CHAPTER 18 THE ELECTROSTATIC FORCE AND NEWTON'S LAWS OF MOTION In this chapter we have seen that electrically charged particles exert a force on each other. This electrostatic force is part of one of nature's four fundamental forces, the one known as the electromagnetic force. Like any force, the electrostatic force can be used in Newton's laws of motion. These laws form the foundation of mechanics, the branch of physics that deals with the motion of objects and the forces that change it. The electrostatic force can cause an object to change its state of motion, that is, to accelerate, according to Newton's first and second laws. It can produce a change in the momentum of an object, in accordance with Newton's second law in the form known as the impulse - momentum theorem. It can do work and cause the kinetic energy of an object to change, according to the work - energy theorem. And the electrostatic force obeys Newton's third law, since the forces that two charged objects exert on each other are examples of action and reaction. The beauty of Newton's laws is that they apply to all types of forces, independent of the details that are specific to an individual kind of force, and independent of whether the force is one of nature's fundamental forces. Newton's laws relate to basic characteristics that forces of all types share, including the electrostatic force. It would be a complicated world indeed, if every type of force required a different type of Newton's laws to account for the effect of the force on the motion of an object. Fortunately, such is not the case.
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