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College Physics for AP® Courses

4.5 Normal, Tension, and Other Examples of Force

College Physics for AP® Courses4.5 Normal, Tension, and Other Examples of Force
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  1. Preface
  2. 1 Introduction: The Nature of Science and Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 1.1 Physics: An Introduction
    3. 1.2 Physical Quantities and Units
    4. 1.3 Accuracy, Precision, and Significant Figures
    5. 1.4 Approximation
    6. Glossary
    7. Section Summary
    8. Conceptual Questions
    9. Problems & Exercises
  3. 2 Kinematics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 2.1 Displacement
    3. 2.2 Vectors, Scalars, and Coordinate Systems
    4. 2.3 Time, Velocity, and Speed
    5. 2.4 Acceleration
    6. 2.5 Motion Equations for Constant Acceleration in One Dimension
    7. 2.6 Problem-Solving Basics for One Dimensional Kinematics
    8. 2.7 Falling Objects
    9. 2.8 Graphical Analysis of One Dimensional Motion
    10. Glossary
    11. Section Summary
    12. Conceptual Questions
    13. Problems & Exercises
    14. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  4. 3 Two-Dimensional Kinematics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 3.1 Kinematics in Two Dimensions: An Introduction
    3. 3.2 Vector Addition and Subtraction: Graphical Methods
    4. 3.3 Vector Addition and Subtraction: Analytical Methods
    5. 3.4 Projectile Motion
    6. 3.5 Addition of Velocities
    7. Glossary
    8. Section Summary
    9. Conceptual Questions
    10. Problems & Exercises
    11. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  5. 4 Dynamics: Force and Newton's Laws of Motion
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 4.1 Development of Force Concept
    3. 4.2 Newton's First Law of Motion: Inertia
    4. 4.3 Newton's Second Law of Motion: Concept of a System
    5. 4.4 Newton's Third Law of Motion: Symmetry in Forces
    6. 4.5 Normal, Tension, and Other Examples of Force
    7. 4.6 Problem-Solving Strategies
    8. 4.7 Further Applications of Newton's Laws of Motion
    9. 4.8 Extended Topic: The Four Basic Forces—An Introduction
    10. Glossary
    11. Section Summary
    12. Conceptual Questions
    13. Problems & Exercises
    14. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  6. 5 Further Applications of Newton's Laws: Friction, Drag, and Elasticity
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 5.1 Friction
    3. 5.2 Drag Forces
    4. 5.3 Elasticity: Stress and Strain
    5. Glossary
    6. Section Summary
    7. Conceptual Questions
    8. Problems & Exercises
    9. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  7. 6 Gravitation and Uniform Circular Motion
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 6.1 Rotation Angle and Angular Velocity
    3. 6.2 Centripetal Acceleration
    4. 6.3 Centripetal Force
    5. 6.4 Fictitious Forces and Non-inertial Frames: The Coriolis Force
    6. 6.5 Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation
    7. 6.6 Satellites and Kepler's Laws: An Argument for Simplicity
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  8. 7 Work, Energy, and Energy Resources
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 7.1 Work: The Scientific Definition
    3. 7.2 Kinetic Energy and the Work-Energy Theorem
    4. 7.3 Gravitational Potential Energy
    5. 7.4 Conservative Forces and Potential Energy
    6. 7.5 Nonconservative Forces
    7. 7.6 Conservation of Energy
    8. 7.7 Power
    9. 7.8 Work, Energy, and Power in Humans
    10. 7.9 World Energy Use
    11. Glossary
    12. Section Summary
    13. Conceptual Questions
    14. Problems & Exercises
    15. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  9. 8 Linear Momentum and Collisions
    1. Connection for AP® courses
    2. 8.1 Linear Momentum and Force
    3. 8.2 Impulse
    4. 8.3 Conservation of Momentum
    5. 8.4 Elastic Collisions in One Dimension
    6. 8.5 Inelastic Collisions in One Dimension
    7. 8.6 Collisions of Point Masses in Two Dimensions
    8. 8.7 Introduction to Rocket Propulsion
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  10. 9 Statics and Torque
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 9.1 The First Condition for Equilibrium
    3. 9.2 The Second Condition for Equilibrium
    4. 9.3 Stability
    5. 9.4 Applications of Statics, Including Problem-Solving Strategies
    6. 9.5 Simple Machines
    7. 9.6 Forces and Torques in Muscles and Joints
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  11. 10 Rotational Motion and Angular Momentum
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 10.1 Angular Acceleration
    3. 10.2 Kinematics of Rotational Motion
    4. 10.3 Dynamics of Rotational Motion: Rotational Inertia
    5. 10.4 Rotational Kinetic Energy: Work and Energy Revisited
    6. 10.5 Angular Momentum and Its Conservation
    7. 10.6 Collisions of Extended Bodies in Two Dimensions
    8. 10.7 Gyroscopic Effects: Vector Aspects of Angular Momentum
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  12. 11 Fluid Statics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 11.1 What Is a Fluid?
    3. 11.2 Density
    4. 11.3 Pressure
    5. 11.4 Variation of Pressure with Depth in a Fluid
    6. 11.5 Pascal’s Principle
    7. 11.6 Gauge Pressure, Absolute Pressure, and Pressure Measurement
    8. 11.7 Archimedes’ Principle
    9. 11.8 Cohesion and Adhesion in Liquids: Surface Tension and Capillary Action
    10. 11.9 Pressures in the Body
    11. Glossary
    12. Section Summary
    13. Conceptual Questions
    14. Problems & Exercises
    15. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  13. 12 Fluid Dynamics and Its Biological and Medical Applications
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 12.1 Flow Rate and Its Relation to Velocity
    3. 12.2 Bernoulli’s Equation
    4. 12.3 The Most General Applications of Bernoulli’s Equation
    5. 12.4 Viscosity and Laminar Flow; Poiseuille’s Law
    6. 12.5 The Onset of Turbulence
    7. 12.6 Motion of an Object in a Viscous Fluid
    8. 12.7 Molecular Transport Phenomena: Diffusion, Osmosis, and Related Processes
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  14. 13 Temperature, Kinetic Theory, and the Gas Laws
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 13.1 Temperature
    3. 13.2 Thermal Expansion of Solids and Liquids
    4. 13.3 The Ideal Gas Law
    5. 13.4 Kinetic Theory: Atomic and Molecular Explanation of Pressure and Temperature
    6. 13.5 Phase Changes
    7. 13.6 Humidity, Evaporation, and Boiling
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  15. 14 Heat and Heat Transfer Methods
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 14.1 Heat
    3. 14.2 Temperature Change and Heat Capacity
    4. 14.3 Phase Change and Latent Heat
    5. 14.4 Heat Transfer Methods
    6. 14.5 Conduction
    7. 14.6 Convection
    8. 14.7 Radiation
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  16. 15 Thermodynamics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 15.1 The First Law of Thermodynamics
    3. 15.2 The First Law of Thermodynamics and Some Simple Processes
    4. 15.3 Introduction to the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Heat Engines and Their Efficiency
    5. 15.4 Carnot’s Perfect Heat Engine: The Second Law of Thermodynamics Restated
    6. 15.5 Applications of Thermodynamics: Heat Pumps and Refrigerators
    7. 15.6 Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Disorder and the Unavailability of Energy
    8. 15.7 Statistical Interpretation of Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics: The Underlying Explanation
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  17. 16 Oscillatory Motion and Waves
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 16.1 Hooke’s Law: Stress and Strain Revisited
    3. 16.2 Period and Frequency in Oscillations
    4. 16.3 Simple Harmonic Motion: A Special Periodic Motion
    5. 16.4 The Simple Pendulum
    6. 16.5 Energy and the Simple Harmonic Oscillator
    7. 16.6 Uniform Circular Motion and Simple Harmonic Motion
    8. 16.7 Damped Harmonic Motion
    9. 16.8 Forced Oscillations and Resonance
    10. 16.9 Waves
    11. 16.10 Superposition and Interference
    12. 16.11 Energy in Waves: Intensity
    13. Glossary
    14. Section Summary
    15. Conceptual Questions
    16. Problems & Exercises
    17. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  18. 17 Physics of Hearing
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 17.1 Sound
    3. 17.2 Speed of Sound, Frequency, and Wavelength
    4. 17.3 Sound Intensity and Sound Level
    5. 17.4 Doppler Effect and Sonic Booms
    6. 17.5 Sound Interference and Resonance: Standing Waves in Air Columns
    7. 17.6 Hearing
    8. 17.7 Ultrasound
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  19. 18 Electric Charge and Electric Field
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 18.1 Static Electricity and Charge: Conservation of Charge
    3. 18.2 Conductors and Insulators
    4. 18.3 Conductors and Electric Fields in Static Equilibrium
