A World Without Friction

9 Oct

We have been learning in class about the force of friction. It has many purposes and causes many problems. On one hand, high friction can reduce efficiency in energy production in power plants as well as engines. On the other hand, without friction, we couldn’t walk, drive, or fly; at least not the way we now do. Your assignment is to think about what a world would be like without friction and to post a one paragraph (200-300 word) description of such a world on this site by Friday, December 2. You also need to reply with some specific feedback (either constructive suggestions or constructive agreement) to at least 2 of your peers by Sunday, December 4. This counts as a homework, and you will be assessed only based on participation (which includes completing your posts on time).

An upcoming quiz will relate directly to this blog assignment, so don’t forget to check in and look at each others comments (and mine if I add some)

Have fun with this!

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85 Responses to “A World Without Friction”

  1. Bella Rosa November 29, 2011 at 2:30 am #

    Well first off a world without friction would be complete insanity. As much as it is an interesting concept, it would be extremely difficult to get anything done. Simple things such as walking would be nearly impossible. In order to have any type of movement you would have to push off of something else and in order to stop you would have to hit something else. Everything would slide all over the place, nothing would be able to remain in place. Literally not one object would be able to remain stable, it would almost be like we were in space. Transportation would not exist because nothing would be able to remain stuck to the ground, no buses or cars or subways. Sports also would be impossible because you would not be able to run quickly, or even at all, nor would you be able to control any type of ball. Any type of building would not be able to really be built either because there would be no friction to be able to hold anything together. On the flip side, even though we wouldn’t necessarily be able to efficiently stop ourselves from moving, we would be able to move around a lot faster because we would just slip and slide everywhere. A world without friction would be weird and not really possible to live in, that being said it would be interesting to observe for a day or two.

  2. Hannah Livant November 29, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    A world without friction would be chaos. As I write this I am tempted to be in new york. Without friction my plane would be moving much faster however I am forced to see the downside because if my neighbor tapped her drink it would surly spill onto me as it would start to accelerate and never stop until it fell onto me. There would be many deaths and injuries as sports games went astray. The soccer game loosing its ball forever as it shot off never stopping knocking an innocent person off of their feet as they land on their necks. Forget trying to set something down! It would immediately drift, Forget standing! If you are a lazy parent no more teaching your chiid to walk. They’d be moving already! “Fast learner little Malachai is ” people would say “takes after his mother!” Yes we’d be fast movers folks but never being able to stop? Never being able to take a break? No not for me. I need to be able to stop. I need to put my cup of water down and not have it be in south america 2 hours later. It would change the way we live. we would need to be more flexible and learn that sometimes we are a race that never slows down (literally) and that we’d have to cope. Somehow. But those all are details. the main idea of a world without friction as I’ve said before is CHAOS.

  3. Isabella del Valle November 30, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    Life without friction would be awesome at first, but just turn into painful chaos. It would be fun to laugh at everyone sliding and not being in control of their movements at first. I wonder if a person who sneezed with enough force, would be pushed backwards. After around a day or two, a world without friction would just be annoying. It’s not a world for people who are lazy. Buildings wouldn’t stay together and there wouldn’t be any cars or buses to take us anywhere because their wheels depend on friction to move. Humanity would be forced to rely on walking everywhere. But walking wouldn’t be the easiest thing either. The lack of static friction between ones foot and the floor would mean we’d have to push off of something to move. Since there is no friction to slow you down, you’d never stop (which could cut your walking time down a bit). The only way to stop yourself or change direction would be to hit into something like a wall. That would require a lot of conveniently placed walls as well as several new hospitals because I can imagine there’d be a lot of injuries. The up side to walking so much, is the obesity rate in America might decrease just a little. With all this effort into doing simple things like walking, life would be much more of a struggle.

    • Bella Rosa November 30, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

      The idea of sneezing and being pushed backwards is really interesting and funny. I think yes, probably you would move backwards which is a crazy idea. Do you think coughing would do the same…?

      • Ariel Dineen December 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

        I think this is funny too! But I don’t think coughing would do the same because with sneezing there is a much bigger force pushing against the air. Maybe coughing will make you move but slower?

      • Phil December 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

        @ariel
        Coughing would also move you backwards, I think, because if there is no friction, then even the smallest amount of force will make you move. Even breathing would make you move somewhat.

  4. Brittany Schreiber November 30, 2011 at 1:58 am #

    Living in a frictionless world would truly be something else. At first it would definitely be entertaining watching people try to adapt to this new lifestyle. The only way we would be able to get around would be by pushing off a wall since there is no friction between the ground and the bottom of our feet. From there we would continue sliding until something got in our way and we crashed. To prevent injuries one could only imagine the type of gear people would be wearing– we would all almost look like marshmallows in a sense covered with our protective gear. This would all be entertaining for a while, but it would eventually become too frustrating to handle. Traveling would become hazardous since everyone and everything that is pushed by a stable object (such as a wall) would go flying in a direction causing numerous collisions. How could we do anything? We wouldn’t be able to play sports because there wouldn’t be anyway to run around unless someone invented a sport where we could slide around after pushing off walls. Kicking or hitting a ball would also be impossible. Basically living in a frictionless world would seem entertaining and amusing at first, but in reality it would be incredibly dangerous. We need friction to live an a safe world.

    • nawanjaya December 3, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

      Brittany, I think you’re on to something here. I don’t think it’s true that we couldn’t have sports without friction – we just couldn’t have the same sports. What kind of modifications could we make to any sport for it to stay interesting and challenging in a world without friction?

