Tagged Questions

Newtonian mechanics covers the discussion of the movement of classical bodies under the influence of forces by making use of Newton’s three laws. For more general discussion of energy, momentum conservation etc., use classical-mechanics, for Newton’s description of gravity, use newtonian-gravity.

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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 four-...
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Why does kinetic energy increase quadratically, not linearly, with speed?

As Wikipedia says: [...] the kinetic energy of a non-rotating object of mass $m$ traveling at a speed $v$ is $\frac{1}{2}mv^2$. Why does this not increase linearly with speed? Why does it take ...
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Could we send a man safely to the Moon in a rocket without knowledge of general relativity?

I'm wondering if it's possible to send a man to the Moon using equations consistent with Newtonian gravity and without the elaborate tools of Einstein gravity. Are the predictions made by Newtonian ...
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Does a gun exert enough gravity on the bullet it fired to stop it?

My question is set in the following situation: You have a completely empty universe without boundaries. In this universe is a single gun which holds one bullet. The gun fires the bullet and the ...
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Can we theoretically balance a perfectly symmetrical pencil on its one-atom tip?

I was asked by an undergrad student about this question. I think if we were to take away air molecules around the pencil and cool it to absolute zero, that pencil would theoretically balance. Am I ...
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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 ...
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Where does the extra kinetic energy come from in a gravitational slingshot?

I read in this answer in this site that the KE a free-falling ball acquires is not originated by the attracting body but that energy was actually stored in the ball when it had been lifted to the ...
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Why does the atmosphere rotate along with the earth?

I was reading somewhere about a really cheap way of travelling: using balloons to get ourselves away from the surface of the earth. The idea held that because the earth rotates, we should be able to ...
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Why do travelling waves continue after amplitude sum = 0?

My professor asked an interesting question at the end of the last class, but I can't figure out the answer. The question is this (recalled from memory): There are two travelling wave pulses moving in ...
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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" -> $F_1=-F_2$ ...
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Does centrifugal force exist?

Currently in my last year of high school, and I have always been told that centrifugal force does not exist by my physics teachers. Today my girlfriend in the year below asked me what centrifugal ...
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Is there a small enough planet or asteroid you can orbit by jumping?

I just had this idea of orbiting a planet just by jumping and then flying upon it on its orbit kind of like superman. So, Would it be theoretically possible or is there a chance of that small body to ...
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Is there a way for an astronaut to rotate?

We know that if an imaginary astronaut is in the intergalactic (no external forces) and has an initial velocity zero, then he has is no way to change the position of his center of mass. The law of ...
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Why do archery arrows tilt downwards in their descent?

In the movies, arrows shot into the air rotate so that during the descent, the arrow head hits ground first. What is the source of this angular momentum? It would seem that the bow string exerts a ...
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Moon's pull causes tides on far side of Earth: why?

I have always wondered and once I even got it, but then completely forgot. I understand that gravity causes high and low tides in oceans, but why does it occur on the other side of Earth?
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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 ...
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Proof that the Earth rotates?

What is the proof, without leaving the Earth, and involving only basic physics, that the earth rotates around its axis? By basic physics I mean the physics that the early physicists must've used to ...
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Why would a spinning space station create a centrifugal force on an astronaut rather than simply spinning around him/her?

We often see films with spinning space station that create artificial gravity by having the astronauts pulled outwards by centrifugal force. I'd like to know if this would really happen, and if so, ...
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What does the Moon's orbit around the Sun look like?

I'm curious as to what the Moon's orbit around the Sun looks like. If there's an answer, what's the intuition for it? Here are some things I'm assuming when trying to tackle this question: The Moon'...
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Why do rocket engines have a throat?

Diagrams of rocket engines like this one, (source) always seem to show a combustion chamber with a throat, followed by a nozzle. Why is there a throat? Wouldn't the thrust be the same if the ...
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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 ...
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Why doesn't a bike/bicycle fall if going with a high speed?

Why does a bike/bicycle fall when its speed is very low or close to zero and is balanced when going with a high speed?
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How did Newton discover his second law?

I've always assumed/been told that Newton's 2nd law is an empirical law — it must be discovered by experiment. If this is the case, what experiments did Newton do to discover this? Is it related to ...
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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.
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Why do we say that the earth moves around the sun?