    5. 18.4 Coulomb’s Law
    6. 18.5 Electric Field: Concept of a Field Revisited
    7. 18.6 Electric Field Lines: Multiple Charges
    8. 18.7 Electric Forces in Biology
    9. 18.8 Applications of Electrostatics
    10. Glossary
    11. Section Summary
    12. Conceptual Questions
    13. Problems & Exercises
    14. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  20. 19 Electric Potential and Electric Field
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 19.1 Electric Potential Energy: Potential Difference
    3. 19.2 Electric Potential in a Uniform Electric Field
    4. 19.3 Electrical Potential Due to a Point Charge
    5. 19.4 Equipotential Lines
    6. 19.5 Capacitors and Dielectrics
    7. 19.6 Capacitors in Series and Parallel
    8. 19.7 Energy Stored in Capacitors
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  21. 20 Electric Current, Resistance, and Ohm's Law
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 20.1 Current
    3. 20.2 Ohm’s Law: Resistance and Simple Circuits
    4. 20.3 Resistance and Resistivity
    5. 20.4 Electric Power and Energy
    6. 20.5 Alternating Current versus Direct Current
    7. 20.6 Electric Hazards and the Human Body
    8. 20.7 Nerve Conduction–Electrocardiograms
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  22. 21 Circuits, Bioelectricity, and DC Instruments
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 21.1 Resistors in Series and Parallel
    3. 21.2 Electromotive Force: Terminal Voltage
    4. 21.3 Kirchhoff’s Rules
    5. 21.4 DC Voltmeters and Ammeters
    6. 21.5 Null Measurements
    7. 21.6 DC Circuits Containing Resistors and Capacitors
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  23. 22 Magnetism
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 22.1 Magnets
    3. 22.2 Ferromagnets and Electromagnets
    4. 22.3 Magnetic Fields and Magnetic Field Lines
    5. 22.4 Magnetic Field Strength: Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field
    6. 22.5 Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field: Examples and Applications
    7. 22.6 The Hall Effect
    8. 22.7 Magnetic Force on a Current-Carrying Conductor
    9. 22.8 Torque on a Current Loop: Motors and Meters
    10. 22.9 Magnetic Fields Produced by Currents: Ampere’s Law
    11. 22.10 Magnetic Force between Two Parallel Conductors
    12. 22.11 More Applications of Magnetism
    13. Glossary
    14. Section Summary
    15. Conceptual Questions
    16. Problems & Exercises
    17. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  24. 23 Electromagnetic Induction, AC Circuits, and Electrical Technologies
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 23.1 Induced Emf and Magnetic Flux
    3. 23.2 Faraday’s Law of Induction: Lenz’s Law
    4. 23.3 Motional Emf
    5. 23.4 Eddy Currents and Magnetic Damping
    6. 23.5 Electric Generators
    7. 23.6 Back Emf
    8. 23.7 Transformers
    9. 23.8 Electrical Safety: Systems and Devices
    10. 23.9 Inductance
    11. 23.10 RL Circuits
    12. 23.11 Reactance, Inductive and Capacitive
    13. 23.12 RLC Series AC Circuits
    14. Glossary
    15. Section Summary
    16. Conceptual Questions
    17. Problems & Exercises
    18. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  25. 24 Electromagnetic Waves
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 24.1 Maxwell’s Equations: Electromagnetic Waves Predicted and Observed
    3. 24.2 Production of Electromagnetic Waves
    4. 24.3 The Electromagnetic Spectrum
    5. 24.4 Energy in Electromagnetic Waves
    6. Glossary
    7. Section Summary
    8. Conceptual Questions
    9. Problems & Exercises
    10. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  26. 25 Geometric Optics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 25.1 The Ray Aspect of Light
    3. 25.2 The Law of Reflection
    4. 25.3 The Law of Refraction
    5. 25.4 Total Internal Reflection
    6. 25.5 Dispersion: The Rainbow and Prisms
    7. 25.6 Image Formation by Lenses
    8. 25.7 Image Formation by Mirrors
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  27. 26 Vision and Optical Instruments
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 26.1 Physics of the Eye
    3. 26.2 Vision Correction
    4. 26.3 Color and Color Vision
    5. 26.4 Microscopes
    6. 26.5 Telescopes
    7. 26.6 Aberrations
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  28. 27 Wave Optics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 27.1 The Wave Aspect of Light: Interference
    3. 27.2 Huygens's Principle: Diffraction
    4. 27.3 Young’s Double Slit Experiment
    5. 27.4 Multiple Slit Diffraction
    6. 27.5 Single Slit Diffraction
    7. 27.6 Limits of Resolution: The Rayleigh Criterion
    8. 27.7 Thin Film Interference
    9. 27.8 Polarization
    10. 27.9 *Extended Topic* Microscopy Enhanced by the Wave Characteristics of Light
    11. Glossary
    12. Section Summary
    13. Conceptual Questions
    14. Problems & Exercises
    15. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  29. 28 Special Relativity
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 28.1 Einstein’s Postulates
    3. 28.2 Simultaneity And Time Dilation
    4. 28.3 Length Contraction
    5. 28.4 Relativistic Addition of Velocities
    6. 28.5 Relativistic Momentum
    7. 28.6 Relativistic Energy
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  30. 29 Introduction to Quantum Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 29.1 Quantization of Energy
    3. 29.2 The Photoelectric Effect
    4. 29.3 Photon Energies and the Electromagnetic Spectrum
    5. 29.4 Photon Momentum
    6. 29.5 The Particle-Wave Duality
    7. 29.6 The Wave Nature of Matter
    8. 29.7 Probability: The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
    9. 29.8 The Particle-Wave Duality Reviewed
    10. Glossary
    11. Section Summary
    12. Conceptual Questions
    13. Problems & Exercises
    14. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  31. 30 Atomic Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 30.1 Discovery of the Atom
    3. 30.2 Discovery of the Parts of the Atom: Electrons and Nuclei
    4. 30.3 Bohr’s Theory of the Hydrogen Atom
    5. 30.4 X Rays: Atomic Origins and Applications
    6. 30.5 Applications of Atomic Excitations and De-Excitations
    7. 30.6 The Wave Nature of Matter Causes Quantization
    8. 30.7 Patterns in Spectra Reveal More Quantization
    9. 30.8 Quantum Numbers and Rules
    10. 30.9 The Pauli Exclusion Principle
    11. Glossary
    12. Section Summary
    13. Conceptual Questions
    14. Problems & Exercises
    15. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  32. 31 Radioactivity and Nuclear Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 31.1 Nuclear Radioactivity
    3. 31.2 Radiation Detection and Detectors
    4. 31.3 Substructure of the Nucleus
    5. 31.4 Nuclear Decay and Conservation Laws
    6. 31.5 Half-Life and Activity
    7. 31.6 Binding Energy
    8. 31.7 Tunneling
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  33. 32 Medical Applications of Nuclear Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 32.1 Medical Imaging and Diagnostics
    3. 32.2 Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation
    4. 32.3 Therapeutic Uses of Ionizing Radiation
    5. 32.4 Food Irradiation
    6. 32.5 Fusion
    7. 32.6 Fission
    8. 32.7 Nuclear Weapons
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
    13. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  34. 33 Particle Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 33.1 The Yukawa Particle and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle Revisited
    3. 33.2 The Four Basic Forces
    4. 33.3 Accelerators Create Matter from Energy
    5. 33.4 Particles, Patterns, and Conservation Laws
    6. 33.5 Quarks: Is That All There Is?
    7. 33.6 GUTs: The Unification of Forces
    8. Glossary
    9. Section Summary
    10. Conceptual Questions
    11. Problems & Exercises
    12. Test Prep for AP® Courses
  35. 34 Frontiers of Physics
    1. Connection for AP® Courses
    2. 34.1 Cosmology and Particle Physics
    3. 34.2 General Relativity and Quantum Gravity
    4. 34.3 Superstrings
    5. 34.4 Dark Matter and Closure
    6. 34.5 Complexity and Chaos
    7. 34.6 High-Temperature Superconductors
    8. 34.7 Some Questions We Know to Ask
    9. Glossary
    10. Section Summary
    11. Conceptual Questions
    12. Problems & Exercises
  36. A | Atomic Masses
  37. B | Selected Radioactive Isotopes
  38. C | Useful Information
  39. D | Glossary of Key Symbols and Notation
  40. Answer Key
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
    10. Chapter 10
    11. Chapter 11
    12. Chapter 12
    13. Chapter 13
    14. Chapter 14
    15. Chapter 15
    16. Chapter 16
    17. Chapter 17
    18. Chapter 18
    19. Chapter 19
    20. Chapter 20
    21. Chapter 21
    22. Chapter 22
    23. Chapter 23
    24. Chapter 24
    25. Chapter 25
    26. Chapter 26
    27. Chapter 27
    28. Chapter 28
    29. Chapter 29
    30. Chapter 30
    31. Chapter 31
    32. Chapter 32
    33. Chapter 33
    34. Chapter 34
  41. Index

