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Name: Paul J. M.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 3/1/2004


Question:
What is the history of a Newton? (Unit of force) By that I meant who invented the Newton and how did it come about?


Replies:
The newton as a unit of force came about as a result of the French Revolution! The kilogram was defined by mass which was established as a platinum-iridium cylinder in 1887 and is kept at the Internationals Bureau of Weights and Measures at Sevres, France. The meter was defined in 1791 as one ten-millionth the distance from the equator to the north pole along a longitude that passes through Paris; it is now defined as the distance travelled by light in vacuum in 1/299792458 seconds. The second was originally defined by the rotation of the earth, but is now defined as 9,192,631,770 times the period of vibration of radiation from the cesium-133 atom.

The newton is the 1 kg m/s^2, using F = ma, where F is in newtons, m in kg, and a in meters per second squared.

Of course, the importance of the newton was shown by Sir Isaac Newton when he developed his second law, F = ma, which describes the motion of matter beautifully until one gets near the speed of light or near the dimensions of atoms.

You can get much more information on the web. A good place to start is NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, at

http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/index.html

Best, Dick Plano, Professor of Physics emeritus, Rutgers University.



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