Applied Force Affects Motion of Object
by Ron Kurtus (revised 1 October 2015)
An applied force affects the motion of an object. An applied force can be a push, pull, or dragging on an object.
The push can come from direct contact, like when objects collide or from a force field like magnetism. The pull seems to only come from a field at a distance, like gravity or magnetism. Dragging can occur when sliding an object over the surface of another.
The action from a force can cause an object to move or speed up (accelerate), to slow down (decelerate), to stop, or to change direction. Since any change in velocity is considered acceleration, it can be said that a force on an object results in the acceleration of an object.
Questions you may have include:
- How can a force accelerate an object?
- How can a force slow down an object?
- When can a force cause an object to change directions?
This lesson will answer those questions. Useful tool: Units Conversion
Applied force can cause acceleration
When a force acts on an object that is stationary or not moving, the force will cause the object to move, provided there are no other forces preventing that movement. If you throw a ball, you are pushing on it to start its movement. If you drop an object, the force of gravity causes it to move.
If an object is initially stationary, it accelerates when it starts to move. Acceleration is the change in velocity over a period of time. The object is going from v = 0 to some other speed or velocity.
Likewise, if an object is already moving and a force is applied in the same direction, the object will speed up or accelerate. For example, a gust of wind can speed up a sailboat.
Accelerates Until Force Stops
As long as the force is applied to a given object, it will to accelerate. Once the force is withdrawn, the object will continue to move at a constant velocity, according to the Law of Inertia.
Applied force can cause deceleration
If an object is moving and there is an applied force in the opposite direction of the motion, the object will decelerate or slow down. If you throw a ball up at a given velocity, it will slow down as it travels upward due to the force of gravity. Likewise, an airplane will decelerate if flying into a strong headwind.
A decelerating force can cause a moving object to stop. This can be seen when you apply the brakes on your car.
Applied force can cause change in direction
A force applied at an angle to the direction of motion of an object can cause it to change direction. A side wind will cause an airplane to change its direction.
It is possible that the object keeps going at the same speed, if the force is applied perpendicular to the direction of motion. But the velocity of the the object changes. Speed is how fast the object is going, while velocity is speed plus direction.
A force is a push, pull, or dragging on an object that affects its motion. The push can come from direct contact, like when objects collide or from a force field. The pull seems to only come from a field at a distance. The action from a force can cause an object to accelerate, to decelerate, to stop or to change direction.
Since any change in velocity is considered acceleration, it can be said that a force on an object results in the acceleration of an object.
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Resources and references
Forces In Nature by Liz Sonneborn Rosen; Publishing Group (2004) $25.25 - Understanding gravitational, electrical and magnetic force
The Science of Forces by Steve Parker; Heinemann (2005) $29.29 - Projects with experiments with forces and machines
Glencoe Science: Motion, Forces, and Energy, by McGraw-Hill; Glencoe/McGraw-Hill (2001) $19.32 - Student edition (Hardcover)
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Applied Force Affects Motion of Object