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Define normal and tension forces.
  • Apply Newton's laws of motion to solve problems involving a variety of forces.
  • Use trigonometric identities to resolve weight into components.

The information presented in this section supports the following AP® learning objectives and science practices:

  • 2.B.1.1 The student is able to apply F=mgF=mg to calculate the gravitational force on an object with mass m in a gravitational field of strength g in the context of the effects of a net force on objects and systems. (S.P. 2.2, 7.2)
  • 3.A.2.1 The student is able to represent forces in diagrams or mathematically using appropriately labeled vectors with magnitude, direction, and units during the analysis of a situation. (S.P. 1.1)
  • 3.A.3.1 The student is able to analyze a scenario and make claims (develop arguments, justify assertions) about the forces exerted on an object by other objects for different types of forces or components of forces. (S.P. 6.4, 7.2)
  • 3.A.3.3 The student is able to describe a force as an interaction between two objects and identify both objects for any force. (S.P. 1.4)
  • 3.A.4.1 The student is able to construct explanations of physical situations involving the interaction of bodies using Newton's third law and the representation of action-reaction pairs of forces. (S.P. 1.4, 6.2)
  • 3.A.4.2 The student is able to use Newton's third law to make claims and predictions about the action-reaction pairs of forces when two objects interact. (S.P. 6.4, 7.2)
  • 3.A.4.3 The student is able to analyze situations involving interactions among several objects by using free-body diagrams that include the application of Newton's third law to identify forces. (S.P. 1.4)
  • 3.B.1.3 The student is able to re-express a free-body diagram representation into a mathematical representation and solve the mathematical representation for the acceleration of the object. (S.P. 1.5, 2.2)
  • 3.B.2.1 The student is able to create and use free-body diagrams to analyze physical situations to solve problems with motion qualitatively and quantitatively. (S.P. 1.1, 1.4, 2.2)

Forces are given many names, such as push, pull, thrust, lift, weight, friction, and tension. Traditionally, forces have been grouped into several categories and given names relating to their source, how they are transmitted, or their effects. The most important of these categories are discussed in this section, together with some interesting applications. Further examples of forces are discussed later in this text.

