Motion and Its Causes

Force and Newton’s Laws of Motion

How is the friction between two surfaces characterized?

In most cases the frictional force is proportional to the force pushing the surfaces together (N). This proportionality is usually written as Ffriction = μN. The Greek letter u (mu) is called the coefficient of friction. It is important to remember that the two forces, Ffriction and N are not in the same direction.

You probably noticed that it took more force to start the couch moving than it was to keep it moving. Physicists say that the coefficient of static friction is larger than the coefficient of kinetic (moving) friction.

Surfaces Static friction Kinetic friction
Teflon on teflon 0.04 0.04
Oak on oak (parallel to grain) 0.62 0.48
Steel on steel 0.78 0.42
Glass on glass 0.94 0.4


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