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CONTEXT

Figure 1.0.1 Computer programmers

use physics equations to
produce realistic motion
in computer graphics.

MOVING
Why can computers generate graphical images of things that look, move and
behave realistically? How can they accurately predict and control the motions
of interplanetary spacecraft across many millions of kilometres? In physics, the
motions of almost everything in the universe can be described by the equations
of motion. Once you know the right equations, in theory, you can use a computer
(or even a pen and paper) to mimic or predict the motions of almost anything.
Part of the job of a physicist is to translate words and ideas into those equations,
so important words need to be carefully defined. Many words from physics describing
motion are used in everyday conversation, such as distance, speed, time,
acceleration, velocity, displacement, power, momentum, energy and force.
In this module, we will learn more precisely what these words mean and how
the equations of motion can be used to describe, predict and explain how and why
people, planets, vehicles and everything else move and how they behave when they
pull, push or crash into each other.

Figure 1.0.2 Newtons cradle relies on highly

elastic collisions to create
hypnotic patterns of motion.

INQUIRY ACTIVITY
HIGHLY ELASTIC COLLISIONS
Materials, like glass and hardened steel, that rebound quickly after collision
without permanent deformation are called highly elastic. If two identical balls
undergo a highly elastic head-on collision, they swap motions. For example, a
moving ball colliding head-on into a second stationary ball should stop dead,
while the second ball should acquire the speed and direction of the first.
Perfectly elastic collisions only occur between subatomic particles, but
you come close with a bunch of marbles. Try the following activity:
1 Get 7 or 8 glass marbles of identical size and 1 or 2 larger ones.
Find a smooth, horizontal track along which marbles can roll freely.
2 Line up some small stationary marbles on the track and flick one
small marble quickly towards them. What happens?
3 Flick a group of 2 small marbles towards them. Now try 3. Is a
pattern emerging?
4 Predict what happens if you flick 3 towards a stationary group of
2 (or 4 towards a stationary group of 3). Now test it.
5 Redo steps 24 but leave small gaps between the marbles.
6 Does including a larger marble anywhere give the same results?
7 Retry the experiments on smooth carpet.
8 Retry the experiments with tennis balls or rubber balls. Are these collisions
highly elastic?

Getting from
A to B: kinematics
What is kinematics?

kinematics, SI units, distance,

speed, rate, uniform, average speed,
instantaneous speed, displacement,
magnitude, direction, vectors,
scalars, velocity, relative velocity,
frame of reference, acceleration,
sign convention, air resistance, g,
braking distance

GREEK GEEK
elow is an image of a
millennium-old copy of a
book by Greek mathematician and
physicist Archimedes (287212
BC). The pages had been erased
and overwritten with a medieval
prayer book. Intense synchrotron
X-rays were used to enhance the
traces of the original text.

Figure 1.1.1 Part of a page from the

Archimedes manuscript

Kinematics means describing motion using equations and graphs.

But before writing down equations, we must carefully define the terms.
Many words in physics are derived from Latin, Greek or Arabic,
which were the international languages of science for nearly
2000 years. The term kinematics comes from kineo, the Greek
word for movement, as does the word for moving picturescinema.
Luckily for most of you, the international language of physics
is now English!

1.1 Time, distance and speed

Units are labels added to numbers to indicate what they measure, such as
metres, kilograms or seconds. In 1960, an international scientific agreement was
undertaken to adopt a set of units based on metres, kilograms and seconds called
(in French) Systme International dUnits or SI units.
more detail in Chapter 17.)

Time
Perhaps the most important word used in describing motion is timenothing
can move unless time passes. Time is surprisingly difficult to define scientifically,
however, so well just rely on your watch to measure it. In equations, well use
the letter t for time and delta (), the Greek D, to represent difference or change.
Usually, t represents a time interval between an initial time ti and final time tf ,
so t = tf ti. The SI unit for time is seconds (s).

MOVING

Distance
If you travel along a straight pathway from A to B, the distance you travelled can
be measured with a ruler or tape measure. If the path is curved, imagine running
a string along your path between A and B and then measuring the length of the
straightened string. That length is the distance. Well use d to represent distance.
The SI unit is metres (m).

