# Understanding Momentum: What Happens When Insufficient Force is Applied?

• pallidin
In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of applying a force to accelerate an object and what happens if the force is not strong enough to overcome the object's inertia. The expert clarifies that even a small force will result in some acceleration, but it may be very small. The concept of static friction is also mentioned.
pallidin
I can't seem to wrap my head around this. Perhaps you can help:

Let's say I've managed to accelerate a mass to 1/2c.
Now, I wish to get that mass going faster, BUT, the newly applied force is not enough to do this.

What then happens to the "insufficient" applied energy? Is it absorbed, reflected, dissipated, etc...?

Thanks

Last edited:
What do you mean? If you apply a force the object will accelerate and the energy will be equal to the force times the distance.

Dale,

If the force is unable to further accelerate the mass(by virtue of that force being weaker than required to overcome inertia) what happens to the applied force?

It is my understanding(perhaps wrong) that an applied force MUST be sufficient enough to overcome the inertia of the mass or the mass will NOT accelerate.

pallidin said:
It is my understanding(perhaps wrong) that an applied force MUST be sufficient enough to overcome the inertia of the mass or the mass will NOT accelerate.
This is a misunderstanding. Any net force, no matter how small, will result in an acceleration. If the force is very small relative to the mass then the acceleration will be correspondingly small, but it will still be there.

You may be thinking of static friction, where you have to apply a force greater than the static friction force in order for there to be a net force so that the object can start moving.

OK. Thank you so much.

## 1. What is momentum?

Momentum is a measure of an object's motion, and is defined as the product of its mass and velocity.

## 2. How is momentum related to force?

According to Newton's Second Law of Motion, force and momentum are directly proportional. This means that applying a greater force to an object will result in a greater change in its momentum.

## 3. What happens when insufficient force is applied to an object?

If insufficient force is applied to an object, its momentum will not change significantly. The object will continue to move at a constant velocity or remain at rest.

## 4. Can momentum be negative?

Yes, momentum can be negative. This occurs when an object is moving in the opposite direction of its positive momentum. For example, a car traveling in the negative direction on a number line would have a negative momentum.

## 5. How can we increase momentum?

Momentum can be increased by increasing the mass or velocity of an object. This can be achieved by applying a greater force or by reducing any opposing forces, such as friction or air resistance.

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