When we look at automobiles, boats, airplanes, and other mechanical things we use every day; it is interesting to know what makes them work. It is simply, the application of simple machines. There are six basic simple machine types. They are the pulley, the wedge, the wheel and axle, the inclined plane, the lever, and the screw. Each simple machine has its own application and can be combined with other simple machines into a system. Some simple machines can lift things, while others push things apart. Some are adapted into gears and other functional machines. One thing all simple machines do is make things easier for people. To understand how simple machines make things easier, we must first understand the concepts of force and work.  Force is an action or effort that changes the motion of an object by making it move, speeding it up, or slowing it down. Work is the result of a force overcoming resistance - a larger force overcoming a lesser force. Work is force acting over distance.  For example, if you lift a 50 pound weight off the floor and place it on a shelf that is 6 feet off the floor, you have performed 300 foot-pounds of work. You have exerted a force of 50 pounds over a distance of 6 feet. Simple machines let you apply less force to accomplish desired work. How is the effectiveness of a simple machine measured? It is measured by determining the mechanical advantage of the machine. Mechanical advantage is the amount of effort that a simple machine supplies in doing work. It is a mathematical calculation based on the relationship of the amount of force you apply compared to the amount of resistance there is to the force. Simply, it is how much the machine helps you do work by trading force for distance. The equation used to calculate mechanical advantage is: MA = Force needed without the simple machine/Force needed with the simple machine Where MA = Mechanical Advantage A man lifts a rock weighing 500 pounds by standing on the end of a lever. When the man later stood on a scale and weighed himself, he weighed in at 100 pounds. How much mechanical advantage did the lever provide to the man in lifting the rock? MA = 500 pounds/100 pounds = 5 Conclusion: The man's body weight was magnified 5 times by using the lever as a simple machine to lift the rock. A person wants to use a lever to lift a large piece of machinery. The person uses a lever that was previously used to lift another piece of similar machinery and will be set up identically for this lift. The mechanical advantage in the last set up was 8. The machinery weighs 800 pounds. What force or weight must the person place on the lever to move the machinery? Estimate the answer: Less than 50 pounds Between 50 to 120 pounds Over 120 pounds