CHAPTER 5

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Simple Machines

Simple machines are devices that change the amount, or magnitude, of force or the direction of a force being exerted on something. The standard list of simple machines (at least as far as school science standards define them) are the pulley, screw, wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge, and lever. Most of these are very old—the wheel’s origin is lost in antiquity, Archimedes knew about the lever, screw, and pulley about 2,300 years ago, and the rest were used to build the pyramids (but not included in Archimedes’s list of machines).

The physics behind simple machines, though, was not clarified in some cases till the ...

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