Online reading assignment: applications of Newton's laws (friction)

Physics 205A, fall semester 2019
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students have a bi-weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, material covered in previous lectures, opinion questions, and/or asking (anonymous) questions or making (anonymous) comments. Full credit is given for completing the online reading assignment before next week's lecture, regardless if whether their answers are correct/incorrect. Selected results/questions/comments are addressed by the instructor at the start of the following lecture.

The following questions were asked on reading textbook chapters on applications of Newton's laws (emphasizing static and kinetic friction).

Selected/edited responses are given below.

Describe what you understand from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview. Your description (2-3 sentences) should specifically demonstrate your level of understanding.
"There can only be two types of motion: constant and changing. There also only two types of net forces: zero and non-zero."

"Newton's third law of motion isn't necessarily about motion or net force, but the properties of force itself."

"We can use the mnemonic device 'POF-OST-ITO' in order to test if Newton's third law applies or not. POF stands for 'pair of opposite forces,' OST is 'of same type,' ITO 'involving two objects.'"

"Newton's third law relates only two forces of the same type acting on two different objects. However Newton's first law deals with two forces acting upon one object. Additionally, if the POF-OST-ITO test fails, then it is not a N3 scenario, but it is not yet safe to assume it is a N1 scenario either, until you do further investigation."

"Newton's second law shows how the acceleration depends on both the net force and the mass. The magnitude of acceleration is proportional to the net force acting on the object, and inversely proportional to the mass. The net force includes only the forces that the environment exerts on the object of interest. The kinetic friction force opposes the relative sliding motion."

"Everything is effected on by gravity. If something is touching a surface, it will have a normal force acting on it."

"The normal force can only exist when two surfaces are making contact with one another. If two objects are not making contact, then there is no normal force."

"Friction is another component when dealing with the motions of an object. It is a force that is parallel to the surface an object is moving on. Static friction is what makes an object remain stationary even when a force is applied, and only moves when the applied force is slightly greater than the maximum force of static friction."

"Static friction force comes into play when pulling on an object at rest, and if the force applied is small enough static friction will cancel out the applied force resulting in no movement."

"That an object initially at rest interacts with a surface through static friction. As the object moves, after overcoming the maximum static friction, the resistance turns into kinetic friction. Friction is a parallel and normal force is perpendicular to the surfaces in contact."

"Static friction is the friction that a surface has on a object that is resting on the surface and is directly proportional to the normal force on said object. Next, there is kinetic friction which is friction that occurs between two sliding surfaces. Also kinetic friction is typically less than the static friction."

"Static and kinetic frictional forces seem pretty straightforward. Static refers to when there is friction acting on an object but the object is not moving. Kinetic is when there is friction acting on an object but the object is moving."

"Was a little lost, so there isn't much I understand."

Describe what you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview. Your description (2-3 sentences) should specifically identify the concept(s) that you do not understand.
"I feel like I understand Newton's laws from the textbook. However, when it comes to applying the concepts to a free body diagram, I start getting confused with the direction of the forces and how they cancel out especially when things are stacked on top of each other."

"I still have trouble distinguishing between Newton's first law and second law."

"I was slightly confused as to why the pulleys and ropes would have equal tensions for the different worksheet examples in class. But after further research I understood that neither the mass nor acceleration of gravity changed, therefore the tension forces stayed the same."

"I get confused on how to determine which law is being used between Newton's first law or third law. I also don't understand the difference between static and kinetic friction forces and the magnitudes associated with them."

"The difference between static friction and kinetic friction aren't clear to me."

"The coefficient of friction and what it stands for might need some clarification for me."

"I would like some more work in class with problems on kinetic friction and static friction. I understand that static friction is friction for stationary objects, like a box on the ground, and that kinetic friction is friction for moving objects, like a box sliding across the ground. However, I'm still unsure of how this would work in real-world situations."

"I don't know how to put friction in an equation or how to use it to solve for something."

"Why are there no SI units for static/kinetic friction coefficient?"

"For the most part it is pretty easy to visualize friction, since we have all experienced it before."

"Didn't really find anything confusing."

"I understood most of it conceptually, I think it could get more confusing when these concepts are applied in a problem."

"Most of it."

What is the meaning of the "normal" in the "normal force?"
"The perpendicular force applied between two objects contacting each other."

"It just means the force is perpendicular to the surface."

"The 'normal' force refers to the perpendicular direction with respect to the surface."

"Normal means 'perpendicular.'"

"There will almost always be normal force on any given objects in contact, regardless of its state or location? That's what makes it 'normal,' right?

The SI (Système International) units of the static friction coefficient µs and the kinetic friction coefficient µk are:
" Unitless."

The coefficients because the units cancel."

"I do not believe these coefficients have units."



"I'm not entirely sure."

Identify the magnitude of the static friction force fs for each of the following situations of a box that is initially stationary on a horizontal floor. (Only correct responses shown.)
No external horizontal forces applied to it, so it remains stuck to the floor:
fs = 0. [77%]

An external horizontal force applied to it, but still remains stuck to the floor:
fs = some value between 0 and µs·N. [83%]

An external horizontal force applied to it, at the threshold of nearly becoming unstuck:
fs = µs·N. [72%]

Identify the magnitude of the kinetic friction force fk for each of the following situations of a box that is already sliding across a horizontal floor. (Only correct responses shown.)
No external horizontal forces applied on it, so it slows down:
fk = µk·N. [21%]

An external horizontal force applied in the forward direction, but not enough to keep the box going so it still gradually slows down:
fk = µk·N. [23%]

An external horizontal force applied in the forward direction, just enough to keep the box going at a constant speed:
fk = µk·N. [43%]

An external horizontal force applied in the forward direction, enough to gradually increase the speed of the box:
fk = µk·N. [58%]

An external horizontal force applied in the backwards direction, such that the box slows down:
fk = µk·N. [32%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Can we go over the friction coefficients? Please explain static friction force and kinetic friction force in detail in class! I could use some review on the equations for the magnitudes of static and kinetic frictional force. Is the friction coefficient different between objects that do not appear smooth. For example, is the constant for ice on ice different than say, bumpy ice on ice?" (Yes, the coefficient will be larger for rougher surfaces than for smoother sliding surfaces.)

"Are there ways to increase of decrease friction?" (Change the smoothness/roughness of the surfaces, or add a lubricant (which is "smooth" on a molecular level; long hydrocarbon chains can align with each other to roll like logs) between the two surfaces.)

"What is it that causes friction? Is it simply objects hooking onto each other at microscopic levels?"

"Does static friction force become kinetic friction force once the object starts moving?" (Yes, once the object is already unstuck.)

"What I found confusing was that static friction force and the applied force on a object are directly proportional, except for the fact that static friction has a maximum amount, as opposed to applied force which can keep increasing indefinitely. If the two are directly proportional, shouldn't the static friction force increase as long as the applied force increases, or shouldn't the applied force also have a maximum if the static friction has one as well?" (You can arbitrarily exert any amount of applied force on an object, but the static friction force will have a maximum amount because at some point your applied force will "unstick" the object so it will then begin to move. I suppose if you stuck together the two surfaces magic superglue, then you could exert an infinite amount of applied force, and the static friction force would then also be infinite, provided the magic superglue still holds the object stationary.)

"I hope I'm understanding this correctly! It seems to make sense so that's either a really good sign or a really bad sign."

"Definitely need some review, this weekend fried my brain."

"I don't like this :("

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