      • Brittany Schreiber December 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

        Thinking about elastic and inelastic collisions- what if we were to use magnets for everything? In elastic collisions the magnetic carts propelled each other pushing them in opposite directions- we could use that to move in a certain direction. Then when it came to stopping, we could use inelastic collisions to attract the magnets together stopping the motion.
        This could also work very well with sports– we could modify baseball so that the there’s an elastic collision between the bat and the ball propelling the ball forward. Our gloves could then have an inelastic collision with the ball attracting the 2 together. It’d be really interesting to see how that could work out.

  5. Mia Kellman November 30, 2011 at 5:53 am #

    Like many of my classmates have said, living in a world without friction would be truly life altering on Earth. I agree it may seem fun at first, but within the first two minutes I would probably be over it and wish I could walk again. Gravity would continue to push us down except in a frictionless environment moving, without assistance, would be virtually impossible. Yes, pushing off walls constantly and hitting walls would be a solution but honestly, it doesn’t sound very efficient. If our world was frictionless I think propelling out of cannon-like-contraptions would be an intriguing new type of transportation. Cars would be out of the question since merely turning the steering wheel relies on friction because of the traction on the ground. Planes and rockets, on the other hand, would have an easier time working since their acceleration does not rely on traction but rather due to an engine pumping out gas driving it forward. Rockets and planes could continue forward in the air proven by Newton’s first law. Gravity would become the defining, dominant, force meaning water in lakes and rivers would be sliding all over flooding everything. Picking up objects would be practically impossible without them constantly moving and falling to the ground so eating and drinking would also be a problem. Objects that were once set in motion would be flying everywhere, even humans! I think DV makes an interesting point: if we sneezed would that really be enough force to push us backwards, unable to stop moving? I’d have to say I think it would or at least I hope it would because that could potentially become a very useful way of transportation (you’d just have to remember to carry some pepper). Most likely causing serious collisions and people would be unable to get out of the way of anything coming in their direction because there would be no friction from their feet to the ground. Sports, like Brittany, Bella, and other classmates have said, would no longer exist since running, catching, even walking would be unmanageable. Life would become too hazardous and frankly, unenjoyably.

    • leylawade December 1, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

      I like your idea of propelling out of cannons as a form of transportation in a world without friction. It would be hilarious (and scary) if everyone moved around that way. I wonder if the cannons (or cannon-like machines) themselves would require friction. Would friction be needed to hold them together structurally?

      • Allie K December 3, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

        I kind of talked about this in mine-but I think they would need friction. The pieces would have to sit together without sliding and screws and bolts which are held in place by twist and turns would most definitely need friction. Perhaps we could just push ourselves off the walls instead of using cannons. Then again we would all have to be quite strong for that!

      • nawanjaya December 3, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

        Okay – I’ve seen this enough times to chime in. I don’t think friction holds buildings together. We’ve always talked about friction as a force which acts to oppose motion; it slows things down. So I don’t think we’re talking about buildings or machines falling apart; just that there is no longer an automatic way to stop (or start in the case of walking or rolling).

    • Olivia Scott December 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

      I think that helicopters would work in this world, but not airplanes because of the landing landing. Those wing flaps that hang down then the airplane is on the runway would not work because air friction would not be existent. On a different note, I wonder if you could still swim. The water would not longer be pushing against you in the water, so you could just push off the wall and do flip turns at each wall not having to do any strokes. Would pulling against water be difficult?

  6. Corbin November 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    A world without friction would be a very confused world. Moving would consist of pushing off objects as stepping or running on the ground would be futile. Bikes, cars, trains, all of that would be useless. Instead, they would be replaced by alternate form of transportation that would be more similar to planes. On the other hand such transportation would be much easier and wouldn’t have to account for air friction. There would be all different types of flying and pushing vehicles to move us around faster. Moving would be easy, the trouble would be in stopping–probably by colliding. Since sliding has no ability to slow us down, the only way to slow down would be by colliding with other objects. Perhaps there would be special soft pads to throw down in front of an object, allowing them to bounce off the object and collide with the person, gently slowing them down or stopping them. Seeing as directional changes would also only be possible through collision (or some sort of hook device) we would constantly be colliding with other objects and people. Maybe we would need tons of padding. Then again, if the world always existed without friction, we probably would have evolved differently. Maybe our skin would be a thick, durable sort of cushion. Then again, we would have had to evolve differently altogether, since our joints and muscles, including our heart among many other things, wouldn’t work the way they are without friction.

    • Nina December 1, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

      I think it’s really interesting that you mention moving without friction would be easier. I think to some degree this is true. But as you mentioned this would turn in to chaos. There would be no way to ever stop moving without basically crashing.

    • nawanjaya December 3, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

      This is a very good post Corbin – you’ve thought of a lot of good questions. How about some other forces that could help us stop – we’d still have magnetic forces or elastic ones.

    • Jason Grunfeld December 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

      I like the point you made how moving would be easy but the trouble would be in stopping because you would probably colliding. i also think you have an interesting point in saying that if there was no friction in the world, human beings probably would have evolved differently.

      • Allison Brown December 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

        I think it’s interesting that you said it would be a lot more efficient to live in a world without gravity. I also think it’s interesting that you talked about how we would have evolved differently if we lived in a world without friction.

