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# What are some examples of rectilinear motion?

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Because rectilinear motion takes place in one straight line, examples include a train following a straight set of tracks, a baseball thrown in a gravity-free vacuum or a penny that someone drops from the top of a tall building, heading straight to the ground. Rectilinear motion is the opposite of curvilinear motion, which involves movement along a fixed curve.

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Credit: Andrei Niemimäki CC-BY-SA 2.0

When studying physics, the most common examples of rectilinear motion use falling objects. Because of the effects of gravity and friction on anything moving in a horizontal direction, having those objects continue to move in a perfectly straight line is extremely unlikely. Even in the case of the train, having a perfectly straight track for the complete duration of the trip is not a realistic scenario. However, tracking a falling object involves a straight line, because gravity forces that object to take the straightest path to the ground.

Other physics problems examine the effects of forces such as gravity on an object's rectilinear motion. One common example involves shooting a projectile up into the air. Whether one shoots the object straight up, perpendicular to the ground, or at an angle, gravity almost immediately begins to take effect, slowing the projectile down and, in the case of the angle, turning the rectilinear path into a curvilinear one.

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## Related Questions

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Tissue breaks apart in water, but not if thrown off a tall building. This is mainly due to the tissue's molecular structure and the high amount of air resistance.

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The law of inertia is a fundamental physics principle used to describe how an object behaves in motion or at rest, particularly when forces are applied to it. The object can be anything that has mass.

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The law of inertia states that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. The law of inertia is sometimes referred to as Newton's first law of motion.