The resistance a surface or object encounters when moving over another.

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58
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5answers
11k views

What does it mean for two objects to “touch”?

If you've ever been annoyingly poked by a geek, you might be familiar with the semi-nerdy obnoxious response of "I'm not actually touching you! The electrons in the atoms of my skin are just ...
35
votes
6answers
5k views

How can the Earth keep spinning with a liquid core?

In regards to the 'conservation of angular momentum' being the explanation of why celestial objects spin... If you fill a ball or any other container with a liquid and try to spin it, you will not ...
29
votes
6answers
1k views

Can I survive a free fall using a ramp and a rope?

Can I survive a free fall by carrying a very light and resistant ramp using a rope? Note: lets assume the ramp is a little bit heavier at the bottom and I am very skilled at making it always land ...
24
votes
6answers
7k views

Why does a tire need to be filled with air?

The Mini 4WD's tires aren't full of air, and it can run. Also, the tank doesn't have tires with air. So, the question is: why do real cars on the road need to be filled with air? What is the idea ...
22
votes
2answers
874 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
2k views

Does a car consume more fuel when it's raining?

Yesterday my wife asked me that question, and I couldn't answer. Consider a car, in a sunny day, and that is consumes x gallons per mile. Considering that everything is equal, except that it's ...
19
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
999 views

What determines the angle of the cushion on a pool table?

If you look at the cushions (bumpers) on a pool table, you'll see that they're not vertical. They're tilted inwards. About 10 years ago, I came across a physics exam in which one of the problems ...
18
votes
2answers
760 views

How hot does the tip of a pencil get while writing?

When writing with a pencil, there seems to be quite a lot of friction - which seems like it would induce heat. How hot would the tip of a #2 pencil get writing on normal copy paper?
17
votes
1answer
159 views

How many molecules rub off when I press a key?

I have a lot of questions below but my overarching questions are: Do surfaces rubbing lightly together always strip molecules off of each other? and How can we model that? Clearly the answer to the ...
13
votes
2answers
8k views

Why do people recommend wider tyres in car for better road grip?

Tyre companies boast of their wider tires for better grip on road. Also, the F1 cars have broad tires for better grip. But as far as I know Friction does not depend on the surface area of contact ...
13
votes
2answers
410 views

Can we quantize Aristotelian physics?

Aristotelian physics, shorn of whatever the historical Aristotle actually believed, is pretty similar to Newtonian physics. Instead of "An object in motion stays in motion unless acted on by an ...
11
votes
2answers
447 views

The secret behind the spinning, asymmetrically weighted, 2D disk-shaped top?

When you spin an asymmetrically weighted, 2D disk-shaped top, the heavy part actually rises to the top. Why is this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0SZZTBQmEs ...
10
votes
5answers
4k views

Why are bicycle pedal threads' handedness left on the left and right on the right?

I understand the reason that bicycle pedals are oppositely threaded on either side. What I don't understand is why it works because I'm missing something. Take the right pedal for example. It's ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Why does a curling rock curl?

In the game of curling, players "curl" a granite "rock" (of precise size and roughly a flattened cylinder) down a "sheet" of ice towards a target; the "rock" will curve in its path in the direction of ...
10
votes
3answers
451 views

What is the physics of a spinning coin?

When we spin a coin on a table, we observe 2 things: It slows down and stops after sometime. It does not stay at just one point on the table but its point of contact with table changes with time. ...
9
votes
5answers
11k views

Can the coefficient of static friction be less than that of kinetic friction?

I was recently wondering what would happen if the force sliding two surfaces against each other were somehow weaker than kinetic friction but stronger than static friction. Since the sliding force is ...
9
votes
1answer
198 views

What makes a wrist-energized gyroscope rotate faster?

I'm considering a wrist-energized gyroscope, shown below (after my daughter let it fall and it broke open). That one was sold as Roller Ball, but variants are known as Powerball, DynaBee, Dynaball, ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

How much more efficient is a road bike than a mountain bike? [closed]

What would be a good estimate on the difference of efficiency between a road bike and a mountain bike? A number of links cite all the usual reasons: thinner tires, better aerodynamics... But I'm ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

Does ABS shorten stopping distance of a car?

ABS, from German Antiblockiersystem, is a device put in almost every new automobile. The web has lots of explanations about the system, how it works, but I don't understand how it shortens the way of ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Static Friction - Only thing that can accelerate a train?

I'm a computer programmer that never studied physics in school and now it's coming back to bite me a bit in some of the stuff I'm being asked to program. I'm trying to self study some physics and ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

On a bicycle, why does my back tyre wear so much more quickly than the front?

This question is cross-posted from Bicycles.SE, but it is really one for those that know a bit about physics. Why does the back tyre of a bicycle wear out quicker than the front tyre? I have my ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

Dependence of Friction on Area

Is friction really independent of area? The friction force, $f_s = \mu_s N$. The equation says that friction only depends on the normal force, which is $ N = W = mg$, and nature of sliding surface, ...
8
votes
4answers
13k views

Block on a block problem, with friction

Consider two blocks, one on top of the other on a frictionless table, with masses $m_1$ and $m_2$ respectively. There is appreciable friction between the blocks, with coefficients $\mu_s$ and $\mu_k$ ...
8
votes
4answers
542 views

Is it correct that tires quickly get bald when used at high speed?

In my investigation, tires will quickly get bald if we ride a motorcycle at high speed. Is it correct? How to explain it in physics? Does the friction increase at high speed rotation? Update: The ...
7
votes
3answers
954 views

What determines whether a pool ball will bouce backwards after colliding with another pool ball?

