Info References Print version
Newton's Third Law  
back next


Newton's Third law: All forces in the universe occur in equal but oppositely directed pairs. There are no isolated forces; for every external force that acts on an object there is a force of equal magnitude but opposite direction which acts back on the object which exerted that external force. In the case of internal forces, a force on one part of a system will be countered by a reaction force on another part of the system so that an isolated system cannot by any means exert a net force on the system as a whole. A system cannot "bootstrap" itself into motion with purely internal forces - to achieve a net force and an acceleration, it must interact with an object external to itself.

Newton's Third Law is one of the fundamental symmetry principles of the universe. Since we have no examples of it being violated in nature, it is a useful tool for analyzing situations with are somewhat counter-intuitive.

back next