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3/7/2017 Expt.

I4:Newton'sLaws

iePhysics

ExperimentI4

Newton'sLaws
TheancientGreeksnotonlytriedtodescribetheworld,buttheyalsotriedtoexplainwhythecosmos
behavesasitdoes.ThestudyofHOWobjectsmovecametobeknowbythetermkinematics.WHY
objectsmove,socapablyexplainedbyAristotle,becameknownasdynamics.

Likemosthumanefforts,theGreekexplanationswerenotperfect.Overthecenturiesafewweaknesses
werefound.SeveralnoteworthyArabsproposedimprovements.By1630,nearly20centuriesafter
Aristotle'soriginalefforts,mosteducatedpeopleinthewesternhemispherestillfoundthehisGreek
explanationssubstantiallymatchedtheobservedworld.Aristotle'sexplanationsstillseemedreasonable.

OneoftheweakestGreekexplanationswasthatofmotion.Mostparticularlyfallingobjectsdidn't
behaveexactlyliketheGreeksclaimed.TheGreekshadsuggestedthattheelementsoftheworld,earth,
water,air,andfire,allhavetheirnaturalplace.Earth,beingtheheaviest,belongsatthecenterofthe
Earthwhichwasalsothecenteroftheuniverse.Itwasnatural,requiringnofurtherexplanation,for
objectstomoveupordowntowheretheybelonged.Sobubblesofairfloatupwardinwaterasdoes
woodwhichcontainsmoreairthanearthyashes.This,plustheothernaturalmotionsoflivingthings
andheavenlybodiescausedallotherchanges.Thatallseemedreasonable.Butprojectilesposed
considerabledifficulties.Alivingpersoncouldthrowaprojectile,butwhydiditkeepgoingandnot
immediatelyfalluponitsrelease?ManyagreedwithanArabproposalthataprojectilemightcontain
somethingcalledimpetusthatwouldcarryitaways,butonceconsumed,wouldallowtheprojectileto
belatedlyfall.GalileoGalileiinhisDiscoursesandMathematicalDemonstrationsConcerningTwo
NewSciences(1638)attackedthisweaknessandarguedthatAristotle'sexplanationoffallingcouldnot
becorrect.

ForexampleGalileoconsideredthefalloftwoobjectsofdifferentweightstiedtogether.Aristotlesaid
theheavierfellfaster.Tiedtogether,theheavierwouldtugonthelightermakingitfaster,andthelighter
wouldretardtheheavier,sothattogethertheywouldhaveanintermediatespeed.Butconsideringthat
thecombinedmasswouldbegreaterthaneitherseparately,sothecombinedobjectswouldberequiredto
fallevenfasterthantheheavieralone.SoAristotle'sexplanationwasinternallycontradictory.The
objectstiedtogethercouldn'thavebothkinematics!SoAristotle'sdynamicscouldnotpossiblybe
correct.WhileGalileoattackedtheGreekkinematics,hehadnoreplacementfortheGreek
dynamics.

IsaacNewton(b1642,d1727portraitatleft),whowasborninahamletnorthofLondononChristmasDay
ofthesameyearGalileodied,quietlyandmasterfullyprovidedareplacementdynamics.Ratherthan
attempttoPROVENewtonwasright,wemightfirsttrytofathomthesignificanceandimplicationsof
hisproposal.Newtonwasaverysolitarypersonwhodevelopedhisownprivateunderstandingofthe
principlesgoverningmotion.In1684Newton'sacquaintance,EdmundHalley,askedNewton'sthoughts
aboutthemotionofplanets.(RenDescarteshadproposedthatplanets'orbitsareduetofluidvortices.)Halley,
findingNewton'smathematicalandphysicalexplanationsuperb,pushedNewtontofurtheramplifyhis
analysis.Halleyarrangedforthepublicationin1687ofNewton'sPhilosophiaeNaturalisPrincipia
Mathematica.ThisdocumentisoftenregardedastheculminationoftheScientificRevolution,inwhich

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3/7/2017 Expt.I4:Newton'sLaws

scienceasweknowit
todaywasborn.

Thefirstpartofthe
Principia,asitsname
isnowoften
abbreviated,explains
howpriorproposals
(suchasRenDescartes
whirlpool's,paintedbyvan
Goghaboveright)don't
matchtheobservable
world.Newton
proposedthree
fundamentalaxiomswhichhaveproventobepowerfultoolsfor
understanding,explaining,andnowcontrollingtheworld:

1.Everymaterialbodypersistsinitsstateofrestorofuniformmotioninastraightlineif,and
onlyif,itisnotacteduponbyanetexternalforce.Inthissimplestatement,Newtonreplaces
whatforAristotlewereNaturalMotions.Sohenceforthsuchmotionswillneednofurther
explanationofcause.ThisideawasdevelopedfromearlierproposalsbyGalileoandDescartes.