I'm no knowledgeable pool player, but I've noticed that sometimes when the cue ball hits another pool ball, they roll together; and sometimes the cue ball bounces back. And I have a very, very rough ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

Grip of the train wheels

How do the wheels of a train have sufficient grip on a metal track? I mean both of the surfaces are smooth (and not flexible) and it is okay if there is no inclination, but how about on an inclined ...
6
votes
4answers
6k views

After what speed air friction starts to heat up an object?

I understand that air friction cools off an object at low speeds. For example, if you blow on a spoon of hot soup, it cools off. Or if you swing a hot frying pan in the air, it cools off faster. But ...
6
votes
2answers
888 views

How long will my fridge magnet stay attached to my fridge?

I have a 500 gram neodymium magnet. It is stuck to my fridge. With the constant pull of gravity trying to pull it off how long would it stay attached to fridge? For arguments sake lets say my fridge ...
6
votes
1answer
778 views

When is the principle of virtual work valid?

The principle of virtual work says that forces of constraint don't do net work under virtual displacements that are consistent with constraints. Goldstein says something I don't understand. He says ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

finding angular velocity and regular velocity when bouncing off a surface with friction

Take the game of pong as a simple example. When you hit the ball with a paddle that has a frictional surface, the ball will spin as well as change direction according to the coefficient of kinetic ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Hydrostatic friction: why do water droplets stay at rest on an inclined glass surface?

Tjis is a non-expert question on a (seemingly simple) text-book topic. The question is about "hydrostatic friction", defined as follows. Consider a drop of water resting on a flat surface. If the ...
6
votes
1answer
311 views

The quickest 6-3 play in baseball: to bounce or not to bounce?

What's the quickest way the get the ball (say from shortstop) into the first-baseman's glove, given some fixed initial (throwing) speed? Directly or with one bounce? I'm fairly sure that the answer ...
6
votes
1answer
198 views

Distance a curveball travels?

I've seen some discussions regarding the movement of a spinning object, say a curveball. However, all have been largely qualitative. I was wondering if anyone has seen or worked through a ...
5
votes
5answers
457 views

Forces other than the fundamental interactions, e.g. friction

Forgive me for the silly question, but I just don't get it. I just completed an elementary course in mechanics, and I am curious to know what I am about to ask. We have, all year, dealt with many ...
5
votes
1answer
369 views

Why do you hear an acute sound when you rub your shoe on the floor?

Sorry for the silly question, but I've been wondering about this for quite some time. After raining when I get home I rub my shoe's wet outsole on the floor and I hear an extremely acute (high pitch) ...
5
votes
2answers
167 views

Boy and box on ice

I have a troubles. Can you help me? I have a task, called "slippery activity". Boy (he has $m=45kg$) Stands at ice and tries to move a big box ($M=90kg$) with a string (rope). Boy's Slip ratio is ...
5
votes
4answers
373 views

Comparing Static Frictions

In this figure, which of the static frictional forces will be more? My aim isn't to solve this particular problem but to learn how is static friction distributed . Since each of the rough-surfaces ...
5
votes
1answer
85 views

Why is it easier to glide on sharp ice skates than on dull skates?

There have been previous questions (e.g. here and here) on Physics.SE about the mechanism that makes ice skating possible. Reviewing these, as well external references, it seems pretty clear that the ...
5
votes
7answers
4k views

Simple friction formula for a car

I am making a 2D driving video game, and I would like to know the "simple" formula for calculating the friction force between the car and the road. I have read lots of friction diagrams involving ...
5
votes
1answer
399 views

What happens when two smooth surfaces touch?

I am wondering what will be the physics to explain how two neutral, chemically nonreactive objects stick. I know that using van der Waals formalism, we can treat neutral body electrodynamic forces and ...
5
votes
1answer
81 views

How can a reel of thread move in opposite direction?

There is a nice puzzle about reel of thread. I wonder why the solution works. The puzzle: You take a reel with threads on it. Inner radius r, outer radius R. You put it on a table. If you pull ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Best inflation pressure of car tire in the rain- higher, same, lower than normal?

If I am driving a car in the rain, and want to increase the available traction, should I: Increase pressure in the tires Decrease pressure Leave the pressure set to optimum dry pressure Increase or ...
5
votes
0answers
107 views

Particle sliding on a semisphere - solving the differential equations analytically [closed]

I have the following problem: A particle of mass $m$ is at rest at the top of a semispherical surface of radius $R$. After an impulse, it starts to slide along a meridian with speed $v_0$. The ...
5
votes
0answers
161 views

Why does the overhand knot jam but the figure-8 knot doesn't?

After tensioning a rope with an overhand knot in it, it is often very hard if not impossible to untie it; a figure-8 knot, on the other hand, still releases easily. Why is that so? Most "knot and ...
4
votes
2answers
120 views

Orbit in the vacuum

As the space is a vacuum and there is no friction in space, Can we assume that, if we place an object in gravity in exactly the right distance from a planet with gravity and in the right acceleration, ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Why do we take small steps while walking on ice?

When we walk on ice we should take small steps. Small steps ensure: a.)larger friction. b.)small friction. c.)larger normal force. d.)smaller normal force. The correct ...
4
votes
2answers
859 views

If you had two “perfectly” flat surfaces of the same material?

Let's say you had 2 nano-engineered surfaces of diamond which were as 'flat' as possible (of course considering the radii of each carbon atom in the lattice)... would there be any friction between ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Where does the lost energy go in a rubber band powering a rotating shaft?

Okay, I'm no physics whiz, and this has me stumped. You know those toy airplanes you can get with the rubber-band driven propellers? You twist the propeller a bunch of times, and this stores ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Magnetic fields and friction

If I was to pass a metal object through a magnetic field would there be any friction?