You are on page 1of 21

II.

Motion

Vectors

A study of motion will involve the introduction of a variety of quantities that are used to
describe the physical world. Examples ofsuchquantities includedistance,displacement,
speed, velocity,acceleration,force,mass, momentum,energy, work, power, etc. Allthese
quantitiescanbydividedintotwocategoriesvectorsandscalars.

Ascalar quantity is aquantitythatis fullydescribed byitsmagnitude.Ontheotherhand,a


vectorquantityisaquantitythatisfullydescribedbybothmagnitudeanddirection.

RepresentingVectors
Vector quantities are often represented by scaled vector diagrams. Vector diagrams
depict a vector by use of an arrow drawn to scale in a specific direction. The vector
diagramatthebottomdepictsadisplacementvector.

Observe that thereareseveralcharacteristicsofthisdiagramthatmakeitanappropriately


drawnvectordiagram.
ascaleisclearlylisted
a vector arrow (with arrowhead) is drawn in a specified direction. The vector
arrowhasaheadandatail.
the magnitude and direction of the vector is clearly labeled. In this case, the
diagramshows the magnitude is20 mandthedirectionis(30degreesWestof
North).

Vectors can bedirecteddue East,dueWest, dueSouth,anddueNorth.Butsomevectors


are directed northeast (at a 45 degree angle) and some vectors are even directed
northeast, yet more north than east. Thus, there is a clear need for some form of a
convention for identifying the direction of a vector that is not due East, due West, due
South, or due North.Thereareavarietyof conventions for describing the directionof any
vector.Twooftheconventionsare:

1. Thedirection of a vectoris often expressedasan angleofrotationofthevector


about its "tail" from east, west, north, or south. For example, a vector can be
said tohave a directionof40degreesNorthofWest(meaningavectorpointing
West hasbeenrotated40degreestowardsthenortherlydirection).Avectorcan
be said to have a direction of 65 degrees East of South (meaning a vector
pointingSouthhasbeenrotated65degreestowardstheeasterlydirection).

2. The direction of a vector is often expressed as a counterclockwise angle of


rotation of the vector about its "tail" from due East. Using this convention, a
vector with a direction of 30 degrees is a vector that has been rotated 30
degrees in a counterclockwise direction relative to due east. A vector with a
direction of 160 degrees is a vector that has been rotated 160 degrees in a
counterclockwisedirection relativeto dueeast.A vectorwith a directionof 270

degrees is a vector that has been rotated 270 degrees in acounterclockwise


directionrelativetodueeast.

The magnitude of a vector in a scaled vector diagram is depicted by the length of the
arrow. The arrow is drawn a precise length in accordance with a chosen scale. For
example, the diagram at the bottom shows a vector withamagnitude of20 miles. Since
the scale used for constructing the diagram is 1 cm = 5 miles, the vectorarrowis drawn
withalengthof4cm.Thatis,4cmx(5miles/1cm)=20miles.

Using the same scale (1 cm = 5 miles), a displacement vector that is 15 miles will be
represented by a vector arrow that is 3 cm in length. Similarly, a 25mile displacement

vector is represented by a 5cm long vector arrow. And finally, an 18mile displacement
vectorisrepresentedbya3.6cmlongarrow.Seetheexamplesshownbelow.

In conclusion, vectors can be represented by use of a scaled vectordiagram. On such a


diagram, avectorarrowisdrawntorepresentthevector.Thearrowhasanobvioustailand
arrowhead. Themagnitude ofavector isrepresented bythelengthofthearrow.Ascaleis
indicated (such as, 1 cm= 5 miles)and thearrowis drawnthe properlengthaccordingto
the chosen scale. The arrow points in the precise direction. Directions are describedby
the use of some convention. Themostcommon convention isthatthedirectionofavector
isthecounterclockwiseangleofrotationwhichthatvectormakeswithrespecttodueEast.

AdditionofVectors

A variety of mathematical operations can beperformedwith andupon vectors. Onesuch


operation is the addition ofvectors.Two vectorscan be addedtogether todetermine the
result (or resultant). The simplest case is when adding vectors in the same (or the
opposite)directionasshownbelow:

Thesumming ofvectors can be extendedto morecomplicated casesinwhichthevectors


are directed in directions other thanpurely verticalandhorizontaldirections.Forexample,
a vector directed up and to the right willbeadded to a vectordirectedupand totheleft.
Thevectorsum(resultantvector)istobedeterminedasshowninthediagramsbelow:

Thereareavariety of methodsfor determining the magnitudeanddirectionoftheresultof


addingtwoormorevectors.:
theheadtotailmethodusingascaledvectordiagram
thePythagoreantheoremandtrigonometricmethods
ThePythagoreanTheorem

ThePythagorean theorem isa useful method for determiningthe resultof addingtwo(and


only two) vectors that make a right angle to each other. Themethod isnotapplicablefor
adding more than two vectors or for adding vectors that are not at 90degrees to each
other. The Pythagorean theorem is a mathematical equationthatrelatesthelength ofthe
sidesofarighttriangletothelengthofthehypotenuseofarighttriangle.