2.Anobjectuponwhichanunbalanceforceisexertedwillbeacceleratedproportionaltothatforce
andinthedirectionofthatforce,andinverselyproportiontotheobject'smass.Thisrelationship,
oftensummarizedbytheequationF=ma,isoneofthemostpowerfulrelationshipsever
proposed.Substitutingthedefinitionofacceleration,themoregeneralformulamightlateralsobeuseful:
F=(mv)/t.

3.Toeveryactionthereisalwaysopposedanequalreaction.Themutualactionsoftwobodies
uponeachotherarealwaysequal,anddirectedincontrarydirections.ForeveryforceUPONan
object,thereisanequalopposingforceBYthatobject.Newtonoriginatedthisbrilliantinsight.
Withitheprovidedacrucialwaytounderstandmanysituationswhereforcesareotherwise
undeterminable.

Finally,Newtonusestheserulestodemonstratethattheyaccountforthemotionsoftheearth,planets,
andmoonswhichhadbeenpreviouslymeticulouslystudiedandformulatedbyJohannesKepler.
Newton'slaws,coupledwithhisLawofUniversalGravityandsimilarlawsforotherforces,could
adequatelyexplainallmotionswhetherhereonearthorintheheavens.

Experiment
Ourmodernworldhasprovideduswithawealthoflowfrictiontoysandmeasuringdevicessuchas
accuratetimerwatchesandcamerascapableofrecordingvideosequences.Thepurposeistouse
whateverequipmentisavailabletotrytogatherevidencethatisconsistentwithNewton'slaws.
(SeeLabI1forhintsaboutmeasurementtoolsandanalysis.)

1.Findatoythatmoveswithlittleresistance.Checkthisbyrollingalongasmoothcountertopto
determineifitcoastsatnearlyconstantspeedaswouldbeexpectedbyNewton'sfirstlaw.
2.Findseverallighterobjectsofknow(labelled)mass(ingrams),perhapsaboxof
labeledjello,orasmallcandybar.Thiswillbeusedtoprovideaknownforce.
3.Ifyoudon'thaveabalancetofindthemassofthetoy,usearulerforamake
shiftbalance.Holdtherulerbyastringthroughitsmiddle,hanganobjectof
knowmassfromoneendoftheruler,andfindthelocationforhangingthetoy
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3/7/2017 Expt.I4:Newton'sLaws

thatjustbalancestheknownmass.Theproductoftheknowmasstimesitsdistancetothemiddle
mustequalthemassofthetoyanditsdistancetothemiddle:m1xd1=m2xd2.Solvethe
equationtofindthemassofthetoy.
4.Connectthetoywiththeknownmassbyastringpassingoversomeobjectthatallowsthestringto
movewithlittlefriction.
5.Lettheknownmassacceleratethetoy,recordinginformationtodeterminetheacceleration.
a.TheeasiestwaytodetermineaccelerationmaybetouseGalileo'sformula:d=1/2at2.
Solvingforawegeta=2d/t2.
b.Repeatedlytimetheintervalfromreleaseuntiltheknownmasshitsthefloororother
obstructionandfindtheaverageofgoodtrials.
c.Measurethedistancethefront(orotherfixedpart)ofthetoy
travelswhilebeingpulledbytheknownmassduringthe
timedmotion.
d.Substitutethedistance(fromc)andthetime(fromb)intothe
equation(froma)todetermineacceleration,a.
e.Determinetheforce,F,pullingthetoybymultiplyingtheknownpullingmassbythe
accelerationduetogravity(foundinExperimentI3).NotethatNewton'sThirdLawsaysthe
pullofgravityontheknownmassisequalandoppositethepullofthatmassontheEarth!
f.Notethatboththetoyandthepullingmassaretiedtogetherandbothmoveasiftherewere
onebodyduetotheweightofjusttheknownmass.Soaddthemassofthetoyandthe
pullingmass,m.
g.SubstitutetheForce(frome),acceleration(fromd),andmass(fromf)intoF=mato
determineifequal.
6.Changetheknownforcepullingonthetoytodetermineifaccelerationisproportionaltothe
force.
7.Changethemassofthetoybyattachingknownmassestodetermineifaccelerationisinversely
proportionaltothemass.
8.Considerthepossibleextentoferrorsinmasses,times,anddistances,andtheeffectsofpossible
errorsonforce,mass,andacceleration.Inparticular,considerifthepossibilityoftimingerror
discussedinExperimentI3,attheendofPartIapplies.

Finally,recordyourprocedures,measurements,andfindingsinyourjournal.Ifyouneedcoursecredit,
useyourobservationsrecordedinyourjournaltoconstructatechnicalreport

Reference
IsaacNewton,PhilosophiaeNaturalisPrincipiaMathematica,1871printing,GoogleBooks.
(alsomaydownloadPDFversion)

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toskillbuildingexercises:
Summary&PracticeofDynamics:
Vectoranalysis:describingmotioninmultipledimensions
Forceanalysis:components,parallelforces
Analysisofprojectiles,circular&harmonicmotions

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