Newton’s First Law of Motion

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Created by: Team Physics -, Last Updated: July 2, 2024

Newton’s First Law of Motion

Newton’s First Law of Motion, also known as the Law of Inertia, is a cornerstone of classical mechanics. This guide provides an in-depth look at this fundamental law, breaking it down into understandable terms. It includes practical, real-life examples that illustrate the law in action, making it an invaluable educational resource. Ideal for teachers, this guide brings clarity to the concept, enhancing students’ understanding of how objects behave in motion and at rest.

What Is Newton’s First Law of Motion?

Newton’s First Law of Motion states that an object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force. This law introduces the concept of inertia, explaining why objects resist changes in their motion. It’s a foundational principle in physics, essential for students learning about forces and motion.

What is the Best Example of Newton’s First Law of Motion?

What is the Best Example of Newton's First Law of Motion

A classic example of Newton’s First Law is a soccer ball at rest on a field. The ball will stay still until a player kicks it (an external force), causing it to move. Similarly, once the ball is in motion, it will continue moving in the same direction and speed until friction, another player, or a goalpost (external forces) changes its state of motion.

Newton’s First Law of Motion Formula

The equation for Newton’s first law is as follows:

F= dp /dt


F= d(mv)/dt

In the first statement :

p is the momentum,

As p=mv,

the second equation replaces p with mv,

V is the object’s velocity,

t is the time

F is for force.

22 Newton’s First Law of Motion Examples

Newton's First Law of Motion Examples

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Newton’s First Law of Motion, or the Law of Inertia, is a fundamental principle observed in countless everyday occurrences and scientific phenomena. This collection of 22 examples vividly illustrates the law’s application, providing a diverse array of instances where objects resist changes to their state of motion. Ideal for educational purposes, these examples demonstrate the law’s relevance in real-life situations, enhancing students’ understanding of this key physical principle and its impact on the world around them.

  1. A Parked Car: Remains stationary until a force (like an engine starting) moves it.
  2. A Ball Rolling on the Ground: Continues to roll until friction slows and stops it.
  3. Astronauts Floating in Space: Stay in motion due to lack of external force.
  4. Seat Belts in a Car: Prevent passengers from continuing forward motion when a car stops suddenly.
  5. A Book on a Shelf: Remains at rest until acted upon (like being knocked off).
  6. Dust Particles in Air: Remain still in the air until disturbed by a breeze.
  7. A Sled on Snow: Glides smoothly until friction or an obstacle slows it down.
  8. A Diver Off a Diving Board: Continues in a straight line path until hitting the water.
  9. Leaves Falling from a Tree: Stay at rest until gravity acts upon them.
  10. Skater Gliding on Ice: Continues to glide until friction or another force stops them.
  11. Fruit Hanging from a Tree: Remains in place until an external force acts (like being picked).
  12. Basketball on the Court: Stays still until a player applies force to move it.
  13. Rocks at the Bottom of a Hill: Stay at rest until moved by an external force (like a landslide).
  14. A Kayak on Calm Water: Remains stationary until paddled.
  15. A Cup on a Table: Doesn’t move unless acted upon (pushed or knocked over).
  16. An Arrow in a Bow: Stays in place until the bowstring’s force propels it.
  17. Airplane at Rest on Runway: Remains stationary until engines thrust it forward.
  18. A Pendulum at Rest: Stays still until an external force moves it.
  19. Stationary Bike: Stays in place unless someone pedals it.
  20. Paperweight on Papers: Keeps papers in place until moved.
  21. A Boat Anchored in Water: Stays in one location until the anchor is lifted.
  22. A Person Standing Still: Remains stationary until deciding to move.

Newton’s First Law of Motion Examples In Everyday Life

Newton's First Law of Motion Examples In Everyday Life

Newton’s First Law of Motion is constantly at play in our everyday lives, governing how objects behave. This section showcases eight distinct examples, illustrating the law’s practical applications in daily activities. These instances make it easier for educators to explain the law’s relevance and functionality, helping students connect theoretical physics to their everyday experiences. From simple household tasks to common occurrences, these examples demonstrate the persistence of inertia in a range of everyday contexts.


