Consider "help with coefficient of friction".

A basic physics 101 question, and a one-and-a-half step variety at that. As questions-that-students-have go there is nothing unusual about it, but there is little help that can be offered short of doing the problem for the student. I've offered a pointer in the comments, but how should the question treated on physics.se?

// For amusement, check out the original tag...

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    $\begingroup$ By the way, thanks for amusing me :-) $\endgroup$ – Marek Dec 9 '10 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ Calling that physics 101 is a bit harsh. Maybe physics 102. :) $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Dec 9 '10 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Noldorin: I don't see that. I taught coefficients of friction in Introductory Physics for Non-majors, and I was taught them in my first year High School class. I mean, all the student has to do is find the normal force and multiply... $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Dec 9 '10 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ No. You generally cover them in a proper classical mechanics course, which is introductory undergrad physics. First year high school is exceptionally early; I'm sure only a narrow subset of classical mechanics is studied. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Dec 9 '10 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure that sort of thing was covered in my high school physics class (and maybe even in middle school, where I remember at least one tricky torque problem :-P). $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 11 '10 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ What was the original tag ? research - level ? $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Sep 7 '13 at 5:31

Quoting the defintion phase's most upvoted comment on what the level of this site should be:

"no question is too basic, but we won't do your homework"

I'll vote to close this question and every other one that simply asks "how to insert these values I have into a formula - and which formula btw". Although in the latter case the OP should be asked to edit their question into a more useful "which formula to use to ..." which could then at least help other people visiting this site


I was just going to post a question about this one myself but from a different perspective. And I also have an answer how to treat this question

Namely, I would close it at once. Level of the site will never rise if we allow these questions here. I think high-school questions are fine as long as they are clever. But high-school (or lower) homework? No sir, thank you very much!

  • $\begingroup$ The question really belongs to the last couple of years of high school, or first-term undergraduate really. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Dec 10 '10 at 0:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Noldorin: I remember clearly problems like these were solved at elementary school; high school at the very latest. It's just multiplication (true derivation from the friction of two lattices is never done even at uni level anyway) so no problem there. $\endgroup$ – Marek Dec 10 '10 at 0:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Noldorin: what bothers me though is the way the question was stated. Just transcribed assignment from book. Do you really don't mind such questions? If the question was more conceptual and insightful and asked something about friction (not necessarily the derivation of the law itself which, as I stated, isn't done anywhere anyway) then fine. But not like this. $\endgroup$ – Marek Dec 10 '10 at 0:45
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    $\begingroup$ By the way, I wonder who down-voted me and whether they can explain their reason? I don't mind these votes as long as I get a honest explanation. $\endgroup$ – Marek Dec 10 '10 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ I agree the form of the question is bad. In content, you're being a bit unfair. Sure, the maths is probably primary school level, but the dynamics of rigid bodies on a surface is clearly high school to first-year level! I've done all the advanced courses possible and I didn't study this until the age of 16. I won't believe things are very different elsewhere! (Didn't down-vote you btw.) $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Dec 10 '10 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Noldorin♦: yeah, but the question only asks how to calculate the friction force from given which is simply homework as in "d00d, do tis 4 me cuz im 2 lzy". If it asked for what you state, e.g. the for reason of friction coefficients being independent of the touching surface area, then I'd welcome it. (I +1ed btw) $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Dec 10 '10 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Tobias: Yeah, that's fair enough. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Dec 10 '10 at 17:35

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