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)

7
votes
5answers
15k views

Why does a ballerina speed up when she pulls in her arms?

My friend thinks it's because she has less air resistance but I'm not sure.
7
votes
8answers
956 views

Can we explain Newton's first law mathematically?

At constant speed there is no acceleration. $(f'(x)=v'=0=a)$ .If $a=0$ then $F=ma=0$ and therefore no force acts on the object so the object will continue in the same direction, if any. This is only ...
7
votes
8answers
5k views

How does the earth move?

My son who is 5 years old is asking me a question about how the earth moves around the sun. What answer should I give him?
7
votes
8answers
479 views

How do we know that $F = ma$, not $F = k \cdot ma$

It seems intuitive that $a\; \propto \frac{F}{m}$, as the greater the force that is applied on an object, the greater its acceleration will be. Inversely, the greater the mass of the object, the ...
7
votes
6answers
4k views

How long must escape velocity be maintained?

Escape velocity from Earth's surface is 11.2 Kilometres/second. How long would one need to maintain this escape velocity to actually escape Earth's gravitational pull? Must this 11.2 km/s velocity ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Kinetic energy with respect to different reference frames

I'm having problems understanding the following situation. Suppose two 1-tonne cars are going with the same orientations but opposite senses, each 50 km/h with respect to the road. Then the total ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Why does a conservative force return the work done against it by a body to that body?

Newton's 3rd law of motion: Newton's third law of motion or the law of action and reaction implies that there is no isolated force in nature. Whenever there is any force at all , there must be ...
7
votes
5answers
3k views

When driving uphill why can't I reach a velocity that I would have been able to maintain if I started with it?

Consider these two situations when driving on a long straight road uphill: Starting at a high velocity $v_h$, which the car is able to maintain. Starting at a lower velocity $v_l$, and then trying ...
7
votes
2answers
512 views

What will be the equation of motion of driven pendulum for amplitudes beyond the small angle approximation?

When finding the period of a pendulum beyond the small angle approximation, we have to use integration for small interval of $\theta$ and elliptical integration. I was trying to apply this situation ...
7
votes
5answers
4k views

Trouble with classical mechanics self-learning (How to avoid going down the Physics rabbit hole?) [duplicate]

I'm a retired police officer trying to learn classical mechanics on my own. I have gone through many links on the Internet including the classical mechanics quick reference textbooks from Physics ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Will a bullet dropped and a bullet fired from a gun horizontally REALLY hit the ground at the same time when air drag is taken into account?

In a world without air, I understand they definitely would. However, with drag taken into account, I think they wouldn't. Since the drag force varies proportional to the square of speed (ignoring the ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

What determines whether a pool ball will bouce backwards after colliding with another pool ball?

I'm no knowledgeable pool player, but I've noticed that sometimes when the cue ball hits another pool ball, they roll together; and sometimes the cue ball bounces back. And I have a very, very rough ...
7
votes
10answers
552 views

Why is centrifugal 'force' perpendicular to line of inertia

I know that centrifugal is labeled a fictitious force only arising in a rotating reference frame, but I still struggle to understand the forces at play intuitively in tethered rotating bodies. I've ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Rotation of a slipping ladder

Imagine a ladder leaning against a wall. All surfaces are smooth. Hence the ladder will slip and fall. While falling it rotates because there are external torques acting on it. My question is about ...
7
votes
3answers
147 views

Leading-order cause of diurnal (not semidiurnal) variations in $g$?

The following graph shows the result of a very impressive differential measurement of the gravitational field in Boulder, Colorado, over a period of a couple of days. Floris got it from a ...
7
votes
4answers
380 views

How to guess the content of a christmas present?

