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Scalars and Vectors

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Scalars only have size, but vectors have size and direction. A scalar only has a magnitude, whilst a vector has a magnitude and direction. Force and velocity are both vectors. Some scalar quantities are mass, temperature, time, length, speed, and energy. Some vector quantities are displacement, force, velocity, acceleration, and momentum. Adding vectors involves pythagoras and trigonometry. Adding two vectors is called finding the resultant of them. To find the magnitude of two vectors at right angles to one another, you use pythagoras to work out the missing side. To work out the angle, you use inverse tan of the opposite side divided by the adjacent side. A good understanding of trigonometry is useful in mechanics. Use the same method for resultant forces or velocities. Start by drawing a diagram of what you know. If the vectors are the same magnitude the angle is 45 degrees. It's useful to split a vector into horizontal and vertical components. This is the opposite of finding the resultant - you take a vector and split it into a horizontal and vertical component. The horizontal component is given by v(horizontal)=v cos (theta), where theta is the angle. The vertical component is given by v(vertical)=v sin theta. v is the inital vector. Resolving is useful because the two components of a vector don't affect each other. This means you can deal with the two directions completely seperately. Only the vertical component is affected by gravity.

This means you can deal with the two directions completely seperately. Only the vertical component is

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Free Fall

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Free fall is when there's only gravity and nothing else. Free fall is defined as "the motion of an object undergoing an acceleration of 'g'". Acceleration is a vector quantity, and g acts vertically downwards, with a magnitude of 9.81 metres per second squared unless otherwise stated. The only force acting on an object in free fall is its weight. Objects can have an initial velocity in any direction and still undergo free fall as long as the force providing the initial velocity is no longer acting. You can measure g by using an object in free fall. You need to be able to sketch a diagram of the apparatus, describe the method, list the measurements you take, explain how 'g' is calculated and be aware of sources of error. You need: a ball bearing attached to an electromagnet, a circuit with a switch and a trapdoor connected to a timer. Measure the height from the bottom of the ball bearing to the trapdoor. Flick the switch to release the ball bearing from the electromagnet and start the timer. The ball bearing falls and hits the trapdoor, breaking the circuit and stopping the timer. Use the time t measured by the timer and the height that the ball fell, using h=0.5 x g x t squared. The most significant source of error will be in the measurement of h. Using a ruler the uncertainty will be about 1mm. You can just replace a with g in the equations of motion. You need to be able to work out speeds, distances and times for objects in free fall. g is constant acceleration so you can use the constant acceleration equations. But g acts downwards so be careful about directions. g is usually negative, t is always positive, and u, v and s can be positive or negative. For a object that just falls, u=0 and a=g. For an object thrown in the air, a=g again, and the equations

or negative. For a object that just falls, u=0 and a=g. For an object thrown in




















Displacement-Time Graphs

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Acceleration means a curved displacement-time graph. A graph of displacement (y-axis) against time (x-axis) for an accelerating object always produces a curve. You can plot a displacement-time graph once you have a relationship between s and t. E.g if a=2 metres per second squared and u=0 metres per second then using s=ut+0.5at squared and substuting in the values, you get s=t squared. Different accelerations have different gradients. If the object has a different acceleration it'll change the gradient of the curve. Bigger acceleration=steeper curve, higher gradient, smaller acceleration=shallower curve, less gradient. A deceleration of the same magnitude will be the graph flipped around and the curve gradually decreases to a horizontal line. The gradient of a displacement-time graph tells you the velocity. When the velocity is constant the graph's a straight line. Velocity =change in displacement/time taken. On the graph this is change in y/change in x, i.e the gradient. It's the same with curved graphs. If the gradient isn't constant it means the object is accelerating. To find the velocity at a certain point you need to draw a tangent to the curve at that point and find the gradient.

To find the velocity at a certain point you need to draw a tangent to the