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Tension and Friction

CAPE Physics Unit 1


1. Describe the property of tension in a flexible
cord of neglible mass
2. Calculate forces due to tension
3. Explain the origin of friction
4. Distinguish between kinetic and static friction
5. Calculate friction on inclines
6. Define banked angle
7. Calculate banked turns
8. Explain importnace of blanked turn

A flexible cord that pulls on an object is
said to be under tension.
The cord exerts a tension force, F T, on
the object.

The tension transmitted at all points

along the length of the cord is the
Forces pulling at both ends of the cord
adds up to zero i.e FT = -FT

What is the tension in the cord


Example Mechanical
Advantage of a Pulley
A mover is trying to slowly lift a piano
up to a 2nd story apartment. He is
using a rope looped over two pulleys
as shown in the diagram.
What force must he exert on the rope to
slowly life the 2000-N piano?
Recall that the FT is same at any point
in the rope, and the tension pulls up
twice on both sides of the rope
2FT mg = ma (2nd Law)
The piano moves slowly i.e at
constant speed, i.e. a = 0
FT = mg/2

Two Boxes Connected by

Two boxes, A and B, 12.0kg and 10.0 kg
respectively, are connected by a lightweight
cord. A person pulls on box A horizontally
with a force, Fp = 40.0N.

a. Find the acceleration of each box.

b. The tension in the cord connecting each box

Draw a free-body diagram for each box,

only considering the forces on each
individual box

Apply Newton 2nd law Fx = max

Box A
Only accelerates in horizontally Fx = max

Fx =Fp FT = mA aA
Box B:
Only horizontal force is Fx = FT = mB aB

The boxes are connected thus they will

have the same acceleration a
aA = a B = a
Eliminate unknown FT
(mA + mB ) a = Fp + FT FT

Balanced Tension at
A 10 kg sign is being held up by two
wires that each make a 30 angle with
the ground.Determinethe tension
(force) in each of the wires.

2nd law Fy = mg 2FT = 0

FT = mg
Vector :
FT = mg sin300

Until this point, we have ignored
friction force but friction is present
in most situations.
Friction is a force that is created
whenever two surfaces move or try
to move across each other.

Types of Friction

Factors affecting Friction

Friction always opposes the
motion or attempted
motion of one surface
across another surface.
Friction is dependant on the
texture of both surfaces.
Friction is also dependant
on the amount of contact
force pushing the two
surfaces together (normal

Coefficient of Friction ,
The coefficient of friction (static or
kinetic) relates the frictional force to the
normal force.

Ff = FN

The higher the coefficient, the greater the

force of friction.

s = Fsmax / FN

1. Youre pushing a 15-kg box of books
across the carpet and need to apply
100 N. What is the coefficient of
2. Youre pushing a 70-kg easy chair
from one room to the next. If you
need to apply 200 N, what is the
coefficient of friction?

Friction on an Incline
FN = mg cos

= Banked


Fx= mgsin Ff
force of friction Ff= K N

Fx = mgsin kN
system is in equilibrium (constant velocity)
the sum of all the forces is equal to zero.
mgsin kN = 0 (x-direction)

in the y-direction.

Fy= 0
Fy= N mgcos

Thus N = mgcos
Rest is basic math!

More Problems
1. A 6.3kgblock rests on an incline of
angle= 30.0. If the block does not
slide down the incline, what is the
minimum value for the coefficient of
static friction,s?

A 400-gram package lying on a

horizontal surface is attached to a
horizontal string which passes over a
smooth pulley. When a mass of 200
grams is attached to the other end of
the string, the package is on the
point of moving. Find , the
coefficient of friction.