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PHYSICS

Mr Rishi Gopie
Scalar and Vector Quantities

Mr R Gopie

PHYSICS


SCALAR AND VECTOR QUANTITIES
A scalar quantity is one that has magnitude
A vector quantity is one that has both magnitude and direction
Consider examples of both:
Scalar Quantity
Time
Mass
Distance
Speed
Area
Volume
Density
Energy
Work
Pressure
power
Temperature
Current
voltage

Vector Quantity
Displacement
Velocity
Acceleration
Force
Momentum








Any vector quantity can be represented by a straight line the length of the line, drawn to
some suitable scale, will represent the magnitude of the vector quantity and the direction of the
line, as indicated by an arrow head drawn on the line will represent the direction of the vector
quantity. In fact, such a line itself is called a vector.

When vectors are added a resultant vector is produced. A resultant vector is that single
vector which can replace a system (two or more) vectors all have the same overall or net or
resultant effect as the system itself. Consider the resultant vector when two vectors are added is

a) Parallel (i.e. act in the same direction)

V1 + V2



Resultant Vector VR = (V1 + V2)




Note that the greatest (i.e. maximum) resultant vector of any two vectors is obtained when
the two vectors are parallel and its magnitude is given by the sum of the magnitudes of the
two vectors
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Mr R Gopie

PHYSICS



b) Anti-parallel (i.e. acts in opposite directions)

V1 + V2



Resultant V1 V2 = Vr


Note that the least (i.e. minimum) resultant vector of any two vectors is obtained when the
two vectors are anti-parallel and its magnitude is given by the difference between the
magnitudes of the two vectors.

c) Perpendicular (i.e. act in directions which are 90 degrees to one another
The parallelogram rule is used
i)
State a scale
ii)
Draw a parallelogram of the vectors (V1 and V2) accurately to the scale
iii)
Draw and measure the length of the appropriate diagonal that represent the
resultant vector
iv)
Convert the length of the diagonal, using the scale, to determine the
magnitude of the resultant vector. The direction of this diagonal represents
the direction of the resultant vector and can be stated either in terms of the
angle it makes with V1 or in terms of the angle it makes with V2.

Diag. 2


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PHYSICS



Examples:
State the magnitude and direction of the resultant force in each of the
following systems
Show all your working.







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Mr R Gopie

PHYSICS

Diag. 3








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PHYSICS


TUTORIAL
June 1995 paper 3 #1

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PHYSICS


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June 1997 paper 2 #2



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PHYSICS





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January 1999 paper 2 # 2




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Mr R Gopie

PHYSICS


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