September 2009 Archives

Physics in Action: Newton's Third Law of Motion

Isaac Newton's three laws of motion are the foundation of classical mechanics, one of the main branches of physics. His third law of motion states that if object A exerts a force on object B, object B always exerts a force back, and the two forces are equal in magnitude but opposite in direction to each other.

In other words, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

For instance, when a bird flies, it pushes the air downward, and in turn the air pushes the bird upward. In addition, the air pushes the bird upward with just as much force as the bird exerts downward with its wings. The third law can also be used when describing how a commercial jet gains loft. (Birds and jets also take advantage of Bernoulli's Principle, which we looked at in our last post.)

To get a better look at how Newton's third law works, we visited Professor Ephraim Fischbach at Purdue University for another of his fantastic demonstrations.

(Amy Bryant, co-founder of Thinkwell, makes a special guest appearance in this one!)

Physics in Action: Bernoulli's Principle

Professor Ephraim Fischbach has an amazing physics lab at Purdue University, and we were fortunate enough to be able to join him for some dazzling Physics I demonstrations.

In this Physics in Action video, watch as Professor Fischbach discusses and demonstrates Bernoulli's Principle, a phenomenon that allows us to fly airplanes even though they are much heavier than air. He also gets into the science of sports, showing how this physical phenomenon  affects objects in many games. Without it, a baseball pitcher couldn't throw a curveball!

Take a look and see what we mean, and keep your eyes open for more Physics in Action videos over the next few weeks.

This video is one of hundreds of videos from Thinkwell's Physics I course.