Science, Tech, Math › Science Newton Definition Share Flipboard Email Print Enoch Seeman, Getty Images Science Chemistry Chemical Laws Basics Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated November 18, 2019 A newton is the SI unit of force. It is named in honor of Sir Isaac Newton, the English mathematician and physicist who developed laws of classical mechanics. The symbol for newton is N. A capital letter is used because the newton is named for a person (a convention used for symbols of all units). Formulas and Examples One newton is equal to the amount of force needed to accelerate a 1 kg mass 1 m/sec2. This makes the newton a derived unit because its definition is based on other units.1 N = 1 kg·m/s2 The newton comes from Newton's second law of motion, which states: F = ma where F is force, m is mass, and a is acceleration. Using the SI units for force, mass, and acceleration, the units of the second law become: 1 N = 1 kg⋅m/s2 A newton is not a large amount of force, so it is common to see the kilonewton unit, kN, where: 1 kN = 1000 N Newton Examples The gravitational force on Earth is, on average, 9.806 m/s2. In other words, a kilogram mass exerts about 9.8 newtons of force. To put that in perspective, about half of one of Isaac Newton's apples would exert 1 N of force. The average human adult exerts about 550-800 N of force, based on an average mass ranging from 57.7 kg to 80.7 kg. The thrust of an F100 fighter jet is approximately 130 kN.