  7. Samantha G. November 30, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    Friction is an essential and vital part of life, without which the Earth would cease to exist in the way it does today. Not only does friction allow simple tasks such as riding a bike, or simply walking across the street, possible, but allows more grand tasks such as driving a car to be non-life threatening. If friction were not to exist on Earth, every time someone threw a baseball, or drove a car, the object could potentially just continue moving in the same direction until another object interceded its path. This would make everyday life very dangerous and simply chaotic. Technically we could not even drive or even ride a bike without friction, and this is because there would need to be friction in order to start moving the car at all. There would have to be friction between the pavement and the tire in order for the car to be able to go forward. If a person happened to somehow be trapped in a moving car in a world without friction, they would just keep propelling forward causing many accidents. Though this is the most dangerous part of a world without friction, it could be helpful during times that you need to cover a large distance in a short amount of time. If a person was pushed forcefully or bounced off of another object, they could cover a very large distance very quickly if no object was to interrupt their path. Overall, a life without friction sounds frightening to say the least, and without a doubt it is a necessary part of life that can be the difference between life and death.

    • Jada Hudson December 5, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

      The thought of being trapped in a car in a world without friction seems pretty scary, I wouldn’t want to be in that situation! I also liked that you mentioned the pro’s of having a world without friction, like traveling large distances in a short amount of time, that seems pretty helpful.

  8. Anna Choi November 30, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    A world without friction would be very frustrating. Without friction we would not be able to move around as easily as we can today. I believe that a frictionless world would lead to a whole new world. We would have to change our ways just to survive. For example, in the beginning, how will farmers get food for us? It will take a while and we may be short on food for a while. How will we travel to other countries if we cannot fly? We may never see our family overseas again! We will be isolated and will be stuck in “one world.” However, this idea of a frictionless world can lead to many new inventions, maybe an invention that creates friction to make our life as it was before (just an example..). Or maybe an invention that creates many walls at each cross section, road…etc, it would interesting but annoying. In my eyes, I see a frictionless world to be very frightening, I would be so scared to even go outside and probably would stay inside all day which is pretty depressing. If I did go outside on a very nice day, I would only only think about not hitting a wall too hard, or not bumping into someone. There would no longer be a good day for me, and I would be so stressed out!

    • Ariel Dineen December 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

      I think it is so interesting that you are talking about inventions. Look at all of the inventions humans have made in this world so why not in a frictionless world? Maybe they would make a car that has a jet pack at the back that way it can move around! and there could also be a jet in the front to counterbalance it to make the car stop…. that would be nice.

      • Anna Choi December 2, 2011 at 2:33 am #

        That invention would be really interesting…this makes me think about the Jetsons (the cartoon). Like the futuristic world idea!

    • Nina December 1, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

      You mention we would have to develop new survival skills. I agree because clearly without friction we could not maintain our same daily routines. How would we substitute for the basics such as walking or writing? How could we ever be able to fly a plane.

      • Anna Choi December 2, 2011 at 2:34 am #

        To be honest, i feel like with out friction, because our world will not be able to adapt quickly we will end up dying and become extinct. (a depressing thought but it seemed to make sense in my head….)

      • Jamie Goodin December 2, 2011 at 3:50 am #

        There’s not a doubt in my mind that we would all perish very, very quickly. Our world has been built under the assumption that friction will always be a thing (which is reasonable, considering it’s sudden absence is a ridiculous concept). I’d like to think that we would be able to adapt, and somehow salvage our existence, but the circumstances would make it very difficult to do so.

    • nawanjaya December 3, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

      I like this idea! How about bumpers instead of streetlights?

      • Brittany Schreiber December 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

        We could also just cover everything in pillows or bubble wrap to soften the impact?

    • Jada Hudson December 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

      Living in a whole new world would be pretty scary. It’s crazy to think that we’d have to develop a whole new life style and survival skills. However, I do like the idea of new friction inventions. They seem like they could be a lot of fun to come up with.

  9. Tim Bendernagel December 1, 2011 at 3:02 am #

    A world without friction would be fun for about an hour, but would quickly become the most frustrating thing I can possibly imagine. It would be nice to be able to skate around the city without getting nearly as tired as you would with friction. It would also be amusing to see everyone struggle with moving around and even funnier when they fall and still continue to slide. But there is a much longer list of cons to a world without friction. Everyone would be really obese because they could simply push lightly against another object and they would already be moving. A lot of people would also get injured because when you think about it, it would almost be like standing on ice, where it’s very easy to fall and potentially hurt yourself. People would also constantly be crashing into things because they can’t stop moving on their own. I would also be really paranoid that the items on my tables and shelves would fall down and break all the time because my cats might brush against them causing them to slide. People also couldn’t dance with each other because any contact with another person could cause them to spiral out of control, so people would have to keep a safe distance away from one another to remain stable. So a world without friction would create a society of morbidly obese people, who are constantly at risk of getting injured, who are paranoid of their prized possessions falling off tables and shelves with the slightest budge, and who can’t dance. A world without friction is not a world I would choose to live in.

    • leylawade December 1, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

      I think it’s interesting when you say that it would almost be like standing on ice. Before reading your comment, I had actually been thinking about how living in a world without friction would almost be like an intensified version of ice skating. When you’re ice skating, there is a lot less friction between the blades and the ice then there is between normal shoes and the ground. I wonder if it would be just as easy to fall in a world without friction as it is when you ice skate–I mean I wonder if it’s more the skates that make it easier to fall or if it’s the reduction of friction.

    • Neith December 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

      I also agree that everyone would be obese in a world without friction because you’d need so much less energy to walk.

