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  • Calculate displacement of an object that is not accelerating, given initial position and velocity.
  • Calculate final velocity of an accelerating object, given initial velocity, acceleration, and time.
  • Calculate displacement and final position of an accelerating object, given initial position, initial velocity, time, and acceleration.
Four men racing up a river in their kayaks.
Kinematic equations can help us describe and predict the motion of moving objects such as these kayaks racing in Newbury, England. (credit: Barry Skeates, Flickr)

We might know that the greater the acceleration of, say, a car moving away from a stop sign, the greater the displacement in a given time. But we have not developed a specific equation that relates acceleration and displacement. In this section, we develop some convenient equations for kinematic relationships, starting from the definitions of displacement, velocity, and acceleration already covered.

Notation: t , x , v , a

First, let us make some simplifications in notation. Taking the initial time to be zero, as if time is measured with a stopwatch, is a great simplification. Since elapsed time is Δ t = t f t 0 , taking t 0 = 0 means that Δ t = t f , the final time on the stopwatch. When initial time is taken to be zero, we use the subscript 0 to denote initial values of position and velocity. That is, x 0 is the initial position and v 0 is the initial velocity . We put no subscripts on the final values. That is, t is the final time , x is the final position , and v is the final velocity . This gives a simpler expression for elapsed time—now, Δ t = t . It also simplifies the expression for displacement, which is now Δ x = x x 0 . Also, it simplifies the expression for change in velocity, which is now Δ v = v v 0 . To summarize, using the simplified notation, with the initial time taken to be zero,

Δ t = t Δ x = x x 0 Δ v = v v 0

where the subscript 0 denotes an initial value and the absence of a subscript denotes a final value in whatever motion is under consideration.

We now make the important assumption that acceleration is constant . This assumption allows us to avoid using calculus to find instantaneous acceleration. Since acceleration is constant, the average and instantaneous accelerations are equal. That is,

a - = a = constant , size 12{ { bar {a}}=a="constant"} {}

so we use the symbol a size 12{a} {} for acceleration at all times. Assuming acceleration to be constant does not seriously limit the situations we can study nor degrade the accuracy of our treatment. For one thing, acceleration is constant in a great number of situations. Furthermore, in many other situations we can accurately describe motion by assuming a constant acceleration equal to the average acceleration for that motion. Finally, in motions where acceleration changes drastically, such as a car accelerating to top speed and then braking to a stop, the motion can be considered in separate parts, each of which has its own constant acceleration.

Solving for displacement ( Δ x ) and final position ( x size 12{x} {} ) from average velocity when acceleration ( a size 12{a} {} ) is constant

To get our first two new equations, we start with the definition of average velocity:

v - = Δ x Δ t . size 12{ { bar {v}}= { {Δx} over {Δt} } "." } {}

Substituting the simplified notation for Δ x and Δ t yields

v - = x x 0 t . size 12{ { bar {v}}= { {x - x rSub { size 8{0} } } over {t} } "." } {}

Solving for x size 12{x} {} yields

x = x 0 + v - t , size 12{x=x rSub { size 8{0} } + { bar {v}}t" " \( "constant a" \) ,} {}

where the average velocity is

v - = v 0 + v 2 ( constant a ) . size 12{ { bar {v}}= { {v rSub { size 8{0} } +v} over {2} } " " \( "constant "a \) "." } {}

Questions & Answers

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Timothy Reply
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MITHRA Reply
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what's critical angle
Mahmud Reply
The Critical Angle Derivation So the critical angle is defined as the angle of incidence that provides an angle of refraction of 90-degrees. Make particular note that the critical angle is an angle of incidence value. For the water-air boundary, the critical angle is 48.6-degrees.
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Chidalu
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Temiloluwa
the ratio of the density of a substance to the density of a standard, usually water for a liquid or solid, and air for a gas.
Chidalu
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aliyu Reply
mass ×velocity
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it is the product of mass ×velocity of an object
Chidalu
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Oyinlusi Reply
Instantaneous velocity is defined as the rate of change of position for a time interval which is almost equal to zero
Astronomy
The potential in a region between x= 0 and x = 6.00 m lis V= a+ bx, where a = 10.0 V and b = -7.00 V/m. Determine (a) the potential atx=0, 3.00 m, and 6.00 m and (b) the magnitude and direction of the electric ficld at x =0, 3.00 m, and 6.00 m.
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algum profe sabe .. Progressivo ou Retrógrado e Acelerado ou Retardado   V= +23 m/s        V= +5 m/s        0__>              0__> __________________________>        T= 0               T=6s
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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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