Teaching Newton’s Third Law

e=mc2andallthat

Newton’s First and Second Laws of Motion are universal: they tell us how any set of forces will affect any object.

The “Push-Me-Pull-You” made famous by Dr Doolittle

If the forces are ‘balanced’ (dread word! — saying ‘total force is zero’ is better, I think) then the object will not accelerate: that is the essence of the First Law. If the sum of the forces is anything other than zero, then the object will accelerate; and what is more, it will accelerate at a rate that is directly proportional to the total force and inversely proportional to the mass of the object; and let’s not forget that it will also accelerate in the direction in which the total force acts. Acceleration is, after all, a vector quantity.

So far, so good. But what about the Third Law? It goes without saying, I hope, that Newton’s Third Law is…

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About e=mc2andallthat

Gethyn Jones BSc, PGCE, MCCT is a physics teacher of over 29 years experience who still enjoys teaching (well, most of the time anyway). He lives in London with his lovely wife and two rescue cats. Please follow him on Twitter @emc2andallthat
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