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How to Calculate the Force of a Falling Object

Updated March 23, 2017

Measure the force of a falling object by the impact the object makes when it stops falling. Assuming the object falls at the rate of Earth's regular gravitational pull, you can determine the force of the impact by knowing the mass of the object and the height from which it is dropped. Also, you need to know how far the object penetrates the ground because the deeper it travels the less force of impact the object has.

Calculate the velocity of a falling object. Multiply the height of where the object is dropped by the pull of gravity times 2. In our example, the object is dropped from a height of 10 meters, meaning 10 times 9.8 meters per second (pull of gravity) times 2 equals 196. (10 x 9.8 x 2 = 196)

Take the square root of 196 to find the velocity. In our case, that means velocity equals 14 meters per second.

Find the kinetic energy before impact. Square the velocity. In our example, that means multiplying 14 by 14 to equal 196. Now multiply 196 by the mass of the object. In our example, the mass of our object is 5kg. 196 times 5 equals 980. (196 x 5 = 980) Now multiply 980 by 0.5, which equals 490. (980 x 0.5 = 490)

Find the force of the impact. Take the kinetic energy before impact (490, in our example) and divide it by the distance the object travels during the impact. In our example, the object travels 0.01 meter after impact. This means that we take 490 and divide it by 0.01, which equals 49,000 Newtons. (490 / 0.01 = 49,000)

The force of the falling object is 49,000 N.

Things You'll Need

  • Mass of object
  • Height of drop
  • Depth of impact
  • Calculator
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About the Author

Rick Paulas is a freelance writer based out of Los Angeles. He has been writing professionally since 2005. He has previously written for "McSweeney's," ESPN.com, "Vice Magazine" and "Radar Magazine," and has worked as an editor for "The Coming," "Duct Tape & Rouge," and "TSB Magazine." Paulas holds a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunications and advertising from Michigan State University.