# Difference between revisions of "Normal force"

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In [[oblique collision]]s, there is both a normal impulse and a [[frictional impulse]], which is the impulse due to frictional force. The frictional impulse is the [[coefficient of kinetic friction]] times the normal impulse. | In [[oblique collision]]s, there is both a normal impulse and a [[frictional impulse]], which is the impulse due to frictional force. The frictional impulse is the [[coefficient of kinetic friction]] times the normal impulse. | ||

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==Work and energy== | ==Work and energy== | ||

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If a person pushes a block forward on a frictionless floor, the work done by the normal force is <math>\int F \cdot ds</math>, all of which is converted into the block's kinetic energy. If, however, the person pushes the block forward on a floor with friction, part of the work done, namely <math>\int \mu_k mg \cdot ds</math>, is dissipated in [[kinetic friction]], and the remaining is stored in the form of the block's kinetic energy. | If a person pushes a block forward on a frictionless floor, the work done by the normal force is <math>\int F \cdot ds</math>, all of which is converted into the block's kinetic energy. If, however, the person pushes the block forward on a floor with friction, part of the work done, namely <math>\int \mu_k mg \cdot ds</math>, is dissipated in [[kinetic friction]], and the remaining is stored in the form of the block's kinetic energy. | ||

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## Revision as of 23:03, 19 January 2010

This article describes a force type.

View a complete list of force types

## Contents

## Definition

QUICK PHRASES: force preventing objects from going into each other, measure of how pressed together two bodies are, component of contact force orthogonal to surface of contact, component of contact force perpendicular to contact surface, what's commonly mistaken for weight

### Intensional definition

**Normal force**, sometimes called **normal reaction**, is the component of contact force between two bodies acting in a direction perpendicular to the plane of contact (or the tangent plane at the point of contact). It is in the outward direction on both bodies. The magnitudes of the normal force on both bodies are equal and the directions are opposite, in keeping with Newton's third law.

### Tendency-based definition

**Normal force** is the force exerted by two bodies on each other at a surface of contact that is intended to precisely counteract any tendency the bodies have of moving into each other.

## Situational examples

Example | Direction of force on each body | Magnitude of force | Reason |
---|---|---|---|

A block placed on a fixed horizontal surface | Upward on the block, downward on the surface | Equal to the weight of the block, which is the product of the mass and acceleration due to gravity | The net vertical force on the block should be zero |

A block placed on a fixed inclined plane with angle with the horizontal | Upward/outward on the block, downward/inward on the surface | The product , where is the mass of the block, is the acceleration due to gravity | The normal force must balance the component of gravitational force |

## Units and dimensions

Normal force is a form of force and hence has the same dimensions and units as all forces do. The MLT dimensions are and the SI unit is (Newton) or . Another unit typically used is , which is the weight of of material. Other units used include units obtained by replacing by other measures of weight, by other measures of length, and by other measures of time.

## Related forces

- Friction: It is the component of contact force along the plane of contact.
- Tension: Tension is a force exerted by a taut string on an object at its end, pulling the object inward.
- Spring force: Spring force is a force exerted by a spring on an object attached at its end. When the spring is extended, the force is inward, analogous to tension, while when the spring is compressed, this acts outward, analogous to normal force.
- Pressure: This is the normal force per unit area, or the differential of the normal force with respect to area. The normal force exerted through a surface of contact is the integral of the pressure with respect to area over the entire surface of contact.
- Stress: This is force per unit area that tends to have a deforming effect, and the force could be arising from a normal force.

## Subtleties

### Distribution over a flat surface of contact

The normal force acting through a surface of contact is the sum of forces acting on subparts of the surface. The magnitude of normal force per unit area is termed pressure. If we denote the pressure at a point on the surface of contact by , then the total normal force can be given by integrating this pressure over the entire area of contact:

where is the area element being integrated over. If the pressure is uniform through the surface of contact, then we have:

In general, the pressure need not be uniform over the entire surface of contact.

### Torque due to normal force

*Further information: Torque due to normal force*

Since the normal force is distributed over the entire surface of contact, different parts of it make different contributions to the torque. To determine the overall torque, we need to integrate, over the area of contact, the torque generated per unit area of contact.

In many cases of interest, the torque due to normal force is zero. This happens when the normal force is uniformly distributed over the surface and the surfaces is symmetric about the normal line to the surface through the center of mass. For many of these situations, a simplification is made: the normal force is shown as a force with a single line of action, namely, the normal line through the center of mass, and this is used to conclude that the normal force is zero.

### Normal force for a non-flat surface of contact

Consider a ball resting on a hemispherical surface of the same shape (so that there is a good fit). In this case, the surface of contact is not flat and there are different normal directions to different parts of the surface. The net direction of normal force in such situations is unclear. The normal force can be determined by the same integration as for a flat surface:

except that now the area element is treated as a vector pointing in the normal direction at the point of contact, and the integration is thus a vector integration.

### Normal force for a hinge/point of contact=

In some cases, the surface of contact is very small and, in the geometric approximation, is a point or a line rather than a surface. (In reality, it is still a surface, albeit one of very small area). The concept of normal force still makes sense, and it acts in the direction perpendicular to the tangent plane through the point of contact.

In case of irregular surfaces, however,there may not be a well-defined tangent plane, and in this case, there may be some indeterminacy in the direction of normal force. The actual direction of normal force depends on the normal direction to the surface area as it is actually formed due to microscopic deformations. This becomes of significance in situations such as rolling friction and some examples of banking.

### Normal impulse

In head-on collisions, there is a huge normal force between the colliding bodies for a short interval of time. For such situations, it is not customary to calculate the value of the normal force over this short time interval, but the normal impulse, which is the integral of this normal force over the time duration of the collision, is important.

In oblique collisions, there is both a normal impulse and a frictional impulse, which is the impulse due to frictional force. The frictional impulse is the coefficient of kinetic friction times the normal impulse.

## Work and energy

Normal force can do work if the normal force causes motion, e.g., with one body *pushing* the other body in some direction. It does *not* do work if the normal force is balanced by other forces perpendicular to the plane of contact that result in no net motion in that direction.

For instance, if a person lifts a book by placing it on the palm of her hand and moving her palm upward, then the normal force between the palm and the book causes the book to be lifted. The overall work done by the normal force is obtained by using the expression where is the normal force. Part of this work is converted to potential energy, since it combats the gravitational force acting on the book, namely where is the total height gained by the book. The rest of the work is converted into kinetic energy, which is the energy that the book acquires because of its speed. This is given by .

If a person pushes a block forward on a frictionless floor, the work done by the normal force is , all of which is converted into the block's kinetic energy. If, however, the person pushes the block forward on a floor with friction, part of the work done, namely , is dissipated in kinetic friction, and the remaining is stored in the form of the block's kinetic energy.