Speed
Distance travelled per unit of time is called speed. Well use S for speed. The
SI unit is metres per second (m s1).
How much a quantity changes per unit time is called rate. So speed is the
rate of distance travelled.
Suppose for a time period t, you travel at a constant (uniform) speed S.
During that time, you travel a distance d. The formula for your speed is:
S=

Identify that a typical journey

involves speed changes.

distance travelled
d
=
time taken
t

However, during the time t, your speed might change. In fact, for most
journeys you take, speed is not constant, such as when a bus slows down and
stops to pick up passengers and speeds up again. Therefore if speed is changing,
you can still use the above formula, except now it calculates average speed Sav
over the time period t :
Sav =

Distinguish between the

instantaneous and average
speed of vehicles and other
bodies.

d
t

Speed measured at a particular instant of time is called instantaneous

If speed is constant over the time t, average speed equals
speed.
instantaneous speed.
Note that you can rearrange the speed equation to make either d or t
the subject.

Worked example
QUESTION
If you drive at an average speed of 92 km h1 for 56 min, what distance have you travelled?

SOLUTION
First convert into consistent units: 56 min =

56
h.
60

d = S t
56
= 92
60
= 85.867 86 km

CHECKPOINT 1.1
1
2
3

Define .
Define speed.
Explain the difference between average and instantaneous speed.

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1.2 Displacement, velocity and

acceleration
Displacement
Displacement is similar to distance, but theres more to it. Moving from A to B,
displacement is defined as an overall change in position. In other words,
displacement is the straight-line distance between A and B, even if you didnt
walk in a straight line (Figure 1.2.1). The SI unit for displacement is metres (m).

path

8
9

distance

10

10

displacement

t
as

-e

20

20 m north

rth

no

A
20 m east
N

Figure 1.2.2 Displacement on a 45 triangle

For example, if two people walk from A to B, one on a winding path and the
other on a straight path, both undergo the same displacement even though the
winding path is a longer distance. If you walk in a circle back to where you
started, you have travelled a distance equal to the circumference but your
displacement is zero.
However, this isnt the whole story. Displacement has two parts: first, size
or magnitude (the straight-line distance); and second, the direction of the line
joining A to B. You must therefore write both parts of displacement: magnitude
and direction.
For instance, if I start at point A, walk 20 m east and then 20 m north to
point B, I have travelled a distance of 20 + 20 = 40 m, but my overall
displacement is less: 20 2 m 28.3 m north-east (see Figure 1.2.2). Then if I
walk for 20 2 m in a straight line north-east from A, my displacement is the
same as before even though the second distance is shorter.
In the above example, we used compass directions; however, directions can
be expressed in other ways as long you are precise and unambiguous, such as
45 anticlockwise from the positive x-axis.
Sometimes displacements are one-dimensional; that is, only along a straight
line. A train on a straight track can only travel in two directions. In this case you
can express the direction as positive or negative.

MOVING
In physics, quantities like displacement that have magnitude and direction
are called vectors. (Well discuss vectors in more detail in Chapter 2.) In print,
the symbols for vectors are written in bold font. For example, a common symbol
for displacement is s. Sometimes, vectors are written with a bar, arrow or tilde
(~) above or below the symbol, especially in handwriting. Quantities like time,
distance and speed (with magnitude only) are called scalars. In print, the
symbols for scalars are written in italics.
Displacement is the change in position r, so displacement s can also be
written as r. Both symbols are commonly used.

Distinguish between scalar and

vector quantities in equations.

s = r = final position initial position = rf ri

When were only interested in the magnitudes of these vectors, we can simply
use r and s or r. We can also represent the magnitude of a vector with absolute
value signs: | s |.

Velocity
Velocity v is a bit like speed: velocity is displacement per unit of time (or rate of
displacement). Its a vector. The direction of velocity is the direction in which the
object moves. The formula for velocity v is:
v=

s
displacement
r
=
or
t
time taken
t

This formula calculates instantaneous velocity if velocity is uniform.

