Chapter 4 acceleration and momentum
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Chapter 4 Acceleration and Momentum. Objectives. 4.1 Explain how force, mass, and acceleration are related. 4.1 Compare rates at which different objects fall. Observe the effects of air resistance.

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Chapter 4 Acceleration and Momentum

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Chapter 4 Acceleration and Momentum


  • 4.1Explain how force, mass, and acceleration are related.

  • 4.1 Compare rates at which different objects fall. Observe the effects of air resistance.

  • 4.2 Explain why things that are thrown or shot follow a curved path. Compare motion in a straight line to circular motion.

  • 4.2 Define weightlessness

Newton’s Second Law

Force equals mass times acceleration.

F = ma

Acceleration: a measurement of how quickly an object is changing speed.

What does F = ma mean?

Force is directly proportional to mass and acceleration. Imagine a ball of a certain mass moving at a certain acceleration. This ball has a certain force.

Now imagine we make the ball twice as big (double the mass) but keep the acceleration constant. F = ma says that this new ball has twice the force of the old ball.

Now imagine the original ball moving at twice the original acceleration. F = ma says that the ball will again have twice the force of the ball at the original acceleration.

More about F = ma

If you double the mass, you double the force. If you double the acceleration, you double the force.

What if you double the mass and the acceleration?

(2m)(2a) = 4F

Doubling the mass and the acceleration quadruples the force.

So . . . what if you decrease the mass by half? How much force would the object have now?

What does F = ma say?

F = ma basically means that the force of an object comes from its mass and its acceleration.

Something very massive (high mass) that’s changing speed very slowly (low acceleration), like a glacier, can still have great force.

Something very small (low mass) that’s changing speed very quickly (high acceleration), like a bullet, can still have a great force. Something very small changing speed very slowly will have a very weak force.

Newton’s 2nd Lawshows that different masses accelerate to the earth at the same rate, but with different forces.

  • We know that objects with different masses accelerate to the ground at the same rate.

  • However, because of the 2nd Law we know that they don’t hit the ground with the same force.

F = ma

98 N = 10 kg x 9.8 m/s/s

F = ma

9.8 N = 1 kg x 9.8 m/s/s

If mass remains constant, doubling the acceleration, doubles the force. If force remains constant, doubling the mass, halves the acceleration.

Weight Force

Apparent Weight

  • How does your weight change in the following?

  • Elevator accelerating up

  • Elevator accelerating down

  • Car accelerating

  • Falling

Acceleration Caused by Gravity

  • Often called Weight

  • F = ma

  • Weight is a force

  • Acceleration on Earth 9.8 m/s/s

Air Resistance

  • Also called the Drag force

  • A result of moving the fluid molecules out of the way

    • Size, shape, speed, density all influence the amount of drag

  • Faster = More resistance

Terminal Velocity

  • The fastest an object can fall

    • Based off of air resistance

  • Parachutes lower people’s terminal velocity

Projectile Motion

  • Monkey and Banana Gun Scenario

    • If a gun pointed at a monkey fires and the monkey falls at the same time, does the monkey get hit?

Projectile Motion


  • Monkey and Gun

Projectile Motion

  • Horizontal and Vertical motion are different and independent of one another

    • An object thrown sideways hits ground at same time as an object which is dropped

    • They are independent because the force acting on fall is gravity, which is straight down for both

Projectile Motion

  • Large angle of fire = Long time aloft (90 degrees is max time)

  • 45 degree angle of fire = Farthest (in ideal world)

    • Air resistance makes this closer to 30 in real world


  • Centripetal Force = Force directed Inward to pull an object in a circular path

    • Centripetal Acceleration: Result of force


  • To be in free fall or completely void of a substantial gravitational force

  • What are some effects?

    • Human body weakens

    • Plants/Crystals can grow to be larger

    • Others?

  • Satellites and their Speed

    • Satellites are constantly falling towards the planet they orbit (just as Earth is constantly falling towards the Sun)

      • In free fall

    • Inertia (horizontal velocity) + Falling (centripetal acceleration) leads to orbit

    Satellites and their Speed

    • A balance between inertia and centripetal acceleration

    End 4.1 – 4.2 Notes

    • Newton’s first law and equation (Solve F = ma given 2 of 3 variables)

    • Air resistance, what causes it and how does it change with speed/other factors

    • Gravity, the law

    • Projectile motion, the independence of horizontal and vertical motion


    • LEO: Low Earth Orbiting satellite

      • Move very fast, used to spy

    • MEO: Medium Earth Orbiting satellite

      • Move moderately fast, used for gps

      • 12,000 miles above sea level

    • GEO: Geostationary Earth Orbiting satellite

      • Stay at same place about earth, used for tv/radio

      • 22,000 miles above sea level

    Newton’s Third Law

    For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    What does this mean?

    For every force acting on an object, there is an equal force acting in the opposite direction. Right now, gravity is pulling you down in your seat, but Newton’s Third Law says your seat is pushing up against you with equal force. This is why you are not moving. There is a balanced force acting on you– gravity pulling down, your seat pushing up.

    Think about it . . .

    What happens if you are standing on a skateboard or a slippery floor and push against a wall? You slide in the opposite direction (away from the wall), because you pushed on the wall but the wall pushed back on you with equal and opposite force.

    Why does it hurt so much when you stub your toe? When your toe exerts a force on a rock, the rock exerts an equal force back on your toe. The harder you hit your toe against it, the more force the rock exerts back on your toe (and the more your toe hurts).

    Action-Reaction Pairs

    • In an Action-Reaction pair

      • Each object acts on the other

      • Each object pushes/pulls with same magnitude of force

    • Tug of War is NOT an example of Newton’s 3rd Law

    • Mr.Love pushing the Earth away is (by jumping)

    • Rockets are examples (throw gas/gas throws rocket)


    • Momentum is conserved as long as no outside forces are present

      • Momentum is conserved when the system is isolated completely from outside forces

    • Momentum = mass (kg) * velocity (m/s)

      • Since it is velocity, direction matters

    Impulse (Change Momentum)

    • F = ma  Ft = mv

    • Large F over a small time = small force over a large time

      • Same effect. Force over time changes momentum


    • Momentum Before = Momentum After

      • 10 P to the Right before a collision, then 10 P to the right after the collision

    • Problem: A ball rolling at 5 m/s to the right with a mass of 0.25 kg collides with a ball of mass 0.5kg at rest. What is the velocity of the 0.5 kg ball if?

      • The 0.25 kg ball stops

      • The 0.25 kg ball recoils at – 1 m/s

      • The 0.25 kg ball keeps rolling forward at 2 m/s

    Momentum Practice

    Momentum of

    • 100,000 kg Train at rest

    • 0.01 kg bug moving at 2m/s

    • You running at top speed

    • Car moving at 10 m/s (25mph)

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