Lebron James and Newton’s Laws of Motion

By Marcus Shockley

This is the second article on how to be an elite student, not just an elite athlete.

In today’s installment, Lebron James asks how shooting a basketball proves Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. In case you’re not familiar with Newton’s laws, they are:

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.

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.

III. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

I’m not going to go into a deep dive on the laws of motion today- just watch the video and you’ll get it. But I wanted to mention that this is not just theoretical knowledge. There are one example where Newton’s laws are used every day: Video games. Surely you’ve noticed how Grand Theft Auto cars handle and bounce off of other cars in a realistic fashion – or you’ve noticed while playing Madden football how the players will knock each other around just as in real life. All of that is possible because game developers implement Newton’s laws in their games (along with a whole lot of math).

This is less education strategy than specific knowledge, but just know that if you shoot from the 3 point line, you are exerting more ‘force’ on the ball than if you shoot a layup, and that’s and example of Newton’s laws in action.

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