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Geometrical approach to speed and acceleration

# Geometrical approach to speed and acceleration

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A brief description of Galileo's approach to speed and acceleration
A brief description of Galileo's approach to speed and acceleration

Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Juancarlos Ponce on May 18, 2014

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03/22/2015

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Objective
We develop Galileo’s geometrical deﬁnition of the concepts of speed and acceleration through discussion of his experimental ﬁndings about the motion of falling objects. Rather than taking the concepts of calculus and then applying them to deﬁne speed and acceleration in general, we do the reverse, taking Galileo’s analysis of motion and applying it to introduce the concepts of calculus. This provides a novel point of view within a

critical and inquiry-based approach.

1.1 The concepts of speed and acceleration
How good is your understanding of speed and acceleration? Would it stand up under cross-examination in court? Here are some questions that you might be asked by a court prosecutor to test your credibility as an expert witness:1.

Speed is understood as distance divided by time. What distance is being referred to here? What time is being referred to here?2.

Is this what your car’s speedometer is measuring when it registers, for example, 60 km/hr? To what distance and time would it be referring?3.

Until the introduction of digital technology in the 1980s, cars used eddy current speedometers (you can google this). Did these measure any actual distances and times? What did they measure?4.

How would you measure the change in speed of a vehicle?5.

What do you think acceleration means? (‘Getting faster’ isn’t an expert answer and would reﬂect badly on your credibility. You would be expected to give a numerical deﬁnition.)
Section 1
Introduction
2

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