Difference between weight and mass

Some things may seem so simple yet difficult to comprehend – the difference between weight and mass is one such thing. People use weight and mass interchangeably in their daily life, but it is important to know the difference between them and when to use what.

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Simple Explanation

Mass

Mass is the measure of the amount of matter contained in an object. Every object living and non-living in this universe is made up of matters such as proton, electron, and neutrons. If you want to know the mass of an object, then you would have to measure the amount of all the matter present in that object. Mass is like how much matter does this object has. It is measured in grams and kilograms.

Weight

Weight is the measure of the pull of gravity on an object. Every object is attracted to each other and the earth due to gravity. The weight gives how much force is exerted on an object due to gravity. Weight also depends upon the mass (i.e) the amount of force the gravity acts upon the mass contained in the object. Weight is just a force due to gravity acting upon a body, so its measurement unit is Newton.

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Major Difference

If you understood the meaning of mass and weight, then you’d know that they are very different. As mass is the amount of matter in a body, its measurement will not change anywhere. As long as the matter remains constant in the object, the mass will be the same. When it comes to weight, the measurement varies relative to the gravity. If you are in the moon where the gravity is lower than the earth, your weight will be lower on the moon than the earth as the force varies. If there is no gravity, then your weight will be zero as there is no force.

To summarize,

  • Weight changes if the gravity varies and mass remains constant.
  • Weight is a vector quantity as it has both the magnitude and direction. Weight is directed towards the center of the earth(gravity origin for earth) or wherever gravity is. Mass is a scalar quantity as it only has magnitude.

Measuring Mass and Weight

Mass of an object can be determined by using a balance and comparing the known matter of an object to the object that you are measuring. Measuring mass is normally done in physics or chemistry lab, so you don’t have to worry about it unless you are interested in science. Weight can be measured by using a weighing scale. When using a weighing scale, you normally measure in kgs, but the actual measurement unit for weight is Newton.

You can also measure the mass of an object if you know its weight and vice versa. Mass and Weight are dependants and they can be expressed using a formula.

Weight = Mass * Acceleration due to gravity.

If you know the acceleration due to gravity for a location, then you can find the weight of an object in that location. The same goes for the mass if you have weight. On earth, the acceleration due to gravity is 9.8 meters per second square. It varies if you go to another planet as does the weight.

Finally,

As I said, the weight and mass are different and one should know where to use what. Hope you got some knowledge and difference between these two terms.

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