However, just like the speed formula, if velocity is changing, it gives average
velocity vav for the time t:
vav =

r
t

Clearly, if displacement doesnt change, velocity is zero. The SI unit for

velocity is metres per second (m s1).
In vector equations, magnitudes and directions are equal on both sides,
so in the equation above, the directions of velocity and displacement are the same.
Just like displacement, if motion is one-dimensional, you can represent the
direction of velocity by a positive or negative sign.
If youre moving in a constant direction, the magnitude of
instantaneous velocity equals instantaneous speed. This is also true for their
averages. If youre changing direction, however, only your instantaneous speed
equals the magnitude of your instantaneous velocity. This isnt true for averages.

Vav =

r
.
t

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 1.1

Activity Manual, Page

1

Compare instantaneous
and average speed with
instantaneous and
average velocity.

Worked example
QUESTION
Look at Figure 1.2.2 again. Consider the two-part journey (shown by red arrows). Suppose the
eastern leg takes 25 s and the northern leg takes 20 s.
a Calculate the average speed for the whole journey.
b Calculate the average velocity for the whole journey.

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SOLUTION
a Sav =
Sav =
b vav =
vav =

Describe the motion of one

body relative to another.

ractiv

nte

M o d u le

d
, where d = 20 + 20 = 40 m, t = 25 + 20 = 45 s
t
40
= 0.8889 0.89 m s1
45
r
, r = 20 2 m (NE), t = 25 + 20 = 45 s
t
20 2
NE = 0.6285 m s1 NE 0.63 m s1 NE (Dont forget direction!)
45

Relative velocity
Imagine that you are driving at 100 km h1 north. Another driver travelling at
105 km h1 north passes you, making an unfriendly hand gesture. You easily see
the gesture because it seems to pass you slowly. This is because the other car has a
small velocity relative to you: it is travelling only 5 km h1 faster than you and so
appears to move past you at 105 100 = 5 km h1. From your point of view, the
driver has a relative velocity of 5 km h1.
The point of view from which you judge velocity is called your frame of
A frame of reference is the set of x, y and z coordinate axes
reference.
within which you define motion. Using the footpath as the frame of reference,
the other driver has a velocity of 105 km h1 north; in your frame of reference,
however, the driver has a velocity of 5 km h1 north.
To find the velocity of object B relative to object A, subtract the velocity of
object A:
vB (relative to A) = vB vA
Suppose instead that the other driver was travelling in the opposite direction to
you at 105 km h1 south. Then the other driver would appear to whoosh past you.

Worked example
QUESTION
Using the information from the last example above, what is the drivers velocity relative to
you?

SOLUTION
Make north positive. In this case, the velocity of the other car (B) relative to you (A) is now:
vB (relative to A) = vB vA = (105) 100 = 205 km h1 = 205 km h1 south
(which is very fast)

People usually think of the road as truly stationary. However, there are no
absolute, stationary frames of reference. All velocities are relative.

Acceleration
In everyday conversation, acceleration means how quickly speed is increasing.
But physicists usually use acceleration slightly differently.

MOVING
If velocity is changing, acceleration a is the rate of change of velocity:
a=

change in velocity v
=
t
time taken

Define average acceleration

v
; therefore
as aav =
t
aav =

vu
.
t

Acceleration is another vector. The SI unit is metres per second per second,
or metres per second squared (m s2).
Similar to previous equations, this formula calculates instantaneous
acceleration if acceleration is uniform, and average acceleration over the
time t if acceleration is changing.
In everyday conversation, acceleration means speeding up and deceleration
means slowing down. In physics, however, we usually use the word acceleration for
both, and represent whether youre slowing down or speeding up by the sign of
acceleration. (Theres a slight complication here, so well discuss this in detail in
Section 1.3.)
Note that acceleration and velocity are not always in the same direction.
The direction of acceleration is the same as the direction of the change in
velocity v, but it is not necessarily in the same direction as the velocity itself.

CHECKPOINT 1.2
1
2

Define frame of reference.

Explain the difference between:
a distance and displacement
b speed and velocity.