Normal Force

Weight (also called force of gravity) is a pervasive force that acts at all times and must be counteracted to keep an object from falling. You definitely notice that you must support the weight of a heavy object by pushing up on it when you hold it stationary, as illustrated in Figure 4.12(a). But how do inanimate objects like a table support the weight of a mass placed on them, such as shown in Figure 4.12(b)? When the bag of dog food is placed on the table, the table actually sags slightly under the load. This would be noticeable if the load were placed on a card table, but even rigid objects deform when a force is applied to them. Unless the object is deformed beyond its limit, it will exert a restoring force much like a deformed spring (or trampoline or diving board). The greater the deformation, the greater the restoring force. So when the load is placed on the table, the table sags until the restoring force becomes as large as the weight of the load. At this point the net external force on the load is zero. That is the situation when the load is stationary on the table. The table sags quickly, and the sag is slight so we do not notice it. But it is similar to the sagging of a trampoline when you climb onto it.

A person is holding a bag of dog food at some height from a table. He is exerting a force F sub hand, shown by a vector arrow in upward direction, and the weight W of the bag is acting downward, shown by a vector arrow having the same length as vector F sub hand. In a free-body diagram two forces are acting on the red point; one is F sub hand, shown by a vector arrow upward, and another is the weight W, shown by a vector arrow having the same length as vector F sub hand but pointing downward. (b) The bag of dog food is on the table, which deforms due to the weight W, shown by a vector arrow downward; the normal force N is shown by a vector arrow pointing upward having the same length as W. In the free-body diagram, vector W is shown by an arrow downward and vector N is shown by an arrow having the same length as vector W but pointing upward.
Figure 4.12 (a) The person holding the bag of dog food must supply an upward force FhandFhand size 12{F rSub { size 8{"hand"} } } {} equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to the weight of the food ww size 12{w} {}. (b) The card table sags when the dog food is placed on it, much like a stiff trampoline. Elastic restoring forces in the table grow as it sags until they supply a force NN size 12{N} {} equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to the weight of the load.

We must conclude that whatever supports a load, be it animate or not, must supply an upward force equal to the weight of the load, as we assumed in a few of the previous examples. If the force supporting a load is perpendicular to the surface of contact between the load and its support, this force is defined to be a normal force and here is given the symbol NN size 12{N} {}. (This is not the unit for force N.) The word normal means perpendicular to a surface. The normal force can be less than the object’s weight if the object is on an incline, as you will see in the next example.

Common Misconception: Normal Force (N) vs. Newton (N)

In this section we have introduced the quantity normal force, which is represented by the variable NN size 12{N} {}. This should not be confused with the symbol for the newton, which is also represented by the letter N. These symbols are particularly important to distinguish because the units of a normal force (NN size 12{N} {}) happen to be newtons (N). For example, the normal force NN size 12{N} {} that the floor exerts on a chair might be N=100 NN=100 N size 12{N="100"" N"} {}. One important difference is that normal force is a vector, while the newton is simply a unit. Be careful not to confuse these letters in your calculations! You will encounter more similarities among variables and units as you proceed in physics. Another example of this is the quantity work (WW size 12{W} {}) and the unit watts (W).

Example 4.5 Weight on an Incline, a Two-Dimensional Problem

Consider the skier on a slope shown in Figure 4.13. Her mass including equipment is 60.0 kg. (a) What is her acceleration if friction is negligible? (b) What is her acceleration if friction is known to be 45.0 N?

A skier is skiing down the slope and the slope makes a twenty-five degree angle with the horizontal. Her weight W, shown by a vector vertically downward, breaks into two components—one is W parallel, which is shown by a vector arrow parallel to the slope, and the other is W perpendicular, shown by a vector arrow perpendicular to the slope in the downward direction. Vector N is represented by an arrow pointing upward and perpendicular to the slope, having the same length as W perpendicular. Friction vector f is represented by an arrow along the slope in the uphill direction. IIn a free-body diagram, the vector arrow W for weight is acting downward, the vector arrow for f is shown along the direction of the slope, and the vector arrow for N is shown perpendicular to the slope.
Figure 4.13 Since motion and friction are parallel to the slope, it is most convenient to project all forces onto a coordinate system where one axis is parallel to the slope and the other is perpendicular (axes shown to left of skier). NN size 12{N} {} is perpendicular to the slope and f is parallel to the slope, but ww size 12{w} {} has components along both axes, namely ww size 12{w rSub { size 8{ ortho } } } {} and ww. NN size 12{N} {} is equal in magnitude to ww size 12{w rSub { size 8{ ortho } } } {}, so that there is no motion perpendicular to the slope, but ff size 12{f} {} is less than ww size 12{w rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } } {}, so that there is a downslope acceleration (along the parallel axis).

Strategy

This is a two-dimensional problem, since the forces on the skier (the system of interest) are not parallel. The approach we have used in two-dimensional kinematics also works very well here. Choose a convenient coordinate system and project the vectors onto its axes, creating two connected one-dimensional problems to solve. The most convenient coordinate system for motion on an incline is one that has one coordinate parallel to the slope and one perpendicular to the slope. (Remember that motions along mutually perpendicular axes are independent.) We use the symbols size 12{ ortho } {} and size 12{ \lline \lline } {} to represent perpendicular and parallel, respectively. This choice of axes simplifies this type of problem, because there is no motion perpendicular to the slope and because friction is always parallel to the surface between two objects. The only external forces acting on the system are the skier’s weight, friction, and the support of the slope, respectively labeled ww size 12{w} {}, ff size 12{f} {}, and NN size 12{N} {} in Figure 4.13. NN size 12{N} {} is always perpendicular to the slope, and ff size 12{f} {} is parallel to it. But ww size 12{w} {} is not in the direction of either axis, and so the first step we take is to project it into components along the chosen axes, defining ww size 12{w rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } } {} to be the component of weight parallel to the slope and ww size 12{w rSub { size 8{ ortho } } } {} the component of weight perpendicular to the slope. Once this is done, we can consider the two separate problems of forces parallel to the slope and forces perpendicular to the slope.

