Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Homework Help: Deriving F=ma? a vs F?

  1. Mar 24, 2008 #1
    I knew i should have paid more attention in class =/

    anyways, We have been studying newton's second law. And I have a question on my lab that asks for me to "derive equation for a (acceleration) vs F (force) and a (acceleration) vs m (mass)"

    a vs F and a vs M are two graphs which we did.

    and I am at a complete lost at what to do. I have no idea how to or what to derive. My only hint is a small piece of note I copied from teacher's notes. It goes like this:

    It looks like slope is equal to 1/mass. So

    a α(alpha) F
    a α 1/m
    a α F/m
    F = ma

    does anybody know what a(alpha) stands for? And what it exactly means by "deriving equation?"

    thank you very very much.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 24, 2008 #2
    Deriving means how someone formulates an equation through other equations or experimental results. The alpha symbol means 'is proportional to'.
  4. Mar 24, 2008 #3
    so would i derive a vs F or a vs m in the same fashion as:

    a (alpha) x
    a (alpha) y
    a (alpha) z
    a = xyz
  5. Mar 24, 2008 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    That's not α (alpha) but rather [itex]\varpropto[/itex], which means a is proportional to F, a is proportional to 1/m, and a is proportional to F/m, with the last being a one-to-one proportionality which gives a = F/m.
  6. Mar 24, 2008 #5
    ahh, ic
    thank you very much. That might explain why i never got anything by searching up alpha on google :P

    can you please tell me what it is called?
  7. Mar 24, 2008 #6
    It's called a proportionality symbol.
  8. Nov 21, 2010 #7
    F [itex]\varpropto[/itex] ma? How to say that F=ma? is not F=kma?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook