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Homework Help: How do you Calculate Mass?

  1. Feb 2, 2016 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    This is not a specific problem, I was just wondering how you would calculate the mass of an object. If given the net force and acceleration, how would you calculate it if the net force is 0N or the acceleration is 0m/s^2? Isn't the equation just m=f/a?

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 2, 2016 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    The equation m = f/a works fine as a way to determine mass. However...

    0/0 is mathematically indeterminate. You can't say anything about the mass if you don't actually do anything to it (apply a force to observe a result).
  4. Feb 2, 2016 #3


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Most people measure mass in a static situation, by comparing it with either a known mass or by doing what is called a mass take-off, where the mass of a complex assembly is estimated by adding up the masses of individual components.

    Measuring the mass of a moving body is tricky. Accelerometers can tell you if the body is accelerating and in what direction, but how can you evaluate accurately the different forces acting on the body?
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