Let us assume that the present does not make any recognizable sounds when shaken (meow splat - the present now contains a dead kitten). Let us furthermore assume ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Second law of Newton for variable mass systems

Frequently I see the expression $$F = \frac{dp}{dt} = \frac{d}{dt}(mv) = \frac{dm}{dt}v + ma,$$ which can be applied to variable mass systems. But I'm wondering if this derivation is correct, ...
7
votes
2answers
241 views

Is it possible to determine the outcome of any impact knowing only the ratio of masses? [duplicate]

In elastic collisions in 2-D if two balls $A$, $B$ ($m_A = m_B$, $R = 1$) have equal mass we can determine in advance the outcome of the collision. If cue-ball $A$ impacts object-ball $B$ (at rest) ...
7
votes
2answers
299 views

How do we know if a formulation of classical mechanics is correct?

For example, the Lagrangian formulation. I may be missing something, i.e. not having done it in enough detail, but here is my issue: from the definition of the lagrangian ($\mathcal{L}$) and from ...
7
votes
3answers
542 views

Tidal force on far side

I have a question about tidal forces on the far side of a body experiencing gravitational attraction from another body. Let's assume we have two spherical bodies $A$ and $B$ whose centers are $D$ ...
7
votes
2answers
928 views

Is Einstein's Special Relativity completely inclusive of Newton's 3 laws of motion?

Relativity has always been explained to me (in books I've read, etc) as a superset of newton's laws - that is; it encapsulates all of Newton's mechanics in addition to other effects (observer effect, ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

One strategy in a snowball fight

Here's a common college physics problem: One strategy in a snowball fight is to throw a first snowball at a high angle over level ground. While your opponent is watching the first one, you ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Which direction will the yoyo move?

This question has been around the net for a while, and I haven't seen a good explanation for it: A yo-yo is initially at rest on a horizontal surface. A string is pulled in the direction shown in ...
7
votes
1answer
956 views

When is the principle of virtual work valid?

The principle of virtual work says that forces of constraint don't do net work under virtual displacements that are consistent with constraints. Goldstein says something I don't understand. He says ...
7
votes
6answers
696 views

How do traveling waves pass through a standing wave node, if the node doesn't move?

I'm having trouble with the explanation that a standing wave in a string is the superposition of traveling waves. The nodes in the diagram above are points where the particles of the string's ...
7
votes
3answers
404 views

Could a universe with purely Newtonian mechanics exist?

I've heard about the fine-tuning principle and how if the fundamental constants of the Universe were changed even a slight bit, life could not exist as we know it. However, study on this subject ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

In mechanics, is shock really better expressed as jerk instead of acceleration?

Some expensive electronics or mechanical devices are designed to be shock-resistant. However, the manufacturers often market the level of shock-resistance in units of g-force (I know g-force is really ...
7
votes
3answers
282 views

Falling through the rotating Earth

Suppose you were standing on the rotating Earth (not necessarily Equator or the poles) and suddenly your body lost the ability to avoid effortlessly passing through solid rock. Because the earth's ...
7
votes
1answer
224 views

Mass Needed to Clear an Orbital Neighborhood

In 2006 the IAU deemed that Pluto was no longer a planet because it fails to "clear" the neighborhood around its Kuiper Belt orbit. Presumably, this is because Pluto (1.305E22 kg) has insufficient ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

How do levers amplify forces?

This is really bothering me for a long time, because the math is easy to do, but it's still unintuitive for me. I understand the "law of the lever" and I can do the math and use the torques, or ...
7
votes
1answer
340 views

How did Newton find out force has something to do with acceleration?

Its about Newton's second law of motion, $$F=ma.$$ It says the acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the net force and is inversely proportional to the object's mass. Yes I can ...
7
votes
1answer
968 views

Equation for the trajectory of a frisbee?