In history we are taught that the Catholic Church was wrong, because the Sun does not move around the Earth, instead the Earth moves around the Sun. But then in physics we learn that movement is ...
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Why do we need to know the shape of the slide to find the time to slide down it?

In my physics book after this solved example: A child of mass $m$ is initially at rest on top of a water slide at height h = 8.5m above the bottom of the slide. Assuming that the slide is ...
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Freefall into snow

In the movie Frozen, the following dialogue takes place: Anna: "It's a hundred-foot drop." Kristoff: "It's two hundred." Anna: "Okay, what if we fall?" Kristoff: "There's 20 feet of ...
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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 ...
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“Falling upward” - how far you have to be from Earth to start falling to the Moon?

Talking about gravity with my 9 y/o she asked when do we start "falling upward" to the Moon. What is the distance at which the Moon's gravitational attraction is higher than that of the Earth and thus ...
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Could someone jump from the international space station and live?

Felix Baumgartner just completed his breathtaking free-fall skydiving jump from $120,000\,\text{feet} = 39\,\text{km}$ above the Earth, breaking the speed of sound during the process. I was wondering ...
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Why are rockets so big?

I'm curious why rockets are so big in their size. Since both the gravitational potential one need to overcome in order to put thing into orbit, and the chemical energy burned from the fuel, are ...
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Which ball touches the ground first?

This is a very well known problem, but I can't find an answer in the specific case I'm looking for. Let's consider two balls : Ball 1 weighs 10 kg Ball 2 weighs 1 kg Balls have identical volumes (...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Why don't we feel the subtle speed change of Earth's elliptical orbit?

Earth's orbit is a slight ellipse, so to conserve momentum its speed increases when it is closest to the Sun. If the speed changes there is an acceleration. If there is an acceleration there is a ...
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What are washers for? [closed]

When you attach a bolt to something using a nut, it is clear what the roles of the nut and bold are. The more you tighten the bolt the more secure your fastening. However, you are often also told ...
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Intuition as to why the orientation (of a 3D object) is not a conserved quantity?

Say you start off floating in space, in a fixed position and orientation, with zero linear and angular velocity, with no external forces. So you are a closed mechanical system. By twisting your body ...
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How am I able to stand up and walk down the aisle of a flying passenger jet?

The energy of a moving object is $E = mv^2\;.$ That is it increases with velocity squared. I walk at say 3 miles per hour, or lets round that down to 1 meter per second for a slow walk. I weigh less ...
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Why does this object periodically turn itself?

See below gif image taken from here. Or see this Youtube video about 30 sec in. Is this a real effect? Why does it seem to turn periodically? Can it be explained by classical mechanics alone? ...
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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 ...
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Newton's 3rd law… hitting drywall (which I break) vs hitting a brick (which breaks me)?

According to the Third Newton's law of motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, I understand that if I hit a brick wall with $50\, \mathrm{lbs}$ of force, the ...
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Can adding weight to something make it tilt slower?

Let's say we have 2 sticks, both a meter long. We put both of them on the ground vertically. To the top of one of them we attach a weight. Then we tip both of them over and let them fall. Assume ...
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What are the precise statements by Shouryya Ray of particle dynamics problems posed by Newton which this news article claims have been solved?

This recent news article (here is the original, in German) says that Shouryya Ray, who moved to Germany from India with his family at the age of 12, has baffled scientists and mathematicians by ...
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What is the difference between Newtonian and Lagrangian mechanics in a nutshell?

What is Lagrangian mechanics, and what's the difference compared to Newtonian mechanics? I'm a mathematician/computer scientist, not a physicist, so I'm kind of looking for something like the ...
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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 ...
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If we threw a baseball from the ISS, could we deorbit the ball?

Clearly this is a hypothetical question. Say we bring a star baseball player into NASA, prep them appropriately for a mission in space, and fly them up to the International Space Station. They go on ...
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Are all machines linearly scalable?

For all machines (cars, elevators, computers, etc), when size, power requirements, dimensions are scaled by a constant N, will it work just as is? Will a car with all its parts 10x larger still work ...
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Why is torque not measured in Joules?

Recently, I was doing my homework and I found out that Torque can be calculated using $\tau = rF$. This means the units of torque are Newton meters. Energy is also measured in Newton meters which are ...