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The tendency of an object to resist a change in its motion.

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Credit: Dinner Series
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A Set Table [Figure1]


Inertia is a property of all matter that says that an object is inclined to stay where it currently is. The amount of inertia an object has is directly related to its mass. A common trick that demonstrates inertia is to pull a tablecloth from underneath a set table. While at first it appears the candles, plates, and utensils will fly off with the cloth, they actually stay in their place.

Creative Applications

1. Why does this happen?

2. If the tablecloth was replaced with a large piece of sandpaper, but other factors like the amount of dinnerware and speed of the cloth pull remained the same, would you still be able to do the trick?

3. If instead of standard tableware, you had paper tableware, but with a standard cloth and pulling speed, would you still be able to do the trick?


For more inertia demonstrations, check out this Youtube video:


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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Dinner Series; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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