The term magnitude is defined as “how much of a quantity”. For instance, the magnitude can be used for explaining the comparison between the speeds of a car and a bicycle. It can also be used to explain the distance travelled by an object or to explain the amount of an object in terms of its magnitude. Therefore, what is magnitude in Physics?

## What Is Magnitude in Physics?

In Physics, magnitude is defined as the maximum extent of size and the direction of an object. Magnitude is used as a common factor in vector and scalar quantities. By definition, we know that scalar quantities are those quantities that have magnitude only. Whereas vector quantities are those quantities that have both magnitude and direction.

There are different ways in which magnitude can be used. Some of them are:

- Magnitude of earthquake
- Magnitude of charge on an electron
- Magnitude of force
- Magnitude of displacement
- Magnitude of gravitational force

## Magnitude of Earthquake

The magnitude of an earthquake is defined in terms of length, breadth and width. It is measured as the physical size of the earthquake. An earthquake is considered to have a single magnitude. The shaking caused by the earthquake has different values at different places because of factors such as the type of surface material and the distance from the epicentre. The magnitude of an earthquake is expressed in whole numbers as well as in decimal fractions. An earthquake is said to be a moderate earthquake if the magnitude is 5.3. An earthquake is said to be a strong earthquake if the magnitude is 6.3.

## Magnitude of Charge on an Electron

The charge of an electron is the same as that of the magnitude of the elementary charge, e with a negative sign. The value of the elementary charge is 1.602 x 10^{-19} C.

We know that there are two types of electric charges, and they are positive and negative. The positively charged are known as protons while the negatively charged are known as electrons. The net charge of an object is said to be positive if there are more protons than electrons. Likewise, the net charge of an object is said to be negative if there are more electrons than protons. However, if the number of protons and electrons are equal, then the object is said to be electrically neutral.

## Magnitude of Force

In Physics, the magnitude of force refers to the sum of all the forces that are acting on an object. If all the forces are acting in the same direction, then the magnitude of the force increases. If the forces are acting on an object in different directions, then the magnitude of the force decreases.

## Magnitude of Displacement

The magnitude of displacement is defined as the shortest distance between the initial and final position of the object. For a particle in motion, the magnitude is either less than or equal to the distance travelled.

When the particle is moving along the one-dimensional path, the magnitude of the displacement is the same as the total path length travelled by the particle in the given time period.

## Magnitude of Gravitational Force

To determine the magnitude of gravitational force, by definition, we say that there is a force acting between the two objects with masses m1 and m2, which is mathematically represented as:

\(\begin{array}{l}F=G\frac{m_{1}m_{2}}{r^{2}}\end{array} \)

Where F is the magnitude of the gravitational force between the two objects.

**Related Articles**

What is Force? |

Difference between Distance and Displacement |

Electrons and Photons |

Gravitational Force |

## Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Q1

### What is the difference between the magnitude and intensity of an earthquake?

The intensity of an earthquake is defined as the effects of an earthquake on human beings, nature and infrastructure. Whereas the magnitude of an earthquake is defined as the energy released during an earthquake.

Q2

### Is there a maximum magnitude for an earthquake?

Yes, there is a maximum magnitude of an earthquake and 9.5 is considered to be the maximum. However, theoretically, there is no limit to the magnitude of earthquakes.

Q3

### Can gravity form waves?

Yes, gravity can form waves. A gravitational wave is considered like a ripple formed in space that is invisible. These waves squeeze and stretch in their path as they move. The speed at which gravitational waves move is equal to the speed of light.

Q4

### Define 1 Coulomb.

1 Coulomb is defined as the transportation of electricity in one second by the one-ampere current. 1 Coulomb is equivalent to 6.24 x 10^{18} electrons. It is named after French physicist Charles Augustin de Coulomb.

Q5

### How to find displacement with distance?

Displacement is determined by calculating the final distance from a particular position and then subtracting it from the initial distance.

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