AP Physics 1 : Newton's First Law

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Physics 1

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Fundamentals Of Force And Newton's Laws

What net force is required to keep a 500 kg object moving with a constant velocity of ?

Possible Answers:

Not enough information

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Newton's first law states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless if acted upon by a net force. This means that if friction is not being accounted for, there is no net force required to keep an object moving if it's in motion. A net force is only required to change an object's motion. The 500 kg object is moving at a constant velocity; therefore, there is no net force (0 Newtons) acting on the object.

Example Question #221 : Forces

All of the following statements are true. Which of them is NOT explained by Newton's first law of motion?

Possible Answers:

A baseball thrown in space will keep moving in the same direction until it hits something.

A ball rolling straight down a tilted plane hill won't veer left or right unless something pushes it.

If I'm riding a skateboard, it doesn't spontaneously reverse directions.

A book lying on a desk doesn't start moving without an external force.

Dropping a box causes it to accelerate downwards.

Correct answer:

Dropping a box causes it to accelerate downwards.

Explanation:

Newton's first law of motion refers to objects with no external forces acting on them. Objects with no external forces will maintain the same velocity, meaning that

(1) if they are not moving, they will continue not moving

(2) if they are moving, they will keep moving with the same speed and direction

The answer "Dropping a box causes it to accelerate downwards" refers to a box with a force acting upon it—the force of gravity. Also, the box is accelerating, unlike objects referred to by Newton's first law of motion, which have constant velocities.

Example Question #1 : Newton's First Law

 spaceship travels in the vacuum of space at a constant speed of 

Ignoring any gravitational forces, what is the net force on the spaceship?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

In a vacuum, there is no friction due to air resistance. Newton's first law states that an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by a net force. Thus the spaceship will travel at the constant speed (zero acceleration) of  indefinitely and the net force on the spaceship must be zero. This can also be shown mathematically:

Example Question #2 : Newton's First Law

You are traveling on an airplane at constant speed of 650mph. Your friend is traveling in his car at a constant speed of 60mph. Who experiences a larger acceleration?

Possible Answers:

You

Neither you nor your friend 

Cannot be determined; we must know the force due to friction

Your friend

Correct answer:

Neither you nor your friend 

Explanation:

Since both you and your friend are traveling at a constant speed, the acceleration of you and your friend is zero. Thus, neither you nor your friend experiences any acceleration. This can be shown mathematically using the equation for acceleration:

Since there is no change in velocity over time acceleration is zero. Also note that when acceleration is zero, so is the net force.

Example Question #4 : Fundamentals Of Force And Newton's Laws

You are sitting in a car, at rest, when another car rear ends your vehicle. Why do you and the passengers experience a whiplash, in terms of Newton's laws of motion? 

Possible Answers:

A larger/more massive object means a larger inertia

None of these

An object at rest tends to stay at rest 

Acceleration is the time derivative of velocity 

Correct answer:

An object at rest tends to stay at rest 

Explanation:

Because an object at rest tends to stay at rest, when your car is hit your body/neck will 'want' to stay where it was. This will cause your body and neck to 'whip' as it will take time for it to speed up from being hit. 

Example Question #224 : Forces

A passenger in an elevator has a mass that exerts a force of 100N downwards. He experiences a normal force upwards from the elevator's floor of 120N. What direction is he accelerating in, if at all, and at what rate?

Possible Answers:

 upwards 

 upwards 

 upwards 

 downwards  

Correct answer:

 upwards 

Explanation:

The acceleration of the person in the elevator is determined by the net forces and his/her mass. The net force is calculated to be 20N upwards. To find the mass of the passenger, use the following formula:

Then, to find the net acceleration, use Newton's second law.

Example Question #225 : Forces

A 1675 kilogram car is moving to the right at a constant velocity of .

What is the net force exerted on the car?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Recall Newton's first law of motion: an object will remain in its state of uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force. The car's motion is described as having a constant velocity which is a uniform state so there are no external forces.

Example Question #3 : Newton's First Law

A box is sliding down a plane that has a inclination angle of . Calculate the coefficient of kinetic friction  if the box is moving at a constant velocity .

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

If the box is moving at a constant velocity, we know that the sum of the forces acting up and down the inclined plane must add to zero. If the only forces acting are gravity and friction, we can show:

We can gain information about the normal force  by looking at the forces acting perpendicular to the plane, shown by: 

Putting all of this together lets us write the following expression for the forces in acting along the plane, and finally, our answer:

Example Question #4 : Newton's First Law

A spacecraft is deep in space and motionless. Then, the spacecraft separates into two sections going in opposite directions. The first has a mass of and is moving with a magnitude of velocity of . The second has a mass of . Determine the magnitude of velocity of the second section.

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Use conservation of momentum:

Plug in values.

Solve for :

Example Question #5 : Newton's First Law

A skydiver of mass  has reached terminal velocity at . Estimate the force of wind resistance she is experiencing.

Possible Answers:

None of these

Correct answer:

Explanation:

If the diver has reached terminal velocity, her acceleration is .

Thus, according to Newton's second law:

Her net force is equal to zero.

The only forces acting on her are gravity and wind resistance, which must add up to zero.

Where is pointing down and thus negative

Plug in values:

Solve for

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