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  • Define mass and inertia.
  • Understand Newton's first law of motion.

Experience suggests that an object at rest will remain at rest if left alone, and that an object in motion tends to slow down and stop unless some effort is made to keep it moving. What Newton’s first law of motion     states, however, is the following:

Newton’s first law of motion

A body at rest remains at rest, or, if in motion, remains in motion at a constant velocity unless acted on by a net external force.

Note the repeated use of the verb “remains.” We can think of this law as preserving the status quo of motion.

Rather than contradicting our experience, Newton’s first law of motion    states that there must be a cause (which is a net external force) for there to be any change in velocity (either a change in magnitude or direction) . We will define net external force in the next section. An object sliding across a table or floor slows down due to the net force of friction acting on the object. If friction disappeared, would the object still slow down?

The idea of cause and effect is crucial in accurately describing what happens in various situations. For example, consider what happens to an object sliding along a rough horizontal surface. The object quickly grinds to a halt. If we spray the surface with talcum powder to make the surface smoother, the object slides farther. If we make the surface even smoother by rubbing lubricating oil on it, the object slides farther yet. Extrapolating to a frictionless surface, we can imagine the object sliding in a straight line indefinitely. Friction is thus the cause of the slowing (consistent with Newton’s first law). The object would not slow down at all if friction were completely eliminated. Consider an air hockey table. When the air is turned off, the puck slides only a short distance before friction slows it to a stop. However, when the air is turned on, it creates a nearly frictionless surface, and the puck glides long distances without slowing down. Additionally, if we know enough about the friction, we can accurately predict how quickly the object will slow down. Friction is an external force.

Newton’s first law is completely general and can be applied to anything from an object sliding on a table to a satellite in orbit to blood pumped from the heart. Experiments have thoroughly verified that any change in velocity (speed or direction) must be caused by an external force. The idea of generally applicable or universal laws is important not only here—it is a basic feature of all laws of physics. Identifying these laws is like recognizing patterns in nature from which further patterns can be discovered. The genius of Galileo, who first developed the idea for the first law, and Newton, who clarified it, was to ask the fundamental question, “What is the cause?” Thinking in terms of cause and effect is a worldview fundamentally different from the typical ancient Greek approach when questions such as “Why does a tiger have stripes?” would have been answered in Aristotelian fashion, “That is the nature of the beast.” True perhaps, but not a useful insight.

Mass

The property of a body to remain at rest or to remain in motion with constant velocity is called inertia    . Newton’s first law is often called the law of inertia    . As we know from experience, some objects have more inertia than others. It is obviously more difficult to change the motion of a large boulder than that of a basketball, for example. The inertia of an object is measured by its mass    . Roughly speaking, mass is a measure of the amount of “stuff” (or matter) in something. The quantity or amount of matter in an object is determined by the numbers of atoms and molecules of various types it contains. Unlike weight, mass does not vary with location. The mass of an object is the same on Earth, in orbit, or on the surface of the Moon. In practice, it is very difficult to count and identify all of the atoms and molecules in an object, so masses are not often determined in this manner. Operationally, the masses of objects are determined by comparison with the standard kilogram.

Which has more mass: a kilogram of cotton balls or a kilogram of gold?

Answer

They are equal. A kilogram of one substance is equal in mass to a kilogram of another substance. The quantities that might differ between them are volume and density.

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Section summary

  • Newton’s first law of motion    states that a body at rest remains at rest, or, if in motion, remains in motion at a constant velocity unless acted on by a net external force. This is also known as the law of inertia    .
  • Inertia is the tendency of an object to remain at rest or remain in motion. Inertia is related to an object’s mass.
  • Mass is the quantity of matter in a substance.

Conceptual questions

How are inertia and mass related?

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What is the relationship between weight and mass? Which is an intrinsic, unchanging property of a body?

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Questions & Answers

Calculate the work done by an 85.0-kg man who pushes a crate 4.00 m up along a ramp that makes an angle of 20.0º20.0º with the horizontal. (See [link] .) He exerts a force of 500 N on the crate parallel to the ramp and moves at a constant speed. Be certain to include the work he does on the crate an
Collins Reply
What is thermal heat all about
Abel Reply
why uniform circular motion is called a periodic motion?.
Boniface Reply
when a train start from A & it returns at same station A . what is its acceleration?
Mwdan Reply
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BELLO
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aliyu
Hmmmm maybe the question is logical
yusuf
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HENRY
there is enough information to calculate an AVERAGE acceleration
Kwok
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Kwok
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Abel
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Abel
wha are the types of radioactivity ?
Worku Reply
what are the types of radioactivity
Worku
what is static friction
Golu Reply
It is the opposite of kinetic friction
Mark
static fiction is friction between two surfaces in contact an none of sliding over on another, while Kinetic friction is friction between sliding surfaces in contact.
MINDERIUM
I don't get it,if it's static then there will be no friction.
author
It means that static friction is that friction that most be overcome before a body can move
kingsley
static friction is a force that keeps an object from moving, and it's the opposite of kinetic friction.
author
It is a force a body must overcome in order for the body to move.
Eboh
If a particle accelerator explodes what happens
Eboh
why we see the edge effect in case of the field lines of capacitor?
Arnab
what is wave
Muhammed Reply
what is force
Muhammed
force is something which is responsible for the object to change its position
MINDERIUM
more technically it is the product of mass of an object and Acceleration produced in it
MINDERIUM
wave is disturbance in any medium
iqra
energy is distributed in any medium through particles of medium.
iqra
If a particle accelerator explodes what happens
Eboh Reply
we have to first figure out .... wats a particle accelerator first
Teh
What is surface tension
Subi Reply
The resistive force of surface.
iqra
Who can tutor me on simple harmonic motion
yusuf Reply
on both a string and peldulum?
Anya
spring*
Anya
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Simple harmonic motion
yusuf
how.an.equipotential.line is two dimension and equipotential surface is three dimension ?
syed Reply
definition of mass of conversion
umezurike Reply
Force equals mass time acceleration. Weight is a force and it can replace force in the equation. The acceleration would be gravity, which is an acceleration. To change from weight to mass divide by gravity (9.8 m/s^2).
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Adeshina Reply
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Praise what level are you
yusuf
If u are doing a levels in your first year you do AS topics therefore you do 5 big topic i.e particles radiation, waves and optics, mechanics,materials, electricity. After that you do A level topics like Specific Harmonic motion circular motion astrophysics depends really
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yusuf
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Tamdy Reply
a ripple tank experiment a vibrating plane is used to generate wrinkles in the water .if the distance between two successive point is 3.5cm and the wave travel a distance of 31.5cm find the frequency of the vibration
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the range of objects and phenomena studied in physics is
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Boniface
Practice Key Terms 4

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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