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Newton’s Laws

(please stop watching at minute 31:05)

• Acceleration is caused by a “push” or a “pull”. When you push an
object initially at rest, it starts moving (it is no longer at rest), hence
there must have been an acceleration (“change of velocity”) in
• Push or pull are examples of “force”. More properly, a force is a physical
quantity that makes a body accelerate (change its state of motion or
rest) when it acts upon the body.
• If the body cannot move (e.g. it is constrained), the force deforms the
body (think to a pushed spring!). Well, actually a force deforms also a
free body during the acceleration.
• Force is a vector quantity. Two or more forces add up like vectors.
• The SI unit is Newton (N) (later, we will see that 1𝑁 = 1 𝑘𝑘

∙𝑚 𝑠


Newton’s Laws (First Law)
• Newton’s First Law (or Law of Inertia): “If there is no net force (the

vector sum of all acting forces) on an object, then its velocity is
constant. The object is either at rest (if its velocity is equal to zero),
or it moves with constant speed in a single direction”.

• Inertia is the tendency of an object to resist any change in its
• What is the most basic logical consequence of FL? If you see an
accelerating body, then a non zero force must act upon it !
• The first law is valid only in inertial reference frames; those are
reference frames which are not accelerating. For instance, a
carousel is not an inertial frame (centripetal/centrifugal

Newton’s Laws (Second Law)
• We now know that a force applied to a free body causes it to
accelerate. But how, quantitatively speaking?
• Newton’s Second Law: “The acceleration a of a body is parallel

and directly proportional to the net force F acting on the
body, is in the direction of the net force, and is inversely
proportional to the mass m of the body, i.e., a=F/m or
F = ma.” 𝑚
= 2𝑘𝑘 𝑎

⃗ 𝑎

⃗ = 𝐹

⃗ = 𝑚 ∙ 𝑎⃗
2𝑚/𝑠 2 𝐹

⃗ = 4 𝑘𝑘

∙ 𝑚
= 4𝑁 𝑠

Newton’s Laws (Second Law) … continued
• Every object falls with constant acceleration ( 𝑔⃗ = 9.8 𝑚/𝑠 2 ).
According to the First and Second Laws, this means that a
force is acting upon every object: what is its name? What is its
magnitude? What is its direction? 𝑚
= 2𝑘𝑘 𝑃

= 𝑚 ∙ 𝑔⃗ 𝑘𝑘

∙ 𝑚 𝑃
= 19.6
= 19.6𝑁 𝑠
2 𝑔

⃗ 𝑔

⃗ = 9.8 𝑚/𝑠 2

Newton’s Laws (Third Law)
• Newton’s Third Law (Action and Reaction): “When body A exerts

a force FA on a body B, the body B simultaneously exerts a
force FB = −FA on the body A. This means that FA and FB are
equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.”

Newton’s Laws (Third Law) … continued
• The reason why you feel pain when you punch the wall with a
certain force is because the wall “punches” your fist back with
the same force: Newton’s third law in action!