Solution

The magnitude of the component of the weight parallel to the slope is w=wsin(25º)=mgsin(25º)w=wsin(25º)=mgsin(25º) size 12{w rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } =w"sin" \( "25"° \) = ital "mg""sin" \( "25"° \) } {}, and the magnitude of the component of the weight perpendicular to the slope is w=wcos(25º)=mgcos(25º)w=wcos(25º)=mgcos(25º) size 12{w rSub { size 8{ ortho } } =w"cos" \( "25"° \) = ital "mg""cos" \( "25"° \) } {}.

(a) Neglecting friction. Since the acceleration is parallel to the slope, we need only consider forces parallel to the slope. (Forces perpendicular to the slope add to zero, since there is no acceleration in that direction.) The forces parallel to the slope are the amount of the skier’s weight parallel to the slope ww size 12{w rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } } {} and friction ff size 12{f} {}. Using Newton’s second law, with subscripts to denote quantities parallel to the slope,

a = F net m a = F net m
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where Fnet =w=mgsin(25º)Fnet =w=mgsin(25º) size 12{F rSub { size 8{"net " \lline \lline } } =w rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } = ital "mg""sin" \( "25"° \) } {}, assuming no friction for this part, so that

a = F net m = mg sin ( 25º ) m = g sin ( 25º ) a = F net m = mg sin ( 25º ) m = g sin ( 25º )
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( 9.80 m/s 2 ) ( 0.4226 ) = 4.14 m/s 2 ( 9.80 m/s 2 ) ( 0.4226 ) = 4.14 m/s 2
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is the acceleration.

(b) Including friction. We now have a given value for friction, and we know its direction is parallel to the slope and it opposes motion between surfaces in contact. So the net external force is now

Fnet =wf,Fnet =wf size 12{F rSub { size 8{"net " \lline \lline } } =w rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } - f} {},
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and substituting this into Newton’s second law, a=Fnet ma=Fnet m size 12{a rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } = { {F rSub { size 8{"net " \lline \lline } } } over {m} } } {}, gives

a=Fnet m=wfm=mgsin(25º)fm.a=Fnet m=wfm=mgsin(25º)fm size 12{a rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } = { {F rSub { size 8{"net " \lline \lline } } } over {m} } = { {w rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } - f} over {m} } = { { ital "mg""sin" \( "25"° \) - f} over {m} } } {}.
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We substitute known values to obtain

a=(60.0 kg)(9.80 m/s2)(0.4226)45.0 N60.0 kg,a=(60.0 kg)(9.80 m/s2)(0.4226)45.0 N60.0 kg size 12{a rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } = { { \( "60" "." "0 kg" \) \( 9 "." "80 m/s" rSup { size 8{2} } \) \( 0 "." "4226" \) - "45" "." "0 N"} over {"60" "." "0 kg"} } } {},
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which yields

a=3.39 m/s2,a=3.39 m/s2 size 12{a rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } =3 "." "39 m/s" rSup { size 8{2} } } {},
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which is the acceleration parallel to the incline when there is 45.0 N of opposing friction.

Discussion

Since friction always opposes motion between surfaces, the acceleration is smaller when there is friction than when there is none. In fact, it is a general result that if friction on an incline is negligible, then the acceleration down the incline is a=gsinθa=gsinθ size 12{a=g"sin"θ} {}, regardless of mass. This is related to the previously discussed fact that all objects fall with the same acceleration in the absence of air resistance. Similarly, all objects, regardless of mass, slide down a frictionless incline with the same acceleration (if the angle is the same).

Resolving Weight into Components


Vector arrow W for weight is acting downward. It is resolved into components that are parallel and perpendicular to a surface that has a slope at angle theta to the horizontal. The coordinate direction x is labeled parallel to the sloped surface, with positive x pointing uphill. The coordinate direction y is labeled perpendicular to the sloped surface, with positive y pointing up from the surface. The components of w are w parallel, represented by an arrow pointing downhill along the sloped surface, and w perpendicular, represented by an arrow pointing into the sloped surface. W parallel is equal to w sine theta, which is equal to m g sine theta. W perpendicular is equal to w cosine theta, which is equal to m g cosine theta.
Figure 4.14 An object rests on an incline that makes an angle θ with the horizontal.

When an object rests on an incline that makes an angle θθ size 12{θ} {} with the horizontal, the force of gravity acting on the object is divided into two components: a force acting perpendicular to the plane, ww size 12{w rSub { size 8{ ortho } } } {}, and a force acting parallel to the plane, ww size 12{w rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } } {}. The perpendicular force of weight, ww size 12{w rSub { size 8{ ortho } } } {}, is typically equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to the normal force, NN size 12{N} {}. The force acting parallel to the plane, ww size 12{w rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } } {}, causes the object to accelerate down the incline. The force of friction, ff size 12{f} {}, opposes the motion of the object, so it acts upward along the plane.

It is important to be careful when resolving the weight of the object into components. If the angle of the incline is at an angle θθ size 12{θ} {} to the horizontal, then the magnitudes of the weight components are

w = w sin ( θ ) = mg sin ( θ ) w = w sin ( θ ) = mg sin ( θ ) size 12{w rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } =w"sin" \( θ \) = ital "mg""sin" \( θ \) " "} {}
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and

w=wcos(θ)=mgcos(θ).w=wcos(θ)=mgcos(θ) size 12{w rSub { size 8{ ortho } } =w"cos" \( θ \) = ital "mg""cos" \( θ \) } {}.
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Instead of memorizing these equations, it is helpful to be able to determine them from reason. To do this, draw the right triangle formed by the three weight vectors. Notice that the angle θθ size 12{θ} {} of the incline is the same as the angle formed between ww size 12{w} {} and ww size 12{w rSub { size 8{ ortho } } } {}. Knowing this property, you can use trigonometry to determine the magnitude of the weight components:

cos ( θ ) = w w w = w cos ( θ ) = mg cos ( θ ) cos ( θ ) = w w w = w cos ( θ ) = mg cos ( θ ) alignl { stack { size 12{"cos" \( θ \) = { {w rSub { size 8{ ortho } } } over {w} } } {} # w rSub { size 8{ ortho } } =w"cos" \( θ \) = ital "mg""cos" \( θ \) {} } } {}
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sin ( θ ) = w w w = w sin ( θ ) = mg sin ( θ ) sin ( θ ) = w w w = w sin ( θ ) = mg sin ( θ ) alignl { stack { size 12{"sin" \( θ \) = { {w rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } } over {w} } } {} # w rSub { size 8{ \lline \lline } } =w"sin" \( θ \) = ital "mg""sin" \( θ \) {} } } {}
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Take-Home Experiment: Force Parallel

To investigate how a force parallel to an inclined plane changes, find a rubber band, some objects to hang from the end of the rubber band, and a board you can position at different angles. How much does the rubber band stretch when you hang the object from the end of the board? Now place the board at an angle so that the object slides off when placed on the board. How much does the rubber band extend if it is lined up parallel to the board and used to hold the object stationary on the board? Try two more angles. What does this show?

