Jedi love the advice: “Use the force.” They mean something a little different than the product of mass and acceleration, but somehow the language of force, work, and power fits for any display of force, even on Dagobah.
In Earthly physics, force equals mass times acceleration, where m is the mass of an object and a is the rate at which the velocity changes.
Work is something else. Work is the product of force and the distance an object is moved.
No movement, no work. To get more work done, either increase the force or push the thing farther.
When Yoda encourages Luke to use the force to lift his X-wing out of the Dagobahian swamp, try all he might, until that X-wing starts to move, Luke has done zero work. Hence, “There is no try.”
Still, Luke’s achievement is notable. I figure he had to exert a force greater than about 160,000 newtons just to get the X-wing to move. If Luke moved it a meter, he did the equivalent of 160,000 joules of work. I am assuming an X-wing is a tad lighter than an F-18. I am also assuming the acceleration due to gravity on Dagobah is about the same as Earth. This seemed reasonable as Luke never complained about the gravity, not that he is an Earthling. I am also assuming that Newton’s laws of motion hold in the Dagobah system, though some crazy stuff happened in that cave.
Power is really special. Power is the quotient of work and time. That is, power is work divided by the time it took to do the work.
Power increases when time decreases. It took Luke a full minute to even get the thing to shake, much less lift, while Yoda could lift that X-wing in next to no time. Yoda was more powerful than Luke.
Getting the same amount of work done in more time is less powerful. And, getting more work done in more time might be more powerful and it might not.
Working later doesn’t make you more powerful. Getting more work done in less time does.
Chalking about force, work, and power outside of the Texas Workforce Commission seemed spot on, but it became evident that being near state and federal buildings making pictures with sidewalk chalk (and a mobile phone) may be concerning.
I was questioned briefly by a state trooper as I finished up the chalk for this post. It was a friendly exchange for the most part. She asked me what the formulas meant. As we wrapped up, four more state troopers rolled up. Talk about a display of force!
I asked if I could take our picture for the blog. She declined.