Q:

How does an inclined plane make work easier?

A:

Quick Answer

An inclined plane makes work easier by reducing the exertion needed for the job while increasing the distance over which that exertion is maintained. The angle at which a load is lifted determines the amount of exertion needed to lift it. Lifting a load straight overhead requires the most exertion.

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Full Answer

An inclined plane is a sloping surface, such as a ramp. Using a ramp to push an object up requires less exertion than lifting it straight overhead. The amount of work a person does involves the effort he exerts as well as the distance over which he exerts it. The formula for work is work equals force times distance. Whether one lifts an object directly overhead or uses a ramp to push it up, the amount of work needed for the task is ultimately the same. An inclined plane reduces the amount of effort needed to lift the object by increasing the distance over which the exertion occurs. When a ramp with a gentler slope is used, the distance over which a load is pushed to a certain point increases, and the effort needed to push it decreases. The converse is also true. With a steeper ramp, the distance is less, but the effort required to push the load increases.

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