You are here: Science > LET'S EXPLORE Science > What is friction?

What is friction?

Running shoes have grips on their soles to prevent the wearer from slipping over. This is an example of “helpful" friction.Friction is a force that tries to stop things moving. It is produced when two surfaces rub together. Rough surfaces produce more friction than smooth ones. Friction can cause problems, such as making machines wear out. But friction can also be helpful. Friction caused by the grips on your shoes, for example, stops you slipping over.



Reducing or increasing friction

The cyclist's streamlined helmet and Lycra shorts are designed to reduce friction. The brake pads and grooved tyres increase...Read More >>The cyclist's streamlined helmet and Lycra shorts are designed to reduce friction. The brake pads and grooved tyres increase friction. These allow the cyclist to slow down and grip the road. Cogs, chains and gears are lubricated with oil to reduce friction.

This cyclist’s “streamlined" helmet and smooth lycra clothing help to reduce friction, enabling him to move faster. The cogs and chains on a bike are coated in slippery oil to reduce friction. This keeps them running smoothly. 

Our fingerprints give our fingers grip. This is because the tiny ridges in the skin provide friction. Fingerprints allows us to hold objects more easily. They might slip out of our hands if we had smooth fingertips. Apes (and koalas) also have fingerprints.

Q-files now has new sections specially written for younger readers. They are: Living world, Earth, Science, Human body, Prehistoric life, Space, History, Geography and Technology.


Find the answer