  1. Spilled Coffee in a Car: Coffee continues moving forward when the car suddenly stops.
  2. Sitting in a Swivel Chair: The chair continues spinning until friction or another force stops it.
  3. Dropping a Pen: The pen remains at rest until gravitational force causes it to fall.
  4. Groceries in a Shopping Cart: They continue moving when the cart starts or stops abruptly.
  5. A Rock on the Ground: Remains at rest until someone picks it up or kicks it.
  6. Sliding a Book Across a Table: The book moves in a straight line until friction slows it.
  7. Pushing a Stroller: The stroller continues to move until you apply force to stop it.
  8. Curtains Swinging: They move back and forth until air resistance and gravity bring them to rest.

Newton’s First Law of Motion Examples In Real Life

Newton's First Law of Motion Examples In Real Life

Newton’s First Law of Motion examples in real life are abundant, illustrating how this fundamental principle governs the motion of objects. These eight examples provide insight into how inertia and external forces interact in various real-life scenarios. They serve as excellent teaching tools, helping to convey the practical implications of this law in diverse and relatable situations.


  1. A Train Coming to a Halt: Passengers lean forward as the train stops due to inertia.
  2. A Brick Lying on a Pathway: Stays in place until moved by an external force.
  3. Anchored Boats: Remain stationary until force is applied to move them.
  4. Jumping off a Moving Skateboard: The skateboard keeps moving forward while the jumper stops.
  5. Hanging Laundry: Clothes remain motionless on the line until moved by wind or taken down.
  6. A Camera on a Tripod: Stays in position until someone or something moves it.
  7. Luggage on an Airport Conveyor Belt: Continues in motion with the belt until picked up.
  8. Dust Settling on Surfaces: Stays undisturbed until cleaned or blown away.

Newton’s First Law of Motion Examples In Daily Life

Newton's First Law of Motion Examples In Daily Life

In our daily life, Newton’s First Law of Motion plays a significant role, often unnoticed. These eight examples showcase how inertia and force influence routine activities, making the concept more accessible and understandable. Each example connects the law to common daily experiences, enhancing its practical understanding.


  1. Opening and Closing Drawers: They remain in their state unless force is applied to move them.
  2. Potted Plant on a Window Sill: Stays at rest until moved for watering or rearrangement.
  3. A Ball Left on the Ground: Remains stationary until kicked or thrown.
  4. Bicycles in a Stand: Stay upright until someone takes them out to ride.
  5. Food on a Plate: Remains in place until you push it with a utensil.
  6. Books on a Bookshelf: They stay at rest until someone takes them out to read.
  7. Placing a Phone on a Table: The phone stays where placed until picked up again.
  8. A Parked Bicycle: Remains stationary until a force is applied to pedal it.

Newton’s First Law of Motion Examples In Sports

Newton's First Law of Motion Examples In Sports

In sports, Newton’s First Law of Motion is vividly demonstrated, providing clear examples of inertia and force in action. These eight examples from various sports contexts offer insights into how the law affects athletes and objects in motion, making it a relatable topic for students interested in sports.


  1. Golf Ball on a Tee: Remains still until hit by the golf club.
  2. Football on the Field: Stays in place until kicked or thrown by a player.
  3. A Bowler’s Release in Bowling: The bowling ball continues in motion until it hits pins or gutter.
  4. Running Athletes Stopping Suddenly: Athletes lean forward due to inertia when they stop running.
  5. Baseball Bat Hitting a Ball: The ball changes direction and speed after being hit.
  6. A Tennis Ball Tossed for a Serve: Stays in upward motion until gravity acts on it.
  7. Hockey Puck Sliding on Ice: Continues sliding until friction or a stick stops it.
  8. Basketball Hoop: The ball remains at rest until a player shoots it.

Importance of Newton’s First Law of Motion

Newton’s First Law of Motion, also known as the Law of Inertia, holds significant importance in both scientific theory and practical applications. It lays the foundation for understanding motion and forces, essential in physics and engineering. This law helps explain why objects behave the way they do under various forces, making it crucial in designing systems and structures, understanding natural phenomena, and developing technologies.

  1. Foundation of Mechanics: It forms the basis for classical mechanics, crucial for understanding motion.
  2. Safety Designs: Guides the creation of safety features in vehicles, like seat belts and airbags.
  3. Space Exploration: Helps in planning and predicting the motion of spacecraft.
  4. Understanding Everyday Phenomena: Explains common occurrences like why objects fall or why vehicles need force to move.
  5. Engineering Principles: Essential in the design and analysis of structures and machinery.
  6. Sports Strategies: Influences techniques and strategies in various sports.
  7. Physics Education: A fundamental concept in teaching and understanding physics.


