Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: friction basics

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 05/25/2011
Q:
HELLO IM KIMBERLEY AND AT MY SCHOOL WE ARE LEARNING ABOUT FRICTION ALL I KNOW ABOOUT FRICTION IS THAT WHEN TWO OBJECTS RUB TOGETHER THEY MAKE FRICTION IS THERE ANYTHING I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FRICTION?!
- KIMBERLEY (age 10)
UPPER HUTT WELLINGTON NZ
A:
Sure, there's lots that you can say about friction. Here's some starting facts. Friction is a force between the two objects rubbing together. It always goes in this direction: it tends to make the objects' surfaces move together with each other. So if an eraser is sliding across a board, the object will gradually come to move along with the board. It never works the other way. You will never find an eraser sitting on a board and then start sliding.

This may be a little too fancy for you just now, but there's a way to describe that using the idea of energy.  Things moving around have energy, no matter which way they're moving. Friction tends to take some of that energy from the motion of big things and transfer it into the random jiggling motion of tiny parts, atoms and molecules. That heats things up.

Mike W.

(published on 05/25/2011)

Follow-up on this answer.