1.3 SUVAT equations

Want to predict the future? Forget reading the zodiac! If you know the starting
conditions for a moving object, you can predict its future motion using the
The following equations are only
equations of motion (or kinematics).
strictly true for motion with uniform acceleration a (including a = 0).
For this section, well use the symbols listed in Table 1.3.1. The symbols spell
suvat, so the equations are sometimes called the SUVAT equations. To make the
equations tidier and easier to remember, its traditional to use t (instead of t)
and s (instead of r) for displacement.
Table 1.3.1

Symbols for SUVAT equations

QUANTITY

SYMBOL

Displacement

Initial velocity

Final velocity

Acceleration

Time taken

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Lets keep it simple. In this section well only consider straight-line (or
one-dimensional) motion, so direction is indicated by a positive or negative sign.
To use these equations, you first choose a sign convention (which direction
to call positive) and then remain consistent throughout the calculation.
Because were free to choose our sign convention, the signs of velocities and
accelerations could be either positive or negative. So how do you know from the
sign of acceleration if you are speeding up or slowing down?
If acceleration and velocity have the same sign, the magnitude of
velocity is increasing (speeding up).
If acceleration and velocity have opposite signs, the magnitude of
velocity is decreasing (slowing down).
To derive the first kinematics equation, rearrange the velocity equation (from
Section 1.2) using SUVAT symbols:
s = vt

(SUVAT 1)

If velocity is not constant, use average velocity:

s = vavt
Define average acceleration
v
; therefore
as aav =
t
aav

a is uniform, so vav =

u+v
. Substitute this into SUVAT 1:
2

s=

vu
.
=
t

u+v
t
2

(SUVAT 2)

Rewrite the acceleration equation (from Section 1.2) using SUVAT symbols:
v u
a=
t
Then rearrange the equation:
v = u + at

(SUVAT 3)

s = ut +

1 2
at
2

(SUVAT 4)

Square both sides of SUVAT 3:

v 2 = u2 + 2aut + a 2t 2
Collect terms:
1
v 2 = u2 + 2 a ( u t + a t 2 )
2
The term in parentheses is SUVAT 4, so replace it with s.

v2 = u2 + 2as
10

(SUVAT 5)

MOVING
Notice that v2 and u2 are scalarsquaring a number eliminates the sign
(and direction). Unlike the other equations, SUVAT 5 only tells us the magnitude
of final velocity.
An example of acceleration is when an object falls downwards under gravity.
Dropping an object from rest, the downward velocity continues to increase as
long as it falls (unless an external influence, like air resistance, slows it down).
If an object is compact enough (compressed into dense enough form) and its
speed isnt very high, then air resistance will be negligible.
When air resistance is negligible, objects near the Earths surface free-fall with
the same constant acceleration of a = 9.8 m s2 downwards. If you drop both a
coin and a hammer simultaneously from the same height, they should hit the
ground together.
A feather falls more slowly than a hammer because its fluffy, not compact, so
air resistance is not negligible. Galileo predicted that in a vacuum, all things would
fall with the same acceleration. On the airless Moon, this is true (see Figure 1.3.1).

Figure 1.3.1 In 1971, Apollo 15 astronaut

David Scott simultaneously
dropped a hammer and a
feather on the Moon. They hit
the ground at the same time.

g -WHIZ
he magnitude of acceleration
due to gravity (9.8 m s2)
is given the special name g;
for example, 2.5g means an
acceleration of 2.5 9.8 m s2.
In tests during the 1940s and 50s,
US Air Force Colonel Dr John Stapp
used a rapidly decelerating rocket
sled to subject himself to up to
45g, surviving with temporary
blindness, two black eyes and a
broken wrist.

We can use SUVAT 5 to understand one of the dangers of speeding.

The faster you drive, the longer the braking distance in an emergency.
The maximum braking deceleration is close enough to constant to use
SUVAT equations.
Final speed is v = 0. Rearranging v2 = u2 + 2as and converting into magnitudes:
s=

u2
2a

Braking distance s increases proportionally to the square of initial speed. Double

the speed and you quadruple braking distance. Increase speed by 10% and
braking distance increases by approximately 20%. Typical maximum braking
decelerations for cars are 810 m s2.
But its worse. You should also add the distance you travel before you hit the
brakethat is, the thinking distance. Typical human reaction time is 0.61 s,
so your thinking distance is at least 0.6 u before your brain and foot respond.
It is longer if youre affected by alcohol.
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Worked example
QUESTION
Drop a coin from rest. Assume air resistance is negligible.
a Calculate displacement after 0.500 s.
b Calculate how long it takes to fall 1.50 m.
c Calculate its velocity after 0.500 s.
d Calculate its speed after falling 2.00 m.