    • Hannah December 4, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

      Quite true. We’d have to invent some way to move by bouncing off things otherwise chaos would ensue. I would be very frusturated for sure. But I would enjoy it for about an hour. Of course I most likely would be dead by the end of that hour as I’d probably speed into a wall or something.
      good response!

    • Allison Brown December 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

      I think your point about not being able to dance is really interesting. But an advantage of not having Friction is that it would be really easy to moon walk.

  10. Olivia Scott December 1, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    A world without friction would be a very unusual world. All human-made motion would have to be vertical. Jumping up and down is the only direction humans could move by their own independent nature. All other forms of horizontal movements would have to be caused by pushing off a wall or any other object. Friction would not affect you, so you would not stop. The external force that would affect you in order to stop would have to be an object like a wall. As Isabella said above, transportation would be extremely difficult because cars would not work. The wheels would not interact with friction to grip while turning. If you were driving a car, (built much differently) you would have to shoot air or some fuel at the opposite direction, as you want to travel. Like a rocket except you are moving on the ground. Stopping would not work internal to the system. These cars would need an external force to make them stop. A wall as everyone would suffice. Travel would be easy, in the sense of energy. A push off one wall would lead to that same amount of force carrying you the whole distance. One push of a wall could get you to work if your work was in a straight line from your house. Everyone could push to work and make travel lanes. There could be speed limits to how hard you could push for what lane. There could be turns by having stopping wall and pushing off walls at various parts of travel. The world would be very dangerous, because as everyone mentioned above stopping is so difficult. Handles to grab onto could stop your feet from moving. Any form of a wall you could risk being pushed back the direction you were before. Tall buildings would be very hard to climb up. Stairs would not work. You could rock climb up with handles, or all buildings could would be flat.

    • Anna Choi December 2, 2011 at 2:26 am #

      I find your idea on the speed limits to be really interesting, however, it would take a while to adjust and learn what amount of force you need to push on a wall to go a certain speed. I also find the idea of rocking climbing buildings and buildings becoming flat interesting. Living in the city, it would be really hard to recreate a whole new world and rock climbing would be pretty dangerous. Would the whole population decrease because of how having friction is very chaotic and dangerous? Maybe soon non-existant?!

      • Olivia Scott December 4, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

        I never thought about the fate of our species. Probably we would become extinct if the absence of friction occurred over night, but if the world was without friction from the beginning then I think Corbin is right when he says that we would have evolved differently. I am curious now what in our bodies need friction. Our heart pumps blood against gravity, so our blood cells will still rely on our heart while standing. But when we are sleeping, our heart will not have to do anything. If is just pumps once then the blood will keep traveling around our circulatory system until we stand up in the morning. Oxygen will be spread around, but our heart does not have to pump. That would be so weird.

      • Mia Kellman December 4, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

        I agree, in theory your speed limits idea would make traveling safer and easier but on the other hand it would be complete mayhem if everyone was testing out how much forced to exert throughout the streets. I had this weird idea that if we all wore those parachute backpacks so when we were moving we could just open our chute and slow down from air resistance?

  11. Bobby Seber December 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    I think a world without friction would be pretty cool for about five minutes, and then it would just be terrible. The only way to move would be either a) pushing off something (or someone) or b) blowing/coughing/sneezing. This would probably end in injury though, because, assuming coughing or sneezing exerts a fairly large force, you would be propelled at said force, and then hit a wall. Which would hurt… a lot. Another bad thing is that my favorite sport, skiing, would now only be possible if you had a deathwish, because stopping would be impossible, and would end up with you splattered on a tree. However, water sports would be pretty cool, because in a sport like wakeboarding, one could let go of the rope and keep on going. However, the problem of stopping arises, so it is another sport that could only be done if you plan on dying. Living in every day life would also be tough, since you need to have walls or handles EVERYWHERE, in order to stop or go. However, everyone would probably get pretty strong in the arms, because of having to use only their arms to stop. I don’t think that a world without friction would be very enjoyable, and I wouldn’t want to be apart of it.

    • Jason Grunfeld December 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

      Its a good point you make how blowing or coughing or sneezing would cause you to get injured because of the large force you exert. its also a good point you make that you have to have walls or handles everywhere in order to stop or go.

  12. Ariel Dineen December 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    Living in a world without friction would be terrible. People would gain a lot of weight because they couldn’t exercise at all. All it would take to move somewhere is to push off of an object with a certain amount of force and then slide to whichever direction you need to go (which means people can get to places with little amount of effort). And then to stop, you would have to crash into an object (which could result in a lot of injuries-injuries that might need treatment at a hospital but you can’t get an ambulance because there would be no cars!). Also this limits people from doing a lot of fun activities. People couldn’t play sports because without friction how can you throw/hit/catch a ball? Also people wouldn’t be able to write anything down! Because friction is lacking between pen and paper, the pen would slip around everywhere. This means we can’t write down songs, stories, notes, books, etc. This would be a huge loss to our culture! People would probably be sitting around on their couches and every time they wanted to get up they would have to push, slide, and crash their way to their destination. It would be hard to do physical activities and read, write, learn, and teach.

    • Elena December 3, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

      I think it’s really funny that you mention the no working out. I absolutely hadn’t thought of that. I also love the whole writing the thing because it’s definitely dependent on friction, and once again I never would have thought of that.

      • Brittany Schreiber December 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

        I agree- the fact that we couldn’t really work out never crossed my mind! But, wouldn’t it just really be our legs that wouldn’t get much exercise? The fact that we would constantly have to push ourselves around would really begin to build up our arm strength over time.

