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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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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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 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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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. ...
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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 ...
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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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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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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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 ...
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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?
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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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How do I calculate the distance a ship will take to stop?

I am a River Pilot and drive ships for a living. These ships are very large and range up to 160,000 Metric Tons. I am trying to figure out how to calculate the distance to stopping. I have a basic ...
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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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Calculating the force required to lift a weight with a screw

I am trying to learn physics by myself as I do not have a good teacher at school. I've been reading Feynman Lectures on Physics and I can't figure out how he found out this number. Here is an excerpt ...
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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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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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Can a fly pierce itself onto a cactus needle?

Somebody on reddit posted a ridiculous picture today of a fly pierced onto a needle of a cactus: http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/xarue/what_are_the_odds_of_this_accident/ Whilst the OP claims ...
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How to calculate the number of glass sheets that will be broken by a falling object?

In season 1, episode 7 of King of the nerds the contestants are asked to calculate how many sheets of glass will be broken by a falling object. They are shown 1 example case and then asked to ...