This tag is for the classical concept of forces, i.e. the quantities causing an acceleration of a body. It expands to the strong/electroweak force only insofar as they act comparable to ‘classical’ forces. Use [tag:particle-physics] for decay channels due to forces and [tag:newtonian-mechanics] or ...

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153
votes
11answers
24k views

Why are four-legged chairs so common?

Four-legged chairs are by far the most common form of chair. However, only three legs are necessary to maintain stability whilst sitting on the chair. If the chair were to tilt, then with both a ...
90
votes
8answers
22k views

Why does a helium filled ballon move forward in a car when the car is accelerating?

I noticed that when I had a helium filled, latex ballon inside of my car, it moved forward in the cabin as I accelerated forward. The faster I accelerated forward, the faster the ballon went from the ...
81
votes
10answers
14k views

If gravity isn't a force, then why do we learn in school that it is?

I have studied some of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, and I understand that it states that gravity isn't a force but rather the effects of objects curving space-time. If this is true, then ...
73
votes
6answers
15k views

Am I attracting Pluto?

My question is simple: as the title says, am I exerting a force over for example Pluto, although it is a very small force, it is there, right? Or maybe let's go further: Am I exerting a gravity force ...
71
votes
7answers
6k views

Does juggling balls reduce the total weight of the juggler and balls?

A friend offered me a brain teaser to which the solution involves a $195$ pound man juggling two $3$-pound balls to traverse a bridge having a maximum capacity of only $200$ pounds. He explained that ...
56
votes
8answers
52k views

With Newton's third law, why are things capable of moving?

I've got a rather humiliating question considering newton's third law "If an object A exterts a force on object B, then object B exerts an equal but opposite force on object A" -> $F_1=-F_2$ ...
53
votes
4answers
3k views

GR and my journey to the centre of the Earth

[General Relativity] basically says that the reason you are sticking to the floor right now is that the shortest distance between today and tomorrow is through the center of the Earth. ...
50
votes
8answers
14k views

Short of collision, can gravity itself kill you?

Imagine that you are falling into object with huge gravity (i.e. black hole) that does not have any atmosphere. The question is - before you hit the ground, can the gravity itself (which would be ...
44
votes
5answers
7k views

Why is the Moon considered the major cause of tides, even though it is weaker than the Sun?

You have likely read in books that tides are mainly caused by the Moon. When the Moon is high in the sky, it pulls the water on the Earth upward and a high-tide happens. There is some similar effect ...
44
votes
10answers
28k views

How exactly does curved space-time describe the force of gravity?

I understand that people explain (in layman's terms at least) that the presence of mass "warps" space-time geometry, and this causes gravity. I have also of course heard the analogy of a blanket or ...
42
votes
6answers
5k views

Why do we still need to think of gravity as a force?

Firstly I think shades of this question have appeared elsewhere (like here, or here). Hopefully mine is a slightly different take on it. If I'm just being thick please correct me. We always hear ...
41
votes
4answers
11k views

How do bicycle spokes work?

As you know, it is quite obvious that bicycle spokes attach the hub in the center to the rim. What else do they do? If you compare the wheels today with the ones from ancient times, there are more ...
41
votes
6answers
9k views

Pouring water in an aircraft while upside down?

What is the physics behind the following photo? Someone had told me that this is because the aircraft might be moving towards a lower altitude, but I am still not sure.
36
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there an underlying physical reason why the Coriolis force is similar to the magnetic component of the Lorentz force?

I couldn't help but notice that the expression for the magnetic component of the Lorentz force, $$\mathbf F = q\,\mathbf v \times \mathbf B\,,$$ is very similar in its mathematical form to the ...
34
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is the equation for friction so simple?

The general equation for the force of friction (static or kinetic) is $F_f = \mu * F_N$, where $F_f$ is the force of friction and $\mu$ is the coefficient of friction (its value is dependent upon the ...
34
votes
5answers
5k views

Why isn't Higgs coupling considered a fifth fundamental force?

When I first learned about the four fundamental forces of nature, I assumed that they were just the only four kind of interactions there were. But after learning a little field theory, there are many ...
32
votes
12answers
5k views

Where does the extra force generated by a lever come from?

