What is an Inclined Plane?

Did you know that we use machines in our everyday lives? Have you wondered how these machines make our work easier and quicker? Let’s go and find out!

What Is A Machine?

In the most basic sense, a machine is a thing people created to make work easier. In science, work is when you apply a push or a pull to move an object. Machines make our lives easier because they reduce the energy, time, and power we need to get something done. A machine may either be simple or complex, but today, we’ll only discuss simple machines.

A simple machine is a machine with few or no moving parts. There are 6 major types of simple machines, and the inclined plane is one of them. An inclined plane consists of a flat and sloping surface connecting a lower elevation and a higher elevation. Another more common name for an inclined plane is a ramp. People today use inclined planes to transport heavy loads over a vertical obstacle. For example, workers use ramps to load goods into a truck. Some people use ramps instead of stairs, especially if they need assistance. Historians believe that ancient Egyptians used inclined planes to roll stones up and build pyramids.

What is an Inclined Plane?

An inclined plane is a simple ramp, usually a flat surface which is tilted at an angle.

What Do Inclined Planes Do?

Inclined planes make our life easier. For example, imagine you’re carrying a heavy barrel and need to load it into a truck. You’ve been carrying the barrel for 10 minutes already, and your arms are starting to feel sore. What would be the best machine for this situation? You guessed it, the inclined plane! Why? Because, when you lift an object, you need force. With the help of an inclined plane, the force you need to raise an object from one point to another is reduced. As you push the barrel up the inclined slope, the slope of the inclined surface supports its weight. 

There is a catch to this, though. If the slope is too steep, you would need more force to push something up the ramp, but the distance required would be shorter. However, if the slope were more gentle, you would need less force to push the object up the ramp, but the distance required would be much longer.

What Are Examples of Inclined Planes?

You may not realize it, but inclined planes are everywhere! Here are some common examples of inclined planes and how they work:

  1. Wheelchair Ramps

The wheelchair ramp is the most common example of an inclined plane that you see almost anywhere. It uses the same principle as loading something onto a ramp where the gentler the slope is, the less effort is required to push against the ramp.

  1. Slides

A slide is another example of an inclined plane. While the slide is mostly just used for fun, it is a good example of how we lower objects to a flat surface. Instead of instantly dropping an object, the slide slowly descends it, using less energy. Through this, we also get a safer and gentler outcome.

  1. Stairs

Stairs are also inclined planes. Although stairs and ramps are both examples of inclined planes, some key differences would make stairs better in a way. Staircases take up far less room and volume than ramps. A ramp can only be elevated up to a certain angle, otherwise, it becomes unsafe for the person. For a safe ramp, you would need more space. Remember what we talked about earlier regarding gentle and steep slopes? On the other hand, stairs can be much steeper than ramps but are still comfortable and safe for the person to walk on. Lastly, stairs don’t put a strain on your feet. The steeper the incline is, the more strain it puts on your feet. Stairs provide nice, even steps that don’t put a huge strain on your feet.

Although ramps have benefits and are commonly required for handicapped access, they’re not just a reasonable substitute for stairs.

Elena Jones

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