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Contact and Non Contact Forces

Contact force is a force between two objects (or an object and a surface) that is in contact with each other.


Examples: Biological force, muscular force, mechanical force and frictional force etc.



Biological Force

Mechanical Force

Frictional Force

Muscular Force


Non Contact Force

A non-contact force is any force applied to an object (or body) by another body that is not in direct contact with it.


Examples: Gravitational force, electrostatic force, magnetic force etc.


Think what happens when you throw a ball up into the air.

Think what happens when you jump up into the air.

Think what happens to ripe fruits such as apples that grow on trees.

They will fall to the ground …


All of these happen because of the force we call GRAVITY.


An interesting application of magnetic force is shown in the illustration.

Exploring Forces



Have you ever seen a game of tug- of- war?


In this game two teams pull at a rope in opposite direction (see the picture). Members of both the teams try to pull the rope in their direction. Sometimes the rope does not move. The team that pulls harder applies a larger force, finally wins the game.


We learn that a Force could be larger or smaller than the other. The strength of a Force is usually expressed by its magnitude. Thus Force has both magnitude and direction. Force is expressed in newton (after the name of the scientist Sir Isaac Newton).

Let us examine the second case.

In this picture, you can see the two men trying to move the huge rock. The forces, though are not the same, they act in the same direction.

Forces applied on an object in the same direction add to one another.

Recall that in the tug- of- war when two teams pull equally hard, the rope does not move in any direction. Here the forces are equal in magnitude but, act in opposite direction. They cancel one another and therefore the rope does not move.

When two parallel forces act in the same direction, the net force will be equal to the sum of the forces and it will act in the direction of the forces .But when two parallel forces act in the opposite direction, the net force will be equal to the difference between the forces and will act towards the direction of greater force.

Black coloured arrow indicates the net force.

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