Part of the IT standards and organizations glossary:

The newton is the Standard International (SI) unit of force. In physics and engineering documentation, the term newton(s) is usually abbreviated N.

One newton is the force required to cause a mass of one kilogram to accelerate at a rate of one meter per second squared in the absence of other force-producing effects. In general, force (F) in newtons, mass (m) in kilograms, and acceleration (a) in meters per second squared are related by a formula well known in physics:

F = ma

The formula also applies when F and a are vector quantities having magnitude and direction:

F = ma

where the direction of the force vector F is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector a.

As an example of force as a function of mass and acceleration, suppose a mass of 4 kilograms is made to accelerate at 12 meters per second squared. Then the applied force in newtons is:

F = ma = 4 x 12 = 48 N

This was last updated in September 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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