Tension

A tension is a force along the length of a medium, especially a force carried by a flexible medium, such as a rope or cable. The word “tensioncomes from a Latin word meaning “to stretch.” Not coincidentally, the flexible cords that carry muscle forces to other parts of the body are called tendons. Any flexible connector, such as a string, rope, chain, wire, or cable, can exert pulls only parallel to its length; thus, a force carried by a flexible connector is a tension with direction parallel to the connector. It is important to understand that tension is a pull in a connector. In contrast, consider the phrase: “You can’t push a rope.” The tension force pulls outward along the two ends of a rope.

Consider a person holding a mass on a rope as shown in Figure 4.15.

An object of mass m is attached to a rope and a person is holding the rope. A weight vector W points downward starting from the lower point of the mass. A tension vector T is shown by an arrow pointing upward initiating from the hook where the mass and rope are joined, and a third vector, also T, is shown by an arrow pointing downward initiating from the hand of the person.
Figure 4.15 When a perfectly flexible connector (one requiring no force to bend it) such as this rope transmits a force TT size 12{T} {}, that force must be parallel to the length of the rope, as shown. The pull such a flexible connector exerts is a tension. Note that the rope pulls with equal force but in opposite directions on the hand and the supported mass (neglecting the weight of the rope). This is an example of Newton’s third law. The rope is the medium that carries the equal and opposite forces between the two objects. The tension anywhere in the rope between the hand and the mass is equal. Once you have determined the tension in one location, you have determined the tension at all locations along the rope.

Tension in the rope must equal the weight of the supported mass, as we can prove using Newton’s second law. If the 5.00-kg mass in the figure is stationary, then its acceleration is zero, and thus Fnet=0Fnet=0 size 12{F rSub { size 8{"net"} } =0} {}. The only external forces acting on the mass are its weight ww size 12{w} {} and the tension TT size 12{T} {} supplied by the rope. Thus,

Fnet=Tw=0,Fnet=Tw=0 size 12{F rSub { size 8{"net"} } =T - w=0} {},
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where TT size 12{T} {} and ww size 12{w} {} are the magnitudes of the tension and weight and their signs indicate direction, with up being positive here. Thus, just as you would expect, the tension equals the weight of the supported mass:

T=w=mg.T=w=mg size 12{T=w= ital "mg"} {}.
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For a 5.00-kg mass, then (neglecting the mass of the rope) we see that

T=mg=(5.00 kg)(9.80 m/s2)=49.0 N.T=mg=(5.00 kg)(9.80 m/s2)=49.0 N size 12{T= ital "mg"= \( 5 "." "00"" kg" \) \( 9 "." "80 m/s" rSup { size 8{2} } \) ="49" "." 0" N"} {}.
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If we cut the rope and insert a spring, the spring would extend a length corresponding to a force of 49.0 N, providing a direct observation and measure of the tension force in the rope.

Flexible connectors are often used to transmit forces around corners, such as in a hospital traction system, a finger joint, or a bicycle brake cable. If there is no friction, the tension is transmitted undiminished. Only its direction changes, and it is always parallel to the flexible connector. This is illustrated in Figure 4.16 (a) and (b).

The internal structure of a finger with tendon, extensor muscle, and flexor muscle is shown. The force in the muscles is shown by arrows pointing along the tendon. In the second figure, part of a bicycle with a brake cable is shown. Three tension vectors are shown by the arrows along the brake cable, starting from the handle to the wheels. The tensions have the same magnitude but different directions.
Figure 4.16 (a) Tendons in the finger carry force TT size 12{T} {} from the muscles to other parts of the finger, usually changing the force’s direction, but not its magnitude (the tendons are relatively friction free). (b) The brake cable on a bicycle carries the tension TT size 12{T} {} from the handlebars to the brake mechanism. Again, the direction but not the magnitude of TT size 12{T} {} is changed.

Example 4.6 What Is the Tension in a Tightrope?

Calculate the tension in the wire supporting the 70.0-kg tightrope walker shown in Figure 4.17.

A tightrope walker is walking on a wire. His weight W is acting downward, shown by a vector arrow. The wire sags and makes a five-degree angle with the horizontal at both ends. T sub R, shown by a vector arrow, is toward the right along the wire. T sub L is shown by an arrow toward the left along the wire. All three vectors W, T sub L, and T sub R start from the foot of the person on the wire. In a free-body diagram, W is acting downward, T sub R is acting toward the right with a small inclination, and T sub L is acting toward the left with a small inclination.
Figure 4.17 The weight of a tightrope walker causes a wire to sag by 5.0 degrees. The system of interest here is the point in the wire at which the tightrope walker is standing.

Strategy

As you can see in the figure, the wire is not perfectly horizontal (it cannot be!), but is bent under the person’s weight. Thus, the tension on either side of the person has an upward component that can support his weight. As usual, forces are vectors represented pictorially by arrows having the same directions as the forces and lengths proportional to their magnitudes. The system is the tightrope walker, and the only external forces acting on him are his weight ww size 12{w} {} and the two tensions TLTL size 12{T rSub { size 8{L} } } {} (left tension) and TRTR size 12{T rSub { size 8{R} } } {} (right tension), as illustrated. It is reasonable to neglect the weight of the wire itself. The net external force is zero since the system is stationary. A little trigonometry can now be used to find the tensions. One conclusion is possible at the outset—we can see from part (b) of the figure that the magnitudes of the tensions TLTL size 12{T rSub { size 8{L} } } {} and TRTR size 12{T rSub { size 8{R} } } {} must be equal. This is because there is no horizontal acceleration in the rope, and the only forces acting to the left and right are TLTL size 12{T rSub { size 8{L} } } {} and TRTR size 12{T rSub { size 8{R} } } {}. Thus, the magnitude of those forces must be equal so that they cancel each other out.

Whenever we have two-dimensional vector problems in which no two vectors are parallel, the easiest method of solution is to pick a convenient coordinate system and project the vectors onto its axes. In this case the best coordinate system has one axis horizontal and the other vertical. We call the horizontal the xx size 12{x} {}-axis and the vertical the yy size 12{y} {}-axis.

