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Name: Boyang
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location: MI
Country: N/A
Date: 1/9/2005

Does it take more force to pull a thing up a hill or push the same thing up a hill?

If you are pulling or pushing exactly level to the ground, both ways take the same force. But usually, one or the other takes less force, because one way tends to shove the thing you're moving into the ground (making it harder to move) and the other way tends to lift the thing up. So if you are moving a sled, for example, it is easier to pull; but if you are moving something taller than you, it is usually easier to push.

Tim Mooney

If the force is applied at the same point on the thing and points in the same direction, it does not matter. In real life, if you are pushing a large box up a grassy hill so the box may turn over or dig into the grass, it may, for example, go up easier if you are pulling upward on the box. If the box is on frictionless wheels, it does not matter whether you push or pull.

To get the box up as easily as possible when it is on wheels, the force should be in a direction parallel to the slope of the mountain. Any component of the force directed inward toward the mountain (or upward away from the mountain) does not help get the box up the mountain.

Best, Dick Plano...


It takes exactly the same force either way. What is much more important is how you push or pull. When pulling, a person tends to lift a little. This makes it easier for the box to slide along the ground. When pushing, a person also tends to push downward on the box. This makes it harder for the box to slide.

If you have a very heavy box that is small, it can be difficult to get a good grip on it. Attaching a rope and pulling becomes easier. If the box is very large, pressing your shoulder against the box works better than trying to pull a rope. Pushing becomes easier.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Physics Instructor
Illinois Central College

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