Ch0114 - Chapter 14 Newtons Laws #1: Using Free Body...

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Chapter 14 Newton’s Laws #1: Using Free Body Diagrams 79 14 Newton’s Laws #1: Using Free Body Diagrams If you throw a rock upward in the presence of another person, and you ask that other person what keeps the rock going upward, after it leaves your hand but before it reaches its greatest height, that person may incorrectly tell you that the force of the person’s hand keeps it going. This illustrates the common misconception that force is something that is given to the rock by the hand and that the rock “has” while it is in the air. It is not. A force is all about something that is being done to an object. We have defined a force to be an ongoing push or a pull. It is something that an object can be a victim to, it is never something that an object has. While the force is acting on the object, the motion of the object is consistent with the fact that the force is acting on the object. Once the force is no longer acting on the object, there is no such force, and the motion of the object is consistent with the fact that the force is absent. (As revealed in this chapter, the correct answer to the question about what keeps the rock going upward, is, “Nothing.” Continuing to go upward is what it does all by itself if it is already going upward. You don’t need anything to make it keep doing that. In fact, the only reason the rock does not continue to go upward forever is because there is a downward force on it. When there is a downward force and only a downward force on an object, that object is experiencing a downward acceleration. This means that the upward-moving rock slows down, then reverses its direction of motion and moves downward ever faster.) Imagine that the stars are fixed in space so that the distance between one star and another never changes. (They are not fixed. The stars are moving relative to each other.) Now imagine that you create a Cartesian coordinate system; a set of three mutually orthogonal axes that you label x, y, and z. Your Cartesian coordinate system is a reference frame. Now as long as your reference frame is not rotating and is either fixed or moving at a constant velocity relative to the (fictitious) fixed stars, then your reference frame is an inertial reference frame . Note that velocity has both magnitude and direction and when we stipulate that the velocity of your reference frame must be constant in order for it to be an inertial reference frame, we aren’t just saying that the magnitude has to be constant but that the direction has to be constant as well. The magnitude of the velocity is the speed. So, for the magnitude of the velocity to be constant, the speed must be constant. For the direction to be constant, the reference frame must move along a straight line path. So an inertial reference frame is one that is either fixed or moving at a constant speed along a straight line path, relative to the (fictitious) fixed stars. The concept of an inertial reference frame is important in the study of physics because it is in
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Ch0114 - Chapter 14 Newtons Laws #1: Using Free Body...

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