Given an object being pulled down to earth by a force of 1000 lb: If a machine were to lift it off the ground for me, and I grabbed on to the rope before it was released, there is no way in the world ...
32
votes
6answers
21k views

Is there an equation for the strong nuclear force?

The equation describing the force due to gravity is $$F = G \frac{m_1 m_2}{r^2}.$$ Similarly the force due to the electrostatic force is $$F = k \frac{q_1 q_2}{r^2}.$$ Is there a similar equation ...
27
votes
3answers
3k views

Stretch length of horizontal and vertical springs

If the spring in Figure A is stretched a distance d, how far will the spring in Figure B stretch? The spring constants are the same. The answer is "by half". I don't get it, to me it's the same.
26
votes
7answers
5k views

Supergun Launching of Satellites

I should say first that I don't believe this is a feasible launch method, otherwise NASA and other space agencies would be using it by now. It's based on this BBC news story Saddam Hussein's Supergun ...
26
votes
4answers
2k views

The physical definition of work seems paradoxical

So this is possibly a misunderstanding of the meaning of work, but all the Physics texts, sites, and wiki that I've read don't clear this up for me: In the simplest case with the simplest statement, ...
26
votes
4answers
3k views

Are Newton's “laws” of motion laws or definitions of force and mass?

If you consider them as laws, then there must be independent definitions of force and mass but I don't think there's such definitions. If you consider them as definitions, then why are they still ...
25
votes
1answer
1k views

Is gecko-like friction Coulombic? What is the highest known Coulombic $\mu_s$ for any combination of surfaces?

Materials with large coefficients of static friction would be cool and useful. Rubber on rough surfaces typically has $\mu_s\sim1-2$. When people talk about examples with very high friction, often ...
24
votes
17answers
9k views

Doesn't a box holding a vacuum weigh the same as a box full of air?

This was recently brought up, and I haven't been able to conclude a solid answer. Let's say we have two identical boxes (A and ...
24
votes
4answers
5k views

What would put a harddisk drive (HDD) under 350G's of force?

I always see the label and it says 350G's withstandable. What would put this over 350G's? Is it even possible to hit 350Gs of force to a hard drive?
23
votes
4answers
5k views

Why doesn't a spinning object in the air fall?

Let's say I have a ball attached to a string and I'm spinning it above my head. If it's going fast enough, it doesn't fall. I know there's centripetal acceleration that's causing the ball to stay in a ...
23
votes
3answers
2k views

Why doesn't a fly fall off the wall?

Pretty simple question, but not an obvious answer at least not to me. I mean you can't just place a dead fly on the wall and expect it to stay there, he will fall off due to gravity. At first I ...
23
votes
5answers
6k views

Why are a motorcycle's front brakes more effective than back?

I've noticed that when I apply the front brakes on my bike it stops quite quickly. If I apply the back brakes at the same speed, it skids rather than stopping quickly. Why?
23
votes
2answers
4k views

If action equals reaction, how is it ever possible to win in martial arts?

In kick-boxing, when a fighter's leg hits an opponents leg, the outcome, based on Newton's 3rd law, should be the same for each fighter. It's not even important who kicked who, as in the moment of ...
21
votes
6answers
3k views

Conservation of momentum when rain pours into a wagon

Suppose a wagon is moving at constant velocity on a friction-less surface, and rain begins to fill the wagon. The net force on the wagon is zero, so momentum is conserved; as the mass of the wagon ...
21
votes
7answers
4k views

How was the formula for kinetic energy found, and who found it?

My questions mostly concern the history of physics. Who found the formula for kinetic energy $E_k =\frac{1}{2}mv^{2}$ and how was this formula actually discovered? I've recently watched Leonard ...
21
votes
7answers
16k views

What does it mean to say “Gravity is the weakest of the forces”?

I can understand that on small scales (within an atom/molecule), the other forces are much stronger, but on larger scales, it seems that gravity is a far stronger force; e.g. planets are held to the ...
20
votes
5answers
6k views

Is this scene from the A Team explainable by Physics?

