Friction Reduction

March 16th, 2010 by Robert Hothan Leave a reply »

In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton published three laws, called Newton`s Laws of Motion. The first law states, “An object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an external force”.

So in theory,  if an object, say a ball, is thrown in space it will remain in motion, forever. Unlike if thrown on earth it will be subject to other forces.  Those forces may be friction of the air as the ball travels through it, and the gravational forces from earth as it is pulled to the ground.  This article will look at friction as a source of energy consumption.

We all have heard of amazing feats of strength performed by the likes of Charles Atlas and Jack La Lane. In 1938, Atlas towed a rail road car 122 feet along the rails in Sunnyside Queens. Then in 1957, Jack LaLane ( my personal hero, age 95 ) Towed a cabin cruiser as he swam across the golden gate channel in CA.

Both of these extraordinary powerful men used friction reduction to their advantage when moving heavy objects.  Notice that seldom do we hear of a strongman moving heavy objects againist heavy frictional forces, like the US highway system, where rubber tires meet tarmac.

In everyday life a lot of energy is dissipated as heat due to friction. Rub your hands together; the energy expended in moving the hands against each other is turned into heat.  It’s best to understand friction and devise ways to reduce it to conserve energy.

Friction is why our car centric society consumes vast quantities of energy (in the form of petroleum) and why public transport systems, especially rail and water are efficient.


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