Friction and Work

In calculating work done, the actual resistance overcome is measured. This is not necessarily the weight of the object being moved. [Figure 3-5] A 900-lb load is being pulled a distance of 200 ft. This does not mean that the work done (force × distance) is 180,000 ft-lb (900 lb × 200 ft). This is because the person pulling the load is not working against the total weight of the load, but rather against the rolling friction of the cart, which may be no more than 90 lb.

Friction is an important aspect of work. Without friction it would be impossible to walk. One would have to shove oneself from place to place, and would have to bump against some obstacle to stop at a destination. Yet friction is a liability as well as an asset, and requires consideration when dealing with any moving mechanism.

In experiments relating to friction, measurement of the applied forces reveals that there are three kinds of friction. One force is required to start a body moving, while another is required to keep the body moving at constant speed. Also, after a body is in motion, a definitely larger force is required to keep it sliding than to keep it rolling.

Thus, the three kinds of friction may be classified as: (1) starting (static) friction, (2) sliding friction, and (3) rolling friction.

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