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# What is a free-body diagram?

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A free-body diagram is used in physics to show the direction and relative magnitude of all forces acting upon an object. Typically, the object is represented by a box or a dot. Arrows are used to show the direction of each force acting on the object.

## Keep Learning

In the case of a book sitting on a desk, the force of gravity is shown as an arrow pointing down from the bottom edge of the box. The force of the desk pushing upward on the book, called the normal force, is shown by an arrow pointing up from the top edge of the box. For an object in motion, the applied force is shown as an arrow pointing in the direction of motion, and friction is shown as an arrow pointing in the opposite direction from the back edge of the box. Arrows of different lengths are used to indicate the relative magnitude of the various forces.

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## Related Questions

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Vector notation is a written method for representing quantities that possess both direction and magnitude, such as acceleration. Vectors are often represented graphically by lines with an arrow pointing in the appropriate direction.

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Spring scales measure the magnitude of forces, most commonly weight, which is the downward force of gravity on an object. It works from the principle laid down by Isaac Newton in his third law of universal motion, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

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The law of inertia is a fundamental physics principle used to describe how an object behaves in motion or at rest, particularly when forces are applied to it. The object can be anything that has mass.