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# 2.2: Newton's Laws of motion

[ "article:topic", "linear momentum", "authorname:dcline" ]

Newton defined a vector quantity called linear momentum $$\mathbf{p}$$ which is the product of mass and velocity.

\label{eq:2.1}
\mathbf{p} = m\dot{\mathbf{r}}

Since the mass m is a scalar quantity, then the velocity vector $$\dot{r}$$ and the linear momentum vector $$\mathbf{p}$$ are colinear.

Newton’s laws, expressed in terms of linear momentum, are:

1. Law of inertia: A body remains at rest or in uniform motion unless acted upon by a force.
2. Equation of motion: A body acted upon by a force moves in such a manner that the time rate of change of momentum equals the force.$$\label{eq:2.2}\mathbf{F} = \frac{d\mathbf{p}}{dt}$$
3. Action and reaction: If two bodies exert forces on each other these forces are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.

Newton’s second law contains the essential physics relating the force $$\mathbf{F}$$ and the rate of change of linear momentum $$\mathbf{p}$$.

Newton’s first law, the law of inertia, is a special case of Newton’s second law in that if

$$\label{eq:2.3}\tag{2.3}\mathbf{F}=\frac{d\mathbf{p}}{dt}=0$$

then $$\mathbf{p}$$ is a constant of motion. Newton’s third law also can be interpreted as a statement of the conservation of momentum, that is, for a two particle system with no external forces acting,

$$\label{eq:2.4} F_{12} = -F_{21}$$

If the forces acting on two bodies are their mutual action and reaction, then Equation \ref{eq:2.4} simplifies to

\label{eq:2.5}
F_{12}=-F_{21}=
\frac{d\mathbf{p_1}}{dt}+
\frac{d\mathbf{p_2}}{dt} = \frac{d}{dt}(\mathbf{p_1+p_2})

This implies that the total linear momentum $$\mathbf{P = p_1 + p_2}$$ is a constant of motion. Combining Equations \ref{eq:2.1} and \ref{eq:2.2} leads to a second-order differential equation

\label{2.6}
\mathbf{F}=\frac{d\mathbf{p}}{dt}=m\frac{d^2\mathbf{r}}{dt^2}=m\mathbf{\ddot{r}}

Note that the force on a body $$\mathbf{F}$$, and the resultant acceleration $$a = \ddot{r}$$ are colinear. Appendix C2 gives explicit expressions for the acceleration a in cartesian and curvilinear coordinate systems. The definition of force depends on the definition of the mass m. Newton’s laws of motion are obeyed to a high precision for velocities much less than the velocity of light. For example, recent experiments have shown they are obeyed with an error in the acceleration of $$\Delta a \leq 5 \times 10^{-14}\mathit{m/s^2}$$