SOLUTION
+.
Choose a sign convention. Down is positive. Use the symbol
a a = +9.80 m s2, t = 0.500 s, u = 0 m s1, s = ?
1
The formula containing these is: s = ut + at 2
2
Substitute: s = 0 0.500 +

1
9.80 0.5002 = +1.225 m 1.23 m down
2

b a = +9.80 m s2, s = 1.50 m, u = 0 m s1, t = ?

1
The formula containing these is: s = ut + at 2
2
Substitute: 1.50 = 0 t +
Then rearrange: t =

1
9.80 t 2
2

2 1.50
= 0.553 s
9.80

c a = +9.80 m s2, t = 0.500 s, u = 0 m s1, v = ?

The formula containing these is: v = u + at
Substitute: v = 0 + 9.80 0.500 = +4.90 m s1, i.e. v = 4.90 m s1 down
d a = +9.80 m s2, s = +2.00 m, u = 0 m s1, v = ?
The formula containing these is: v 2 = u 2 + 2as
Substitute: v 2 = 02 + 2 9.80 2.00 = 39.2
Find the square root: v = 39.2 = 6.26 m s1
(SUVAT 5 doesnt tell us the direction, but the question only asked for speed.)

CHECKPOINT 1.3
1
2
3
4

12

List the five SUVAT equations.

Explain what these equations assume about acceleration.
State which SUVAT equation cannot provide information about the direction of velocity.

MOVING

1.4 Graphs and motion

Besides SUVAT equations, we can also use graphs to represent and calculate
more flexible than SUVAT equations because they work even for non-uniform
acceleration.

Displacement versus time graphs

Suppose we make a graph of a moving object, where the y-axis is displacement
and the x-axis is time. Recall the velocity formula (see Section 1.2):
v=

r
t

Substituting y for r and x for t, this formula looks like the slope of a graph.
In a displacement versus time graph, slope equals velocity. Note that:
A horizontal graph (slope = 0) means zero velocity.
A straight line (constant slope) means uniform velocity.
A curved graph (changing slope) means acceleration. If acceleration is
uniform, the curve will be a parabola.
Lets take an example of motion and graph it. Suppose you live on a straight
(s = 0) and north is positive.
You start from rest at your door. You stand still for one minute (a), checking
your wallet. You start walking at a uniform velocity north towards the shop (b).
After walking for 5.0 min, youre 300 m north of home and you stop to pick up
a \$20 note on the ground. You take 2.0 min to glance around to see if there are any
more lying around (c). You start walking north again, faster, but still at a uniform
velocity for 5.5 min (d). You arrive at the shop. Youre now 960 m north of home.
It takes you 1.5 min to realise that the shop is closed (e), so you jog at uniform
speed to the park, which is 240 m south of your house on the same road. This
takes 5.0 min (f ) at a uniform velocity. This journey is plotted in Figure 1.4.1.
1200
(810, 960)

1000

(900, 960)
e

Displacement (m)

800
d

600
400

(360, 300)

c
f

(480, 300)
200
b
a

(60, 0)

200
400

(1200, 240)
0

240

480
Time (s)

720

960

1200

Figure 1.4.1 Displacement versus time graph for your journey to the shop and the park

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Worked example
QUESTION
Using Figure 1.4.1, answer the following.
a At which parts of your journey were you stationary?
b Calculate velocity for parts (b) and (f) of the journey.

SOLUTION
Velocity equals the slope of the graph: v =

r
.
t

a Parts (a), (c) and (e) are horizontal: slope = v = 0.

b The velocity for part (b) is:
v=

(300 0)
r
=
= +1.0 m s1 = 1.0 m s1 north
t (360 60)

The velocity for part (f) is:

v=

r ( 240 960)
=
= 4.0 m s1 = 4.0 m s1 south
t
(1200 900)

Velocity versus time graphs

Now well plot velocity versus time for the same journey (see Figure 1.4.2).
Remember that the acceleration equation (in Section 1.2) is:
a=

v
t

Velocity (m s1)

