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PHYSICS
Asked by Umar

I'm learning physics at a GCSE grade level, and I wanted to ask, what exactly is resolving forces and why do we use it? (New spec 9-1)?

We resolve forces in Classical Mechanics to simplify our problems. For instance, let us say we have a block on a table. We would pick our x-axis to be along the table, and our y-axis to be perpendicular to the table (so at right angles). Then, if the block is pulled by a piece of string at some angle to the table, say 45 degrees, the block will have part of the tension (T) in the x-direction (Tcos45) and part of the tension in the y direction(Tsin45). So what we have done is resolved the force into two forces; one acting along the table and one acting perpendicular to the table. These two forces act independently of each other, as the motion of the block in the x-direction is independent of the motion of the block in the y direction, so our problem has been simplified. As with all mechanics problems, this is much easier seen with a diagram! Hope this helped.

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John Parry
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