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perpendicular force
When a force is applied to a lever, the lever turns about
a pivot (or fulcrum). The diagram shows a spanner distance
(type 2 lever) exerting an anticlockwise turn to remove a
nut from a bolt. The turning effect of a force is called the pivot
moment of the force. The moment (measured in newton
metres, Nm) is equal to the magnitude of the force (in
newtons, N) multiplied by the perpendicular distance (in
metres, m) from the pivot to the point where the force is Moment (Nm) = force (N) x distance (m)
applied. If the force applied to the spanner is 200N and
the length of the spanner is 25 cm (0.25 m), then the moment applied to the nut is 200 x 0.25 =
50 newton metres.
The principle of moments. The pictures below show a simple balance beam (type 1 lever) and
illustrate the principle of moments. Study the first two diagrams, then try to work out where to
place the blocks to balance the beam in the last two diagrams (answers in Teachers Guide).

1 block 6 spaces from the pivot, balances 2 blocks 6 spaces from the pivot, balance
2 blocks 3 spaces from the pivot 3 blocks 4 spaces from the pivot

2 blocks __ spaces from the pivot, will 4 blocks __ spaces from the pivot, will
balance 5 blocks 2 spaces from the pivot balance 2 blocks 6 spaces from the pivot
The principle of moments states that, for a lever in equilibrium, the clockwise moment is equal to
the anticlockwise moment. Equilibrium means balance. In the diagrams above, the balance beam
is in equilibrium when it is horizontal neither side goes down. There is a clockwise moment that
tries to rotate the beam in the same direction as the hands of a clock, and that is balanced by an
anticlockwise moment trying to rotate it in the opposite
direction. Clockwise and anticlockwise turning forces
pivot are labelled in the diagram of the market balance (left).
Look at the diagram LOAD EFFORT
of the wheelbarrow.
We can use the
anticlockwise clockwise principle of moments pivot
turning force turning force to work out the effort E
500 N
we need to lift a load
of 500 N (or 50 kg).
When the handle is
lifted, the clockwise
moment of the load is 1.0 m
Traditional market balance showing balanced by the 40 cm
clockwise and anticlockwise moments anticlockwise moment
of the effort E. The Anticlockwise = Clockwise
calculation, in the table under the diagram, shows that an effort moment (Nm) moment (Nm)
of 200 N (or 20 kg) will lift the load of 500 N (or 50 kg). E 1.0 = 500 0.4
1. What are (i) a clockwise moment, (ii) equilibrium? So E = 200 N (or 20 kg)
2. Explain two ways in which the turning effect of a
spanner can be increased.
3. A boy weighing 20 kg sits on one end of a see-saw, 2.5 m from the pivot. His sister weighs
22 kg. Where must she sit to balance the see saw?

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