Newton's Laws

Each list begins with basic conceptual vocabulary you need to know for MCAT questions and proceeds to advanced terms that might appear in context in MCAT passages. The terms are links to Wikipedia articles.
Force is anything that can cause a massive body to accelerate. It may be experienced as a lift, a push, or a pull.
Mass is a fundamental concept in physics, roughly corresponding to the intuitive idea of how much matter there is in an object.
Dynamics is the branch of classical mechanics that is concerned with the effects of forces on the motion of objects.
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton was an English scientist whose treatise Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion.
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who achieved the first systematic studies of uniformly accelerated motion, improved the telescope and supported Copernicanism.
Weight is a measurement of the gravitational force acting on an object.
Newton's laws of motion
Newton's laws of motion are three physical laws which provide relationships between the forces acting on a body and its movement through space.
Centripetal force
The centripetal force is the external force required to make a body follow a circular path at constant speed. The force is directed inward, toward the center of the circle.
Friction is the force that opposes the relative motion or tendency toward such motion of two surfaces in contact.
Coefficient of friction
The coefficient of friction is a dimensionless quantity used to calculate the force of friction (static or kinetic).
Normal force
The normal force is the component, perpendicular to the surface of contact, of the contact force exerted by the surface.
Contact force
A contact force is a force between two objects that are touching each other.
The newton is the SI derived unit of force.
Inertia is the property of an object to remain at constant velocity unless acted upon by an outside force.
Net force
A resultant or net force is a vector produced when two or more forces act upon a single object.
Newton's third law states that forces occur in pairs, one called the action and the other the reaction.
Fundamental interaction
A fundamental force or interaction is a mechanism by which particles interact with each other and which cannot be explained in terms of another interaction.
Sliding friction
Sliding friction is when two solid surfaces slide against each other.
Inertial frame of reference
An inertial frame of reference is one in which Newton's first and second laws of motion are valid, ie. that is neither rotating nor accelerated.
Tension is a reaction force applied by a stretched string, rope or a similar object, upon the objects which stretch it.
Rolling resistance
Rolling resistance is the frictional resistance that occurs when an object rolls. It is usually much smaller than sliding friction.
The dyne is a unit of force specified in the centimeter-gram-second (cgs) system of units.
Fictitious force
A fictitious force is an apparent force that acts on all masses in a non-inertial frame of reference arising from the acceleration of the non-inertial reference frame itself.

The Integrated MCAT Course is a trademark of Wisebridge Learning Systems. Unless otherwise specified, the works of the Integrated Course are published under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike License. MCAT is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which does not endorse the Integrated MCAT Course. The Integrated MCAT Course offers our customers no guarantees regarding eventual performance on the MCAT.