Newton's laws problems with solutions

When you try to solve problems of Physics in general and of application of Newton’s laws in particular, it is important to follow a certain order. Try to be organized when you solve these problems, and you will see how it gives good results. It is worth spending a bit of time on the analysis of a problem before tackling it.

When solving problems related to the application of Newton’s laws, follow these steps:

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  • Read carefully the problem statement.
  • Draw a picture of the physical situation described in the problem.
  • Write in your notebook the givens of the problem statement.
  • Identify the forces that act on the body.
  • Remember that the forces are physical interactions. Therefore, if a system is supported on another system, a normal force will act on it; if it is close to the surface of the Earth, the weight will act on it, and so on with the rest of the interactions that the system experiences.
  • Represent the different forces acting on the body on the drawing you have made.
  • Add a Cartesian coordinate system on the drawing, indicating which is the positive direction of each of the axes.
  • Write Newton’s second law in vectorial form, including in the vectorial sum all the forces you have identified.
  • Project Newton’s second law on Cartesian axes. Take into account the sign of the different projections.
  • Solve the system of equations to determine the unknowns.
  • Do not forget to include the units in your results.
  • Review the problem and check that the results you have obtained make sense.

On the following pages you will find some problems of Newton’s second law with solutions. Try to do them before looking at the solution.

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