1K20.25 - Phone Book Friction

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Phone Book Friction
Surface Area and Friction
Area of Study:
Phone Book Friction Demo.

Have several people grab a handle and try to pull the interlaced phone books apart.  As the frictional surface area of the interlaced pages is several orders of magnitude above that of an 18 wheeler the phone books will not come apart.  

You can easily lift small children by having them hang from one of the handles.

  • Francisco Vera, Nicolas Fernandez, and Manuel Ortiz, "A Simple Alternative to the Phone Book Friction Demonstration", TPT, Vol. 56, #6, Sept. 2018, p. 370.
  • Jang-Long Lin, Meng-Fei Cheng, Jih-Yuan Chang, Hsin-Lin Huang, Ying-Chi Chang, Hsiao-Wen Li, and Deng-Min Lin, "Science Magic for Inquiry-Based Instruction about Friction - Powerful Paper Ring and Powerful Book", TPT, Vol. 52, #7, Oct. 2014, p. 436.
  • Dave Van Domelen, "Author's Response", TPT, Vol. 48, #9, Dec. 2010, p. 564.
  • Evan Jones, "Amontons' Laws", TPT, Vol. 48, #9, Dec. 2010, p. 564.
  • David Van Domelen, "Showing Area Matters: A Work of Friction", TPT, Vol. 48, #1, Jan. 2010, p. 28.
  • Martin Gardner, "Shuffled Pages", TPT, Vol. 39, #3, Mar. 2001, p. 178.
  • Kari Dalnoki-Veress, Thomas Salez, and Frédéric Restagno, "Why Can't You Separate Interleaved Books?", Physics Today, Vol. 69, #6, June 2016, p. 74.
  • Martin Gardner, "24, Shuffled Pages", Smart Science Tricks, p. 41.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.