Newton’s laws and weightlessness

Source: “Physics for Scientist and Engineers” Serway and Jewett, 6th edition

6.25 A person stands on a scale in an elevator. As the elevator starts, the scale has a constant reading of 591 N. As the elevator later stops, the scale reading is 391 N. Assume the magnitude of the acceleration is the same during starting and stopping, and determine (a) the weight of the person, (b) the person’s mass, and (c) the acceleration of the elevator.

Analyze the problem:

The problems mentions two stages of motion: (1) starting of motion and (2) stopping of motion for an elevator. The given forces are the normal forces or the readings of the scale.

What are given information:

  1. Normal force (N1) when elevator is starting = 591 N
  2. Normal force (N2) when elevator is stopping = 391 N

What the problem need:

  1. Weight of person
  2. Person’s mass
  3. Acceleration of the elevator


Now, we have to recall Newton’s laws to be able to analyze the motion of man in the elevator.

By the starting of motion an acceleration of the elevator will be directed toward a specific direction and when it stops it will change to the other opposite direction.