Equilibrium of a Particle
Purpose
The purpose of this lab was to investigate Newton’s First Law, which states that “ if all forces on
the point mass add up to zero, then as measured in an inertial coordinate system, the velocity
mass is a constant.” This is related to Newton’s Second Law, which states that “the summation
of all force vectors acting on an object equals mass times acceleration.”
Therefore, in terms of
Newton’s First Law, the acceleration is equal to zero, and thus the object has a fixed speed, and
this speed can also equal zero.
Description
In order to demonstrate Newton’s First Law in this experiment, we used an apparatus called a
force table. A force table is a circular table with pulleys that are attached to a central pin. The
angle of the pulleys can be adjusted and weight could be stacked at the end of each pulley. The
weights enact a force on the central pin due to gravity, and based on the amount of weight and
the angle of each pulley the pin will display its net force. The idea was to balance the weights so
that the countering forces held the pin in the center of the force table, in order to demonstrate a
net force vector equal to zero.
Theory
In the following experiments, the centering pin is acted on simultaneously by either three or four
forces. In each case, the goal is to create a net force of zero, and this can be determined by
whether or not the pin accelerates in any direction. If the pin remains stationary in the center of
0
˚
90
˚
180
˚
270
˚
Θ
1
Θ
3
Θ
4
Θ
2
m
1
m
4
m
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m
2
Centering Pin
Force Table
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 Fall '05
 LENIHAN
 Physics, Force, Inertia, Mass, Newton’s First Law

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