This scene (youtube link) from the movie The A-team, the four members are in the tank and its falling from the air, they fire the canon and it slows the tank from falling for a moment before falling ...
20
votes
3answers
5k views

Is the EmDrive, or “Relativity Drive” possible?

In 2006, New Scientist magazine published an article titled Relativity drive: The end of wings and wheels1 [1] about the EmDrive [Wikipedia] which stirred up a fair degree of controversy and some ...
20
votes
1answer
838 views

What determines the speed of waves in water?

While I was walking my dog this morning, I passed over a canal filled with boats, barges, and kayaks all of different masses and moving at different speeds. I noticed that all of these vessels left ...
20
votes
4answers
4k views

Why do ships lean to the outside, but boats lean to the inside of a turn?

Small vessels generally lean into a turn, whereas big vessels lean out. Why do ships lean to the outside, but boats lean to the inside of a turn? For example, a boat leaning into a turn: ...
19
votes
3answers
4k views

How do crocodiles jump?

In a video (Here), I saw crocodiles jump vertically about three meters without using any solid surface. The wonderful thing is that when they start to jump, their vertical velocity is approximately ...
19
votes
3answers
4k views

Can something without mass exert a force?

I am something of a dilettante in physics, so please forgive me if the answer to this question is painfully obvious. The question is simple, can something that theoretically has no mass exert a force. ...
19
votes
8answers
5k views

Does it take more energy to open a door when applying force close to the hinge?

Assuming an ordinary hinged door (without any springs), would it take more energy to open it when applying force in the middle of the door (point b), rather than at the end of the door (point a), ...
19
votes
7answers
7k views

The best way in which a man can pull a train

I have chosen this example as a paradoxical limit, but my question really regards the optimization, distribution and outcome of force when you try to pull a weight: how can you optimize your ...
19
votes
4answers
9k views

Why do whips hurt so much?

What exactly is the mechanism that makes a whip deliver such a strong impact? Elasticity, torque, or pressure? Just hitting something with a plank doesn't deal nearly as much damage. What's the ...
19
votes
5answers
717 views

Particles for all forces: how do they know where to go, and what to avoid?

Here's an intuitive problem which I can't get around, can someone please explain it? Consider a proton P and an electron E moving through the electromagnetic field (or other particles for other ...
19
votes
2answers
4k views

Is Pauli-repulsion a “force” that is completely separate from the 4 fundamental forces?

You can have two electrons that experience each other's force by the exchange of photons (i.e. the electromagnetic force). Yet if you compress them really strongly, the electromagnetic interaction ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

How is gravity consistent when you split an object into multiple pieces?

Here's the picture: In picture 1: Assume that we have 2 objects, namely A, and B. Object A with mass $2M$, and object B with mass $m$; and their distance is $r$. Then the gravitational force of A ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

Why can't Humans run any faster?

If you wanted to at least semi-realistically model the key components of Human running, what are the factors that determine the top running speed of an individual? The primary things to consider would ...
17
votes
4answers
5k views

How can we move an object with zero velocity?

Consider there is a box of mass $m$ at rest on the floor. Most books give an example that we need to do a work of $mgh$ to lift the box $h$ upward. If we analyze this work done, the external force ...
17
votes
3answers
786 views

Why are all force particles bosons?

All of the force-particles in the standard model are bosons, now my question is pretty short, namely: Why are all force particles bosons? This can't be a coincidence.
17
votes
5answers
2k views

How is potential energy actually stored in a steel spring at the atomic level?

Elasticity is one the most intriguing phenomena, wiki gives a summary explanation of what happens in a steel spring: the atomic lattice changes size and shape when forces are applied (energy is ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

Explanation for this type of (magic-trick) suspension? [closed]

Well let's start off with that I'm not a physicist but I'd like some thoughts on something I came across in my hometown. This guy: Is it possible that due to the electrical charge of magnets this ...
16
votes
6answers
16k views

Where do magnets get the energy to repel?

If I separate two magnets whose opposite poles are facing, I am adding energy. If I let go of the magnets, then presumably the energy that I added is used to move the magnets together again. However, ...