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Homework Help: Acceleration and friction force problem

  1. Sep 26, 2014 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Mass of the bus is 20 tons. It accelerates to 10 m/s (from initial speed of 0) in 50 meters. Find the coefficient of friction (u) if the force, that pushes the bus = 14*10^3 N


    3. The attempt at a solution

    So we can find out what the acceleration is using
    And it will be equal to 1 m/s^2
    But, the total force F(total)=F-F(friction)=m*a=14000-F(friction)=20000
    So it turns out Force of friction = -4kN. How can this be, what did I do wrong?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2014 #2
    I agree with you. It doesn't seem to make sense.

  4. Sep 26, 2014 #3


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    I also agree. Another way of looking at it would be to look at work done by the pushing force which would equal 700 kJ. The kinetic energy of the bus moving at 10 m/s would be 1 MJ so the same problem manifests itself in that consideration too.
  5. Sep 26, 2014 #4


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    The SUVAT equation is..
    V^2 = U^2 +2as
    a = V^2/2s

    but despite that you still get a=1m/s^2

    I thought perhaps they meant imperial (US short) Tons rather than metric but that's about 18,100kg and you still get a negative answer.

    A strong tail wind is the only thing I can think of.

    The friction with the ground is actually what pushes the bus so if the "force that pushes the bus is 14,000N" then the friction force with the ground must also 14,000N. But in that case the bus won't accelerate as fast as stated. I agree it makes no sense.

    It's not unknown for teachers/examiners to copy old questions and change the values without checking it all hangs together.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2014
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