Physics Tutorial 6.3 - Newton's Second Law for System of Particles

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There are 2 lessons in this physics tutorial covering Newton's Second Law for System of Particles. The tutorial starts with an introduction to Newton's Second Law for System of Particles and is then followed with a list of the separate lessons, the tutorial is designed to be read in order but you can skip to a specific lesson or return to recover a specific physics lesson as required to build your physics knowledge of Newton's Second Law for System of Particles. you can access all the lessons from this tutorial below.

In this Physics tutorial, you will learn:

  • The definition of particles in physics
  • The role of centre of mass in the dynamics of a system of particles
  • How to write the Newton's Second Law of Motion for a system of particles
  • How to make use of the help of coordinates to study the movement of a system of particles

Introduction

In the tutorial "Centre of Mass. Types of Equilibrium", we stated that centre of mass of an object helps us to determine its displacement, among other things. This is because an object may swing or rotate, besides moving linearly according a translational trajectory.

Consider a knife thrown towards a target table during a knife throwing activity. In many cases, the person involved holds the knife at its tip instead of its handle. After throwing the knife towards the table, it both rotates and displaces linearly. By the end of process, i.e. when it is stuck on the target table, the knife has rotated by a certain angle to its original direction because it spins several times during the flight.

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For the above (and other) reasons, we cannot take the knife as a single object but as a system of points instead. It is obvious that the knife top travels a different distance from the handle. Of course, we can take the centre of mass as a representative of the object, but we know this is a generalization. However, when the object is too small in dimensions compared to the distance travelled by it, the study of the centre of mass is the only method available as if we try to study all points of the system, this would complicate a lot our task.

In this tutorial, we will deal with the motion of a system of particles by considering the forces acting in each individual particle. Obviously, we will deal only with two or three particles, as the method is the same for more particles as well. Increasing the number of particles only makes the calculations longer but the approach doesn't change.

Please select a specific "Newton's Second Law for System of Particles" lesson from the table below, review the video tutorial, print the revision notes or use the practice question to improve your knowledge of this physics topic.

Centre of Mass and Linear Momentum Learning Material
Tutorial IDPhysics Tutorial TitleTutorialVideo
Tutorial
Revision
Notes
Revision
Questions
6.3Newton's Second Law for System of Particles
Lesson IDPhysics Lesson TitleLessonVideo
Lesson
6.3.1Newton's Second Law for a System of Two Particles
6.3.2Newton's Second Law of Motion for a System of Particles in Coordinates

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