Friction is what allows us to move…and to slow down. Friction is how we pick things up …and hold on to them. To be totally honest, there isn’t much we could do without friction! A world without friction would be unlivable. But, do you think you could function for one minute without it?
So, for example, consider something as simple as walking. Your feet are pushing backward against the ground, and the ground reacts by pushing forward on your foot, allowing you to accelerate. But it’s a lot easier to walk on concrete than it is to walk on ice, right? That’s because ice has a much lower coefficient of friction than concrete.
Yes, celebrate friction, and be grateful it exists, because you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone for one minute.
Below are the consequences if there is no friction for a minute:
- Matches don’t work any more, and you can’t use lighters.
- In fact, you can’t pick anything up, because your ability to grip and pick things up is due to friction.
- Anything you were holding on to, at the moment friction ceased to exist, would instantly fall to the ground or fly out of your hand. If you were walking when friction disappeared, your legs would still work, but you wouldn’t go anywhere.
- But if you were in a moving vehicle, you’d keep going, and going, and going, and going, until you crashed into something!
- But, at least you wouldn’t get rope burn… But that tree, that penny, that runaway train is actually the least of your worries.
- Considering that everything on Earth is composed of atoms and particles, and that all atoms and particles are held together by friction, well, what do you get when you take away friction? Nothing. You lose everything. Instantly.
So if you’ve ever wondered why skidding cars and baseball slides look so cool, well, just be grateful for friction. Yes, it can make life hard sometimes, but, it beats losing literally everything on this planet!
So go on, try it for yourself. Take a walk, and feel the friction between your feet and the ground. But don’t go too far!