Friction And Frictional Force: A Necessary Evil?

Friction is a force exerted by a surface against the motion of a body across its surface. Frictional forces are the reason why your car comes to a standstill if you don’t accelerate. We see examples all around us where frictional forces act. It is something that we cannot live with and something we cannot live without. In this article, we will explore friction, how it helps us and how it harms us. Let’s start with its advantages.

Frictional forces

Advantages of Frictional Forces

We can only understand the importance of frictional force if it goes away. So let’s explore a world without frictional force. Without this force, you would not be able to walk at all. With your first step out of the bed, you’d slip and fall. Imagine a world where someone has put oil all over a floor. A world without frictional force is much worse than this. Let alone walking, you wouldn’t be able to use your car or bike since the wheel that helps you move around do so by using frictional force. The friction between the road and the wheel causes the movement of the vehicle and without frictional forces, you’d just stay in one place and spin the wheels. Imagine that you eventually make it your classroom despite the absence of frictional force after a lot of slipping and falling down. In the classroom the situation would be even worse. You wouldn’t be able to lift your books out of your bag because they’d keep slipping through your fingers. Pen and pencil rely on the frictional force acting between the tip of the pen or pencil and the page to write. That’s not the worst part, the teacher’s blackboard and chalk wouldn’t work either. The teacher would have to teach the entire syllabus orally! A world without this force is a world without sports too! You can spin/swing a cricket ball due to the frictional force between your fingers and the ball. Without friction, sports would be a dream. Wow, a world without friction seems like a nightmare, but friction is exactly the hero of the story.

Frictional forces

Disadvantages of Friction

Friction although is necessary, can be excessive at times. Most machines require repair and maintenance because of the frictional force. The friction between parts over time is responsible for a majority of the wear and tear in a machine. So if you’re cycle needs to get repaired, you know who to blame. Frictional force also causes most of the injuries. When you fall down, the part of your body in contact with the ground, scrapes the surface as you fall. Frictional force is responsible for the wound and blood. Without friction, it would be like slipping on ice. You’d just slip and slide away. It is also responsible for our cars and vehicles slowing down. When you are moving, you experience frictional forces due to multiple sources. The friction between you and the ground, the frictional force between you and the air you are moving through. Without frictional force, you’d just have to pedal your cycle once or twice and you’d keep goingon and on. Thus when we are moving, we waste a lot of energy overcoming the frictional force opposing our motion.

Frictional forces

The Verdict

Even though frictional force is a huge pain in the neck, life as we know it would have been impossible without it. Not to mention how friction holds our skyscrapers in one piece or how friction helps us turn the pages of our books. In the end even though it makes us waste a lot of energy, causes a lot of pain as wounds and spoils our machines, life without friction is not a life worth living. The energy we waste overcoming frictional force in our daily lives is a price definitely worth paying.

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Practise This Question

Which of the following statements is incorrect?