  1. Vehicle Safety Design: Engineers use this law to design safer cars, focusing on how forces impact passengers during collisions.
  2. Spacecraft Trajectories: Determines how spacecraft conserve momentum in space.
  3. Sports Strategies: Helps in planning strategies considering players’ inertia.
  4. Architectural Structures: Informs the design of buildings to withstand forces like wind or earthquakes.
  5. Amusement Park Rides: Understanding forces for safe and thrilling ride designs.

Application of Newton’s First Law of Motion

The application of Newton’s First Law of Motion encompasses various steps and considerations in different fields such as physics, engineering, and technology. Understanding and applying this law involves recognizing the role of inertia and forces in motion, making it a key tool in problem-solving and innovation.

  1. Identify Motion States: Determine if objects are at rest or in uniform motion.
  2. Recognize External Forces: Assess the forces acting on an object.
  3. Predict Motion Changes: Use the law to predict changes in motion when external forces are applied.
  4. Design Safety Features: Apply the law in designing vehicle safety mechanisms.
  5. Develop Sports Techniques: Use the law to improve performance and safety in sports.
  6. Plan Space Missions: Apply the law in trajectory planning for spacecraft.
  7. Engineering Solutions: Use the law in structural design and machinery operation.


  1. Seat Belt Usage: Prevents passengers from moving forward in a sudden stop.
  2. Airbags in Cars: Designed to counteract inertia in car accidents.
  3. Understanding Orbital Motion: Explains why planets keep orbiting the sun.
  4. Athletic Training: Athletes use it to improve their performance by understanding body movement.
  5. Construction Equipment Design: To ensure stability under various forces.

Why is Newton’s first law called the law of inertia?

Newton’s First Law of Motion is often called the law of inertia because it fundamentally describes the concept of inertia – the tendency of an object to resist any change in its state of motion. The law states that an object will remain at rest or move at a constant speed in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force. This principle is central to understanding how and why objects maintain their state of motion or stillness, making it a cornerstone in the study of physics.

How to Solve the Equation for Newton’s First Law

Force is the amount of strength and kinetic energy an object, entity, or phenomenon uses to impact and move a specific object or entity. The potential energy and chemical energy of the person will dictate the amount of force the said person can exert. Inertia has an equation of F = dp/dt where F is force, p is pressure, and t is time. Momentum also has an equation of P = mv where m is the mass and v is the velocity.

Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with the Formula

Newton’s first law of motion utilizes the formula of F = dp/dt, which will act as the outline or outline format for the whole formula. You will also need to know that p = mv, which means you can substitute these values to create a new equation of F = d(mv)/dt.

Step 2: Identify the Variables of the Question

You must identify the variables in the question, which you will isolate to ensure that you won’t make any mistakes in the substituting part of the equation. You must also ensure each variable has the correct mode of measurement, if it isn’t then you must convert them accordingly.

Step 3: Substitute the Variables into the Formula

After you have identified the variables in the question, you must substitute these said variables into the formula. If you are missing the variable for pressure, you can use the modified version of the formula without the variable for pressure.

Step 4: Answer the Equation

After you have finished substituting the variable for the formula, you must answer the equation by using the correct operations. The answer should also have the correct mode of measurement, if it doesn’t then you must convert it accordingly.


What happens to inertia when there is no gravity?

Gravity has a constant force that will push objects and entities toward a specific planet. Objects or entities that have no acting gravity will not be pushed down or grounded to a surface directly below them. Objects that are in motion will infinitely move in a specific direction at a constant rate or pace.

What phenomenon a person can observe, which will explain Newton’s first law of motion?

When a person throws an object in a specific direction, the said object will slowly decelerate as acceleration and gravity will slowly ground the object to rest. A lot of animals use this method to defend themselves from other predators or threats.

Newton’s first law of motion is the law of inertia where an object at rest will remain at rest unless an object or an entity with an imbalanced force will act on it. The same is true for objects in motion. It is important to know and understand Newton’s first law of motion as these things have many applications.

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Newton's First Law of Motion Examples In Daily Life

22 Newton's First Law of Motion Examples