STP991: The Weight of Mass or the Mess of Weight

    Gat, U
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN

    Pages: 4    Published: Jan 1988


    The ambiguity of the term weight, meaning either the force of gravity or mass, is analyzed. It is shown that through the historical development of technical understanding the distinction between mass and force of gravity has been obscure. The confusion is further aggravated by the use of units with the same name for either mass or force. Contemporary technology is vulnerable to errors and misunderstandings due to the ambiguity of the term weight. SI uses clearly distinguishing unit names for mass and force, that is, kilogram and newton. It is recommended that the term weight be avoided and if used be restricted to mean force of gravity.


    weight, mass, pound (lb), kilogram (kg), kilopond (kp), newton (N), International System of Units (SI)

    Paper ID: STP29549S

    Committee/Subcommittee: E02.10

    DOI: 10.1520/STP29549S

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