    • Olivia Scott December 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

      I agree. I think that we could muscle build by pushing off walls with various parts of your body. One day push off only with your legs the next only with your arms. New exercise equipment could be made. A machine could be made to push against a weight with your legs, but you would always have to be pushing your self into a wall. I think you would be able to write. Your hand is what is dragging the pencil across the paper. The friction between the pencil and the paper would be gone which means you could write very quickly, but there would still be writing on the paper. I think.

    • Mia Kellman December 4, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

      Your definitely right Ariel, we would all become obese because lack of exercise and probably die. I mean we’re constantly fighting friction which is one reason we have strong muscles. Basic activities would be pretty difficult such as writing so schooling would have to take on a whole new approach.

    • nawanjaya December 4, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

      Maybe we could still jump rope if we had magnetic boots?

    • Bobby December 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

      I disagree with your observation that we would all gain weight due to lack of exercise. All you really have to do is move your arms around or lift weights. But then the problem of staying in the same place arises, so there would have to be little padded rooms or something similar so that we don’t injure other people.

  13. neith stone December 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Before Physics class I didn’t realize how huge an affect friction has on our daily life. First of all, if there was no friction things would go crazy and move uncontrollably which would only cause disaster. The more I think about a world without friction the more complicated it gets. Anything that operates on friction, like cars(basically anything that has wheels) would stop functioning properly, and those already moving would just crash into each other or bounce off each other. I think all that would cause quite a lot of chaos. There would be more injuries and a greater need for hospitals. As humans, we rely on walking to get us places. There is friction between your foot and the floor- it’s the ground resisting you against it that pushes you forward. We would slide around at a constant velocity and wouldn’t have any control of stopping. Everyone would be grabbing onto each other and pushing off the walls. Sports would be impossible, and everyone would probably become overweight. For example, basketball players rely on friction to grip the floor, and without friction they wouldn’t be capable of holding onto the ball. Overall, a world without friction would not be a place I’d like to live in.

  14. Jada Hudson December 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    A world without friction would seem fun at first. Walking around wouldn’t involve any effort. In fact, it wouldn’t be possible at all. People would have to push off of other objects to move anywhere. This seems nice at first but they wouldn’t be able to stop unless they crashed into another object, which would probably be painful and unpleasant. Also, the object they crashed into would start to move, and the only way that would stop is if it crashed into another object, which would also start moving and so on. The world would basically be like a huge game of dominoes. In a world without friction, objects would always be moving because none object would always trigger another object’s movement. The weather would also not be so pleasant. For instance, if there were a really windy day, everything would just be moving around uncontrollably. There would probably be a lot of accidents because everything would be in the way of each other, not that there would be any kind of vehicles though, because transportation by car, bus or train wouldn’t be possible either. I would want t live in a world without friction, only for about five minutes though just to experience it, but it definitely wouldn’t be an ideal world.

    • Anna Choi December 2, 2011 at 2:31 am #

      The domino effect on the world world sounds pretty crazy! Wouldn’t it take a while for buildings to get weak and finally break apart from the ground? Do you think if all the buildings and objects were moving, it would eventually fall into the ocean because we do live surrounded by water? If the buildings, cars..etc fell into the ocean, it would kill the animals in the ocean. With no sea animals, the whole eco system would be messed up. Soon wouldn’t we all die???

    • Samantha G. December 3, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

      I liked your comparison that living in a world without friction would be like one huge game of dominoes. I agree that in order for things to move, like people, they would always have to be pushing themselves off of other objects in order to move. This makes me wonder how it would work if a person ran into a wall, or a house. Would the wall start moving? Or would the person just be stuck standing there until they pushed off of it again? Also your point about the weather was really scary to think about. For instance, what if there were a tornado? Whole areas, or cities even, could be potentially destroyed. You really affectively addressed things about the world that could be seriously life threatening without friction.

    • Bobby December 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

      I like your windy day observation, but another disastrous problem is that buildings would be falling over with the slightest gust of wind. I hadn’t thought about wind before reading this.

  15. Bella Boornazian December 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    I think living in a world without friction would be everyone’s worst nightmare. It may seem like a cool idea, sliding around every where with little to no effort, but that idea would vanish immediately. Not only would buildings be falling apart but you couldn’t even run from them. Without friction, something as easy as walking would be impossible. We use friction every time we take a step by pushing off the ground. If there were no friction, and buildings that need friction for supports were falling down around us, the only way for us to move would be to push off of objects and the only way to stop would be to crash into objects. That sounds painful and unreliable to me. We would need to amp up the ambulances in the world, which isn’t even a possibility because cars wouldn’t be working. Their tires rely on friction, just as our feet do, to move from place to place. People would be getting injured from pushing off and crashing into objects and there would be no efficient way to help them. A world without friction would be a horrible and dangerous place to live in. Although I, and most likely many others, take friction for granted and don’t think about how big of a role in plays in our lives, without friction we wouldn’t be able to live the way we are used to living.

    • Tim Bendernagel December 5, 2011 at 1:32 am #

      Ahhh! The idea of buildings falling all over the place and having no possible way of running away from under them literally sounds like the scariest possible scenario to be placed in. I never would have thought about that. Great response!

