You’re not going to get paid for this

In your everyday life, the word work had many meanings. After school you go to work, where you do as little as possible, work that is. Then you go home and study. Which is hard work! The phone rings, it’s your girlfriend who wants to work out some problems you two have been having. Lots of different work. Lots of different meanings.

Physics, in its classic, no nonsense style, disregards all of that. In physics work means one, and only one thing. The work done on an object (W) is equal to how hard you push it (the force F) times how far you push it (s)

Work Equals Force Displacement

There are two interesting things about this. Well, not really interesting, but worth noting. Pushing the dead body of Howard Hues down the street and pushing a feather from here to Hong Kong can involve the same amount of work. Pushing a heavy object a short distance, and pushing a small object a great distance, involve exactly the same amount of work as far as physics is concerned. The other interesting thing is if you can’t move something, no matter how hard or how long you try, you aren’t doing work. You could try to move the Empire State Building until you collapsed of famine, and you would never have done any work on it. This is because 0 distance times any amount of force is always going to be zero work.

The wrong kind of Joule Just so you know, work and energy are measured in joules (J). Joule (not the singer) interestingly enough, was a physicist and a beer brewer. A joule can also be written as a Nm (Newton times meter).











Physicists do other things too!


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