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7 Examples of Newton’s first law in everyday life

September 5, 2023
written by Qamar Zaman

Newton’s first law of motion is also known as the law of inertia. It states that an object at rest will stay at rest and an object in motion will stay at the same speed and direction unless an external force acts on it.

This law can be seen in action in many everyday situations. For example, if you are sitting in a car that is stopped at a red light, you will stay in your seat unless the vehicle starts moving. This is because your body has inertia and will resist any change in its motion.

Examples of Newton’s first law

Here are some examples of Newton’s first law in everyday life:

image showing the Examples of Newton's first law

1. Car at a Stoplight

When a car comes to a complete stop at a red traffic light, it remains stationary until the driver applies a force to the gas pedal to make it move again. The car tends to stay at rest until acted upon by the driver’s force.

2. Ice Skating

When you ice skate and glide across the ice, you keep moving forward until you apply a force to stop or change your direction. Your inertia keeps you moving in a straight line until acted upon by an external force.

3. Pushing a Book

If you push a book on a table with a gentle force and then stop pushing, the book will eventually come to a stop due to the force of friction. It doesn’t keep moving indefinitely because friction acts as the external force slowing it down.

4. Swinging Pendulum

A swinging pendulum continues to swing back and forth until it is stopped by air resistance and friction. In the absence of these forces, it would continue swinging indefinitely.

5. Space Travel

Objects in space, such as satellites or spacecraft, will continue to move at a constant velocity unless thrusters are used to change their course or speed. This is because there is very little air resistance or friction in space to slow them down.

6. Soccer Ball at Rest

A soccer ball placed on the field will remain stationary until a player kicks it. The player’s kick provides the necessary force to overcome the ball’s initial inertia and set it in motion.

7. Roller Coaster

When a roller coaster is at the top of a hill and comes to a stop, it will stay there until the pull of gravity causes it to start moving downhill. Once in motion, it will continue until other forces, such as brakes or the track layout, come into play.

These examples illustrate how objects tend to maintain their state of motion unless an external force acts on them, as described by Newton’s first law of motion.

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