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Motion in straight Line

1. Introduction

In our dialy life ,we see lots of things moving around for
example car passing through from one place to other
,person riding on a bicycle and many more like this.
In scientific terms an object is said to be in motion ,if it
changes its position with the pasage of time and if it
does not change it position with the passage of time
then it is said to be at rest
Both the motion and rest are relative terms for example
mobile kept on the table is resting at its position but it is
moving in the sense as earth is rotating on its axis.So for
a person seeing mobile from earth it is at rest and for
person on moon earth seems to change its position with
time and so mobile is moving.
Simplest case of motion is rectilinear motion which is
the motion of the object in a straight line
In our descriotion of object ,we will treat the object as
an point object
Object under consideration can be treated as point
object if the size of the object is much smaller than the
distance travelled by it in a reasonable time duration for
example length of a motor car travelling a distance of
500km can be neglected w.r.t distance travelled by it.
Here in kinematics ,we study ways to describe the
motion without going into the cause of the motion

2.Position and Displacement

(a) Position:

To locate the position in motion or at rest,we need a

frame of refrence.
Simplest way to choose a frame of refrence is to choose
three mutually perpendicular axis labelled as X-,Y- and
Z- axis as shown in figure below

Such system of labelling position of an object is known

as rectangular coordinates system
If A(x,y,z) be the position of any point in rectangular coordinates system it can be labelled as follows

Point O is the point of intersection of these mutaully

perpendicular axis and is known as refrence point or
origin of frame of refrence
To measure a time ,we can also attach a clock with this
frame of refrence
If any or all co-ordinates of the object under
consideration changes with time in this frame of
refrence then the object is said to be in a motion w.r.t
the frame of the refrence otherwise it is at rest
For describing motion in one dimension we need one
set of co-ordinates axis i.e only one of X,Y and Z axis
Similary for two and three dimensions we need two or
three set of axis respectively
Motion of an object along a straight line is an example
of motion in one dimension

For such a motion,any one axis say X-axis may be

choosen so as to co-incide with the path along which
object is moving
Position of the object can be measured w.r.t origin O
shown in the figure

Position to the right of the origin has positive values and

those to the left of origin O has negative values.

(b) Distance and displacement:

In the graph shown below an object is at position P at

time t1 and at position R at time t2.

In the time interval from t1 to t2 particle has travelled

path PQR and length of the path PQR is the distance
travelled by the object in the time interval t1 to t2
Now connect the initial position of the object P with its
final position R through a straight line and we get the
displacement of the object.
Displacement of the object has both magnitude and
direction i.e., displacement is a vector quantity.
Magnitude of displacement vector is equal to the length
of straight line joining initial and final position and its

direction points from the initial position of object

towards its final position.
In contrast to displacement distance is scalar quantity.

3. Average velocity and speed

Consider a particle undergoing motion along a straight

line i.e. moving along X-axis.
X co-ordinate describing motion of the particle from
origin O varies with time or we can say that X coordinate depends on time.
If at time t=t1 particleis at point P , at a distance x1 from
origin and at time t=t2 it is at point Q at a distance
x2 from the origin then displacement during this time is a
vector from point P to Q and is

The average velocity of the prticle is defined as the ratio

of the displacement x of the particle in the time interval
t=t2-t1. If vavgrepresents average velocity then,

Figure 5b represents the co-ordinate time graph of the

motion of the particle i.e., it shows how the value of xcoordinate of moving particle changes with the passage
of time.
In figure 5b average velocity of the particle is
represented by the slope of chord PQ which is equal to
the ratio of the displacement x occuring in the
particular time interval t.
Like displacement average velocity vavg also has
magnitude as well as direction i.e., average velocity is a
vector quantity.
Average velocity of the particle can be positive as well
as negative and its positive and negative value depends
on the sign of displacement.
If displacement of particle is zero its average velocity is
also zero.
Graphs below shows the x-t graphs of particle moving
with positive, negative average velocity and the particle
at rest.

From graph 5c it is clear that for positive average

velocity slope of line slants upwards right or we can say
that it has positive slope.
For negative average velocity slope line slants upwards
down to the right i.e. it has negative slope.
For particles at rest slope is zero.
So far we have learnt that average speed is the rate of
motion over displacement of the object.
Displacement of the object is different from the actual
distance travelled by the particle.
For actual distance travelled by the particle its average
speed is defined as the total distance travelled by the
particle in the time interval during which the motion
takes place.
Since distance travelled by an particle does not involve
direction so speed of the particle depending on distance
travelled does not involve direction and hence is a
scalar quantity and is always positive.
Magnitude of average speed may differ from average
velocity because motion in case of average speed
involve distance which may be greater than magnitude
of displacement for ex.

here a man starts travelling from origin till point Q and

return to point P then in this case displacement of man
Displacement from O to Q is OQ=80m
Displacement from Q to P is =20m-80m=-60m
total displacement of particle in moving from O to Q and
then moving Q to P is = 80m + (-60m) = 20 m
Now total distance travelled by man is OQ+OP= 80m
+60m = 140m
Hence diring same cource of motion distance travelled
is greater then displacement.
from this we can say that average speed depending on
distance is in general greater than magnitude of velocity.

