In physics, a lever (from French lever, "to raise", c.f. a levant) is a rigid object that is used with an appropriate fulcrum or pivot point to multiply the mechanical force that can be applied to another object. This is also termed mechanical advantage, and is one example of the principle of moments. A lever is one of the six simple machines.
The principle of leverage can be derived using Newton's laws of motion, and modern statics. It is important to note that the amount of work done is given by force times distance. For instance, to use a lever to lift a certain unit of weight with a force of half a unit, the distance from the fulcrum to the spot where force is applied must be twice the distance between the weight and the fulcrum. For example, to cut in half the force required to lift a weight resting 1 meter from the fulcrum, we would need to apply force 2 meters from the other side of the fulcrum. The amount of work done is always the same and independent of the dimensions of the lever (in an ideal lever). The lever only allows to trade force for distance.
Archimedes was the first to explain the principle of the lever, stating:
"(equal) weights at equal distances are in equilibrium, and equal weights at unequal distances are not in equilibrium but incline towards the weight which is at the greater distance."Archimedes once famously remarked: "Πα βω και χαριστιωνι ταν γαν κινησω πασαν." ("Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.")
The point where you apply the force is called the effort. The effect of applying this force is called the load. The load arm and the effort arm are the names given to the distances from the fulcrum to the load and effort, respectively. Using these definitions, the Law of the Lever is:
A first-class lever is a lever in which the fulcrum is located between the input effort and the output load. In operation, a force is applied (by pulling or pushing) to a section of the bar, which causes the lever to swing about the fulcrum, overcoming the resistance force on the opposite side. The fulcrum may be at the center point of the lever as in a seesaw or at any point between the input and output. This supports the effort arm and the load.
In a second class lever the input effort is located at one end of the bar and the fulcrum is located at the other end of the bar, opposite to the input, with the output load at a point between these two forces. Examples:
For this class of levers, the input effort is higher than the output load, which is different from second-class levers and some first-class levers. However, the distance moved by the resistance (load) is greater than the distance moved by the effort. Since this motion occurs in the same length of time, the resistance necessarily moves faster than the effort. Thus, a third-class lever still has its uses in making certain tasks easier to do. In third class levers, effort is applied between the output load on one end and the fulcrum on the opposite end.