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Law

Of

Interactio
n
This lesson describes Netwon's third law of motion. Examples are provided to illustrate
how interacting objects experience forces. The lesson explains how objects accelerate
as a result of force. Applications of Newton's third law are illustrated in nature,
machines, and space.

Newton's Third Law of Motion

When you sit in a chair, the force of gravity


is balanced by the force of the chair pushing
up

force
When any two objects interact with each other, whether it's direct contact or at a
distance, they exert forces upon each other. As you sit in your chair, your body acts on
the chair with one force, and the chair reacts on your body with yet another force. This
is an example of Newton's third law in action.Newton's third law states that for every
action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Two Forces for Every Object


According to Newton's law, interacting objects experience two forces: action and reaction. The size
of the forces acting on one object equals the size of the forces acting on the second object.
Additionally, the direction of the force on one object is opposite to the direction of the force on the
second object. Let's consider a man attempting to lift a really heavy weight. If the man is able to pull
up with a force of 100 lbs, then the weights in turn will pull down with a force of 100 lbs.

If a man pulls up a weight with a force of 100 lbs, the weight pulls down with a force of 100 lbs

Implications of Newton's Third Law

There are plenty of implications of Newton's third law of motion. Imagine yourself strolling through
the woods. Your foot acts on the ground, pushing it backwards. The ground then reacts on your foot,
pushing you forward. The force of your leg on the earth is equal to the force of the earth pushing
back on you. Additionally, the force of the leg is opposite to the direction of the earth pushing back,
thus propelling you forward. Any change in motion is termed acceleration. Therefore, you actually
accelerate as you take that first step.
What about the earth? Does the earth accelerate? Any acceleration of the earth will go unnoticed
because the earth's mass is so large in comparison to your mass. Acceleration is directly
proportional to the force and inversely proportional to the mass of the object. Since the forces are
equal and the masses are so incredibly different, the acceleration is incredibly different as well. Now
let's talk about how Newton's third law behaves first in machines, and then in nature, and finally in
space.

Newton's Law and Machines


First up, machines. Consider a moving car. The spinning wheels push backwards on the road.
The road responds with an equal and opposite force, pushing the car forward. Just like in our
previous walking example, any movement of the earth is negligible since the earth is so large in
comparison with the car.