Air Resistance

[Prev] [Next] [Index] [Home] [Help]
Before we can discuss how air resistance (often called a drag force) affects falling bodies, you need to have a basic understanding of how air resistance works.

Whenever the surfaces of two objects rub together, a friction force is generated that acts on both objects and opposes their relative motion. This is true even if one (or both) of the objects is a fluid (a gas or liquid, such as air or water). When the fluid in question is air, the friction force generated is called air resistance or wind resistance.

How does friction, and in particular, air resistance work? Well, nobody really knows - it is an active and important area of research. Friction forces in general, and air resistance forces in particular, are very complex. We do know that it is impossible to make simple, accurate, theoretical statements about air resistance. On the other hand, if you are willing to not take them too literally and carry them too far...blah blah blah (The rest of the disclaimer goes here.)...

The air (fluid) resistance force on an object depends primarily on:

That's not all. The viscosity (stickiness) of the fluid can have an effect on the air resistance force, as well as the texture of the surface of the solid object

[Prev] [Next] [Index] [Home] [Help]
last update November 4, 2007 by JL Stanbrough