Thursday, July 1, 2010

Friction: Give Yourself a Hand

No surface is perfection smooth – they all have bumps of ridges to a various extent.

Friction occurs when two surfaces rub against each other and those bumps and ridges catch on each other.

A notable by-product of friction is heat.

Have your students rub their hands together quickly. It doesn’t take much hand rubbing to notice a warm feeling.

Now put a small squirt of lotion (stick to unscented stuff for this) in each students hand.

Have them rub their hands together again – much less heat is generated.

The lotion acts a lubricant – it helps fill in some of the bumps and ridges on the surface of the hands, resulting in less friction and therefore less heat.

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Presented at the 2003 New Jersey Science Convention.

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