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Finding multiple ways to calculate or find coefficient of friction (μ)

  1. Sep 18, 2008 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    I will be conducting a physics lab tomorrow, where the goal of the lab is to find or calculate the coefficient of friction in as many ways as possible. I have a block of wood at my disposal, and a wooden board. A stopwatch is able to be used as well. We will probably be able to find the mass of the block of wood using a device to measure weight.

    2. Relevant equations
    My teacher has stated that using displacement (and probably V1, V2, delta T, acceleration), it is possible to find Fnet. If this were true, since we know m(a) = Fnet, and we know we could find a way to get Fa (applied force), one would theoretically be able to find Ffriction, since Fnet = Fa + (- Ffriction).

    There are basic kinematic formulas available, such as: (solving for D, V1, V2, delta T, Aav, Vav, etc).

    3. The attempt at a solution
    Thinking about this, at first one would conceive the possible solutions that would yield a displacement and time (and probably V1 and V2). From this, we could find the forces that were being acted upon in the situation on the wooden block, including Fnet, Fa, Fg, and Fn. If we have these, we would also be able to find Fk (the force of kinetic friction), and Fs (the force of static friction). Then we could find the mu's by using the formulas Fk = Mu(k)FN and Fs = Mu(s)FN.

    That's what I thought at first, anyway. However, my teacher states that there are many methods to calculate or find mu (the coefficient of friction). In fact, he had stated that 10 methods wasn't even that great. I've thought about a couple of methods to find kinematic values such as velocities and displacements, using them to find forces being acted upon on the block, and then finding the force of friction and then finally the coefficient of friction.

    However, is there something I'm missing? Does anyone know many methods to find the coefficient of friction? Perhaps there's one sort of concept or idea that I can't think of that's stopping me from finding new methods, but besides the basic one(s) I'm not quite sure.

    You don't have to give out hundreds of methods, but it would be appreciated if there's some sort of idea involving perhaps angles, or something else, that would give me more ways of calculating or finding mu of friction.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
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