# Contact force

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A contact force is any force that occurs as a result of two objects making contact with each other. [1] Contact forces are ubiquitous and are responsible for most visible interactions between macroscopic collections of matter. Pushing a car or kicking a ball are some of the everyday examples where contact forces are at work. In the first case the force is continuously applied to the car by a person, while in the second case the force is delivered in a short impulse.

## Contents

Contact forces are often decomposed into orthogonal components, one perpendicular to the surface(s) in contact called the normal force, and one parallel to the surface(s) in contact, called the friction force. [1]

Not all forces are contact forces; for example, the weight of an object is the force between the object and the Earth, even though the two do not need to make contact. Gravitational forces, electrical forces and magnetic forces are body forces and can exist without contact occurring.

## Origin of contact forces

The microscopic origin of contact forces is diverse. Normal force is directly a result of Pauli exclusion principle and not a true force per se: Everyday objects do not actually touch each other; rather, contact forces are the result of the interactions of the electrons at or near the surfaces of the objects. [1] The atoms in the two surfaces cannot penetrate one another without a large investment of energy because there is no low energy state for which the electron wavefunctions from the two surfaces overlap; thus no microscopic force is needed to prevent this penetration. On the more macroscopic level, such surfaces can be treated as a single object, and two bodies do not penetrate each other due to the stability of matter, which is again a consequence of Pauli exclusion principle, but also of the fundamental forces of nature: Cracks in the bodies do not widen due to electromagnetic forces that create the chemical bonds between the atoms; the atoms themselves do not disintegrate because of the electromagnetic forces between the electrons and the nuclei; and the nuclei do not disintegrate due to the nuclear forces. [2]

As for friction, it is a result of both microscopic adhesion and chemical bond formation due to the electromagnetic force, and of microscopic structures stressing into each other; [3] in the latter phenomena, in order to allow motion, the microscopic structures must either slide one above the other, or must acquire enough energy to break one another. Thus the force acting against motion is a combination of the normal force and of the force required to widen microscopic cracks within matter; the latter force is again due to electromagnetic interaction. Additionally, strain is created inside matter, and this strain is due to a combination of electromagnetic interactions (as electrons are attracted to nuclei and repelled from each other) and of Pauli exclusion principle, the latter working similarly to the case of normal force.

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Every atom is composed of a nucleus and one or more electrons bound to the nucleus. The nucleus is made of one or more protons and a number of neutrons. Only the most common variety of hydrogen has no neutrons.

Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force is carried by electromagnetic fields composed of electric fields and magnetic fields, and it is responsible for electromagnetic radiation such as light. It is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature, together with the strong interaction, the weak interaction, and gravitation. At high energy, the weak force and electromagnetic force are unified as a single electroweak force.

Electric charge is the physical property of matter that causes charged matter to experience a force when placed in an electromagnetic field. Electric charge can be positive or negative. Like charges repel each other and unlike charges attract each other. An object with an absence of net charge is referred to as neutral. Early knowledge of how charged substances interact is now called classical electrodynamics, and is still accurate for problems that do not require consideration of quantum effects.

In physics, the fundamental interactions, also known as fundamental forces, are the interactions that do not appear to be reducible to more basic interactions. There are four fundamental interactions known to exist: the gravitational and electromagnetic interactions, which produce significant long-range forces whose effects can be seen directly in everyday life, and the strong and weak interactions, which produce forces at minuscule, subatomic distances and govern nuclear interactions. Some scientists hypothesize that a fifth force might exist, but these hypotheses remain speculative.

In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion of an object. A force can cause an object with mass to change its velocity, i.e., to accelerate. Force can also be described intuitively as a push or a pull. A force has both magnitude and direction, making it a vector quantity. It is measured in the SI unit of newton (N). Force is represented by the symbol F.

Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and material elements sliding against each other. There are several types of friction:

In quantum mechanics, the Pauli exclusion principle states that two or more identical particles with half-integer spins cannot occupy the same quantum state within a quantum system simultaneously. This principle was formulated by Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli in 1925 for electrons, and later extended to all fermions with his spin–statistics theorem of 1940.

In physics, a state of matter is one of the distinct forms in which matter can exist. Four states of matter are observable in everyday life: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Many intermediate states are known to exist, such as liquid crystal, and some states only exist under extreme conditions, such as Bose–Einstein condensates, neutron-degenerate matter, and quark–gluon plasma. For a complete list of all exotic states of matter, see the list of states of matter.

