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We use the uppercase Greek letter delta (Δ) to mean “change in” whatever quantity follows it; thus, Δ x means change in position (final position less initial position). We always solve for displacement by subtracting initial position x 0 from final position x f . Note that the SI unit for displacement is the meter, but sometimes we use kilometers or other units of length. Keep in mind that when units other than meters are used in a problem, you may need to convert them to meters to complete the calculation (see Appendix B ).

Objects in motion can also have a series of displacements. In the previous example of the pacing professor, the individual displacements are 2 m and −4 m, giving a total displacement of −2 m. We define total displacement     Δ x Total , as the sum of the individual displacements , and express this mathematically with the equation

Δ x Total = Δ x i ,

where Δ x i are the individual displacements. In the earlier example,

Δ x 1 = x 1 x 0 = 2 0 = 2 m.


Δ x 2 = x 2 x 1 = −2 ( 2 ) = −4 m.


Δ x Total = Δ x 1 + Δ x 2 = 2 4 = −2 m ​.

The total displacement is 2 − 4 = −2 m to the left, or in the negative direction. It is also useful to calculate the magnitude of the displacement, or its size. The magnitude of the displacement is always positive. This is the absolute value of the displacement, because displacement is a vector and cannot have a negative value of magnitude. In our example, the magnitude of the total displacement is 2 m, whereas the magnitudes of the individual displacements are 2 m and 4 m.

The magnitude of the total displacement should not be confused with the distance traveled. Distance traveled x Total , is the total length of the path traveled between two positions. In the previous problem, the distance traveled    is the sum of the magnitudes of the individual displacements:

x Total = | Δ x 1 | + | Δ x 2 | = 2 + 4 = 6 m .

Average velocity

To calculate the other physical quantities in kinematics we must introduce the time variable. The time variable allows us not only to state where the object is (its position) during its motion, but also how fast it is moving. How fast an object is moving is given by the rate at which the position changes with time.

For each position x i , we assign a particular time t i . If the details of the motion at each instant are not important, the rate is usually expressed as the average velocity     v . This vector quantity is simply the total displacement between two points divided by the time taken to travel between them. The time taken to travel between two points is called the elapsed time     Δ t .

Average velocity

If x 1 and x 2 are the positions of an object at times t 1 and t 2 , respectively, then

Average velocity = v = Displacement between two points Elapsed time between two points v = Δ x Δ t = x 2 x 1 t 2 t 1 .

It is important to note that the average velocity is a vector and can be negative, depending on positions x 1 and x 2 .

Delivering flyers

Jill sets out from her home to deliver flyers for her yard sale, traveling due east along her street lined with houses. At 0.5 km and 9 minutes later she runs out of flyers and has to retrace her steps back to her house to get more. This takes an additional 9 minutes. After picking up more flyers, she sets out again on the same path, continuing where she left off, and ends up 1.0 km from her house. This third leg of her trip takes 15 minutes. At this point she turns back toward her house, heading west. After 1.75 km and 25 minutes she stops to rest.

