How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 752

You said that from the moment the ball leaves your hand (after you threw it upward), it accelerates downward even though you threw it upward. However you then said that the ground (gravity) pushed on your foot to make you accelerate, so why would you also not be accelerating in the opposite direction, like the ball? Why would you not accelerate in the direction in which you were pushed?
I got ahead of myself by using forces I had not yet introduced. I was using friction to push me horizontally across the floor! Here is the complete story:

When I tossed the ball upward and it was rising, gravity was pulling downward on it and it was accelerating downward. But when I obtained a force from the ground, it was not gravity that exerted that force on me; it was friction! As we will discuss in a few days, whenever you try to slide your foot across the floor toward the left, friction pushes your foot toward the right. In class, I traveled toward the right because I was being pushed by friction toward the right. I was actually accelerating in the direction I was pushed, just as you expect.


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