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Definition

newton

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
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