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Q & A: Turning Forces

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
how do you work out turning forces?
- laura (age 12)
kings school, England kent
A:
When we push on an object to turn it, we say that we are applying a torque. This is basically what one might think of as a 'turning force.' This is different than a regular force because instead of moving an object in a straight line, we are rotating the object
So to measure this torque, or íturning forceí, first you need to find the line between the point you are turning about and the place where you are applying the force. Find the length of that line.

Then you need to know how much force is being applied perpendicular to that line. Finding this force can involve some complicated math, but for most everyday circumstances this isnít a problem.

The product of the distance between the turning point and the force times the amount of perpendicular force is equal to the torque. This makes fairly intuitive sense. If want to use a wrench to turn a nut, you do not push along the handle, but at a right angle to it, so that most of your force is perpendicular to the mass you are turning.
I hope this answers your question.

math dan

(published on 10/22/2007)

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