  16. leylawade December 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    A world without friction might be fun for about a minute…but after that, life would essentially be a combination of annoying and dangerous. It would be awful to rely on pushing off of objects in order to walk–what do you do if there aren’t any objects around you to push off of? Basically, people would be helpless. They would lose a lot of self-sufficiency and control in terms of doing simple daily activities. In addition, everything would slide around all over the place because, according to Newton’s 1st Law, objects in motion will continue to move forever unless acted upon by an outside force. That would mean that even the slightest nudge would send objects (and people) sliding, most likely until they crash into other objects. In other words, it would be very easy to get injured. You probably wouldn’t even be able to sit down in a chair without sliding–and probably crashing into the table in front of you. You wouldn’t be able to sleep at night because your bed would slide easily. As mentioned in multiple comments, transportation by vehicle would be pretty much impossible. Cars wouldn’t work because their function is mainly dependent on the friction between the ground and the wheels. Buildings also rely on friction in order to stay held together. So, in a world without friction, civilization would be over. I guess the bottom line is that we’re lucky to live in a world that does have friction.

    • Allie K December 3, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

      Maybe having objects be able to fly easily through the air would make transportation more efficient?! Just a thought. Also I totally agree with your comment about transportation, we would really not be able to use cars. But we would also be really relaxed and would never get exercise because there would be no way of physically choosing to move yourself.

    • Bella Boornazian December 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

      I agree with you! In my comment I began listing about all the bad things that would occur in a frictionless world and it seems that by the end we both convinced ourselves that humans wouldn’t be able to function without friction. Its not even that things would be difficult or annoying, its pretty much that everything we are used to doing and everything we need in order to survive would be impossible. Not a fun way to live!

  17. phil416 December 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    A world without friction would be very hard to move around in. The only way to propel yourself would be with Newton’s 3rd law. You would be unable to walk, bike, of drive, since all of these use static friction. You would still be able to ice skate though, because when you skate, you move forward by digging the blade into the ice. This is not affected by friction. Roller skating would be impossible though, because that relies on the friction between the wheels and the ground when the skate is not parallel to the direction of motion to propel yourself. As well, whenever you touched something that wasn’t anchored, it would move. If you touched something that was anchored, you would move.
    The second law of thermodynamics wouldn’t hold true in a world without friction. This means a perpetual motion machine would be possible.

    • Jamie Goodin December 2, 2011 at 3:47 am #

      I’m liking the scientific explanations for things here, Phil.

      A perpetual motion machine sounds like it’d be pretty cool… but of course, it’d be hardly worth it.

    • corbin December 5, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

      nice phil, as mr rubin said on mine there would be a few other ways to move. For example magnetic forces (which would be more powerful without friction) and elastic forces.

  18. Nina December 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    It is very difficult to imagine a world wherein there is no friction. This is because friction (while occasionally a nuisance) is essential to daily life. We could not carry out basic functions. Fir example : something as simple as walking from one point to another would be literally impossible. There would be no force for our feet to work against when coming in contact with the floor. In oreder to move it would be necessary to push down or against another object. To stop, because there is no force o slow us down to rest, we would have to crash against another object in the sort of collision that will allow is to loose momentum. Essentially once we gained any force we would just float. It would also be impossible to write because you pencil or pen would basically fly off the page. When you really thunk about it would be difficult to imagine any sort of sports or physical recreation. In sports the baseball would be impossible to catch because it would be accelerating upwards infinitely until the force of gravity brought it back towards earth. It would also be impossible for human beings to develop muscle because there would be no tension for our muscles to work against. This, as has been explained to me, is the reason astronauts are carried out on stetchers or wheelchairs when they return from space. There muscles become to weak to handle another force acting against them since they have experience no friction and no gravity. I cannot imagine how we would fly in airplanes or drive cars. However it is comforting that such a hectic world will never exist because it is virtually impossible to eliminate all sources of friction or all friction.

    • Tim Bendernagel December 5, 2011 at 1:38 am #

      Whoa, great point about the development of our muscles. I had no idea why I’d seen pictures of astronauts rolling out in wheelchairs, but it totally makes sense now. Great post!

  19. Jason Grunfeld December 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    In a world without friction, our lives would change forever. Without friction, life would be more dangerous for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, you would not able to move anywhere by yourself. Unfortunately, In order to move, you need to push of physical objects or you would not be able to walk and move. In other words, you could no longer be self-reliant; you would be helpless and dependent on the tings around you instead of yourself. Secondly, After a person would push off an object, they would never stop and would continue to move forever unless a physical object got in there way and stopped them (Newton’s 1st law). For example, no more patty cake or other hand games. Thirdly, it would be virtually be impossible to safely travel in vehicles because there would be no friction. For instance, cars could not move without a push because cars rely on friction between its wheels and the ground. Lastly, in a world without friction, all structures in the world would cease to exist. This is simply because without friction, buildings would not physically be able to hold themselves together. In conclusion, without friction, the would as we know it would be in chaos because there would be no stability and everyone would go mad.

