Math in the Physical Sciences

Classical Physics and Mathematics

What is the mathematical distinction between weight and mass?

There is a definite difference between weight and mass, which is easily represented in the formula W = mg, in which W is weight (or the gravitational pull on an object), m is mass (or the quantity of matter in an object), and g is the gravitational pull. For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you could move further from the Earth or live on the Moon (in both cases, the gravitational pull would be less). But remember, no matter where you travel in the universe, you will always have the same mass—unless you diet!


Whether you are standing on the Moon or on Earth, your mass will always be the same; however, you will weigh less on the Moon because the gravitational pull on your body is less. Taxi/Getty Images.


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