Mass and Weight

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Difference between Mass and Weight

We frequently use the terms Mass and Weight interchangeably however these are quite different things. Your mass remains the same regardless of where you go but your weight changes from one place to another. Mass is calculated in kilograms while the weight should be measured in newtons, yet we typically talk about weight in kg, that is not the right way.

Mass is a dimension of an object’s leaning to resist any change in its state of motion commonly referred as inertia. An object will stay in its stationary and moving form such as the puck on an air hockey table except some force is applied to it. Mass is a measure of how much force should be applied to change that path. Mass is dependent on the quantity of matter in an object. Greater mass means more inertia. This is Isaac Newton’s idea of mass which supports his famous laws of motion formulated in the late 1600s. It might not be correct at very increased speeds where Albert Einstein’s concept of special relativity is needed buts it’s still applicable for most everyday situations.

On the other hand, weight is a measure of the amount of downward force that gravity applies to an object. This force increases with the increased mass of the object. More inertia leads to hard gravity pulls. The force of gravity on Earth’ surface is approximately 9.8 newtons per kilogram. If someone weighs 70 kg, probably their mass would be:

70 * 9.8 = 686 newtons

Speaking of the surface of the Moon where the force of gravity is weaker which is about sixth Earth gravity or 1.6 newtons per kg, a 70kg spaceman would weigh around 112 newtons. If we talk about International Space Station where spacemen are weightless, yet they have mass. They must apply force to impulse themselves off the barriers or pull themselves alongside. The bigger they are; the more force it will take.

Comparison of Mass and Weight

MassWeight
Mass is a property of matter which remains same everywhere.Weight depends on the effect of gravity and varies from place to place.
It can never be zeroIt can be zero in case no gravity acts on it such as in space
It doesn’t change from one place to anotherIt increases or decreases in accordance to the high or low gravity
Mass is a scalar quantity and has a magnitudeWeight is a vector quantity. It has a magnitude and is directed towards the center of the Earth.
It can be measured using a standard balanceIt can be measured using a spring balance
It is typically measured in grams and kilogramsIt is usually measured in newtons, a unit of force

 

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