  20. Allie K December 2, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    Though many people have said that a world without friction would cause “chaos,” there would also be many benefits. While, yes, our daily walk to school wouldn’t be the same and cars wouldn’t be able to drive, if we used the idea of being propelled off a wall, then transportation would become more expeditious. Flying through the air, simply and obviously, takes less time than driving or walking. The usage of vehicles (now not-existent) would become completely obsolete and therefore the amount of harmful gases being emitted would be lessened. There would also be less natural disasters due to the lack of motion in the tectonic plates. However, with these being said, there are also many drawbacks that over way the benefits.
    Said person flying quickly through the air, though extremely punctual due to his effective form of travel, would have to be stopped by another interceptive force such as another wall; thus creating countless injuries. Buildings would no longer be able to hold their structure because there would be no force or tension to hold the ‘nuts and bolts’ in place. Therefore any structure relying on a twist and turn mechanism in order to stay in place, would simply not hold. Not only would twist and turn motion not be possible, but as has been said, all directions of motion not generated by another source would cease. Due to this, the world would also be a very cold place. Fire-the most important source of heat that our world uses, would no longer be able to be produced because you need friction and motion to trigger the chemical reaction. As is clearly evident, a frictionless world would not be ideal, would hinder habitual and daily activities, and would completely alter our daily lives as we know them.

    • nawanjaya December 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

      This is a really good point about needing friction for fire. I honestly hadn’t thought about that. But couldn’t you still start a propane burner? Maybe match companies would be out of business, but I think fire could survive. Also, I don’t see what friction has to do with holding nuts and bolts together; you could still turn a screw – you’d just be turning the other way while you worked!

  21. Allison December 2, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    Living in a world without Friction would be very difficult. In a world without friction no one would be able to walk because there would be no force pushing against your feet forward so you would just stay still. The only way anyone would be able to move would be by pushing off walls or objects attached to the floor and they would only be able to stop by crashing into something. Bikes, cars and other vehicles would not be able to move because there would be no friction between the wheels and the ground pushing them forward. Everything would slide everywhere and wouldn’t stay still unless it was on an even surface. If someone touches an object, it would never stop moving because there wouldn’t be any friction slowing it down until it ran into something else. This would make it very hard to play sports because the ball would keep moving forever until intercepted. There would also be no terminal velocity. This means that if someone skydived they would continue to speed up and that there parachute would not work. People also wouldn’t be able to pick up objects because they would just slip right out of their hands.

  22. Elena Hirsch December 2, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    Life without friction would be absolutely incredible. To get to school in the morning, everybody would get on their little scooters, push off once, and just steer! You would have to maneuver around lots of obstacles, but it would be totally worth it. Between the absence of friction and gravity, you could go SO fast down the hills.

    The best part of life without friction would be the travelling. There’s nothing I love more than travelling to new places, and with friction out of the picture, planes and trains could move at incredible speeds. A magnetic levitation train, currently used to travel between Shanghai and a local airport, can travel up to 238 mph, although still affected by some forces of friction. If there was absolutely no friction in the world, a train, plane, or car could hypothetically travel at an infinite speed (given proper scientific developments for engines, etc.).

    Lastly, swimming in frictionless-water would be amazing. The speeds that we could reach would be incredible, as each stroke would simply add to the speed of the previous ones.

    In the end, life without friction would be totally worth any difficulties that may arise (ie. stopping movement, etc.); it would be a blast.

    • neith December 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

      Wow, I’ve never thought about what swimming would be like in a frictionless world. I agree though, that would be pretty cool to do!

    • nawanjaya December 4, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

      I’m with you, Elena. I think it’s always more fun to think of opportunities rather than challenges. Some of these apocalyptic posts are a little bit of a drag (that’s a joke. Drag=friction. Get it?). I haven’t seen a line of reasoning that leads to the end of the world or anything – just a need to think differently.

    • Sophia Timko December 4, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

      This does sound like a very fun world, however, the issue of stopping when you’re going at an infinite speed worries me. What if you got bored of swimming forever? You also mentioned the magnetic levitation train, which made me think how fast a plane could go! If there was no friction, we could fly from New York to China in no time, and perhaps that could work if gravity were to be the force helping us to land.

  23. Jamie Goodin December 2, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    Life without friction would be rad on some level, but I believe that once the hype of the cool things that could be done wore off, the inconveniences would surely outshine them.

    Let’s say you decide to go out on your scooter. One push and you’re ready to go for eternity. Cool. But let’s say Little Johnny had the same idea as you, only he lives on the other end of the neighborhood, and goes in the opposite direction. You finally meet eyes with him a block away, and the truth that you’re unstoppably hurdling towards each other becomes apparent. Your only option is to turn left, but unfortunately, there’s houses there. And on the right? A busy street full of cars that have quite a bit of trouble stopping. No matter what you do, you’re doomed to a concussion or some other sort of serious injury. So now you’re on the side of the road in a tremendous amount of pain and you require immediate medical attention, and the ambulances and paramedics are trying to get to you, but they’re slipping and sliding around and being totally ineffective. Soon enough, it becomes too late and your time runs out. RIP.

    I suppose a lack of terminal velocity in all situations would be pretty neat, but it would just create way more problems than the “cool factor” would be able to justify. Infinitely increasing speed would basically be the worst. It would speed up travel time on all fronts, but it could become very bad very quickly. Stopping would be difficult, and the odds of you reaching a not-so-safe speed would be high.

    Overall, friction rules, and it being gone suddenly would be a catastrophe.

    • Elena December 3, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

      This is pretty funny. I definitely avoided mentioning how you would stop in my post, but why wouldn’t the same kind of break work? it would just stop the wheels from spinning the same way, no?

