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6.5: Frictional Force

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Frictional Force

6.5: Frictional Force

When a body is in motion, it encounters resistance because the body interacts with its surroundings. This resistance is known as friction, a common yet complex force whose behavior is still not completely understood. Friction opposes relative motion between systems in contact, but also allows us to move. Friction arises in part due to the roughness of surfaces in contact. For one object to move along a surface, it must rise to where the peaks of the surface can skip along the bottom of the object. Thus, a force is required that just sets the object in motion. Much of the friction experienced is due to the attractive forces between molecules of the two objects, so even perfectly smooth surfaces are not frictionless. In fact, perfectly smooth, clean surfaces of similar materials tend to adhere, forming a bond called a “cold weld”. Frictional forces, such as Equation1, always oppose the motion or attempted motion between objects in contact. 

This text is adapted from Openstax, University Physics Volume 1, Section 6.2: Friction.


Friction Resistance Force Motion Surfaces Relative Motion Roughness Peaks Attractive Forces Molecules Smooth Surfaces Clean Surfaces Cold Weld

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