Questions & Answers

At time to = 0 the current to the DC motor is reverse, resulting in angular displacement of the motor shafts given by angle = (198rad/s)t - (24rad/s^2)t^2 - (2rad/s^3)t^3 At what time is the angular velocity of the motor shaft zero
Princston Reply
what is angular velocity
In three experiments, three different horizontal forces are ap- plied to the same block lying on the same countertop. The force magnitudes are F1 " 12 N, F2 " 8 N, and F3 " 4 N. In each experi- ment, the block remains stationary in spite of the applied force. Rank the forces according to (a) the
state Hooke's law of elasticity
Aarti Reply
Hooke's law states that the extension produced is directly proportional to the applied force provided that the elastic limit is not exceeded. F=ke;
You are welcome
what is drag force
A backward acting force that tends to resist thrust
solve:A person who weighs 720N in air is lowered in to tank of water to about chin level .He sits in a harness of negligible mass suspended from a scale that reads his apparent weight .He then dumps himself under water submerging his body .If his weight while submerged is 34.3N. find his density
Ian Reply
please help me solve this 👆👆👆
The weight inside the tank is lesser due to the buoyancy force by the water displaced. Weight of water displaced = His weight outside - his weight inside tank = 720 - 34.3 = 685.7N Now, the density of water = 997kg/m³ (this is a known value) Volume of water displaced = Mass/Density (next com)
density or relative density
Upthrust =720-34.3=685.7N mass of water displayed = 685.7/g vol of water displayed = 685.7/g/997 hence, density of man = 720/g / (685.7/g/997) =1046.6 kg/m3
R.d=weight in air/upthrust in water =720/34.3=20.99 R.d=density of substance/density of water 20.99=x/1 x=20.99g/cm^3
Kg /cubic meters
how please
Upthrust = 720-34.3=685.7N vol of water = 685.7/g/density of water = 685.7/g/997 so density of man = 720/g /(685.7/g/997) =1046.8 kg/m3
is there anyway i can see your calculations
Upthrust =720-34.3=685.7
Upthrust 720-34.3
Vol of water = 685.7/g/997
Hence density of man = 720/g / (685.7/g/997)
=1046.8 kg/m3
so the density of water is 997
Okay, thanks
try finding the volume then
Vol of man = vol of water displayed
I've done that; I got 0.0687m^3
okay i got it thanks
u welcome
HELLO kindly assist me on this...(MATHS) show that the function f(x)=[0 for xor=0]is continuous from the right of x->0 but not from the left of x->0
Duncan Reply
I do not get the question can you make it clearer
Same here, the function looks very ambiguous. please restate the question properly.
please help me solve this problem.a hiker begins a trip by first walking 25kmSE from her car.she stops and sets her tent for the night . on the second day, she walks 40km in a direction 60°NorthofEast,at which she discovers a forest ranger's tower.find components of hiker's displacement for each day
Liteboho Reply
Take a paper. put a point (name is A), now draw a line in the South east direction from A. Assume the line is 25 km long. that is the first stop (name the second point B) From B, turn 60 degrees to the north of East and draw another line, name that C. that line is 40 km long. (contd.)
Now, you know how to calculate displacements, I hope? the displacement between two points is the shortest distance between the two points. go ahead and do the calculations necessary. Good luck!
thank you so much Sharath Kumar
thank you, have also learned alot
No issues at all. I love the subject and teaching it is fun. Cheers!
cheers too
what is the definition of model
matthew Reply
please is there any way that i can understand physics very well i know am not support to ask this kind of question....
prove using vector algebra that the diagonals of a rhombus perpendicular to each other.
Baijnath Reply
A projectile is thrown with a speed of v at an angle of theta has a range of R on the surface of the earth. For same v and theta,it's range on the surface of moon will be
Roshani Reply
what is soln..
Using some kinematics, time taken for the projectile to reach ground is (2*v*g*Sin (∆)) (here, g is gravity on Earth and ∆ is theta) therefore, on Earth, R = 2*v²*g*Sin(∆)*Cos(∆) on moon, the only difference is the gravity. Gravity on moon = 0.166*g substituting that value in R, we get the new R
Some corrections to my old post. Time taken to reach ground = 2*v*Sin (∆)/g R = (2*v²*Sin(∆)*Cos(∆))/g I put the g in the numerator by mistake in my old post. apologies for that. R on moon = (R on Earth)/(0.166)
state Newton's first law of motion
Awal Reply
Every body will continue in it's state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by an external force.
if you want this to become intuitive to you then you should state it
changing the state of rest or uniform motion of a body
if a body is in rest or motion it is always rest or motion, upto external force appied on it. it explains inertia
what is a vector
a ship move due north at 100kmhr----1 on a River flowing be due east on at 25kmperhr. cal the magnitude of the resultant velocity of the ship.
Emmanuel Reply
The result is a simple vector addition. The angle between the vectors is 90 degrees, so we can use Pythagoras theorem to get the result. V magnitude = sqrt(100*100 + 25*25) = 103.077 km/hr. the direction of the resultant vector can be found using trigonometry. Tan (theta) = 25/100.
state Newton's first law of motion
Kansiime Reply
An object continues to be in its state of rest or motion unless compelled by some external force
First law (law of inertia)- If a body is at rest, it would remain at rest and if the body is in the motion, it would be moving with the same velocity until or unless no external force is applied on it. If force F^=0 acceleration a^=0 or v^=0 or constant.
how would you measure displacement in your car?
Grace Reply
what is constellation
Charles Reply
The product of a. (vector b× vector a)
Umesh Reply
I want to join the conversation
Kumaga Reply
Two charges 1uc and 3uc are separated 4m apart. find the point on the line connecting them at which their electric field intensity balances each other
Practice Key Terms 7

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