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Force question

  1. Sep 18, 2005 #1
    Is the normal force on a body always equal to its weight?

    YES or NO?

    I believe the answer is NO.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2005 #2


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    You are correct.
  4. Sep 18, 2005 #3
    Can you give me your reason for it??

    I believe the answer is NO, because the normal force on a body is only equal to its weight when the body is on a horizontal surface.

    et me know if my reasoning is correct. Thanks.
  5. Sep 18, 2005 #4
    If you have a body on an incline, then the force of gravity on that body would be F_grav = mg (cos a i + sin a j). But if you compute the magnitude of this vector, you end up with |F_grav| = mg, don't you?

    Doesn't this mean that the weight of a body on an incline is the same as on a horizontal surface?

  6. Sep 18, 2005 #5

    Doc Al

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    If you are talking about an object just resting on a surface, then you are correct.
  7. Sep 18, 2005 #6

    Doc Al

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    Putting a body on an incline doesn't change the direction or magnitude of its weight. It's always just [itex]mg[/itex] acting down.

    It better be the same!
  8. Sep 18, 2005 #7
    Ah, right. I understand. I misunderstood the original question. Yes, the normal force is less on an incline.

    I've been thinking of the inclines in these mechanics problems as splitting the downard force of mg into two components, one parallel to the incline, and one perpendicular to it. So I guess I have been thinking of the incline as a device to "split gravity", although I know that sounds stupid. I haven't really used that term until now.

    Could you enlarge on what is really going on? I'd appreciate it.

  9. Sep 18, 2005 #8

    Doc Al

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    For an object on an incline it is often useful to find the components of the weight parallel and perpendicular to the surface. If the incline is fixed, only forces parallel to the incline will accelerate the object. (The perpendicular component will equal the normal force.)
  10. Sep 18, 2005 #9
    the question states "Always equall", i guess the always is what makes the difference. Because the Normal force is only equal when object is at rest horizontally. I guess if it be on an incline then ther object would slide down and move. Therefore on object inclined would NOT have an equal normal force.

    That's just my opinion.
  11. Sep 19, 2005 #10
    I understand this. What I don't understand is why this isn't viewed as changing the direction of the objects weight. I've been told I get too hung up on the details, but I do like to understand these things.

  12. Sep 19, 2005 #11

    Doc Al

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    Finding the components of a force does not change the force. Weight is defined as the gravitational force that the earth exerts on an object. That doesn't change just because an object is on an incline. (Of course, being on an incline does change the forces on the object, but not its weight.)
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