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What is friction?

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Friction is the force resisting the relative lateral (tangential) motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, or material elements in contact. It is usually subdivided into several varieties:

  • Dry friction resists relative lateral motion of two solid surfaces in contact. Dry friction is also subdivided into static friction between non-moving surfaces, and kinetic friction (sometimes called sliding friction or dynamic friction) between moving surfaces.
  • Lubricated friction or fluid friction resists relative lateral motion of two solid surfaces separated by a layer of gas or liquid.
  • Fluid friction is also used to describe the friction between layers within a fluid that are moving relative to each other.
  • Skin friction is a component of drag, the force resisting the motion of a solid body through a fluid.
  • Internal friction is the force resisting motion between the elements making up a solid material while it undergoes deformation.

Friction is not a fundamental force, as it is derived from electromagnetic force between charged particles, including electrons, protons, atoms, and molecules, and so cannot be calculated from first principles, but instead must be found empirically. When contacting surfaces move relative to each other, the friction between the two surfaces converts kinetic energy into thermal energy, or heat. Contrary to earlier explanations, kinetic friction is now understood not to be caused by surface roughness but by chemical bonding between the surfaces. Surface roughness and contact area, however, do affect kinetic friction for micro- and nano-scale objects where surface area forces dominate inertial forces.

Includes CC-BY-SA content from Wikipedia's Friction article (authors)

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