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What are forces that are equal in size but opposite in direction?

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Quick Answer

Forces that are equal in size but opposite in direction are called balanced forces. Balanced forces will not change the motion or move an object at rest. On the other hand, forces that are not equal or opposite and do cause a change in the motion of an object are known as unbalanced forces.

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Full Answer

Any type of pulling or pushing is considered force. To understand a force, someone must know its size and also its direction. There can be more than one force acting on an object. Consider a system comprising a paper clip, a human and a magnet. The human moves the magnet, and the magnet moves the paper clip. The combination of these forces is called the net force. If there are two forces going in the opposite direction then the net force is the difference between the two forces.

The game tug-of-war is a good example to describe each type of force. If both teams are unable to move then that would be considered balanced since equal forces are pulling in opposite directions. If one side pulls the other side across the line, therefore winning, an unbalanced force is created in order to pull the other team and win the game. Unbalanced force changes the motion of an object in two ways. When unbalanced forces act on an object at rest, the object is moved and also the velocity is changed, meaning a change in speed and direction.

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