Physics has always been an exciting subject. The difference between mass and weight is the basics of physics. The father of science, Galileo Galilei, is behind the discovery of inertial and gravitational mass.

Mass reflects the total quantity of matter contained within an object, while weight measures the intensity of gravitational attraction exerted on that matter. Mass is an intrinsic property of an object that does not change, no matter the object’s environment. In contrast, weight is a variable force that can be calculated using the equation (Mass x Gravitational Acceleration). This means an object’s weight is dependent on its mass and the pull of gravity at its specific location, and thus it changes with the gravitational conditions. Explore the distinctions between these fundamental physical properties: mass and weight.

Understanding the concept of mass and weight is fundamental to the principles of physics. Mass reflects the quantity of matter contained within an object, a figure that does not change whether the object is on Earth, the Moon, or floating in the void of space. Weight, however, is variable; it is the measurement of how much gravitational force is exerted on an object’s mass. For example, a person may have a mass of 70 kilograms, which remains the same whether they stand on Earth or the Moon. Yet, their weight would significantly decrease on the Moon due to the lower gravitational pull. This illustrates how mass is a measure of inertia, the resistance of an object to changes in its state of motion, while weight is a measure of how gravity interacts with that mass.

What is mass?

You can determine an object’s mass by the amount of matter it contains. It is a quantitative measure of the resistance of a body to acceleration. It can be compared to the resistance of tableware when you remove the tablecloth.

The body’s mass will always be the same regardless of where it is, implying that it is an inherent amount of matter.

Mass is a broad property of matter that is affected by the quantity and size of the system under consideration. This means that if we have an object with a mass of 1 kg, we subtract 0.1 kg because the mass will not equal the original object.

What is weight?

Weight is defined as the gravitational force exerted on an object by Earth or any other celestial body. This is equal to the product of the object’s mass and the value of the local gravitational acceleration, P = m.g.

On Earth, the acceleration constant is 9.8 m/s 2. The formula can mean that the weight is proportional to the object’s mass. Weight is a vector quantity because it has the qualities of intensity, direction, and sense. As such, weight is a measure resulting from the action of gravity on a body, and weight is a variable value.

Weight and mass are related; bodies with a lot of mass also have a lot of weight. A large object, for example, is difficult to throw due to its weight. To understand the weight-mass relationship, consider that a freely falling body has an acceleration of magnitude ‘g.’

Newton’s second law states that a force must be present for gravitational acceleration. For example, if a body of mass 1 kg falls with an acceleration of 9.8 meters per second square, the magnitude of the required force is given as

F=ma

=(1kg)(9.8 m/s²)

=9.8kgm/s²

=9.8N

The force that causes the body to accelerate downward is known as its weight.

Anyone with a mass of 1kg near the Earth’s surface must weigh 9.8 N to provide the acceleration.

Measurement of mass vs. weight

Weight is measured using a scale, which effectively measures the Earth’s gravitational pull on the mass. A body’s mass is calculated by balancing it equally with another known amount of mass. We use a pan balance to measure mass, while a spring balance can measure weight. It is possible to switch methods if gravity is known and constant, as it is on Earth.

How does gravity affect mass and weight?

The weight of an object is determined by the gravity at that place, whereas mass is always constant regardless of time and place. For example, if an object weighs 60 kg, its weight is 600 Newtons; however, if you transport this object to the Moon, its weight is 100 Newtons because the gravity of the Moon is one-sixth that of the Earth. However, the mass of that object will remain constant. Weight varies while the mass remains constant.

What are the types of mass and weight?

From a scientific standpoint, understand that mass and weight are magnitudes with which the matter contained in a body and the force exerted by gravity on it are measured. The most well-known and widely used types are-

Atomic mass- Atomic mass is the mass of an atom.

Molar mass- It is the mass of one mole of a substance.

Molecular mass- It is the mass of a molecule of a substance.

Inertial mass- This physical magnitude denotes the resistance of a body to a change in speed.

Body mass- It refers to a person’s body mass.

Atomic weight- This term refers to an element’s average atomic mass.

Difference between mass and weight

Sr. no

Mass

Weight

1.

The amount of matter in a body is defined as its mass.

Weight is the force exerted on the body due to the gravitational pull of another body, such as the earth, the sun, and the moon.

2.

Mass is an internal property of a body.

Weight is an external property of a body.

3.

Mass is the measure of inertia.

Weight is the measure of force.

4.

The mass of a body remains constant all across the universe.

The local acceleration determines a body’s weight due to gravity where it is placed.

5.

A body’s mass can never be zero.

A body’s weight could be zero.

6.

The kilogram is the metric unit of mass (kg).

Because weight is a force, its SI unit is the newton (N).

7.

The body’s mass can be measured using a beambalance and a pan balance.

The weight of a body can be calculated using a spring balance and a weighing machine.

Key takeaways

Physics is a fascinating subject that needs focus and passion. The difference between mass and weight is a part of physics.

Mass is the amount of matter in a body, whereas weight is the strength that gravity pulls on that matter.

Galileo Galilei put his efforts into discovering inertial and gravitational mass.

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Answer- Albert Einstein, Max Plank, and Isaac Newton were among history’s greatest physicists. However, several other scientists came long before them and made significant contributions to the field.

Q2. Who is the father of modern physics?

Answer- Galileo Galilei is the father of modern physics.

Q3. Who invented density?

Answer- Greek mathematician and engineer Archimedes invented the concept of density.