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 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 $mv^2/2$. Why does this not increase linearly with speed? Why does it take so much ...
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6answers
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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 ...
67
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7answers
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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 ...
66
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9answers
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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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4answers
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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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8answers
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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 ...
53
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4answers
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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?
52
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5answers
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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 ...
51
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6answers
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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 ...
51
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8answers
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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 ...
49
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8answers
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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 ...
44
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7answers
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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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4answers
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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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5answers
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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 ...
39
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6answers
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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.
37
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7answers
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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 ...
37
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11answers
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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 ...
36
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6answers
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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 ...
36
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5answers
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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 ...
36
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2answers
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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 ...
36
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6answers
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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 ...
36
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8answers
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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?
35
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6answers
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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 ...
35
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7answers
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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 ...
32
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12answers
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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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5answers
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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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4answers
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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 ...
31
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14answers
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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 ...
31
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5answers
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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 ...
30
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4answers
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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 ...
30
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6answers
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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 ...
29
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5answers
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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 ...
28
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3answers
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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.
27
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Why is acceleration expressed as m/s/s?

I'm a philosophy student (I, regrettably, don't know calculus or much physics). Last year I spent some time learning how work, power, speed, velocity, energy, force, and acceleration relate. But I was ...
27
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1answer
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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 ...
26
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4answers
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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, ...
25
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5answers
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Could I break the sound barrier using circular motion? (And potentially create a sonic boom?)

Ok, Lets say I get out my household vaccum cleaner, the typical RPM for a dyson vaccum cleaner reachers 104K RPM, Or 1.733K RPS. In theory, this disc would be travelling with a time period of ...
25
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5answers
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Why do heavier objects fall faster in air?

We all know that in an idealised world all objects accelerate at the same rate when dropped regardless of their mass. We also know that in reality (or more accurately, in air) a lead feather falls ...
25
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1answer
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Why does it take so long to get to the ISS?

I don't understand why when first launched Space X's Dragon capsule had to orbit the Earth many times in order to match up with the ISS? Was this purely to match it's speed, or to get closer (as in ...
25
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1answer
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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 ...
23
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2answers
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How do grandfather clocks keep going?

How do grandfather clocks keep going? The pendulum is what makes the clock go. However, the pendulum will slow down due to friction. What energy source keeps the pendulum from eventually stopping?
23
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4answers
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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?
22
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5answers
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Is it possible to shoot bullets in space or would the recoil of the gun be too strong?

I've read a few articles that say that astronauts have already brought guns in space and that shooting bullets in space is possible. But won't the recoil of the gun be too strong? Law of ...
22
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5answers
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Build a ring around Earth, then remove the supports

What would happen if we decided to build a giant ring that managed to wrap around the whole world, end to end that was supported with pillars all along the ring and then the supports all suddenly ...
22
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7answers
7k views

Why Won't a Tight Cable Ever Be Fully Straight?

I posted this picture of someone on a zipline on Facebook. One of my friends saw it and asked this question, so he could try to calculate the speed at which someone on the zipline would be going ...
22
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9answers
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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 ...
22
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4answers
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How does a mobile phone vibrate without any external force?

How does a mobile phone vibrate without any external force? By Newton's law, any body can't move without any external force
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3answers
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Why does the Moon face Earth with the same side?

I know that the rotation period of the moon equals its revolution period. It's just so astonishing that these 2 values have such a small difference. I mean, what is the probability of these 2 values ...
21
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6answers
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Can a car steer on a frictionless surface?

Do the front tires of a car act like gyroscopes, such that a car could steer on a frictionless surface?
21
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9answers
4k views

Physical meaning of the angular momentum

Still reading Classical Mechanics by Goldstein, I'm struggling on a very basic notion: angular momentum. I physically understand it as the momentum of an object rotating around something given a ...