Toseehowthemethodworks,considerthefollowingproblem:
Ericleavesthe basecampandhikes11km,northandthenhikes11km
east.DetermineEric'sresultingdisplacement.
This problem asks to determine theresultof adding two displacement vectorsthatareat
rightanglestoeachother.Theresult(orresultant)of walking11kmnorthand11kmeastis
a vector directed northeast as shown in the diagram. Since the northward displacement
andthe eastwarddisplacement areatrightanglestoeachother,thePythagoreantheorem
canbeusedtodeterminetheresultant(i.e.,thehypotenuseoftherighttriangle).

Theresultofadding11km,northplus11km,eastisavectorwithamagnitudeof15.6km.

UsingTrigonometrytoDeterminetheDirectionofaVector

The direction of a resultant vector can often be determined by use of trigonometric


functions. Most students recall the meaning of the usefulmnemonicSOH CAH TOAfrom
their course intrigonometry. SOHCAH TOA isamnemonicthat helps one remember the
meaning ofthe three commontrigonometricfunctionssine,cosine,andtangentfunctions.
These three functions relate an acute angle ina righttriangle to theratioof the lengths of
two of the sides of the right triangle. The sine function relates the measure of an acute
angle to theratioofthelengthofthesideoppositetheangletothelengthofthehypotenuse
(i.e.opposite dividedbyhypotenuse). Thecosine function relatesthemeasureofanacute
angle to theratioofthelengthofthesideadjacenttheangletothelengthofthehypotenuse
(i.e.adjacent dividedbyhypotenuse). Thetangentfunctionrelatesthemeasureofanangle
to theratioof the lengthof the sideopposite theangleto thelengthofthesideadjacentto

the angle (i.e. oppositedivided by adjacent). The three equationsbelowsummarizethese


threefunctionsinequationform.

Trigonometric
Function
Meaning

Mnemonics

sin =

o
h

cos =

a
h

tan = oa

sineofanangleis cosineofanangle tangentofanangle


equaltothelength isequaltothelength isequaltothelength
oftheoppositeside oftheadjacentside oftheoppositeside
dividedbythelength dividedbythelength dividedbythelength
ofthehypotenuse
ofthehypotenuse oftheadjacentside
SOH

CAH

TOA

These three trigonometric functions can be applied to the hiker problem in order to
determine the direction of the hiker's overall displacement. The process begins by the
selection of one ofthetwoangles(otherthantherightangle)ofthetriangle.Oncetheangle
isselected,any ofthe three functions can be usedto findthe measure ofthe angle.Write
the function and proceed with the proper algebraic steps to solve for themeasureof the
angle.

sin =

o
h
1

11km,E
15.6km

= 0.7051

= sin (0.7051) = 45

Note: The measure of an angle as determined through use of SOH CAH TOA is not
always the direction of the vector. Thefollowing vectoradditiondiagram is anexample of
such a situation. Observe that the angle within the triangle is determined to be 26.6
degreesusing SOHCAHTOA.Thisangleisthesouthwardangleofrotationthatthevector
R makes with respect to West. Yet the direction of the vector as expressed with the
counterclockwiseconventionis206.6degrees.

10km,W+5km,S

o
a
1

tan =

5km,S
10km,W

= 0.5

= tan (0.5) = 26.6

UseofScaledVectorDiagramstoDeterminetheResultant

Themagnitude and direction ofthe sum oftwo ormorevectorscanalsobedeterminedby


use of an accurately drawn scaled vector diagram. Using a scaled diagram, the
headtotailmethodisemployedtodeterminethevectorsumorresultant.

Supposeyouwantedtoaddthreevectors(displacement):

The headtotail method is employed and its magnitude and direction is labeled on the
diagram.

Interestingly, the order in which three vectors are added has no effect upon either the
magnitudeor the directionof the resultant. Theresultant will still havethesamemagnitude
and direction. For example, consider the addition ofthesame three vectors in a different
order.

TheResultant

Theresultant is thevectorsumoftwoormorevectors.Itistheresultofaddingtwoormore
vectorstogether.Ifdisplacementvectors A,B,and C areaddedtogether,theresultwillbe
vectorR.As shown inthediagram,vectorRcanbedeterminedbytheuseofanaccurately
drawn,scaled,vectoradditiondiagram.

