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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

what is quantam
pamit Reply
quantum is a division of mechanics
what is friction
Muhammad Reply
a force act by surface between two bodies whose are always oppose the relative motion .....
when two rough bodies are placed in contact and try to slip each other ... than a force act them and it's ippse the relative motion between them
thats friction force and roughnes of both bodies is define friction of surface
what is a progressive wave
sheriff-deen Reply
What is the wake for therapist
Ife Reply
can u like explain your question with clear detail
who would teach me vectors?
Tintin Reply
what's chemistry
Esther Reply
branch of science dt deals with the study of physical properties of matter and it's particulate nature
Y acctually do u hav ur way of defining it? just bring ur iwn idear
well, it deals with the weight of substances and reaction behind them as well as the behavior
buh hope Esther, we've answered ur question
what's ohms law
ohms law states that, the current flowing through an electric circuit is directly proportional to the potential difference, provided temperature and pressure are kept constant
what is sound
ohms law states that the resistance of a material is directly proportional to the potential difference between two points on that material, if temperature and other physical conditions become constant
How do I access the MCQ
Abraham Reply
As I think the best is, first select the easiest questions for you .and then you can answer the remaining questions.
I mean I'm unable to view it
when I click on it, it doesn't respond
ohhh,try again and again ,It will be showed
what is centripetal force
Don Reply
هي قوة ناتجة من الحركة الدائرية ويكون اتجاهها إلى المركز دائماً
meaning of vector quantity
Felix Reply
vector quantity is any quantity that has both magnitude in terms of number (units) and direction in terms of viewing the quantity from an origin using angles (degree) or (NEWS) method
vector quantity is physical quantity has magnitude and direction
vector is a quantity that is use in measuring size of physical properties and their direction
what difference and similarities between work,force,energy and power?
Anes Reply
I need the best answer
enery is the ability to do work. work is job done, force is a pull or push. power has to do with potential. they belong to different categories which include heat energy, electricity.
force refers to a push or pull... energy refers to work done while power is work done per unit time
mathematically express angular velocity and angular acceleration
Mario Reply
it depends on the direction. an angular velocity will be linear and angular acceleration will be an angle of elevation.
The sonic range finder discussed in the preceding question often needs to be calibrated. During the calibration, the software asks for the room temperature. Why do you suppose the room temperature is required?
Shaina Reply
Suppose a bat uses sound echoes to locate its insect prey, 3.00 m away. (See [link] .) (a) Calculate the echo times for temperatures of 5.00°C5.00°C and 35.0°C.35.0°C. (b) What percent uncertainty does this cause for the bat in locating the insect? (c) Discuss the significance of this uncertainty an
give a reason why musicians commonly bring their wind instruments to room temperature before playing them.
The ear canal resonates like a tube closed at one end. (See [link]Figure 17_03_HumEar[/link].) If ear canals range in length from 1.80 to 2.60 cm in an average population, what is the range of fundamental resonant frequencies? Take air temperature to be 37.0°C,37.0°C, which is the same as body tempe
By what fraction will the frequencies produced by a wind instrument change when air temperature goes from 10.0°C10.0°C to 30.0°C30.0°C ? That is, find the ratio of the frequencies at those temperatures.
what are vector quantity
Aondover Reply
Quantities that has both magnitude and direction
what is lenses
vector quantities are those physical quantites which have magnitude as well as direction and obey the laws of vector algebra.
electric current has both magnitude and direction but it doesn't obey the laws of vector algebra, hence it is not a vector quantity.
what is momentum
Thomas Reply
what is dimension
Ahmad Reply
Practice Key Terms 7

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