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I have read that a normal force acts on an object kept on a surface in a direction opposite to the force applied by the object on the surface.

My question is : Can normal force appear in other cases. Like when we want to push a block horizontally we apply a force. Can that force be called a normal force ?

Thanks in advance.

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    $\begingroup$ Think of the normal force as the force that keeps solid objects from passing through each other. It shows up all over whether you are holding a pencil or trying to walk through a wall. $\endgroup$ – M. Enns Mar 30 '19 at 16:44
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The "normal force" is essentially just electrostatic repulsion between two objects that are very close together. We usually simplify it to "normal force" because the force is "normal" (perpendicular) to the flat surface of contact.

So, I guess you could say when you push on a block the force between you and the block is a normal force. Just keep in mind it's a macroscopic description of microscopic phenomena.

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  • $\begingroup$ You need to give a little more detail in the problem you described. A block you are pushing on. $\endgroup$ – jmh Mar 30 '19 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ @jmh Is this meant for the OP? $\endgroup$ – Aaron Stevens Mar 30 '19 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, sorry... I forgot to signify that. I posted this before any answers showed up. $\endgroup$ – jmh Mar 30 '19 at 16:54
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Yes, but you have to take the normal component of your push. If your push is perpendicular to the surface then the whole force is a normal force. Normal force refers to a contact force which is what you are describing. This, as Aaron Stevens pointed out, is in the macroscopic regime.

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