Force and Motion
Before we dwell into how force can affect the state of motion of a body, let’s take a glance at the force. Force is an interaction between two or more bodies that when unopposed causes a change in the state of motion of the objects. So in the definition of force itself, it explicitly states that force is something that causes a change in the state of motion. Force can also be thought of as a push or a pull. So let’s see how force affects the state of motion of a body. But what exactly is a change in the state of motion? A change in the state of motion corresponds to either a change in the speed of the body and/ or a change in the direction of motion of the body. The change in speed could mean speeding up (acceleration) or speeding down (deceleration).
A ball cannot move on its own, neither can a chair or a table. All non-living objects are stationary unless a force is acting on them. You need to have an engine to generate force in order to make it move, you need to kick the ball which is a form of applied force in order for the ball to fly into the goal. The chair will not move unless you move it. All these are examples of how force plays a huge role in our daily life.
A force can result in the following changes in the state of motion of a body:
- Force can cause Motion and Acceleration:
There are myriad of examples in real life of force resulting in motion. When you kick a stationary ball. You are applying force to it through your legs which causes the ball to start moving. This is not the only effect though, the force can also cause an increase in motion if it is applied in the same direction in which the body is moving. For example, if you’re cycling and you’re already in motion, by pedaling some more you are effectively using force to increase the speed in which you are traveling. This is an example of force being used to speed up or cause acceleration. We should remember that the acceleration happens only as long as a force is being applied. If the force is removed, the acceleration stops.
- Force can cause Deceleration or stop Motion
Brakes are an extremely important part of a vehicle. Can you imagine how dangerous your cycle would be if you could not slow down in the face of an accident? Luckily the force comes into the rescue once again. Force can sometimes also cause motion to stop or in other words cause deceleration. Brakes use the force you applied to slow your vehicle down or to stop it. If you throw a ball up at a given velocity, it will slow down as it travels upward due to the force of gravity.
- Force can cause a Change in the Direction
Do you play cricket? Cricket and almost every other sport rely on force to change the direction of the ball. The bowler ball the ball towards the batsman but on coming in contact with the bat the ball travels in a completely different path. This is because the batsman applies force on the ball in order to change the direction of the ball. The steering wheel of your car works similarly. By applying force to turn the wheel, you are changing the direction in which your car is traveling.
To summarize, a force is a push, pull, or dragging on an object that affects the object’s state of motion. The force may also cause a combination of the above effects, it may both accelerate/ decelerate and change the direction of the object. Force in real life most often affects both speed and direction of the motion. The action from a force can cause an object to accelerate, to decelerate, to stop, or to change direction.
If you prefer a video explanation of the concept, watch the video below,
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