What Is The Difference Between Contact Forces And Forces That Act Through A Force Field

What is the difference between contact force and forces that act through a force field?

Expert Answers
sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Contact forces are forces that require the actual contact (touching) of two pieces of matter.  There are a variety of contact forces.  A very common one is friction.  Anytime that two surfaces are in contact with one another, there is friction between the two surfaces.  The surfaces don't have to be solid either.  A skydiver still experiences friction as he "slides" through the air.  Specifically that is fluid friction.  Other types of contact forces are elastic, spring, and tension forces.  

A field force is a force that works at a distance.  No touching is required.  Gravity is a good example of a field force, because it works whether or not an object is touching something or touching nothing at all.  Two other forces of this type are electrical force and magnetic force. 

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question