The contact forces are those for which the body that exerts the force is in direct contact with the body on which this force acts.
Although the only forces of Nature are the four fundamental interactions, in our daily lives we perceive forces that correspond to a combination of these. These are basically macroscopic manifestations of the electromagnetic interactions that occur between the atoms constituting matter. These forces are called “contact forces”, as opposed to the four fundamental interactions of nature, such as gravitational or electromagnetic forces, all of which are actions at a distance. These do not require the interacting bodies to be in direct contact.
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The most common contact forces are:
|Normal force or reaction||Between two surfaces|
|Friction force*||Between two surfaces|
|Tension||In a string|
|Restoring force||In a spring|
* The friction force can also act on a body that moves in a fluid or between layers of a fluid. However, in these pages, we will analyze what is called the “dry friction” between solid bodies. Nor will we go into the details of how the contact forces are produced at the microscopic level. We will limit ourselves to describing its macroscopic manifestation.
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