Can force be understood in terms of time/speed?

If there is a massive object floating in space and I tap the side of it with a relatively small force it will move said object a very small amount.

If I tried the same thing on Earth the object would not move because of gravity. I'm inferring (perhaps erroneously) that this means the object is in fact moving but gravity is repositioning the object faster than I displace it?

If this is correct what would happen if I applied a small force very quickly. Would it be possible to outpace the speed at which gravity is moving the object back into position? Would a 1 Newton tap successively applied at an extremely fast rate equal a greater force?

I know F=MA and that acceleration is the rate of change. Is it there for paradoxical to view a force being applied at a rate as the rate is built into the definition?

What is happening when a force is applied continuously such as when I am holding an object in place. Is a force being applied at a "rate"?

I'm confused by this for some reason and if anyone could better characterize what a force is in relation to time I would appreciate it. I suspect its probably confusing for the same reason elastic collisions such as in newtons cradle are counter intuitive as they deal with infinite quantities.

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Chestermiller
Mentor
I'm totally confused by virtually everything you've said. This doesn't sound like any kind of physics I've ever seen or heard of. Maybe you can pose a specific focusing problem involving the concepts you are wondering about, and we can help you work your way through it. Focusing problems are often an effective way of learning a subject.

russ_watters
Mentor
If there is a massive object floating in space and I tap the side of it with a relatively small force it will move said object a very small amount.
It will accelerate the object a small amount -- it may then move forever.
If I tried the same thing on Earth the object would not move because of gravity.
That isn't true. Gravity does not prevent anything from moving (at least directly). Consider a book resting on a table. If you apply a small horizontal force to it and it doesn't move, what prevented it from moving? Not gravity: friction.

If you consider the vertical forces, still isn't gravity that keeps it from moving, it's the vertical force applied to the book by the table that keeps it from moving.
Is a force being applied at a "rate"?
Force doesn't have a rate -- but it can have a duration. A short tap is a short duration of applied force.

• jocose
It will accelerate the object a small amount -- it may then move forever.

That isn't true. Gravity does not prevent anything from moving (at least directly). Consider a book resting on a table. If you apply a small horizontal force to it and it doesn't move, what prevented it from moving? Not gravity: friction.

If you consider the vertical forces, still isn't gravity that keeps it from moving, it's the vertical force applied to the book by the table that keeps it from moving.

Force doesn't have a rate -- but it can have a duration. A short tap is a short duration of applied force.
Thanks Russ,

This is helpful. I've mixed several things up. I apologize for being inarticulate but as you can tell I was very confused.

• russ_watters