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Learning objectives

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

  • Apply a problem-solving procedure to solve problems using Newton's laws of motion

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

  • 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.3.3 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.B.1.1 The student is able to predict the motion of an object subject to forces exerted by several objects using an application of Newton's second law in a variety of physical situations with acceleration in one dimension. (S.P. 6.4, 7.2)
  • 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)

Success in problem solving is obviously necessary to understand and apply physical principles, not to mention the more immediate need of passing exams. The basics of problem solving, presented earlier in this text, are followed here, but specific strategies useful in applying Newton’s laws of motion are emphasized. These techniques also reinforce concepts that are useful in many other areas of physics. Many problem-solving strategies are stated outright in the worked examples, and so the following techniques should reinforce skills you have already begun to develop.

Problem-solving strategy for newton’s laws of motion

Step 1. As usual, it is first necessary to identify the physical principles involved. Once it is determined that Newton’s laws of motion are involved (if the problem involves forces), it is particularly important to draw a careful sketch of the situation . Such a sketch is shown in [link] (a). Then, as in [link] (b), use arrows to represent all forces, label them carefully, and make their lengths and directions correspond to the forces they represent (whenever sufficient information exists).

(a) A sketch is shown of a man hanging from a vine. (b) The forces acting on the person, shown by vector arrows, are tension T, pointing upward at the hand of the man, F sub T, from the same point but in a downward direction, and weight W, acting downward from his stomach. (c) In figure (c) we define only the man as the system of interest. Tension T is acting upward from his hand. The weight W acts in a downward direction. In a free-body diagram W is shown by an arrow acting downward and T is shown by an arrow acting vertically upward. (d) Tension T is shown by an arrow vertically upward and another vector, weight W, is shown by an arrow vertically downward, both having the same lengths. It is indicated that T is equal to minus W.
(a) A sketch of Tarzan hanging from a vine. (b) Arrows are used to represent all forces. T size 12{T} {} is the tension in the vine above Tarzan, F T size 12{F rSub { size 8{T} } } {} is the force he exerts on the vine, and w size 12{w} {} is his weight. All other forces, such as the nudge of a breeze, are assumed negligible. (c) Suppose we are given the ape man’s mass and asked to find the tension in the vine. We then define the system of interest as shown and draw a free-body diagram. F T size 12{F rSub { size 8{T} } } {} is no longer shown, because it is not a force acting on the system of interest; rather, F T size 12{F rSub { size 8{T} } } {} acts on the outside world. (d) Showing only the arrows, the head-to-tail method of addition is used. It is apparent that T = - w size 12{T=w} {} , if Tarzan is stationary.

Step 2. Identify what needs to be determined and what is known or can be inferred from the problem as stated. That is, make a list of knowns and unknowns. Then carefully determine the system of interest . This decision is a crucial step, since Newton’s second law involves only external forces. Once the system of interest has been identified, it becomes possible to determine which forces are external and which are internal, a necessary step to employ Newton’s second law. (See [link] (c).) Newton’s third law may be used to identify whether forces are exerted between components of a system (internal) or between the system and something outside (external). As illustrated earlier in this chapter, the system of interest depends on what question we need to answer. This choice becomes easier with practice, eventually developing into an almost unconscious process. Skill in clearly defining systems will be beneficial in later chapters as well.

A diagram showing the system of interest and all of the external forces is called a free-body diagram    . Only forces are shown on free-body diagrams, not acceleration or velocity. We have drawn several of these in worked examples. [link] (c) shows a free-body diagram for the system of interest. Note that no internal forces are shown in a free-body diagram.

Questions & Answers

how can I read physics...am finding it difficult to understand...pls help
rerry Reply
try to read several books on phy don't just rely one. some authors explain better than other.
Ju
And don't forget to check out YouTube videos on the subject. Videos offer a different visual way to learn easier.
Ju
hope that helps
Ju
I have a exam on 12 february
David Reply
what is velocity
Jiti
the speed of something in a given direction.
Ju
what is a magnitude in physics
Jiti Reply
Propose a force standard different from the example of a stretched spring discussed in the text. Your standard must be capable of producing the same force repeatedly.
Giovani Reply
What is meant by dielectric charge?
It's Reply
what happens to the size of charge if the dielectric is changed?
Brhanu Reply
omega= omega not +alpha t derivation
Provakar Reply
u have to derivate it respected to time ...and as w is the angular velocity uu will relace it with "thita × time""
Abrar
do to be peaceful with any body
Brhanu Reply
the angle subtended at the center of sphere of radius r in steradian is equal to 4 pi how?
Saeed Reply
if for diatonic gas Cv =5R/2 then gamma is equal to 7/5 how?
Saeed
define variable velocity
Ali Reply
displacement in easy way.
Mubashir Reply
binding energy per nucleon
Poonam Reply
why God created humanity
Manuel Reply
Because HE needs someone to dominate the earth (Gen. 1:26)
Olorunfemi
why god made humenity
Ali
and he to multiply
Owofemi
stuff happens
Ju
God plays dice
Ju
Is the object in a conductor or an insulator? Justify your answer. whats the answer to this question? pls need help figure is given above
Jun Reply
ok we can say body is electrically neutral ...conductor this quality is given to most metalls who have free electron in orbital d ...but human doesn't have ...so we re made from insulator or dielectric material ... furthermore, the menirals in our body like k, Fe , cu , zn
Abrar
when we face electric shock these elements work as a conductor that's why we got this shock
Abrar
how do i calculate the pressure on the base of a deposit if the deposit is moving with a linear aceleration
ximena Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics for ap® courses. OpenStax CNX. Nov 04, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11844/1.14
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