Let us begin our explanation of how Newton changed our understanding of the Universe by enumerating his Three Laws of Motion.
Newton's First Law of Motion:
|I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.|
Newton's Second Law of Motion:
|II. The relationship between an object's mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.|
This is sometimes summarized by saying that under Newton, F = ma, but under Aristotle F = mv, where v is the velocity. Thus, according to Aristotle there is only a velocity if there is a force, but according to Newton an object with a certain velocity maintains that velocity unless a force acts on it to cause an acceleration (that is, a change in the velocity). As we have noted earlier in conjunction with the discussion of Galileo, Aristotle's view seems to be more in accord with common sense, but that is because of a failure to appreciate the role played by frictional forces. Once account is taken of all forces acting in a given situation it is the dynamics of Galileo and Newton, not of Aristotle, that are found to be in accord with the observations.
Newton's Third Law of Motion:
|III. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.|