Elevator problems are actually easy. There are only two forces acting on the person in the elevator, gravity and the normal force. (In the problem the normal force may be referred to as “the force between the person and the floor”, “the force on the scale” -if the person is standing on a scale – or “the apparent weight”.)

The force of gravity (or weight) of the person is constant (mg). The normal force (or apparent weight) of the person can change.

As is shown in the diagrams below, if Fg = Fn then the elevator is moving at constant speed. If Fg > Fn then the elevator is accelerating downward. If Fn > Fg then the elevator is accelerating upward.

Question: Is it possible for Fn > Fg while the elevator is moving downward? If so, what is happening physically with the elevator?

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