Wonder + Wildness

Chasing wonder on a science guided journey through the natural world in search of meaning, connections, and the courage to hope

What is Force?

No, not that kind of force. But that would be so cool, wouldn’t it?! We’re talking about the science kind of force.

IN SCIENCE, A FORCE IS ANY PUSH OR PULL BETWEEN ONE OBJECT AND ANOTHER 

The universe is full of them and we have names for just about every kind! The best part? We can use what we know about motion and forces to make predictions about the movement and position of just about anything in the universe.

We can figure out where things were in the past, when, and where they’ll be in the future. Isn’t that amazing?

Take the image above as an example. Let’s imagine a truck and a cheetah are both moving in the same direction at the same speed, meaning they are both moving at the same velocity.

For the sake of an easy example, let’s say that velocity is 15 meters per second. If you need a review of acceleration, check out this post.

If their accelerations are the same, that means the only difference is their mass. Since the truck clearly has more mass, it will also be moving with more force.

The same happens when objects have the same mass but different accelerations. One might be moving with more force than the other. It’s also possible for a lighter object to move with more force than a heavier one, assuming it has a high enough acceleration! Think about a fired bullet compared to a thrown baseball.

No matter the result, we measure force using something called Newtons, named after a dude named Sir Isaac Newton.

One Newton is equal to 0.22 pounds of force and is the amount of force needed to move a mass of 1 kilogram at an acceleration of 1 m/s^2.

The great thing about force and it’s easy equation is that we can shift the math around to find different answers.

If you have the amount of force and acceleration, you can find the mass

FORCE/ACCELERATION=MASS 

If you have the amount of force and mass, you can find the acceleration

FORCE/MASS=ACCELERATION 

Using the triangle above is a helpful way to visualize or remember these other equations.

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