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MCAT Physics Question — Frictional Surface

Two people push a box along a frictional surface. One pushes the box at an angle of 30° to horizontal with force F while the other pushes the box horizontally with force Fcos30°. Which person does the most work?


frictional surface


a) Person A

b) Person B

c) Person A and B do equal amounts of work

d) cannot be determined



Work is only done by force parallel to the direction of motion per the relationship W=Fdcosθ, and proportional to the distance over which the force is applied. For person A, the vertical component of force F, Fsin30°, does no work since the box moves neither up nor down. Only the horizontal component of the force, Fcos30°, does any work.  For both person A and B, only the force parallel to the motion of the box over the frictional surface does any work. Therefore, the work done by person A and B is equal.

a) Person A, incorrect.

b) Person B, incorrect.

c) Person A and B do equal amounts of work, correct.

d) cannot be determined, incorrect.

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