Difference Between Force vs Torque

Difference Between Force vs Torque

Physics is one of the most awesome yet the most complex subjects in the field of science. The scientists in the field have uncovered the biggest mysteries about the earth’s existence, and they keep us wondering about many others while they understand each phenomenon. With new discoveries come new terms or new concepts. The constant development makes this field exciting and complicated at the same time.

Physics makes us wonder about the differences between each concept. What’s the difference between mass and weight? How do we differentiate power from force? How do we calculate work? The different terms also make us compare them with one another. How does resistance compare with friction? What’s the similarity of speed and velocity in terms of formula?

To help you with your comparisons, this article will explain the difference between force and torque by defining each term and then laying out the facts about them in a chart, so you can easily figure out and remember how they compare with each other.

Definition of Force

One of the most iconic lines in the movie industry is “may the force be with you.” If you’re a fan of the Star Wars franchise, then you must already have a grasp of what the force means. By dictionary definition, though, a force is an interaction that maintains or changes a body’s motion.

The concept of force is well-explained in Newton’s three laws of motion: 1) an object at rest or moving uniformly in a straight line will retain its movement unless an external force acts upon it; 2) a body in equilibrium will have a zero net force, but a body acted upon by unbalanced forces will have a changed momentum; 3) a body exerts an equal and opposite force when acted upon by another body. This tells us that various forces are acting upon an object regardless of whether it’s moving or not. A change in its motion will only happen if the forces acting upon it are unbalanced.

In mechanics, a branch of Physics, force is expressed by the letter F. One of the most popular formula involving force is F=ma, where m is mass and a is acceleration. This means that force is a product of the object/s mass and acceleration. This unit is a vector quantity, which means it has both magnitude and direction and is expressed in newtons.

Knowing the characterization of the former, what is the difference between force and torque in terms of formula, characterization, and applicability, then? Let’s define the term torque to explain it better.

Definition of Torque

The term torque is more often used in motorized vehicles. The more torque, the better performing the vehicle is. By definition, torque is the force’s tendency to cause the rotation of a body to which it is applied.

How does torque differ from force, specifically from the linear type? Also known as moment-of-force, torque is the rotational counterpart of a lineate force. With lineate force having a push-or-pull motion, the torque is the twist-and-turn of the object.

In terms of formula, the torque vector is the position vector (r) multiplied to the force vector (F) and is measured in newton-meters. It is the application of a force towards a level arm at a specific distance from the rotation’s center. Simply put, it is a measurement of the amount of force needed to cause a body’s rotation about an axis and, therefore, triggers the body’s angular acceleration.

Applying this concept in vehicles, the torque is the turning power of the engine. The higher the torque, the more easily the wheels are propelled and the faster the vehicle can go. Now that we’ve defined each, let’s lay down the facts about them.

Main Differences Between Force vs Torque

Refer to the table with main differences between force and torque below to have a clearer comparison.

Basis of ComparisonForceTorque
Definition An interaction that causes a body’s motion to change or remain the same An interaction that causes a body to rotate
SI unit Newton Newton-meters
Applies in Both linear and rotational motion Rotational motion
Formula F=ma ?=rXF
Vector type True vector Pseudovector

Difference Between Force and Torque: Conclusion

Force and torque are both very useful units of measure in Physics. They both act upon an object and cause it to move. The variation lies in the application of the forces. Force is present in every object; torque, however, only applies in angular motion. These two also differ in SI units or their unit of measure. You can express the former in newtons, as in, it took 25 newtons to make that object move. In the latter, you express it in newton-meters.

You can also think of it this way. To make a ball roll in a straight plane, you apply a force. However, to uncap your bottle, you will need torque. Physics can be a complex subject; however, if you think of the practical applications of each concept, it’ll be much easier to grasp their meaning.