This equation looks like the slope of a line in a velocity versus time graph.
In a velocity versus time graph, the slope equals acceleration. Note that:
A horizontal graph (slope = 0) means constant velocity (a = 0).
A straight line (constant slope) means uniform acceleration.
Theres another less obvious but
4
In a velocity
important property.
versus time graph, the area under the graph
(480, 2)
(810, 2)
between two times equals the displacement
2
d
(360, 1)
(60, 1)
during that time interval.
b
You can check this property using
0 a
c
e
Figure 1.4.2. The areas under the graph
(the displacement) for parts (a), (c) and
(e) are all zero because you were stationary
2
at those points. For part (b), the area under
the graph (shaded in pink) is positive:
f
4
+1.0 300 = +300 m. For part (d), this
(1200, 4)
(900, 4)
is also the case: +2.0 330 = +660 m.
For part (f ), the area under the graph
6
0
is negative (shaded in green) below
240
480
720
960
1200
Time (s)
the x-axis, so displacement is negative:
4.0 300 = 1200 m. This means your
Figure 1.4.2 Velocity versus time graph for your journey to the shop and the park
final jog was 1200 m south.

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MOVING

Velocity (m s1)

Displacement (m)

Lets try an example with acceleration.

1.2
Pick a coin off the table. Lift it vertically at
(0.250, 1.00)
(0.500, 1.00)
1.0
a uniform velocity through 1.00 m in 0.25 s.
Hold the coin still for 0.25 s and then drop
0.8
it back onto the table. All motion is vertical.
tangent to curve
@ t = 0.8 s
Lets use the sign convention ( ) and make
0.6
the tabletop the origin (s = 0). In this case,
0.4
acceleration due to gravity is 9.80 m s2.
The displacement versus time graph for this
0.2
is shown in Figure 1.4.3.
(0.952, 0.000)
0.0
While lifting the coin, the graph is a
0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.0
straight line with a slope of +4.00 (uniform
Time (s)
velocity 4.00 m s1 upwards). When the
Figure 1.4.3 Displacement versus time graph for the coin drop
coin is stationary, the graph is horizontal
(zero velocity). When the coin is dropping,
the graph is a curve (parabola).
6
To calculate instantaneous velocity from
this curve at any particular time, draw a tangent
(0.250, 4.00)
4
to the curve at that time (see Figure 1.4.3) and
calculate the slope. Clearly, during this part
2
of the motion, the slope (hence velocity) is
changingthat is, acceleration. Notice that for
(0.500, 0.00)
all of the third part, although the slope is
0
changing, it is always negative, which means
velocity is downwards. The velocity versus time
2
graph is shown in Figure 1.4.4.
In the first stage, the graph is horizontal
4
(uniform velocity of 4.00 m s1 upwards).
(0.952, 4.43)
The area under the first stage of the graph is
6
4.00 0.25 = +1.00, which agrees with the
0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.0
1.00 m upward displacement in the story.
Time (s)
The second stage is horizontal and zero,
Figure 1.4.4 Velocity versus time graph for the coin drop
which means v = 0 and s = 0. The third stage
is a straight line with a slope of 9.80, which
means a uniform acceleration of 9.80 m s2
downwards. The triangular area under the graph is:
1
0.452 (4.43) = 1.00
2

In other words, the coin has dropped 1.00 m downwards back to the tabletop,
which also agrees with the story.

CHECKPOINT 1.4
1
2
3

Explain how to calculate velocity from a displacement versus time graph.

Explain how to calculate acceleration from a velocity versus time graph.
Explain how to calculate displacement from a velocity versus time graph.

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PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES
CHAPTER 1
This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ Preliminary Activity Manual.

Plan, choose equipment

or resources for, and perform a
first-hand investigation to
measure the average speed of
an object or a vehicle.

ACTIVITY 1.1: THE SPEED OF A BALL

Measure the speed of a ball rolling from the front of the room to the back.
Equipment: marbles, tape measure, digital camera capable of taking movies,
smooth track to roll marbles along.

Figure 1.5.1 Some of the equipment you will need

Discussion questions
1 How close to constant motion is the speed of the ball? How can you tell?
2 What methods are used to make sure the experiment is repeatable?
3 Discuss why the motion is measured as average speed.