I'm the lead programmer on a FIRST robotics team, and this year's competition is about throwing Frisbees. I was wondering if there was some sort of "grand unified equation" for Frisbee trajectory that ...
7
votes
2answers
560 views

Find the minimum value of velocity [closed]

Find the minimum value of the initial velocity $u$ of the particle such that the particle crosses the wheel of radius $R$. Details and assumptions $R=2m$ $g=9.8m/s^2$ Neglect air resistance. All ...
7
votes
2answers
289 views

Tension in string due to surface tension

Suppose you take a loop of string and place it on the surface of a liquid, the string should become taut due to surface tension. How would you be able to calculate the tension in the loop of string? ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the cause of the normal force? [duplicate]

I've been wondering, what causes the normal force to exist? In class the teacher never actually explains it, he just says "It has to be there because something has to counter gravity." While I ...
7
votes
9answers
2k views

How to explain independence of momentum and energy conservation in elementary terms?

I'm trying to explain to someone learning elementary physics (16 year old) that linear momentum and energy are conserved independently. I'm not a professional physicist and haven't tried to explain ...
6
votes
4answers
10k views

Rope tension question

If two ends of a rope are pulled with forces of equal magnitude and opposite direction, the tension at the center of the rope must be zero. True or false? The answer is false. I chose true though and ...
6
votes
8answers
3k views

Can you completely explain acceleration to me?

I understand what acceleration is, and I know the formula, and I understand it's a vector. I just don't understand how the equation works exactly. I'm kind of picky, I know, but bear with me. ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Kinetic energy of an object at rest

Why don't we consider that an object on Earth has kinetic energy as it is also moving at the rotating speed of Earth?
6
votes
6answers
784 views

Electron shells in atoms: What causes them to exist as they do?

I have seen similar posts, but I haven't seen what seems to be a clear and direct answer. Why do only a certain number of electrons occupy each shell? Why are the shells arranged in certain distances ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Can an object accelerate to infinite speed in FINITE time (Newtonian)?

Obviously this is impossible in relativity; however, if we ignore relativity and use only Newtonian mechanics, is this possible? How (or why not)?
6
votes
3answers
791 views

Why don't we consider jerk in physics classes? [duplicate]

When i got more into physics, i started asking myself if just like acceleration represents the growth of speed, something else could also represent the growth of acceleration itself. And it came that ...
6
votes
7answers
341 views

Distribution of Gravitational Force on a non-rotating oblate spheroid

Suppose a person is standing on a non-rotating oblate spheroid. He first stands on one of the poles, then on the equator. In which case is the gravitational force greater? In Case 1, the distance ...
6
votes
5answers
905 views

Does Newtonian mechanics predict the bending of the course of light by objects with mass?

$F=Gm_1m_2/d^2$ $F=ma$ $a_g=Gm_{other}/d^2$ In Newtonian mechanics, the acceleration of object A toward object B is not dependent on the mass of object A but on the mass of object B and the ...
6
votes
4answers
545 views

What exactly is $F$ in $W = \int_{a}^{b} F dx$?

I am trying to teach myself some basic physics, here is something I do not really understand about the definition of work: When moving from $a$ to $b$ (in one dimension), the work done is defined to ...
6
votes
2answers
303 views

Why is there this asymmetry between the two foci of an orbital ellipse?

Why does the Earth revolve with the Sun at one of its foci? Does the other focus do nothing? Why is there this asymmetry in our solar system?
6
votes
4answers
1k views

If you could ride an elevator through the earth [duplicate]

What if it was possible to ride an elevator straight through earth. If we take all the heat and pressure problems away, and assume it would be possible: What would happen with gravity? Would gravity ...
6
votes
7answers
944 views

What happens when the spacecraft velocity equals the velocity at it's exhaust?

So there I was resting me eyes thinking about rocket drives, and what-not. The thought struck me that, perhaps, even before Mr. Einstein interferes with the increasing velocity of the spacecraft Mr. ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Logical connection of Newton's Third Law to the first two

The first law and second laws of motion are obviously connected. But it seems to me that the third law is not related to the first two, at least logically. (In Kleppner's Mechanics the author states ...
6
votes
6answers
631 views

Is Newton's first law something real or a mathematical formalism?

Why do objects always 'tend' to move in straight lines? How come, everytime I see a curved path that an object takes, I can always say that the object tends to move in a straight line over 'small' ...