force

by gowtham 2010-02-19 12:55:36

In physics, the concept of force is used to describe an influence which causes a free body to undergo an acceleration. Force can also be described by intuitive concepts such as a push or pull that can cause an object with mass to change its velocity (which includes to begin moving from a state of rest), i.e., to accelerate, or which can cause a flexible object to deform. An applied force has both magnitude and direction, making it a vector quantity. Newton's second law can be formulated to state that an object with a constant mass will accelerate in proportion to the net force acting upon and in inverse proportion to its mass, an approximation which breaks down near the speed of light. Newton's original formulation is exact, and does not break down: this version states that the net force acting upon an object is equal to the rate at which its momentum changes.[1]

Related concepts to accelerating forces include thrust - any force which increases the velocity of the object, drag - any force which decreases the velocity of any object, and torque - the tendency of a force to cause changes in rotational speed about an axis. Forces which do not act uniformly on all parts of a body will also cause mechanical stresses,[2] a technical term for influences which cause deformation of matter. While mechanical stress can remain embedded in a solid object, gradually deforming it, mechanical stress in a fluid determines changes in its pressure and volume.[3][4]

Philosophers in antiquity used the concept of force in the study of stationary and moving objects and simple machines, but thinkers such as Aristotle and Archimedes retained fundamental errors in understanding force, due to an incomplete understanding of the sometimes non-obvious force of friction, and a consequently inadequate view of the nature of natural motion.[5] When the Age of Enlightenment began, Sir Isaac Newton corrected these misunderstandings with mathematical insight that remained unchanged for nearly three hundred years.[4] By the early 20th century, Einstein developed a theory of relativity that correctly predicted the action of forces on objects with increasing momenta near the speed of light, and also provided insight into the "forces" produced by gravitation and inertia.

With modern insights into quantum mechanics and technology that can accelerate particles close to the speed of light, particle physics has devised a Standard Model to describe forces between particles smaller than atoms. The Standard Model predicts that exchange particles called gauge bosons are the fundamental means by which forces are emitted and absorbed. Only four main interactions are known: in order of decreasing strength, they are: strong, electromagnetic, weak, and gravitational.[3] High-energy particle physics observations made during the 1970s and 1980s confirmed that the weak and electromagnetic forces are expressions of a more fundamental electroweak interaction

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