Solution

First, we need to resolve the tension vectors into their horizontal and vertical components. It helps to draw a new free-body diagram showing all of the horizontal and vertical components of each force acting on the system.

A vector T sub L making an angle of five degrees with the negative x axis is shown. It has two components, one in the vertical direction, T sub L y, and another horizontal, T sub L x. Another vector is shown making an angle of five degrees with the positive x axis, having two components, one along the y direction, T sub R y, and the other along the x direction, T sub R x. In the free-body diagram, vertical component T sub L y is shown by a vector arrow in the upward direction, T sub R y is shown by a vector arrow in the upward direction, and weight W is shown by a vector arrow in the downward direction. The net force F sub y is equal to zero. In the horizontal direction, T sub R x is shown by a vector arrow pointing toward the right and T sub L x is shown by a vector arrow pointing toward the left, both having the same length so that the net force in the horizontal direction, F sub x, is equal to zero.
Figure 4.18 When the vectors are projected onto vertical and horizontal axes, their components along those axes must add to zero, since the tightrope walker is stationary. The small angle results in TT size 12{T} {} being much greater than ww size 12{w} {}.

Consider the horizontal components of the forces (denoted with a subscript xx size 12{x} {}):

F net x = T L x T R x . F net x = T L x T R x size 12{F rSub { size 8{"net x"} } = T rSub { size 8{"Lx"} } - T rSub { size 8{"Rx"} } } {} .
4.44

The net external horizontal force Fnet x=0Fnet x=0 size 12{F rSub { size 8{"net x"} } = 0} {}, since the person is stationary. Thus,

F net x = 0 = T L x T R x T L x = T R x . F net x = 0 = T L x T R x T L x = T R x . alignl { stack { size 12{F rSub { size 8{"net x"} } =0=T rSub { size 8{"LX"} } - T rSub { size 8{"Rx"} } } {} # T rSub { size 8{"Lx"} } = T rSub { size 8{"Rx"} } {} } } {}
4.45

Now, observe Figure 4.18. You can use trigonometry to determine the magnitude of TLTL size 12{T rSub { size 8{L} } } {} and TRTR size 12{T rSub { size 8{R} } } {}. Notice that:

cos ( 5.0º ) = T L x T L T L x = T L cos ( 5.0º ) cos ( 5.0º ) = T R x T R T R x = T R cos ( 5.0º ) . cos ( 5.0º ) = T L x T L T L x = T L cos ( 5.0º ) cos ( 5.0º ) = T R x T R T R x = T R cos ( 5.0º ) . alignl { stack { size 12{"cos" \( 5 "." 0° \) = { {T rSub { size 8{"Lx"} } } over {T rSub { size 8{L} } } } } {} # T rSub { size 8{"Lx"} } =T rSub { size 8{L} } "cos" \( 5 "." 0° \) {} # "cos" \( 5 "." 0° \) = { {T rSub { size 8{"RX"} } } over {T rSub { size 8{R} } } } {} # T rSub { size 8{"Rx"} } =T rSub { size 8{R} } "cos" \( 5 "." 0° \) {} } } {}
4.46

Equating TL xTL x size 12{T rSub { size 8{"Lx"} } } {} and TRxTRx size 12{T rSub { size 8{"Rx"} } } {}:

TLcos(5.0º)=TRcos(5.0º).TLcos(5.0º)=TRcos(5.0º) size 12{T rSub { size 8{L} } "cos" \( 5 "." 0° \) =T rSub { size 8{R} } "cos" \( 5 "." 0° \) } {}.
4.47

Thus,

TL=TR=T,TL=TR=T size 12{T rSub { size 8{L} } =T rSub { size 8{R} } =T} {},
4.48

as predicted. Now, considering the vertical components (denoted by a subscript yy size 12{y} {}), we can solve for TT size 12{T} {}. Again, since the person is stationary, Newton’s second law implies that net Fy=0Fy=0 size 12{F rSub { size 8{y} } =0} {}. Thus, as illustrated in the free-body diagram in Figure 4.18,

Fnet y=TLy+TRyw=0.Fnet y=TLy+TRyw=0 size 12{F rSub { size 8{"net "} rSub { size 8{y} } } =T rSub { size 8{L} rSub { size 8{y} } } +T rSub { size 8{R} rSub { size 8{y} } } - w=0} {}.
4.49

Observing Figure 4.18, we can use trigonometry to determine the relationship between TLyTLy size 12{T rSub { size 8{L} rSub { size 8{y} } } } {}, TRyTRy size 12{T rSub { size 8{R} rSub { size 8{y} } } } {}, and TT size 12{T} {}. As we determined from the analysis in the horizontal direction, TL=TR=TTL=TR=T size 12{T rSub { size 8{L} } =T rSub { size 8{R} } =T} {}:

sin ( 5.0º ) = T L y T L T L y = T L sin ( 5.0º ) = T sin ( 5.0º ) sin ( 5.0º ) = T R y T R T R y = T R sin ( 5.0º ) = T sin ( 5.0º ) . sin ( 5.0º ) = T L y T L T L y = T L sin ( 5.0º ) = T sin ( 5.0º ) sin ( 5.0º ) = T R y T R T R y = T R sin ( 5.0º ) = T sin ( 5.0º ) . alignl { stack { size 12{"sin" \( 5 "." 0° \) = { {T rSub { size 8{L} rSub { size 8{y} } } } over {T rSub { size 8{L} } } } } {} # T rSub { size 8{L} rSub { size 8{y} } } =T rSub { size 8{L} } "sin" \( 5 "." 0° \) =T"sin" \( 5 "." 0° \) {} # "sin" \( 5 "." 0° \) = { {T rSub { size 8{R} rSub { size 8{y} } } } over {T rSub { size 8{R} } } } {} # T rSub { size 8{R} rSub { size 8{y} } } =T rSub { size 8{R} } "sin" \( 5 "." 0° \) =T"sin" \( 5 "." 0° \) {} } } {}
4.50

Now, we can substitute the values for TLyTLy size 12{T rSub { size 8{L} rSub { size 8{y} } } } {} and TRyTRy size 12{T rSub { size 8{R} rSub { size 8{y} } } } {}, into the net force equation in the vertical direction:

