Physics

The Force of Friction



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Friction is encountered every moment of every day.  Friction can be defined as “the force that opposes motion”.  It affects the lives of everyone in incredible ways. Examples of friction’s life-changing qualities can be found everywhere. Imagine if the ability to stop motion was taken away. Without friction the idea of driving, flying, train travel, and much more would be non-existent.

Driving, to many, is easily the most useful form of travel. There are many people who have never flown on a plane, but it is a challenge to find one who has never ridden in an automobile. The tires and brakes of an automobile are what cause it to be able to stop. Without the force of friction, cars, trucks, or any other automobile would never stop moving. Travel would not only be dangerous, but also fatal.  The friction of the tires, caused by the treads, also allows the driver to have control. The mere act staying grounded to the road would be impossible without friction.

Some might wonder how friction affects flying; the answer is the same as it does driving. When the plane lands it uses brakes and tires to stop. In other words, a plane reacts the same way as an automobile. Train travel is very similar. Trains travel along tracks with a low-friction surface. When they need to stop, brakes are used to cause friction and bring the train to a complete stand still.

It is easy to see the affects of the force of friction in the previous situations, but there are other examples; one of which is the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon shows the aftermath of friction on a much greater scale. It took water from the Colorado River approximately six million years to form the Grand Canyon. The water constantly grinded against the rock, and as it did so, the rock was slowly eroded away.  Friction was the cause of the erosion.

Yet another example of friction is ice, moreso glacial ice, grinding against the hull of a ship. This happens in frigid water often, but the best known case of such a situation is the sinking of the Titanic. The story of the Titanic is known by many. A horrible tragedy, it is also an amazing example of the tremendous power of friction.

Friction is everywhere; it cannot be escaped, and that in most cases is very beneficial. Without the wonderful force of friction, the world would be completely different. It is not always thought of by people, but always in action. 


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