16

Chapter summary

d = distance, t = time period

Scalars are quantities with magnitude only. Vectors
possess magnitude and direction.
Displacement s or r is the straight-line distance
between initial and final positions. It also has direction.
v
d
r
, velocity v =
Speed S =
, acceleration a =
t
t
t
Instantaneous means the value at a particular instant
in time.
If speed, velocity or acceleration is uniform, the above
formulae calculate the instantaneous quantities.
If speed, velocity or acceleration is not uniform, the
above formulae calculate the quantities averaged
over t.
Most journeys are not undertaken at uniform speed,
velocity or acceleration.
Displacement, velocity and acceleration are vectors.
Time, distance and speed are scalars.
Frame of reference means the point of view of the
observerthe coordinate axes are used by the observer
to judge velocity.

MOVING

Relative velocity means the velocity of object B

adjusted to the frame of reference of observer A
using the formula vB (relative to A) = vB vA.
The SUVAT equations apply strictly to situations of
uniform acceleration only.
The SUVAT equations are:
s = vt
u+v
t
s=
2
v = u + at
1
s = ut + at 2
2
2
2
v = u + 2as
When air resistance is negligible, objects near the
Earths surface accelerate at 9.8 m s2.
In a displacement versus time graph, slope
equals velocity.
In a velocity versus time graph, slope equals
acceleration.
In a velocity versus time graph, the area under the
graph equals displacement.

Review questions
PHYSICALLY SPEAKING
The items in the columns are not in their correct order. Copy out the table and
match each of the key physics concepts with their definition, symbol and units.

CONCEPT

DEFINITION

SYMBOL

UNITS

Displacement

Velocity

metres (m)

Distance

Change in velocity per unit of time

seconds (s)

Speed

Duration of an event

metres (m)

Time

vA (rel. B)

Acceleration

metres per second (m s1)

Relative velocity

metres per second per second (m s2)

17

Getting
Gett
Ge
ttin
tt
ing
in
g from
from
A to B
B:: ki
kine
nema
ne
mati
ma
tics
ti
cs
kinematics

REVIEWING
1

Draw a table with the columns Vector and Scalar. List all quantities
from this chapter in the correct columns.

2
3

Describe a simple way to measure the distance of a curvy journey on a map.

Use words to describe constant speed. Include distance and time in

Why is it more correct to quote the average speed for a typical journey
rather than the speed?

What can you say about your motion if you have walked a long way but you
end up at your starting point?

Explain how a feather and a hammer can both hit the ground at the same
time when dropped from the same height.

SOLVING PROBLEMS
7

An ant walks in a straight line. It walks at 1.5 cm s1 for 2.0 s, then

1.0 cm s1 for 2.5 s and finally 1.7 cm s1 for 3.5 s. Calculate the
magnitude of the ants average velocity in SI units.

The tortoise and the hare are having a rematch from A to B (see
Figure 1.5.2). The tortoises straight path is 1000 m long. During the race,
the tortoise maintains a slow and steady speed of 4.00 km h1. The hare
encounters some distractions and takes the zigzag path but maintains a
uniform speed of 5.40 km h1. Using a ruler and Figure 1.5.2:

Figure 1.5.2 The hare and the tortoise ride again.

Solve problems and analyse
information using the formula
vav =

18

r
.
t

a
b
c
d

Measure the displacement of each racer.

Measure the distance each travels.
Calculate the time taken for each to complete the race. Who won?
Calculate the average velocity for each.

MOVING
9

Consult Figure 1.4.1. For your journey to the shop and park:
c Are they approximately equal? Discuss.

10

A ball is dropped off a table of height 1.2 m.

a Calculate the final velocity of the ball.
b For how long is the ball in the air?

11

Theres a fly in your car while youre travelling at 98 km h1 north.

a The fly is resting on the windscreen. Determine its velocity relative
to you.
b What is its velocity relative to the road outside?
c The fly flies to the rear of the car and appears to move towards you at
1.0 m s1. Calculate its velocity relative to the road.

