IGCSE Science (Physics


Unit P3

The Strength of Solids Moments

Lesson Objectives
‡ State and use the formula for calculating the moment of a force ‡ Apply ideas about moments to simple machines (levers) ‡ Explain how, for an object to be in equilibrium, both the forces and the moments need to be balanced (s) ‡ Explain the difference between vector and scalar quantities (s) ‡ Add together vector quantities, including those not along the same line (s)

A moment is a turning force. The size of the moment is given by: Moment (in Nm) = force (in N) x distance from pivot (in m) Calculate the following moments: 5m Pivot 2m

100 N

200 N


Unbalanced moments
2m 2m



Total ANTI-CLOCKWISE moment = 200x2 = 400Nm

Total CLOCKWISE moment = 100x2 = 200Nm

The anti-clockwise moment is bigger so the seesaw will turn anti-clockwise

Balanced moments
1m 2m



Total ANTI-CLOCKWISE moment = 200x1 = 200Nm

Total CLOCKWISE moment = 100x2 = 200Nm

The moments are equal and opposite, so the see-saw is balanced

Balanced or unbalanced?

Try These«
1. How far does the boy need to stand away from the pivot to balance the man?

2m 600N

? 400N


2m ?

2.5m 400N

If this seesaw is balanced, what is the weight of the man?

Moving a Heavy Rock«.
(Load) (Effort)


‡ Moments can be used to multiply your force ‡ The pivot needs to be closer to the load than to the effort

This type of simple machine is called a lever

Opening a Paint Can«..
‡ The load is very close to the pivot (fulcrum)
WIS Paint

‡ This is a strong forcemultiplier

A lever is a simple machine which uses moments, like this nutcracker:

Pivot Effort Load

The effort is further away from the pivot than the load is. This means that the nutcracker will multiply your force.

Pivot Effort



10cm 3cm

Load x distance from pivot = effort x distance from pivot Load x 3cm = 30N x 10cm so Load = 300/3 = 100N




‡ The load is very close to the pivot, so the spanner strongly multiplies your force



‡ The wheel barrow is another forcemultiplier


Multiple Levers

‡ A bolt cutter like this has more than one lever, so it multiplies your force more than once. How many pivots can you see?

Biceps and Elbow


‡ Here, the effort is much closer to the pivot than the load is. This is a distancemultiplier. In this case, the load is smaller than the effort


‡ Try to identify the load, effort and pivot ‡ In fact there is more than one lever here ‡ Is it a forcemultiplier, or a distancemultiplier?

3 types of lever

Pivot is between effort and load. Could be a forcemultiplier or a distancemultiplier (eg seesaw)

Effort is between pivot and load. Always a distancemultiplier (eg biceps and elbow)

Load is between effort and pivot. Always a forcemultiplier (eg wheelbarrow)

‡ For a body to be in equilibrium, both the forces and the moments must balance :

10N 10N 10N The forces are balanced, but the moments are not balanced : the box will rotate The forces and the moments are balanced : this box is in equilibrium 10N

Lift 100 000N

Weight 100 000N

‡ The plane would tilt backwards (µpitch¶) because there is an anticlockwise moment, even though the forces are balanced.

Lift 90 000N

Lift 10 000N Weight 100 000N

‡ The extra lift at the back of the plane makes it much easier for the plane to stay balanced.