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STRESS AND FORCE

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Struggling through the 2007 AASHTO BDS, I fail to understand one very basic thing.  There was a good thing invented once, called stress, why the new codes use forces instead? 
 
The use of forces - as those of resistance or loading - is so less informative, and does not give the same feel for the performance of material/component.
 
Of course, all new equations allow conversion into stress, but why the change? 
 
V. Steve Gordin, SE
Irvine CA