F net y = T L y + T R y w = 0 F net y = T sin ( 5.0º ) + T sin ( 5.0º ) w = 0 2 T sin ( 5.0º ) w = 0 2 T sin ( 5.0º ) = w F net y = T L y + T R y w = 0 F net y = T sin ( 5.0º ) + T sin ( 5.0º ) w = 0 2 T sin ( 5.0º ) w = 0 2 T sin ( 5.0º ) = w alignl { stack { size 12{F rSub { size 8{"net "} rSub { size 8{y} } } =T rSub { size 8{L} rSub { size 8{y} } } +T rSub { size 8{R} rSub { size 8{y} } } - w=0} {} # F rSub { size 8{"net "} rSub { size 8{y} } } =T"sin" \( 5 "." 0° \) +T"sin" \( 5 "." 0° \) - w=0 {} # 2T"sin" \( 5 "." 0° \) - w=0 {} # 2T"sin" \( 5 "." 0° \) =w {} } } {}
4.51

and

T=w2sin(5.0º)=mg2sin(5.0º),T=w2sin(5.0º)=mg2sin(5.0º) size 12{T= { {w} over {2"sin" \( 5 "." 0° \) } } = { { ital "mg"} over {2"sin" \( 5 "." 0° \) } } } {},
4.52

so that

T=(70.0 kg)(9.80 m/s2)2(0.0872),T=(70.0 kg)(9.80 m/s2)2(0.0872) size 12{T= { { \( "70" "." "0 kg" \) \( 9 "." "80 m/s" rSup { size 8{2} } \) } over {2 \( 0 "." "0872" \) } } = { {"686 N"} over {0 "." "174"} } } {},
4.53

and the tension is

T=3900 N.T=3900 N size 12{T="3900"" N"} {}.
4.54

Discussion

Note that the vertical tension in the wire acts as a normal force that supports the weight of the tightrope walker. The tension is almost six times the 686-N weight of the tightrope walker. Since the wire is nearly horizontal, the vertical component of its tension is only a small fraction of the tension in the wire. The large horizontal components are in opposite directions and cancel, and so most of the tension in the wire is not used to support the weight of the tightrope walker.

If we wish to create a very large tension, all we have to do is exert a force perpendicular to a flexible connector, as illustrated in Figure 4.19. As we saw in the last example, the weight of the tightrope walker acted as a force perpendicular to the rope. We saw that the tension in the roped related to the weight of the tightrope walker in the following way:

T=w2sin(θ).T=w2sin(θ) size 12{T= { {w} over {2"sin" \( θ \) } } } {}.
4.55

We can extend this expression to describe the tension TT size 12{T} {} created when a perpendicular force (FF size 12{F rSub { size 8{ ortho } } } {}) is exerted at the middle of a flexible connector:

T=F2sin(θ).T=F2sin(θ) size 12{T= { {F rSub { size 8{ ortho } } } over {2"sin" \( θ \) } } } {}.
4.56

Note that θθ size 12{θ} {} is the angle between the horizontal and the bent connector. In this case, TT size 12{T} {} becomes very large as θθ size 12{θ} {} approaches zero. Even the relatively small weight of any flexible connector will cause it to sag, since an infinite tension would result if it were horizontal (i.e., θ=0θ=0 and sinθ=0sinθ=0 size 12{"sin"θ=0} {}). (See Figure 4.19.)

A car stuck in mud is being pulled out by a chain tied to a tree trunk. A force perpendicular to the length of the chain is applied, represented by an arrow. The tension T along the chain makes an angle with the horizontal line.
Figure 4.19 We can create a very large tension in the chain by pushing on it perpendicular to its length, as shown. Suppose we wish to pull a car out of the mud when no tow truck is available. Each time the car moves forward, the chain is tightened to keep it as nearly straight as possible. The tension in the chain is given by T=F2sin(θ)T=F2sin(θ) size 12{T= { {F rSub { size 8{ ortho } } } over {2"sin" \( θ \) } } } {} ; since θθ size 12{θ} {} is small, TT size 12{T} {} is very large. This situation is analogous to the tightrope walker shown in Figure 4.17, except that the tensions shown here are those transmitted to the car and the tree rather than those acting at the point where FF size 12{F rSub { size 8{ ortho } } } {} is applied.
A picture of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Figure 4.20 Unless an infinite tension is exerted, any flexible connector—such as the chain at the bottom of the picture—will sag under its own weight, giving a characteristic curve when the weight is evenly distributed along the length. Suspension bridges—such as the Golden Gate Bridge shown in this image—are essentially very heavy flexible connectors. The weight of the bridge is evenly distributed along the length of flexible connectors, usually cables, which take on the characteristic shape. (credit: Leaflet, Wikimedia Commons)

Extended Topic: Real Forces and Inertial Frames

There is another distinction among forces in addition to the types already mentioned. Some forces are real, whereas others are not. Real forces are those that have some physical origin, such as the gravitational pull. Contrastingly, fictitious forces are those that arise simply because an observer is in an accelerating frame of reference, such as one that rotates (like a merry-go-round) or undergoes linear acceleration (like a car slowing down). For example, if a satellite is heading due north above Earth’s northern hemisphere, then to an observer on Earth it will appear to experience a force to the west that has no physical origin. Of course, what is happening here is that Earth is rotating toward the east and moves east under the satellite. In Earth’s frame this looks like a westward force on the satellite, or it can be interpreted as a violation of Newton’s first law (the law of inertia). An inertial frame of reference is one in which all forces are real and, equivalently, one in which Newton’s laws have the simple forms given in this chapter.

Earth’s rotation is slow enough that Earth is nearly an inertial frame. You ordinarily must perform precise experiments to observe fictitious forces and the slight departures from Newton’s laws, such as the effect just described. On the large scale, such as for the rotation of weather systems and ocean currents, the effects can be easily observed.

The crucial factor in determining whether a frame of reference is inertial is whether it accelerates or rotates relative to a known inertial frame. Unless stated otherwise, all phenomena discussed in this text are considered in inertial frames.

All the forces discussed in this section are real forces, but there are a number of other real forces, such as lift and thrust, that are not discussed in this section. They are more specialized, and it is not necessary to discuss every type of force. It is natural, however, to ask where the basic simplicity we seek to find in physics is in the long list of forces. Are some more basic than others? Are some different manifestations of the same underlying force? The answer to both questions is yes, as will be seen in the next (extended) section and in the treatment of modern physics later in the text.

PhET Explorations: Forces in 1 Dimension

Explore the forces at work when you try to push a filing cabinet. Create an applied force and see the resulting friction force and total force acting on the cabinet. Charts show the forces, position, velocity, and acceleration vs. time. View a free-body diagram of all the forces (including gravitational and normal forces). Click to open media in new browser.

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