Newton’s Laws

Newton’s Laws

Newton’s third law: All forces in the universe occur in equal but oppositely directed pairs. There are no isolated forces; for every external force that acts on an object there is a force of equal magnitude but opposite direction which acts back on the object which exerted that external force. In the case of internal forces, a force on one part of a system will be countered by a reaction force on another part of the system so that an isolated system cannot by any means exert a net force on the system as a whole. A system cannot “bootstrap” itself into motion with purely internal forces – to achieve a net force and an acceleration, it must interact with an object external to itself.

Without specifying the nature or origin of the forces on the two masses, Newton’s 3rd law states that if they arise from the two masses themselves, they must be equal in magnitude but opposite in direction so that no net force arises from purely internal forces.

Newton’s third law is one of the fundamental symmetry principles of the universe. Since we have no examples of it being violated in nature, it is a useful tool for analyzing situations which are somewhat counter-intuitive. For example, when a small truck collides head-on with a large truck, your intuition might tell you that the force on the small truck is larger. Not so!

Index

Example

Newton’s laws concepts.

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