4. Instantaneous velocity and speed

Velocity of particle at any instant of time or at any point

of its path is called instantaneous velocity.
Again consider the graph 5b and imagine second point
Q being taken more and more closer to point P then
calculate the average velocity over such short
displacement and time interval.
Instantaneous velocity can be defined as limiting value
of average velocity when second point comes closer
and closer to the first point.
Limiting value of x/ t as t aproaches zero is written
as dx/dt, and is known as instantaneous velocity.Thus
instantaneous velocity is

As point Q aproaches point P in figure 5a in this limit

slope of the chord PQ becomes equal to the slope of
tangent to the curve at point P.
Thus we can say that instantaneous velocity at any point
of a coordinate time graph is equal to the slope of the
tangent to the graph at that point.
Instantaneous speed or speed is the magnitude of the
instantaneous velocity unlike the case of average
velocity and average speed where average speed over
an finite interval of time may be greate than or equal to
average velocity.
Unit of average velocity , average speed, instantaneous
velocity and instantaneous speed is ms-1 in SI system of
Some other units of velocity are ft.s-1 , cm.s-1 .

5. Acceleration

Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with time.

For describing average acceleration we first consider
the motion of an object along X-axis.
Suppose at time t1 object is at point P moving with
velocity v1 and at time t2 it is at point Q and has velocity
v2. Now average acceleration of object in moving from P
to Q is

which is the change in velocity of object with the

passage of time.
Instantaneous acceleration can be defined in the same
way as instantaneous velocity

The instantaneous acceleration at any instant is the

slope of v-t graph at that instant.

In figure 7 instantaneous acceleration at point P is equal

to the slope of tangent at this point P.
Since velocity of a moving object has both magnitude
and direction likewise acceleration depending on
velocity has both magnitude and direction and hence
acceleration is a vector quantity.
Acceleration can also be positive, negative and zero.
SI unit of acceleration is ms-2

6. Motion with constant acceleration

Motion with constant acceleration or uniformly

accelerated motion is that in which velocity changes at
the same rate troughout motion.
When the acceleration of the moving object is constant
its average acceleration and instantaneous acceleration
are equal. Thus from eq. 5 we have

Let v0 be the velocity at initial time t=0 and v be the

velocity of object at some other instant of time say at

t2=t then above eq. 7 becomes

or , v=v0+at
Graphically this relation is represented in figure 8 given

Thus from the graph it can be seen clearly that velocity v

at time t is equal to the velocity v0 at time t=0 plus the
change in velocity (at).
In the same way average velocity can be written as
where x0 is the position of object at time t=0 and vavg is
the averag velocity between time t=0 to time t.The
above equation then gives
but for the interval t=0 to t the average velocity is
Now from eq. 8 we find
putting this in eq. 9 we find
vavg = v0 + (at)

x = x0 + v0t + (at2)


this is the position time relation for object having
uniformly accelerated motion.
From eq. 12 it is clear that an object at any time t has
quadratic dependance on time, when it moves with
x - x0 = v0t + (at2)

constant acceleration along a straight line and x-t graph

for such motion will be parabolic in natureas shown

Equation 8 and 12 are basic equations for constant

acceleration and these two equations can be combined
to get yet another relation for x , v and a eleminating t
so, from 8
putting this value of t in equation 12 and solving it we
finally get,
v2 = (v0)2 + 2a ( x - x0 )
Thus from equation 13 we see that it is velocity
displacement relation between velocities of object
moving with constant acceleration at time t and t=0 and
their corresponding positions at these intervals of time.
This relation 13 is helpful when we do not know time t.
Likewise we can also eliminate the acceleration between
equation 8 and 12. Thus from equation 8

putting this value of a in equation 12 and solving it we

finally get,
( x - x0 ) = ( v0 + v ) t
Same way we can also eliminate v0 using equation 8
and 12. Now from equation 8
v0 = v - at

putting this value of v0 in equation 12 and solving it we

finally get,
thus equation 15 does not involve initial velocity v0
Thus these basic equations 8 and 12 , and derived
equations 13, 14, and 15 can be used to solve constant
acceleration problems.
( x - x0 ) = vt + ( at2 )

7. Free fall acceleration

Freely falling motion of any body under the effect of

gravity is an example of uniformly accelerated motion.
Kinematic equation of motion under gravity can be
obtained by replacing acceleration 'a' in equations of
motion by acceleration due to gravity 'g'.
Value of g is equal to 9.8 m.s-2.
Thus kinematic equations of motion under gravity are
v = v0 + gt
x = v0t + ( gt )
v = (v0) + 2gx
The value of g is taken positive when the body falls
vertically downeards and negative when the body is
projected up against gravity.

8. Relative velocity

Consider two objects A and B moving with uniform

velocities vAand vB along two straight and parallel tracks.
Let xOAand xOB be their distances from origin at time t=0
and xAand xB be their distances from origin at time t.
For object A
xA = xOA + vAt
and for object B
xB = xOB + vBt
subtracting equation 18 from 19
xB - xA = ( xOB - xOA ) + ( vB - vA) t
Above equation 20 tells that as seen from object A ,
object B seems to have velocity ( vB - vA) .

Thus ( vB - vA ) is the velocity of object B relative to

object A. Thus,
vBA = ( vB - vA )
Similarly velocity of object A relative to object B is
vAB = ( vA - vB )
If vB = vA then from equation 20
xB - xA = ( xOB - xOA )

i.e., two objects A and B stays apart at constant

vA > vB then (vB - vA ) would be negative and the distance
between two objects will go on decreasing by an
amount ( vA - vB ) after each unit of time. After some time
they will meet and then object A will overtake object B.
If vA and vB have opposite signs then magnitude of
vBA or vAB would be greater then the magnitude of
velocity of A or that of B and objects seems to move
very fast.