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# Balanced and Unbalanced Forces

Newton's first law of motion has been frequently stated throughout this lesson.
An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with
the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

But what exactly is meant by the phrase unbalanced force !hat is an unbalanced force
"n pursuit of an answer# we will first consider a physics boo\$ at rest on a table top. %here
are two forces acting upon the boo\$. &ne force ' the (arth's gra)itational pull ' exerts a
downward force. %he other force ' the push of the table on the boo\$ *sometimes referred
to as a normal force+ ' pushes upward on the boo\$.
,ince these two forces are of equal magnitude and in opposite directions# they balance
each other. %he boo\$ is said to be at equilibrium. %here is no unbalanced force acting
upon the boo\$ and thus the boo\$ maintains its state of motion. !hen all the forces acting
upon an object balance each other# the object will be at equilibrium- it will not
accelerated.
.onsider another example in)ol)ing balanced forces ' a person standing upon the ground.
%here are two forces acting upon the person. %he force of gra)ity exerts a downward
force. %he floor of the floor exerts an upward force.
,ince these two forces are of equal magnitude and in opposite directions# they balance
each other. %he person is at equilibrium. %here is no unbalanced force acting upon the
person and thus the person maintains its state of motion.
Now consider a boo\$ sliding from left to right across a table top. ,ometime in the prior
history of the boo\$# it may ha)e been gi)en a sho)e and set in motion from a rest
position. &r perhaps it acquired its motion by sliding down an incline from an ele)ated
position. !hate)er the case# our focus is not upon the history of the boo\$ but rather upon
the current situation of a boo\$ sliding to the right across a table top. %he boo\$ is in
motion and at the moment there is no one pushing it to the right. */emember0 a force is
not needed to \$eep a mo)ing object mo)ing to the right.+ %he forces acting upon the boo\$
are shown below.
%he force of gra)ity pulling downward and the force of the table pushing upwards on the
boo\$ are of equal magnitude and opposite directions. %hese two forces balance each
other. 1et there is no force present to balance the force of friction. As the boo\$ mo)es to
the right# friction acts to the left to slow the boo\$ down. %here is an unbalanced force-
and as such# the boo\$ changes its state of motion. %he boo\$ is not at equilibrium and
subsequently accelerates. Unbalanced forces cause accelerations. "n this case# the
unbalanced force is directed opposite the boo\$'s motion and will cause it to slow down.
%o determine if the forces acting upon an object are balanced or unbalanced# an analysis
must first be conducted to determine what forces are acting upon the object and in what
direction. "f two indi)idual forces are of equal magnitude and opposite direction# then the
forces are said to be balanced. An object is said to be acted upon by an unbalanced force
only when there is an indi)idual force which is not being balanced by a force of equal
magnitude and in the opposite direction.