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Newton's third law says that objects that touch each other exert forces on each other that satisfy:

Consider the following three situations concerning two identical cars and a much heavier truck.

- One car is parked and the other car crashes into it.
- One car is parked and the truck crashes into it.
- The truck is pushing the car, because the car's engine cannot start. The two are touching and the truck is speeding up.

** Note to the instructor: ** Surpisingly, even when told Newton's third law clearly and with the statement "this always holds," many students will still assume that it only holds in cases of symmetry. The FMCE has a set of nice multiple choice questions probing this. You may be surprised if you ask your students this essay question on an exam.

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Page last modified October 8, 2002: D09