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 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 are orbits elliptical?

Almost all of the orbits of planets and other celestial bodies are elliptical, not circular. Is this due to gravitational pull by other nearby massive bodies? If this was the case a two body system ...
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What is the difference between weight and mass?

My science teacher is always saying the words "weight of an object" and "mass of an object," but then my physics book (that I read on my own) tells me completely different definitions from the way ...
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Why does a system try to minimize potential energy?

In mechanics problems, especially one-dimensional ones, we talk about how a particle goes in a direction to minimize potential energy. This is easy to see when we use cartesian coordinates: For ...
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What's the difference between running up a hill and running up an inclined treadmill?

Clearly there will be differences like air resistance; I'm not interested in that. It seems like you're working against gravity when you're actually running in a way that you're not if you're on a ...
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Stability of rotation of a rectangular prism

I've noticed something curious about the rotation of a rectangular prism. If I take a box with height $\neq$ width $\neq$ depth and flip it into the air around different axes of rotation, some motions ...
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Does the mass point move?

There is a question regarding basic physical understanding. Assume you have a mass point (or just a ball if you like) that is constrained on a line. You know that at $t=0$ its position is $0$, i.e., ...
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Conservation of Mathematical Constraints when deriving Energy and Momentum from $F=ma$

Background: Starting from $F = ma$, integrating with respect to time, and using basic calc, one can derive $\int Fdt = m (v_f - v_i)$ Starting from $F = ma$, integrating with respect to distance, ...
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What happens in a car crash?

My mom and I were in a car accident. We are ok, but I want to know how fast the car that hit us was going. We were stopped at a light. The car that hit us from behind was a big GMC SUV. Our car was a ...
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Anti-gravity in an infinite lattice of point masses

Another interesting infinite lattice problem I found while watching a physics documentary. Imagine an infinite square lattice of point masses, subject to gravity. The masses involved are all $m$ and ...
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Why do speed skaters use their right hand to accelerate?

I was watching the speed skating event, and was wondering, why do the athletes use their right hand while accelerating? If they want to increase the moment of inertia, then they should move the hand ...
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Why are these periods the same: a low earth orbit and oscillations through the center of the earth?

Related: Why does earth have a minimum orbital period? I was learning about GPS satellite orbits and came across that Low Earth Orbits (LEO) have a period of about 88 minutes at an altitude of 160 ...
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Why are Saturn's rings so thin?

Take a look at this picture (from APOD http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110308.html): I presume that rocks within rings smash each other. Below the picture there is a note which says that Saturn's rings ...
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Modelling the movement and jumps of a chalk while drawing a dashed line on a blackboard

You probably know that if you try to draw a line using a piece of chalk on a blackboard , under some conditions (for example, $\alpha<\frac{\pi}{2}$ in the picture below) you will have a dashed ...
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How fast would a truck have to go to pull a pedestrian onto the road? [closed]

Let's suppose a pedestrian P is walking or standing next to a highway. Suppose a truck T will drive by the said pedestrian at speed V leaving distance L between the two. Assuming L is a reasonably ...
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Why doesn't a tied balloon behave like a pendulum?

It is well known that a tied weight will oscilate under the effect of gravity if left from aside, like a pendulum. However, if we tie a helium balloon to the ground from and left it form the floor ...
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A force opposing Gravity

Every Action Has An Equal and Opposite Reaction (Newton's Third Law.) If this is the case, does gravity have an equal-opposing force? From asking around I still haven't got a very clear answer; ...
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Is Melancholia's orbit impossible?

In the 2011 movie Melancholia, a planet, also called Melancholia, enters the solar system and hits the Earth. I want to leave aside the (also unreasonable) aspect that planet "hides behind the Sun" ...
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An example which contradict to Newton's 3rd law?

Let a,b be two charged particles. $$\vec{r}_a(0)=\vec{0}$$ $$\vec{r}_b(0)=r\hat{j}$$ $$\vec{v}_a(t)=v_a \hat{i}$$ $$\vec{v}_b(t)=v_b\hat{j}$$ In which both $v_a$ and $v_b$ $<<c$. Then ...
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Newton's Bucket

Newton's Bucket This thought experiment is originally due to Sir Isaac Newton. We have a sphere of water floating freely in an opaque box in intergalactic space, held together by surface tension and ...
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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 ...
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How can kinetic energy be proportional to the square of velocity, when velocity is relative?

Let's start with kinetic energy (from los Wikipedias) The kinetic energy of an object is the energy which it possesses due to its motion. It is defined as the work needed to accelerate a body of a ...
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Underdetermined forces in a statics problem

I was trying to cook up a good exam problem on Newtonian mechanics, and I came up with one that I didn't fully understand myself. Always fun when you can outsmart yourself. In the figure a cylinder ...
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Why do we fall down when the bicycle slows down? [duplicate]

My question is: It is easy to balance a bicycle when it is moving at a fairly high velocity, say 7 m/s or 25 km/hr. But when a bicycle slows down, it is hard to keep it upright, and the person riding ...
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Throwing a ball upwards in an accelerating train

If I throw a ball upwards to a certain height in an accelerating train, will it end up in my hand? At the moment I release the ball, it will have a velocity equal to that of the train at that instant. ...
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Is there a deep reason why springs combine like capacitors?

