Skip to main content
Physics LibreTexts

2: Forces

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    ( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    • 2.1: Newton's Laws of Motion
      Classical mechanics is based on a set of axioms, which in turn are based on (repeated) physical observations. In order to formulate the first three axioms, we will need to first define three quantities: the (instantaneous) velocity, acceleration and momentum of a particle.
    • 2.2: Force Laws
      Newton’s second law of motion tells us what a force does: it causes a change in momentum of any particle it acts upon. It does not tell us where the force comes from, nor does it care - which is a very useful feature, as it means that the law applies to all forces. However, we do of course need to know what to put down for the force, so we need some rule to determine it independently. This is where the force laws come in.
    • 2.3: Equations of Motion
      Now that we have set our axioms - Newton’s laws of motion and the various force laws - we are ready to start combining them to get useful results, things that we did not put into the axioms in the first place but follow from them. The first thing we can do is write down equations of motion: an equation that describes the motion of a particle due to the action of a certain type of force.
    • 2.4: Multiple Forces
      Usually there will be multiple forces acting at the same time, not necessarily pulling in the same direction. This is where vectors come into play.
    • 2.5: Statics
      When multiple forces act on a body, the (vector) sum of those forces gives the net force, which is the force we substitute in Newton’s second law of motion to get the equation of motion of the body. If all forces sum up to zero, there will be no acceleration, and the body retains whatever velocity it had before. Statics is the study of objects that are neither currently moving nor experiencing a net force, and thus remain stationary.
    • 2.6: Solving the Equations of Motion in Three Special Cases
      For the quite common case that the mass of our object of interest is constant, its trajectory will be given as the solution of a second-order ordinary differential equation, with time as our variable. In general, the force in Newton’s second law may depend on time and position, as well as on the first derivative of the position, i.e., the velocity.
    • 2.E: Forces (Exercises)


    This page titled 2: Forces is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Timon Idema (TU Delft Open) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.