Mind-blowing Facts About Friction 😱😱😱
The word "friction" might seem unfamiliar but the phenomenon itself is unavoidable, there's no one here that has escaped it even if you try to deny it. The phenomenon is almost everywhere in our daily lives, sometimes it may seem annoying but the truth is that without it's existence we would all be in our early graves (even though few still do).
Before we proceed further, let's first understand what this friction actually is.
When we bring two objects with rough surfaces together, such that their surfaces are in touch with each other and we try to move one over the other, we notice some kind of drag, that is, something appears to be preventing the objects from moving freely over each other. In fact, when you make the surfaces of those objects smoother, we notice that the effect of that something reduces. That something trying to resist the motion is what is referred to as "friction" and it's a kind of contact force. In the scenario we just discussed, that type of friction is referred to as "dry friction" and it's commonly found found between solid objects, for fluids (gas and liquid) it is called viscosity and there's radiative friction - between the surface of an object and a radiation, this was first predicted by Albert Einstein.
Friction could be problematic especially for us, as it may require us to put in more effort than is normally required for a given task and it could lead to loss of valuable resources like energy (in the form of tiredness), time and materials. However, there are also positive reasons for it's existence and we shall discuss some very interesting ones which most of us may not be aware of
Control of motion
One of the basic necessities of living things, especially man is locomotion (motion), we need it to get most of our daily needs, including food. There's one thing to move and another thing to control your movement, if we can't control our movements it could be fatal, sometimes leading to death. Even engineers know this and always take friction into account when dealing with mechanical stuffs, this is why most of our modern land vehicles (man-made) seems to possess some common features, e.g tyres (especially with rough surfaces), our roads are mostly designed to have rough surfaces, e.t.c. The idea there is that friction helps us control our motion. When we move on a rough surface, every force we exact on the surface usually brings into existence an opposing force (friction) to stop us from moving but to maintain the motion in a particular direction we would need to continually apply force - to overcome the friction. If we want to change direction of motion, the obvious thing is to first stop, pick a new direction and apply force again to move in this new direction but to stop we need friction and it's because of Newton's first law of motion - we don't stop at will when we have started moving, we can stop at will with the help of friction (an external force). Now, imagine a scenario where there isn't friction/that friction was very low (like in the case of a slippery floor), we would have little or no control over our motion and it's why we normally have accidents when we move on a very slippery road. Ball-bearings (a method of reducing friction) uses the same principle as car tyres in that they both convert friction force to rotational motion, what this means is that friction helps our car tyres/wheels to rotate "efficiently".
It sparked our technological journey
Man's technological journey and further evolution seemed to have began when man first started controlling fire, especially with the making of fire. The earliest form of fire making began with the help of friction, sharpening of tools too required friction. Interestingly, common fire making tools used in the modern world still makes use of friction (matches and lighters).
It sparked the science of electricity
There's no denying the fact that our modern technological devices one way or the other requires electricity for their operations. This of course wouldn't have been possible if not for the science of electricity. Electrical phenomena had always been observed by man since antiquity, nobody can deny this but the science was ignited when people began to notice that when two different materials are rubbed against each other and one is brought close to tiny pieces of objects, there was an attraction (between one of the rubbed material and the tiny pieces of objects). One notable person to have first investigated this phenomenon was the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus, his works and later that of William Gilbert would lay grounds for electrostatics (a branch of electrical science) and later investigations in the science of electricity and magnetism. When two different materials are rubbed against each other, charges are exchanged with the help of "friction", thus leading to the materials being charged, the attraction between one of the charged materials and a small piece of object is due to the electric field/force. However, the process of generating charges through rubbing (friction) is nowadays termed the "triboelectric effect".
Black hole observation
Black holes were predicted using Einstein's theory of general relativity in early 20th century, notably by Karl Schwarzschild and in 2019 the first direct image of the black hole was published, this took years of image processing after it's observation in 2017. Also, around may this year (2022) a second direct image of a black hole (supermassive) was released but this time around it was from our galaxy, the Milky way - the first image was from another galaxy (Messier 87). Note that supermassive black holes are believed to be at the center of most galaxies.
Though black holes currently don't have technological applications, it's interesting to note that without friction those images wouldn't have been gotten or rather, observing the black holes wouldn't have been possible. This is because black holes themselves don't emit radiation and the images were actually gotten with the help of the radiations produced by the motion of matter around the black hole (the accretion disk). The friction between the motions of the matter in the accretion disk helps heat up the matter till they start emitting radiation.
It has Electromagnetic origin
Previously, we were able to show that charges can be generated through rubbing/friction (triboelectric effect) but interestingly, friction itself has electromagnetic origins. Friction has been observed to originate from the intermolecular forces between atoms and molecules but these intermolecular forces aren't fundamental, they arise from a much more fundamental force - the electromagnetic force (electric and magnetic force).
So, we see now that friction isn't all that bad. We shall thus conclude this article at this point, have a thoughtful day and see you next time.
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