In order for the roller coaster to run down the incline by gravitational attraction, it first must have work done on it towing it up to the top of the hill.
The word work has both an everyday meaning and a specific scientific meaning. In the everyday use of the word, work would refer to anything, which required a person to make an effort. In physics, however, work is defined as the force exerted on an object multiplied by the distance the object moves due to that force.
Example Problem: A boy lifts a box of apples that weighs 185 N. The box is lifted a height of 0.800 m. How much work did the boy do?
Work is done only if a force is exerted in the direction of motion. If the force and motion are perpendicular to each other, no work is done because there is no motion in the direction of the force. If the force is at an angle to the motion, then the component of the force in the direction of the motion is used to determine the work done.
Example Problem: Suppose a 125 N force is applied to a lawnmower handle at an angle of 25° with the ground and the lawnmower moves along the surface of the ground. If the lawnmower moves 56 m, how much work was done?
Solution: The solution requires that we determine the component of the force that was in the direction of the motion of the lawnmower. The component of the force that was pushing down on the ground does not contribute to the work done.
- In physics, work is defined as the force exerted on an object multiplied by the distance the object moves due to that force.
- The unit for work is called the joule.
- If the force is at an angle to the motion, then the component of the force in the direction of the motion is used to determine the work done.
The following website contains practice questions with answers on the topic of work.
1. How much work is done by the force of gravity when a 45 N object falls to the ground from a height of 4.6 m?
2. A workman carries some lumber up a staircase. The workman moves 9.6 m vertically and 22 m horizontally. If the lumber weighs 45 N, how much work was done by the workman?
3. A barge is pulled down a canal by a horse walking beside the canal. If the angle of the rope is 60.0°, the force exerted is 400. N, and the barge is pulled 100. M, how much work did the horse do?