I was solving a practice Physics GRE and there was a question about springs connected in series and parallel. I was too lazy to derive the way the spring constants add in each case. But I knew how ...
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Is the energy conserved in a moving frame of reference?

Consider this situation: When the box is at the bottom of the frictionless incline, it will have a velocity of $v_f$. The person is an inertial frame of reference that moves at a constant ...
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Does an athlete's proficiency at luge depend on his mass?

I was watching the men's luge ride with my dad. My dad said, the mass of the athlete must be at an optimum level so that he wins. I said, his volume should be minimum, but it has nothing to do with ...
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jumping into water

Two questions: Assuming you dive head first or fall straight with your legs first, what is the maximal height you can jump into water from and not get hurt? In other words, an H meter fall into ...
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Why is there a $\frac 1 2$ in $\frac 1 2 mv^2$?

For elastic collisions of n particles, we know that momentum in the three orthogonal directions are independently conserved:$$ \frac{d}{dt}\sum\limits_i^n m_iv_{ij} =0,\quad j=1,2,3$$ From this, it ...
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Is Newton's third law always correct?

Newton's third law states that every force has an equal and opposite reaction. But this doesn't seem like the case in the following scenario: For example, a person punches a wall and the wall breaks. ...
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What causes the back of a bike to lift when the front brake is applied?

What causes the back of a bike to lift when the front brake is applied? (Like in an endo.) Also, if I were to replicate this effect with a wood block with wheels that crashes against a wall (only the ...
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How do you explain spinning tops to a nine year old?

Why don't spinning tops fall over? (The young scientist version) My nine year old son asked me this very question when playing with his "Battle Strikers" set. Having studied Physics myself, I am very ...
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Changing Rotation Direction in Mid Air

Not sure whether this is an appropriate question for this site, but could anyone explain the physics behind how this skier is able to change his direction of rotation mid-air? ...
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Why would a fat skydiver fall first in free fall?

I was having one of those obnoxious conversations with a friend where he was arguing that a fat skydiver would reach the ground faster than a skinny skydiver. To me it seemed as obvious that the world ...
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Can a pool ball change direction mid-roll?

In this youtube video, a pool shark consistently gets the cue ball to drastically change direction mid-roll (i.e. while after he's hit it). Is this theoretically possible without using trick balls? If ...
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Does leaning (banking) help cause turning on a bicycle?

I think it's clear enough that if you turn your bicycle's steering wheel left, while moving, and you don't lean left, the bike will fall over (to the right) as you turn. I figure this is because the ...
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Galilean invariance of Lagrangian for non-relativistic free point particle?

In QFT, the Lagrangian density is explicitly constructed to be Lorentz-invariant from the beginning. However the Lagrangian $$L = \frac{1}{2} mv^2$$ for a non-relativistic free point particle is ...
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Can a particle have momentum without energy?

Can a particle have linear momentum if the total energy of the particle is zero? Even if a particle has a certain velocity, can its potential energy cancel out the kinetic energy as to add to zero ?
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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 ...
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Compressibility and the form of Newton's second law in fluid mechanics

In deriving Euler's equations for fluid mechanics, in particular $$f=\rho \partial_t v +\rho v\cdot \nabla v$$ for some body force $f$ (e.g Landau & Lifschitz 2.3) one assumes the continuity ...
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Are there examples in classical mechanics where D'Alembert's principle fails?

D'Alembert's principle suggests that the work done by the internal forces for a virtual displacement of a mechanical system in harmony with the constraints is zero. This is obviously true for the ...
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Is force a “real thing”, or a tool for explaining changes in measurable phenomena?

My physics text says that force is "an interaction between two bodies or a body and its environment." When an object undergoes acceleration we explain it with a force. But we don't measure force, ...
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infinite grid of planets with newtonian gravity

Assuming only Newtonian gravity, suppose that the universe consists of an infinite number of uniform planets, uniformly distributed in a two-dimensional grid infinite in both directions and not moving ...
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How large can planets or moons appear?

In many artistic impressions or movies there are pictures or scenes where the sky is filled with an enormous moon (as seen from a planet) or vice versa. I wonder if there is an upper limit to the ...
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Deriving Newton's Third Law from homogeneity of Space

I am following the first volume of the course of theoretical physics by Landau. So, whatever I say below mainly talks regarding the first 2 chapters of Landau and the approach of deriving Newton's ...
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What if the lid of a pressure cooker was suddenly released?

My dad and I have tried to calculate the strength of the explosion if the lid was suddenly freed. We took some measures: Lid mass: $0.7 \textrm{kg}$ Lid surface: $0.415 \textrm{m}^2$ Internal ...
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Derivation of the centrifugal and coriolis force

I was wondering how easily these two pseudo-forces can be derived mathematically in order to exhibit a clear physical meaning. How would you proceed?
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Why don't planets have Circular orbits?

This might be a completely wrong question, but this is bothering me since many days ago. Given the mass (Sun) curves the space around it, gravitation is the result of such curved space (Correct me if ...
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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 ...