Momentum and Energy


Why is a wedge like an inclined plane?

A knife is one example of a wedge. Look carefully at the sharp edge of a kitchen knife. It looks like two inclined planes put back-to-back. As the knife blade moves down through food, the wedge pushes the pieces apart. A hatchet or axe is another example of a wedge. Wedges are also used to split wood. In this case the flat end of an axe is often used to drive the wedge into the end of a log, which is then forced apart. Wedges are inefficient machines because there is usually a large amount of friction between the wedge and the material, which leads to increased temperature of both the material and wedge, and thus heat transfer.


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