The force of force

Black and white image of steam on a black background

A force is any interaction with an object that, when unopposed, will change the motion of an object. Put another way, forces are the push or pull on an object. Heavy objects require greater force to move them than light objects. In short, you have to push or pull harder to get heavy objects to move.

I am so excited to tell you that we bought you an oven. The oven we had in the big kitchen is still perfectly serviceable. It was just getting a little on the small size for your dinners. The new oven is large. It is also heavy.

The senior recipe tester, being the kind and generous sort that he is, went to collect the new oven for you. For this task we hired a truck with a lifting device to overcome the significant downward force of the oven on the floor of the depot. A forklift lifted the oven into the truck for the senior. Lifting it out of the truck, and into the big kitchen, he had to sort out himself. We called a friend for backup.

The senior recipe tester then learned a thing or two about forces. The force generated by a moving pallet jack shifting a large oven is enough to knock over a previously unnoticed volume of oil. Oil travels across the floor at high velocity. Nothing happens quickly when you have to stop to clean up an almighty spillage.

The oven was transported on a pallet. The downward force of a 180kg oven on a pallet was such that by the time it reached the kitchen two of its legs had punched right through the pallet. It developed an unnerving lean.

Because the senior recipe wasn't confident he could stop the force of a falling oven if this were to occur, he leaned it up against the wall to unpack. Very sensible. My only use was as gopher. I delivered tools from the shed at home to the big kitchen when summoned. When it came to actually moving the oven, I was precious little use.

Finally, the floor was clean, the lean was rectified and the oven was unpacked. It was time for jubilation. Until we realised that the oven door was facing the wall it had previously leaned on. Only extraordinarily skinny dinners could be cooked in that oven.

I was sent to get more backup. I found willing assistants in nearby businesses who graciously agreed to come and help. I noted that they looked like they spent a good deal of time in the gym. Together with the senior recipe tester, they started to lift and spin the oven.

I observed the ring-ins who lifted and carried their corners of the oven on cue. Neither appeared to be breaking a sweat. The legs on their respective corners sailed clear of the floor. Then I observed the senior. It must be said that he is perhaps 20 years the senior of the assistants helping him. The legs on his side scraped awkwardly along the floor. Although he was trying to give instruction to the assistants about where the oven needed to go, he was rendered unable to speak and lift at the same time.

This was perhaps due to the most impressive force I noted that day. That of the senior's face pressed up against the side of the oven as he lifted.