Physics Key terms

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Hewitt textbook


the rate at which velocity changes

average speed

total distance covered divided by time interval

elapsed time

time that has passed since the beginning of a fall

free fall

when gravity is the only force on a falling object

instantaneous speed

the speed at any instant


a quantity divided by time


everything is _____ to something when discussing speed


how fast something is moving


speed and direction


when an object is at rest and the net force is zero


a push or pull


force that acts between two materials that touch as they move past each other




the unit of measurement of mass

law of inertia

every object continues in a state of rest, or of motion in a straight line at a constant speed, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces acting on it


the quantity of matter in an object

net force

the combination of all forces acting on an object


the unit of force

Newton's first law

the law of inertia

normal force

the force that balances the force of gravity to keep an object still

support force

aka normal force


the force of gravity on an object

air resistance

the friction acting on something moving through air


friction in liquids or gasses

free-body diagram

a diagram showing all the forces acting on the object


two values change in opposite directions

Newton's second law

The acceleration produced by the net force on an object is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, in the same direction as the net force, and is inversely proportional to the mass of the object (a= F/m)

terminal speed

when the air resistance on an object equals the weight of that object

terminal velocity

when the air resistance on an object equals the weight of that object in terms of direction

action force

one force that acts on a object


a force is part of an...

Newton's third law

whenever one object exerts a force on a second object, the second object exerts an equal and opposite force on the first object

reaction force

anther force that acts on an object


when a quantity in physic does not change, specifically momentum

elastic collision

(bouncy) when objects collide and bounce away from each other


change in momentum force times time interval

inelastic collision

(sticky) when colliding objects become tangled or coupled together

law of conservation of momentum

in the absence of an external force, the momentum of a system remains the same


mass times velocity, or inertia in motion


useful work output over total work input, AMA over TMA


the ability to do work


the pivot point of the lever


the unit of measurement of work

kinetic energy

the energy due to the movement of something

law of conservation of energy

energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transformed from on form into another, but the total amount of energy never changes


a simple machine that gives a mechanical advantage when given a fulcrum


a device that changes the direction of or amplifies forces

mechanical advantage

the ratio of output force to input force

mechanical energy

the energy due to the position or movement of something

potential energy

the energy due to the position of something


work done divided by the time interval, the rate at which work is done, change in energy


a kind of lever that changes the direction of a force


joule per second, unit of measurement of power


force times distance, the application of a force and the movement done by that force

work-energy theorem

The work done on an object equals the change in kinetic energy of the object

law of universal gravitation

Newton's law that states that all objects in the universe attract each other by the force of gravity

universal gravitational constant, G

the constant G in the equation for Newton's law of universal gravitation; measures the strength of gravity


fundamental electrical property explaining the mutual attractions or repulsions between electrons or protons.


a material that easily moves electrons

conservation of charge

the law that states that charges are neither created nor destroyed but only transferred from one material to another


the unit of measurement of charge

Coulomb's law

F=kq1q2/dsquared, The force between two charges particles is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.

electrical force

a force that one charge exerts on another

electrically polarized

when one side of an atom or molecule is induced to be slightly more positive or negative


electricity at rest


when charge is redistributed on an object because of the presence of a charged object nearby.


the process of moving charge without direct physical contact


a material that does not easily move electrons


materials that can sometimes behave as conductors or insulators


materials that can attain infinite conductivity

electric field

the space around every electrical charge

electric potential

electric potential energy per charge

electrical potential energy

energy charge posses by its location


the unit of measurement of voltage/ electric potential


electric potential

alternating current

electrons in the circuit that first flow in one direction nd then the other


the unit of measurement of current

direct current

an electric current that flows in one direction steadily

electric current

the floe of electric charge

electric power

the rate at which electrical energy is converted to into another form such as, mechanical energy, heat, or light

electric resistance

the resistance that the current offers to the flow of charge


the unit of electric resistance

Ohm's law

current is equal to voltage divided by resistance

potential difference

the difference in potential (voltage) so that charge can flow

voltage source

something that provides a potential difference


an electrical device that provides a path for electrical current to flow

in parallel

when electrical devices are connected to form branches with multiple paths for the electrons to flow

in series

when electrical devices are connected in a single pathway with one path for the electrons to flow

parallel circuit

circuit in which electric current can follow more than one path

series circuit

circuit in which electric current follows only one path


a current-carrying coil of wire with many loops

magnetic domain

clusters of aligned atoms that magnetize irons

magnetic field

the space around a magnet, in which a magnetic force is exerted

magnetic pole

the ends of a magnet where the magnetism is concentrated, they produce magnetic forces (like forces repel, and opposite forces attract)

electromagnetic induction

The phenomenon of inducing voltage voltage by changing the magnetic field around a conductor

Faraday's law

The induced voltage in a coil is proportional to the product of the number of loops and the rate at which the magnetic field changes within those loops.


a device that converts mechanical energy into electric energy


a device that increases or decreases the voltage of alternating current


a device that converts electric energy into mechanical energy


a sensitive current-indicating instrument

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