In molecular physics, the van der Waals force is a distance-dependent interaction between atoms or molecules. Unlike ionic or covalent bonds, these attractions do not result from a chemical electronic bond; they are comparatively weak and therefore more susceptible to disturbance. The van der Waals force quickly vanishes at longer distances between interacting molecules.

Degenerate matter is a highly dense state of fermionic matter in which the Pauli exclusion principle exerts significant pressure in addition to, or in lieu of, thermal pressure. The description applies to matter composed of electrons, protons, neutrons or other fermions. The term is mainly used in astrophysics to refer to dense stellar objects where gravitational pressure is so extreme that quantum mechanical effects are significant. This type of matter is naturally found in stars in their final evolutionary states, such as white dwarfs and neutron stars, where thermal pressure alone is not enough to avoid gravitational collapse.

Electrostatic induction, also known as "electrostatic influence" or simply "influence" in Europe and Latin America, is a redistribution of electric charge in an object that is caused by the influence of nearby charges. In the presence of a charged body, an insulated conductor develops a positive charge on one end and a negative charge on the other end. Induction was discovered by British scientist John Canton in 1753 and Swedish professor Johan Carl Wilcke in 1762. Electrostatic generators, such as the Wimshurst machine, the Van de Graaff generator and the electrophorus, use this principle. See also Stephen Gray in this context. Due to induction, the electrostatic potential (voltage) is constant at any point throughout a conductor. Electrostatic induction is also responsible for the attraction of light nonconductive objects, such as balloons, paper or styrofoam scraps, to static electric charges. Electrostatic induction laws apply in dynamic situations as far as the quasistatic approximation is valid.

In mechanics, the normal force is the component of a contact force that is perpendicular to the surface that an object contacts, as in Figure 1. In this instance normal is used in the geometric sense and means perpendicular, as opposed to the common language use of normal meaning "ordinary" or "expected". A person standing still on a platform is acted upon by gravity, which would pull them down towards the Earth's core unless there were a countervailing force from the resistance of the platform's molecules, a force which is named the "normal force".

In physics the term exchange force has been used to describe two distinct concepts which should not be confused.

When two objects touch, only a certain portion of their surface areas will be in contact with each other. This area of true contact, most often constitutes only a very small fraction of the apparent or nominal contact area. In relation to two contacting objects, the term Contact area refers to the fraction of the nominal area that consists of atoms of one object in true contact with the atoms of the other object. Because objects are never perfectly flat due to asperities, the actual contact area is usually much less than the contact area apparent on a macroscopic scale. Contact area may depend on the normal force between the two objects due to deformation.

Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter.

In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles, and in everyday as well as scientific usage, "matter" generally includes atoms and anything made up of them, and any particles that act as if they have both rest mass and volume. However it does not include massless particles such as photons, or other energy phenomena or waves such as light or heat. Matter exists in various states. These include classical everyday phases such as solid, liquid, and gas – for example water exists as ice, liquid water, and gaseous steam – but other states are possible, including plasma, Bose–Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, and quark–gluon plasma.

The atomic nucleus is the small, dense region consisting of protons and neutrons at the center of an atom, discovered in 1911 by Ernest Rutherford based on the 1909 Geiger–Marsden gold foil experiment. After the discovery of the neutron in 1932, models for a nucleus composed of protons and neutrons were quickly developed by Dmitri Ivanenko and Werner Heisenberg. An atom is composed of a positively charged nucleus, with a cloud of negatively charged electrons surrounding it, bound together by electrostatic force. Almost all of the mass of an atom is located in the nucleus, with a very small contribution from the electron cloud. Protons and neutrons are bound together to form a nucleus by the nuclear force.

This glossary of engineering terms is a list of definitions about the major concepts of engineering. Please see the bottom of the page for glossaries of specific fields of engineering.

This glossary of physics is a list of definitions of terms and concepts relevant to physics, its sub-disciplines, and related fields, including mechanics, materials science, nuclear physics, particle physics, and thermodynamics. For more inclusive glossaries concerning related fields of science and technology, see Glossary of chemistry terms, Glossary of astronomy, Glossary of areas of mathematics, and Glossary of engineering.

## References

1. Plesha, Gray, and Costanzo (2010). . McGraw-Hill. pp.  8-9.`{{cite book}}`: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
2. Lieb, E. H. (1991). The stability of matter. In The Stability of Matter: From Atoms to Stars (pp. 483-499). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
3. Chen, Z., Khajeh, A., Martini, A., & Kim, S. H. (2019). Chemical and physical origins of friction on surfaces with atomic steps. Science advances, 5(8), eaaw0513.