Speed, Motion & Acceleration

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Calculate the Velocity Necessary to Counteract Gravity in a Loop

If you know the radius of a circular track, you can use physics to calculate how fast an object needs to move in order to stay in contact with the track without falling when it reaches the top of the loop [more…]

The Different Types of Fluid Flow

In physics, fluid flow has all kinds of aspects — steady or unsteady, compressible or incompressible, viscous or nonviscous, and rotational or irrotational, to name a few. Some of these characteristics [more…]

Use the Principle of Conservation of Mechanical Energy to Find an Object’s Final Speed

Thanks to the principle of conservation of mechanical energy, you can use physics to calculate the final speed of an object that starts from rest.

“Serving as a roller coaster test pilot is a tough gig, [more…]

Use the Principle of Conservation of Mechanical Energy to Find the Final Height of a Moving Object

Thanks to the principle of conservation of mechanical energy, you can use physics to determine the final height of a moving object. At this very moment, for example, suppose Tarzan is swinging on a vine [more…]

How to Calculate Changes in Kinetic Energy Using Net Force

In physics, if you want to find the change in an object’s kinetic energy, you have to consider only the work done by the net force acting on the object. In other words, you convert only the work done by [more…]

Calculating Average Speed Based on Distance and Time

In physics, average speed is the total distance you travel divided by the total time it takes. Speed is represented by the variable v, and average speed is sometimes written as [more…]

How to Calculate a Change in Velocity Based on Acceleration

Using physics, you can calculate what happens when you swerve. For example, you may be in a car or on a walk when you suddenly accelerate in a particular direction. In this case, just like displacement [more…]

Calculate the Range of a Projectile Fired at an Angle

If you fire a projectile at an angle, you can use physics to calculate how far it will travel. When you calculate projectile motion, you need to separate out the horizontal and vertical components of the [more…]

How to Find the Angle and Magnitude of a Vector

In physics, sometimes you have to find the angle and magnitude of a vector rather than the components. To find the magnitude, you use the Pythagorean theorem. And to find [more…]

Using a Pulley to Demonstrate Newton’s Third Law

In physics, no force can be exerted without an equal and opposite force (even if some of that opposing force comes from making an object accelerate). A rope and pulley can act together to change the direction [more…]

Measure Liquid Flow Using the Equation of Continuity

In physics, if a fluid is flowing at a certain speed at a certain point in a system of pipes, you can predict what its speed will be at another point by using the [more…]

Calculating Displacement in a Physics Problem

In physics, you find displacement by calculating the distance between an object’s initial position and its final position. Say, for example, that you have a fine new golf ball that’s prone to rolling around [more…]

Defining Motion in Both Distance and Direction

In physics, motion that takes place in the real world is often in two dimensions. As a result, you need to find both the distance and direction traveled to tell the whole story. [more…]

Distinguishing Average Speed and Average Velocity

In physics, there is a difference between average speed and average velocity. Say, for example, that while you were driving in Ohio on a cross-country trip, you wanted to make a detour to visit your sister [more…]

Physics Class, Measuring Motion, and the Video Physics iPad App

Teachers can use iPads in their physics classrooms to encourage students to apply mathematical concepts to real world examples. The Video Physics iPad app enables physics students to capture video of an [more…]

Displacement in Physics Problems

Displacement occurs when something moves from here to there. For example, suppose that you have a ball at the zero position, as in the top of the following figure. [more…]

Speed and Velocity in Physics Problems

In physics terms, what is speed? It’s the same as the conventional idea of speed: Speed is distance divided by time, which is what a speedometer measures. The related term [more…]

Connecting Velocity, Acceleration, and Displacement in Physics Problems

You use the following equation to relate velocity, acceleration, and distance. Suppose you have a drag racer whose acceleration is 26.6 m/s2, and his final speed is 146.3 m/s. What is the total distance [more…]

How to Create a Vector

A vector is a combination of exactly two values: a magnitude (like the speed of an object in motion) and a direction (such as the direction of an object in motion). All kinds of things can be described [more…]

How to Find a Vector’s Components

You can convert from the magnitude/angle way of specifying a vector to the coordinate way of expression. Doing so is essential for the kinds of operations you can expect to execute on vectors, such as [more…]

How to Find a Vector’s Magnitude and Direction

If you’re given the components of a vector, such as (3, 4), you can convert it easily to the magnitude/angle way of expressing vectors using trigonometry. [more…]

Force Is a Vector

Force, like displacement, velocity, and acceleration, is a vector quantity, which is why Newton’s Second Law is written as sigmaF = ma. Put into words, it says that the vector sum of the forces acting [more…]

The Balancing Act of Equilibrium

When you place a book on a table, it doesn’t accelerate down toward Earth, even though Earth’s gravity is pulling the book down, because a second force, from the table, is pushing up on the book and balancing [more…]

Connecting Acceleration, Time, and Displacement in Physics Problems

You know that you can relate velocity with displacement and time. And you know that you can relate velocity and time to get acceleration. You also can relate displacement with acceleration and time: [more…]

How to Add Vectors Together

You’re frequently asked to add vectors when solving physics problems. To add two vectors, you place them head to tail and then find the length and magnitude of the result. The order in which you add the [more…]

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