      • Phil December 4, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

        Brakes on a scooter (and almost all other vehicles) rely on friction. In the case of the scooter, the friction is between the brake pedal and the wheel. Depressing the pedal brings it into contact with the wheel, and friction between the two slows the wheel down. Its the same mechanism on cars, but with calipers that grip the brake discs when you brake. You could stop by breathing really heavily though. By breathing out, you push air away, and Newton’s third law means that the air would push you in the opposite direction. The Chambered Nautilus (http://www.seasky.org/deep-sea/chambered-nautilus.html) propels itself under water using this principle. (End of the first paragraph in link)

  24. Sophia Timko December 2, 2011 at 5:22 am #

    Originally, I thought to myself that a world without friction means that there would be no slowing down, but then I realized that wouldn’t necessarily always be true considering that in order to slow down, an object actually has to begin moving first. In some cases, in a world without friction, objects wouldn’t be able to start moving. For example, as we discussed in class on Tuesday, we would not be able to walk or drive or even ride a bike or skateboard because all of these various forms of transportation require friction to press in different directions in order to move. In these cases, a world without friction would essentially be similar to living in a world of completely 100% frictionless ice, where if you attempt to walk, since there would be no friction pressing against your shoe causing you to be able to take another step. Instead, you would, unfortunately, just fall flat on your face, resulting in some bruises, and the worst part is that you wouldn’t be able to get back up because that requires friction too in order for your hands to have traction to lift your body up. So you would probably be there flailing for quite some time, if not forever, since you have no chance of getting back up onto your feet again. From that point, your life would be pretty much non-existant, or rather uneventful aside from the occasional flailing of limbs. The thought of living on a world made of completely frictionless ice is quite frightening and really makes us thankful for and appreciative of friction, a thing, which I’m sure mostly everyone forgot to remember to be thankful for this year at Thanksgiving!

  25. Charles December 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    So in a world without friction, everything would be dead and the earth would look like a worse version. This is also excluding the fact that the universe could not exist because the second law of thermodynamics would not be possible. It would also be impossible for stars to exist. But the reason the life could not be sustained is because without friction an atmosphere is not possible. This would mean that we would have no oxygen and that asteroids would hit earth with a massive amount of force. So before we can even address how slippery everything would be we first have to address that existence would be in some sense or another, impossible.

    • nawanjaya December 4, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

      The end of the 2nd law of thermodynamics doesn’t mean the end of existence – just the beginning of perpetual motion. yay! And we can still have air – it just glides around us effortlessly.

    • corbin December 5, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

      however i think charlie is right that there would be a few difficulties without surviving without friction. For example, our muscles need friction to contract, including our heart, otherwise they have nothing to move against and wouldn’t be able to bind onto our bones and move them.

  26. Charles December 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Worse version of Mars is what I meant to say.

  27. Will Johnston December 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    in a world without friction, materials like sand dirt and other non-solid materias would begin to resemble liquids. the grains of the materials would shift around you. however, that is not to say that you would fall through them as you would still be subject to buoyancy. The only viable way of securing an object would be through magnetisim or other forces non dependent of friction. Flight would be impossible as drag would no longer exist.

    moreover, life would not be able to exist as many of our bodily functions depend on friction. lacking these functions we would die.

    in other words, friction is p cool

    • nawanjaya December 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

      Hi Will – I’m not sure about sand liquefying. Could you explain your reasoning?

  28. Max December 2, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Living life in a world without friction would be challenging, fun and amusing all at the same time. We wouldn’t be able to move around because friction is required to push back against our own movements during activities such as, walking, driving, and biking. However,this would also enable us to be creative in designing our major cities. We would need something to push off of or we could design a series of sling shots to propel us to our destinations. It would also allow us to move at infinite speeds as we developed new technology. Places that once seemed to take hours to arrive at would only take minutes.
    We would also need to find another way to drive around without engines. Maybe something like bumper cars that pushed each other around because there is no braking in a frictionless world. This would also be environmentally friendly because the amount of harmful toxic emissions into the atmosphere would be greatly lessened. The only real issue is that without friction, there is no stopping. The likelihood that you crash into someone or something would be so incredibly high. This would also increase the death rate. If we could find away to stop then a world without friction would be incredible. We would reach our destinations in no time and we would be able to moonwalk.

    • Josh December 4, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

      The bumper car idea seems very good and it would actually create a more environmentally friendly means of traveling. It does seem that it’s possible to create new ways to travel but you’re right that the mortality rate would increase and stopping is the main issue. The idea of getting to our destination in half or even a fraction of the time is amazing if only we could stop.

    • Sophia Timko December 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

      It’s really interesting how you describe the practicality of a world without friction and how it would be beneficial to the environment, if only we were able to stop. I’m not sure if these would work in a 100% frictionless world, but perhaps they could design similar to the feature that has been recently added to cars to prevent them from skidding and spinning uncontrollably by reducing pressure on the wheels when slowing down.

  29. Josh December 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    In a world without friction, people could never walk, cars could never stop, and airplanes can never land. The slightest push or tap on any object would put it in motion and it can only stop if it hits something that it’s in rest but what if both objects are moving then what happens? Mankind would have a difficult time traveling anywhere, even to the bathroom. All of our methods of transportation would be useless. We would need our streets and homes to have moveable platforms that do the walking for us and it’s not because we are lazy but it’s due to the lack of friction that we can’t even move to begin with. I agree with my classmates that sports would also be a thing of the past because nothing can ever stop. Collisions would be occurring everywhere and it’s only a matter of time before every object in the world starts to move. We would probably have to rely on some sort of “throw and catch” device like attacking rockets to ourselves to go in one direction and use a modify vacuum to keep us from going forever. In this case it would be smart to leave earth in search of a new planet or even take refuge on the moon where there is some form of friction. Mankind would not stand a chance at surviving in a frictionless world.

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