TosaythatvectorRistheresultantdisplacementofdisplacementvectorsA,B,andCis
tosaythatapersonwhowalkedwithdisplacementsA,thenB,andthenCwouldbe
displacedbythesameamountasapersonwhowalkedwithdisplacementR.
DisplacementvectorRgivesthesameresultasdisplacementvectorsA+B+C.Thatis
whyitcanbesaidthat

A+B+C=R.

The above discussion pertains to the result of adding displacement vectors. When
displacement vectors are added, the result is a resultant displacement. But any two
vectorscan be addedaslongasthey are the same vector quantity. Iftwoor morevelocity
vectors are added, then the result isaresultant velocity.Iftwoormore forcevectors are
added, then the result is a resultant force. If two or more momentumvectors are added,
thentheresultisaresultantmomentum,etc,etc.

In all such cases, theresultant vector(whetheradisplacementvector,forcevector,velocity


vector, etc.) isthe result of adding theindividualvectors.ItisthesamethingasaddingA+
B+C+....

"To do A+ B+ Cis thesameastodoR." As anexample,considerafootballplayerwho


gets hit simultaneously by three playersonthe opposingteam (players A, B,and C).The

footballplayerexperiencesthreedifferentappliedforces.Eachappliedforcecontributesto
a total or resulting force. If the three forces are added together using methods of vector
addition, then the resultant vector R can be determined. In this case, to experience the
threeforcesA,BandCisthesameasexperiencingforceR.TobehitbyplayersA,B,and
Cwould result in the same forceasbeinghitbyoneplayerapplyingforceR."To doA+B
+CisthesameastodoR."VectorRisthesameresultasvectorsA+B+C.

In summary,theresultant isthe vectorsumof all the individual vectors. Theresultantisthe


result of combining the individual vectors together. The resultant can be determined by
adding the individual forces together using vector addition methods (parallelogram
method,triangle/polygonmethod,trigonometricmethods).

VectorComponents

In situations in which vectors are directed at angles to the customary coordinate axes,a
usefulmathematicaltrick will be employedtotransform thevector into twopartswitheach
part being directed along the coordinate axes. For example, a vector that is directed
northwest can be thought ofashavingtwoparts a northwardpartandawestwardpart.A
vector that is directed upward and rightward can be thought of as having two parts an
upwardpartandarightwardpart.

Any vector directed in two dimensions can be thought of as having an influence in two
different directions. That is, it can be thought of as having two parts. Each part of a
twodimensional vector isknown asacomponent. The components of a vector depictthe
influence of that vectorin a givendirection.Thecombinedinfluenceof thetwocomponents
is equivalent to the influence of the single twodimensional vector. The single
twodimensionalvectorcouldbereplacedbythetwocomponents.

AngledVectorsHaveTwoComponents

If Fido's chain is stretched upward and rightward and pulled tight by hismaster, then the
tension force in the chain has two components an upward component and a rightward
component.To Fido,the influence of thechain onhis bodyisequivalenttotheinfluenceof
two chains on his body one pulling upward and the other pulling rightward. If thesingle
chain were replaced by two chains.with each chain having themagnitudeanddirectionof
the components, then Fido would not know the difference. This is not because Fido is
dumb (a quickglanceat hispicturerevealsthatheiscertainlynotthat),butrather because
the combined influence of the two components is equivalentto the influence ofthe single
twodimensionalvector.

Consider a picture thatis hungto a wallby means oftwowiresthatarestretchedvertically


and horizontally. Each wire exerts a tension force upon the picture to support its weight.
Since eachwireisstretchedintwodimensions(bothverticallyandhorizontally),thetension
forceofeachwirehastwocomponentsaverticalcomponentandahorizontalcomponent.
Focusing on the wire on the left, wecouldsaythat thewire hasaleftwardand an upward
component. This is to say that the wire on the left could be replaced by two wires, one
pulling leftward and the otherpulling upward.Ifthe singlewire werereplaced by two wires
(each onehavingthe magnitudeanddirection of thecomponents),thentherewouldbeno
effect upon the stability of the picture. The combined influence of the two components is
equivalenttotheinfluenceofthesingletwodimensionalvector.