12

Students playing lawn bowls are trying to work out how fast to roll a ball
to get it closest to the jack. A practice ball came to rest in 3.2 s over a
distance of 15 m.
a What was the initial speed of the ball?
b Calculate the deceleration of the ball. (Assume this is the same for
parts c and d.)
c The ball was rolled again and stopped in 2.0 s. How far has it travelled?
d With what initial speed should they roll to just reach the jack, which is
14.3 m away?

13

60
50

Displacement (m)

40
30
20
10
0
10
20
0

8
Time (s)

10

12

14

16

a
b
c
d

When is the object stationary?

What distance has the object travelled in the journey?
What is the objects displacement?
Calculate the greatest velocity of the object.

19

Getting
Gett
Ge
ttin
tt
ing
in
g from
from
A to B
B:: ki
kine
nema
ne
mati
ma
tics
ti
cs
kinematics

14

Look at the velocity versus time graph in Figure 1.5.4.

40
30

Velocity (m s1 west)

20
10
0
10
20
30
40
0

10

15

20

Time (s)

Figure 1.5.4 Velocity versus time graph

a
b
c
d
e
Present information graphically
of: displacement versus
time, and velocity versus time
for objects with uniform and
non-uniform linear velocity.

20

15

At what times is the object moving at a constant speed?

When is the object stationary?
Calculate the greatest acceleration.
What is the objects displacement at the end of the journey?
Extension: Draw an acceleration versus time graph to match
this journey.

A driver has a reaction time of 0.75 s. Her brakes are capable of a

deceleration of 8.2 m s2. She is driving at 60 km h1 when she
notices a child run onto the road.
a How far does her car travel before it comes to a stop?
(Hint: Check units.)
b Draw a displacement versus time graph from the time the child
appears to when the car finally stops.
c Draw the corresponding velocity versus time graph.

25

MOVING

PHYSICS FOCUS
TOP FUEL

Top-fuel dragsters are a spectacular sight. The fastest

ones can reach speeds greater than 500 km h1 in a
little over 5 s!
This form of racing sport has the greatest
accelerations in a straight line, so lets have a look at
the physics involved.
1
1 Convert mile into kilometres. (1 mile 1.609 km)
4
2 Calculate the average acceleration required to
reach 500 km h1 by the end of the course.
3 At this rate, determine the time taken to cover the
course.
4 Reaction time plays a big part in this sport: the
better the reaction time, the bigger the jump on the
opponent. A series of lights go off to warn the driver
of the start. Drag racing has a light tree. This has
three amber lights and a green light. The amber
lights are turned on sequentially with a half second
delay between them. The reaction timer starts when
the third amber comes on. Since there is a halfsecond delay until the green light comes on, a
0.500 reaction time is perfect. The reaction timer
stops when the car leaves the starting line.
a Determine the ideal reaction time for a driver.
b If a driver gets a 0.030 s head start due to
reaction time, calculate the distance he has
travelled before the other driver starts.
5 Table 1.5.1 includes the statistics for two drivers
and their cars. Determine who will win based on
this data.

Reaction time (s)

Acceleration (m s2)

DRIVER 1

DRIVER 2

0.530

0.600

39.200

44.000

environment

6 After the finish line, there is a length of track on

which the drivers slow down. This is known as the
run-off track. The run-off track measures 700 m in
length. To stop within the track, what is the
deceleration needed?
7 Most drag cars are capable of decelerations of 5g
due to technical ability and safety on the driver. How
then can the drag-racer be stopped safely in time?
8 Draw a displacement versus time graph for the trip
of a top-fuel dragster.
9 Explain the approximations that we have made in
order to analyse this example with the motion
equations given.
Want to compare your reaction time to the drag-racers?
Go to the link provided on the companion website at
www.pearsoned.com.au/schools/secondary.

Stopping safely applies to everyone, not just the

drivers of drag cars. Stopping distance in cars is also
an important safety issue for everyday driving. The
total stopping distance is the sum of the braking and
thinking distances (see Section 1.3):

dstop = utreac +

u2
2a

EXTENSION
10 Using typical values described in Section 1.3,
calculate the sensitivity of total stopping distance
to a 10% change in each of the variables u, treac
and a.
11 Propose some external factors that affect these
variables (for example, road quality affects a), and
assess which individuals or groups within society
may have the power or responsibility to improve
those factors.

21