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Newton’s 1st Law of Motion

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Scientist Sir Isaac Newton, of the seventeenth century, constructed laws that explain why objects move or why they stay at rest. Newton’s first law of motion is explained by the statement, “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” This law can be referred to as the law of inertia. Inertia is defined as any resistance to the change of motion and as the proclivity of objects to remain at a constant velocity. Essentially, there are two parts to Newton’s first law. The first being the prediction of the way stationary objects will act and the second part being the prediction of the behavior of objects in motion. With this law Newton was saying that there must be a cause, such as a net external force, acting on an object in order for the object to change its velocity. A change in an object’s velocity would result from an object changing its speed or direction, but according to Newton’s first law, this will not occur unless an outside force is acting on the object. This outside force must be an unbalanced force in order to have an effect on an object. Before Newton’s laws, thinkers including René Descartes spoke about force and motion. Descartes said that undisturbed motion would continue in a straight line, and therefore self-sustaining circular motion would not be possible. Other thinkers similar to Descartes like Galileo, Kepler, and Robert Hooke all had their own different ideas about objects in motion or about forces. Sir Isaac Newton used the discoveries and theories of the past to formulate his own theories and laws. Newton’s theories and laws are what we live by today. Even if we are not in a science classroom, his laws still heavily apply. If Newton hadn’t made the discovery of his first law, his other two laws would not be of the same. Without understanding how objects respond to being at rest or respond to an unbalanced force, the advancements of technology and nearly everything in the world would not be as advanced as what we witness today.



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