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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (3)

15
votes
3answers
5k views

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 ...
15
votes
1answer
273 views

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 ...
15
votes
2answers
506 views

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 ...
14
votes
6answers
4k views

Throwing an object around the Earth. Is it possible?

Some of you might be familiar with the cartoon called Astérix. In one of the episodes, Obelix (the really strong fat guy in the stylish striped pants) enters a spear throwing competition. He beats the ...
14
votes
6answers
3k views

Can you ever exert more downwards force than your weight?

So, because I'm a hardcore person, I risked all this afternoon by going out in the wind, the rain and the cold to construct a willow den. Yes, it seems a menial task, but it was actually quite ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

How did Newton discover his third law of motion?

How did Newton discover his third law? Was it his original finding or was it a restatement of someone else's, like the first law coming from Galileo? What initiated the concept of what is now known as ...
14
votes
6answers
25k views

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" ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

Why $F=ma$ and not $F=m\dot{a}$?

What would happen if instead of $F=m*d^2x/dt^2$, we had $F=m*d^3x/dt^3$ or higher? Intuitively, I have always seen a justification for $\sim 1/r^2$ forces as the "forces being divided equally over ...
14
votes
8answers
4k views

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 ...
14
votes
5answers
2k views

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 ...
14
votes
3answers
5k views

Is the normal force a conservative force?

Most of the time the normal force doesn't do any work because it's perpendicular to the direction of motion but if it does do work, would it be conservative or non-conservative? For example, consider ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

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 ...
14
votes
5answers
49k views

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 ...
14
votes
1answer
349 views

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 ...
14
votes
3answers
482 views

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 ...
13
votes
4answers
4k views

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 ...
13
votes
10answers
19k views

What do people actually mean by “rolling without slipping”?

I have never understood what's the meaning of the sentence "rolling without slipping". Let me explain. I'll give an example. Yesterday my mechanics professor introduced some concepts of rotational ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ...
13
votes
6answers
4k views

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 ...
13
votes
3answers
1k 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. ...
12
votes
5answers
5k views

Why doesn't this magnetic perpetual motion machine work?

I know that this machine does not work, via thermodynamics. I am asking for an analysis in terms of mechanics and magnetism. Anyway, so here is the machine: The magnet (the red ball) pull the ball ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

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 ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

If the solar system is a non-inertial frame, why can Newton's Laws predict motion?

Since there is no object in the universe that doesn't move, and the solar system likely accelerates through space, how did Newton's Laws work so well? Didn't he assume that the sun is the ...
12
votes
9answers
8k views

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 ...
12
votes
7answers
4k views

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 ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

Are all central forces conservative? Wikipedia must be wrong

It might be just a simple definition problem but I learned in class that a central force does not necessarily need to be conservative and the German Wikipedia says so too. However, the English ...
12
votes
2answers
682 views

Does energy expenditure require movement? [duplicate]

In every formula I've seen that involves energy, I've also seen a distance element. Is there nothing that doesn't involve movement? For instance if I hold my arm out parallel to the ground with a ...
12
votes
4answers
4k views

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 ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
12
votes
5answers
630 views

How does one determine an inertial frame?

How does one determine whether one is in an inertial frame? An inertial frame is one on which a particle with no force on it travels in a straight line. But how does one determine that no forces are ...
12
votes
4answers
950 views

Is the second law of thermodynamics a fundamental law, or does it emerge from other laws?

My question is basically this. Is the second law of thermodynamics a fundamental, basic law of physics, or does it emerge from more fundamental laws? Let's say I was to write a massive computer ...
12
votes
5answers
807 views

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 ...
12
votes
3answers
6k views

What exactly are Hamiltonian Mechanics (and Lagrangian mechanics)

What exactly are Hamiltonian Mechanics (and Lagrangian mechanics)? I want to self-study QM, and I've heard from most people that Hamiltonian mechanics is a prereq. So I wikipedia'd it and the entry ...
12
votes
1answer
393 views

Where is the “event horizon” on a basketball hoop?

I'm watching a lot of basketball this month. A common event is the ball going part way into the hoop and then coming out again. Announcers sometimes claim that the ball was "halfway through" when it ...
11
votes
8answers
6k views

What is a rocket engine thrusting against in space?

I know Newton's third law of motion might be the answer for this but still I am wondering how the rockets could thrust in the empty space and move in the opposite direction. I guess an astronaut ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

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 ...
11
votes
15answers
7k views

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. ...
11
votes
6answers
6k views

Why I think tension should be twice the force in a tug of war

I'm going to provide my argument for why I think the tension in a rope should be twice the force exerted on either side of it. First, let's consider a different example. Say, there is a person named ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

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? ...
11
votes
5answers
4k views

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 ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

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 ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

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. ...
11
votes
2answers
456 views

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 ...
11
votes
1answer
10k views

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?
11
votes
3answers
624 views

Is acceleration an average?

Background I'm new to physics and math. I stopped studying both of them in high-school, and I wish I hadn't. I'm pursuing study in both topics for personal interest. Today, I'm learning about ...
11
votes
3answers
539 views

No closed orbits for a Newtonian gravitational field in 4 spatial dimensions

We are supposed to show that orbits in 4D are not closed. Therefore I derived a Lagrangian in hyperspherical coordinates $$L=\frac{m}{2}(\dot{r}^2+\sin^2(\gamma)(\sin^2(\theta)r^2 \dot{\phi}^2+r^2 ...
11
votes
4answers
6k views

Does it matter how you order your tug-of-war participants?

In a tug-of-war match today, my summer camp students were very concerned about putting the biggest people at the back of the rope. Is there any advantage to this strategy?
11
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ?
11
votes
2answers
628 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 ...