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  • Express mathematically the drag force.
  • Discuss the applications of drag force.
  • Define terminal velocity.
  • Determine the terminal velocity given mass.

Another interesting force in everyday life is the force of drag on an object when it is moving in a fluid (either a gas or a liquid). You feel the drag force when you move your hand through water. You might also feel it if you move your hand during a strong wind. The faster you move your hand, the harder it is to move. You feel a smaller drag force when you tilt your hand so only the side goes through the air—you have decreased the area of your hand that faces the direction of motion. Like friction, the drag force    always opposes the motion of an object. Unlike simple friction, the drag force is proportional to some function of the velocity of the object in that fluid. This functionality is complicated and depends upon the shape of the object, its size, its velocity, and the fluid it is in. For most large objects such as bicyclists, cars, and baseballs not moving too slowly, the magnitude of the drag force F D size 12{F rSub { size 8{D} } } {} is found to be proportional to the square of the speed of the object. We can write this relationship mathematically as F D v 2 size 12{F rSub { size 8{D} } α`v rSup { size 8{2} } } {} . When taking into account other factors, this relationship becomes

F D = 1 2 Av 2 , size 12{F rSub { size 8{D} } =0 "." 5Cρ ital "Av" rSup { size 8{2} } } {}

where C size 12{C} {} is the drag coefficient, A size 12{A} {} is the area of the object facing the fluid, and ρ size 12{ρ} {} is the density of the fluid. (Recall that density is mass per unit volume.) This equation can also be written in a more generalized fashion as F D = bv 2 , where b is a constant equivalent to 0 .5 CρA . We have set the exponent for these equations as 2 because, when an object is moving at high velocity through air, the magnitude of the drag force is proportional to the square of the speed. As we shall see in a few pages on fluid dynamics, for small particles moving at low speeds in a fluid, the exponent is equal to 1.

Drag force

Drag force F D size 12{F rSub { size 8{D} } } {} is found to be proportional to the square of the speed of the object. Mathematically

F D v 2 size 12{F rSub { size 8{D} } α`v rSup { size 8{2} } } {}
F D = 1 2 Av 2 , size 12{F rSub { size 8{D} } =0 "." 5Cρ ital "Av" rSup { size 8{2} } } {}

where C size 12{C} {} is the drag coefficient, A size 12{A} {} is the area of the object facing the fluid, and ρ size 12{ρ} {} is the density of the fluid.

Athletes as well as car designers seek to reduce the drag force to lower their race times. (See [link] ). “Aerodynamic” shaping of an automobile can reduce the drag force and so increase a car’s gas mileage.

A two-person team in a bobsled race. The bobsled has an aerodynamic design and smooth runners so it can go as fast as possible.
From racing cars to bobsled racers, aerodynamic shaping is crucial to achieving top speeds. Bobsleds are designed for speed. They are shaped like a bullet with tapered fins. (credit: U.S. Army, via Wikimedia Commons)

The value of the drag coefficient, C size 12{C} {} , is determined empirically, usually with the use of a wind tunnel. (See [link] ).

A model plane is can be seen being tested in a wind tunnel.
NASA researchers test a model plane in a wind tunnel. (credit: NASA/Ames)

The drag coefficient can depend upon velocity, but we will assume that it is a constant here. [link] lists some typical drag coefficients for a variety of objects. Notice that the drag coefficient is a dimensionless quantity. At highway speeds, over 50% of the power of a car is used to overcome air drag. The most fuel-efficient cruising speed is about 70–80 km/h (about 45–50 mi/h). For this reason, during the 1970s oil crisis in the United States, maximum speeds on highways were set at about 90 km/h (55 mi/h).

Questions & Answers

explain how a body becomes electrically charged based on the presence of charged particles
Kym Reply
induction
babar
induction
DEMGUE
definitely by induction
Raymond
induction
Raymond
induction
Shah
induction
Korodhso
please why does a needle sinks in water
DEMGUE
induction
Korodhso
induction
Auwal
what are the calculations of Newton's third law of motiow
Murtala Reply
what is dark matter
apex Reply
(in some cosmological theories) non-luminous material which is postulated to exist in space and which could take either of two forms: weakly interacting particles ( cold dark matter ) or high-energy randomly moving particles created soon after the Big Bang ( hot dark matter ).
Usman
if the mass of a trolley is 0.1kg. calculate the weight of plasticine that is needed to compensate friction. (take g=10m/s and u=0.2)
Declan Reply
what is a galaxy
Maduka Reply
what isflow rate of volume
Abcd Reply
flow rate is the volume of fluid which passes per unit time;
Rev
flow rate or discharge represnts the flow passing in unit volume per unit time
bhat
When two charges q1 and q2 are 6 and 5 coulomb what is ratio of force
Mian Reply
When reducing the mass of a racing bike, the greatest benefit is realized from reducing the mass of the tires and wheel rims. Why does this allow a racer to achieve greater accelerations than would an identical reduction in the mass of the bicycle’s frame?
bimo Reply
is that the answer
nehemiah
why is it proportional
nehemiah Reply
i don't know
Adah
y
nehemiah
what are the relationship between distance and displacement
Usman Reply
They are interchangeable.
Shii
Distance is scalar, displacement is vector because it must involve a direction as well as a magnitude. distance is the measurement of where you are and where you were displacement is a measurement of the change in position
Shii
Thanks a lot
Usman
I'm beginner in physics so I can't reason why v=u+at change to v2=u2+2as and vice versa
Usman
what is kinematics
praveen
kinematics is study of motion without considering the causes of the motion
Theo
The study of motion without considering the cause 0f it
Usman
why electrons close to the nucleus have less energy and why do electrons far from the nucleus have more energy
Theo
thank you frds
praveen
plz what is the third law of thermodynamics
Chidera Reply
third law of thermodynamics states that at 0k the particles will collalse its also known as death of universe it was framed at that time when it waa nt posible to reach 0k but it was proved wrong
bhat
I have not try that experiment but I think it will magnet....
Rev Reply
Hey Rev. it will
Jeff
I do think so, it will
Chidera
yes it will
lasisi
If a magnet is in a pool of water, would it be able to have a magnetic field?.
Stella Reply
yes Stella it would
Jeff
formula for electric current
Chizzy Reply
what is that about pleace
Fokoua
what are you given?
Kudzy
what is current
Fokoua
I=q/t
saifullahi
Current is the flow of electric charge per unit time.
saifullahi
What are semi conductors
saifullahi
materials that allows charge to flow at varying conditions, temperature for instance.
Mokua
these are materials which have electrical conductivity greater than the insulators but less than metal, in these materials energy band Gap is very narrow as compared to insulators
Sunil
materials that allows charge to flow at varying conditions, temperature for instance.
Obasi
wao so awesome
Fokoua
At what point in the oscillation of beam will a body leave it?
Atambiri
what is gravitational force
Adah
what is meant by the term law
Fahd Reply
Practice Key Terms 2

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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