ParallelogramMethod

The parallelogram method of vectorresolution involves using an accurately drawn, scaled


vectordiagram todeterminethe components ofthevector.Brieflyput,themethodinvolves
drawing the vectorto scaleintheindicateddirection,sketchingaparallelogramaroundthe
vector such that the vector is the diagonal of the parallelogram, and determining the
magnitude of the components (the sides of the parallelogram) using the scale. If one
desirestodetermine the components as directed along thetraditional xandycoordinate
axes, then theparallelogramisarectanglewithsidesthatstretchverticallyandhorizontally.
Astepbystepprocedureforusingtheparallelogrammethodofvectorresolutionis:
1. Selectascaleandaccuratelydrawthevectortoscaleintheindicateddirection.
2. Sketch a parallelogram around the vector: beginning at the tail of the vector,
sketchverticalandhorizontallinesthensketchhorizontalandverticallinesatthe
head of the vector the sketched lines will meet to form a rectangle (a special
caseofaparallelogram).
3. Draw the components of the vector. The components are the sides of the
parallelogram. The tail of the components start at the tail of the vector and
stretches along the axes to thenearest corner ofthe parallelogram. Be sure to
place arrowheads on these components to indicate their direction (up, down,
left,right).
4. Meaningfullylabelthecomponents of thevectors withsymbolstoindicatewhich
component represents which side. A northward force component might be
labeledFnorth.Arightwardvelocitycomponentmightbelabeledvxetc.
5. Measure the length of the sides of the parallelogram and use the scale to
determine the magnitude of the componentsin real units. Label themagnitude
onthediagram.


One can actually first draw two vectors first, make a parallelogram,utilizing the anglesof
eachvectors,andonlythendrawtheresultant.

Triangle/PolygonMethod

Inaddingtwovectors,thetrianglemethodisused,utilizingtheheadtotailtechnique:

If there are three or more vectors, however, the triangle method becomes the polygon
method:


Again, it doesnt matter which vector came first. The resultant vector will always be the
same:

It also doesntmatter howmanyforces thereare. Anaccurate drawing will yield thesame


resultant:

Trigonometric/AnalyticalMethod

The trigonometric method of vector resolution involves using trigonometric functions to


determinethecomponentsofthevector.

If the vectors are perpendicular, you can arrange them so that they for one large right
triangle.Forexample:

Redraw the arrows so they form one large triangle (you dont need to draw in the
trigonometric method, butitishelpfulindeterminingwhichsideisadjacentandoppositeto
theangleyouwillhavetochoose):

Applythepythagoreantheoremtogettheresultant:

R2 = (6.0km + 2.0km)2 + (6.0km)2


R = 100km2
R = 10km

If the vectors are nonperpendicular, then you have to solve for the components of each
individual vectors. If for example the given vectorsare: A = 2.65kmat 140degrees, B=
4.77kmat252degrees,andC=3.18kmat332degrees.Visually,thatwouldbe:

To determine the resultant, the three individual vectors are resolved into horizontal and
vertical components. The angle information about each vector is used to form a right
triangle in which the vector is the hypotenuse and the perpendicular sides are oriented
alongthexandyaxes:

Afterforming the triangles, you canthen solve thexandycomponentofyourvectorsusing


yourtrigonometry.

cos40 = Ax/A
sin40 = Ay/A
Acos40 = Ax
Asin40 = Ay

sin18 = Bx/B
cos18 = By/B
Bsin18 = Bx
Bcos18 = By

cos28 = C x/C
sin28 = C y/C
C cos28 = C x
C sin28 = C y

whereA=2.65km,B=4.77km,andC=3.18km.

Aftercomputing(youcanpractice),theresultsare:

Ax = 2.03km
Ay = 1.70km
Bx = 1.47km
By = 4.54km
C x = 2.81km
C y = 1.49km

Notethat whenthe x component isto the left(West)of theCartesiancoordinate,thevalue


isnegative.Theycomponentthatisdownward(South)alsohasanegativevalue.

Thenaddallthecomponentsalongthexaxis.

i=3

Rx = six or,simply, Rx = Ax + Bx + C x
i=1

Rx = Ax + Bx + C x =2.03km+(1.47km)+2.81km=0.69km

Dothesamewiththecomponentsalongtheyaxis.

Ry = Ay + By + C y =1.70km+(4.54km)+(1.49km)=4.33km

The resultant is therefore 0.69km to theleft (becausethe value isnegative)and 4.33 km


downwards(becausethevalueisnegative)anditlookssomethinglike:

Thenyoucansolveforthemagnitudeoftheresultantusingthepythagoreantheorem:

R2 = ( 0.69km)2 + ( 4.33km)2
R = 19.225km
R = 4.38km

Themagnitude oftheresultant vectoris 4.38 km. Youcanthensolve forthe angleitforms


tocreatearighttriangle.

tan = 0.69/4.33
= tan1(0.69/4.33)
= 9.05


The angle of this right triangle is 9.05 degrees. Since the axis towards the South is270
degreescounterclockwisefromEast,then

270 9.05 = 260.95

Theresultant hasamagnitude of4.38km anddirectionof260.95 (counterclockwisefrom


East).