the object’s descent. Gravitational potential energy for a [more…]

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