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Kinematics:
Vectors and Trigonometry

ON THE MCAT

1. A wooden crate, with a mass of 100 kg, is being dragged 25 m up a 30 degree incline using a crank cable system. What is the total force that must be applied by the machine to drag the crate up the incline?

Note: the coefficient of friction is 0.5

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Objective 1
Describe the unit circle
APPLY
objective 1
As theta, θ, increases from 0° to 90°, what happens to the length of

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REKAP
objective 1
Describe the unit circle
The unit circle is a circle with radius = 1, centered at point
(0,0)—the origin
To use the unit circle, draw a radius from the origin to the
circle at some angle theta, θ
Objective 2
Describe the sine and cosine functions
using the unit circle

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APPLY
objective 2
As theta, θ, increases from 0° to 90°, what happens to the length of
the rise, aka the sin(θ) line?
APPLY
objective 2
As theta, θ, increases from 0° to 90°, what happens to the length of
the run, aka the cos(θ) line?

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APPLY
objective 2
Between 0° and 90°:
a) At what angle is the rise, aka the sin(θ) line, the longest? The shortest?
b) At what angle is the run, aka the cos(θ) line, the longest? The shortest?
c) At what angle are the rise and the run the same length?
REKAP
objective 2
Describe the sine and cosine functions using the unit
circle
The rise:
Where the radius and the circle intersect, draw a line straight
down to the x-axis
This line is called the rise or the opposite
Its length is sin(θ)
The run:
Where the rise meets the x-axis, draw a line along the x-axis back
to the origin
This line is called the run or the adjacent
Its length is cos(θ)

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Objective 3
APPLY
objective 3
complete circle?

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APPLY
objective 3
APPLY
objective 3
How many radians is one quarter of a circle? Three fourths of a circle?
Two thirds of a circle?

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REKAP
objective 3
Angles may be measured in degrees or radians, where
radians are the SI unit for angles
Radians are defined using the concept of pi:
Pi, π, is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter
You can imagine diameter as a line passing straight from the right
edge of the circle to the left edge of the circle
So a "π angle" is actually a straight line
Radians and π are very useful for reporting angles as
fractions:
2π radians make one complete circle
Multiply 2π by any fraction, and you find that fraction of a circle
Objective 4
Differentiate between vectors and scalars

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APPLY
objective 4
Which of the following quantities are vectors and which are scalars?
Temperature, Force, Revenue, Number of objects, Velocity, Pressure
APPLY
objective 4
Imagine that in your basement, you have a heavy safe. You push on the safe with
all your might, and the safe does not move. Why not? You recruit four friends and
all of you push on the safe, which starts to slide. Why does the safe now slide?

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APPLY
objective 3
Total distance traveled is the scalar part of displacement, which is a vector. Imagine you
jog away from your home at 4 m/s north for 10 minutes, and then you jog back home at
the same speed. Plot your displacement vs. time and your distance traveled vs. time.
Displacement vs Time
4800
3600
2400
1200
0
0
5
10
15
20
Time (min)
N
Distance vs Time
4800
S
3600
2400
1200
0
0
5
10
15
20
Time (min)
Distance (m)
Displacement (m)
REKAP
objective 4
Differentiate between vectors and scalars
In physics, many numbers have both magnitude and net
direction
These numbers are called vectors
A vector’s direction is usually given as an angle relative to the x-
axis, or relative to another vector
The magnitude of a vector is just a number
In physics, some numbers do not have a net direction; these
are called scalars
A vector is usually represented as an arrow
The length of the arrow represents the vector’s magnitude
The direction of the arrow is the same as the vector’s direction

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Objective 5
Use component vectors to find vector
sums
APPLY
objective 5
A boat’s engine pushes the boat east across a river at a speed of 20 mph. The river’s current
moves south at 20 mph. What is the boat’s net velocity (speed and angle) relative to the shore?

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APPLY
objective 5
A man stoops over to push a cardboard box across the ground. He delivers 30 N of force to the
box. But because he is leaning over, he actually delivers that force at a 30° angle into the ground.
How much of the force is used to push the box along the ground? How much of the force is wasted
by pushing the box into the ground?
APPLY
objective 5
A box slides down a 30° ramp. The box’s weight is 30 N. What is the component of force
sliding the box down the ramp? What is the component pushing the box into the ramp?

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APPLY
objective 5
A boat’s engine pushes the boat northeast across a river at a speed of 20 mph. The river’s current
moves southeast at 20 mph. What is the boat’s net velocity (speed and angle) relative to the
shore?
APPLY
objective 5
A rocket’s thrusters accelerate the rocket at 15 m/s 2 at an angle of 85° relative to the earth’s
surface. The rocket also experiences a gust of wind accelerating the rocket 4 m/s 2 at an angle 15°
relative to the earth’s surface. What is the net acceleration experienced by the rocket (magnitude
and direction)?
Step 1a: Find x component length
Step 1b: Find y component length
Step 2: Find total length
Step 3: Find final angle

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REKAP
objective 5
Use component vectors to find vector sums
Vectors are easy to work with because a vector can be
broken apart into component vectors:
Usually, one component vector points in the direction of the x-axis
and the other points in the direction of the y-axis
To add two vectors using components:
Break both vectors into x and y components
Then find the final vector by adding the resulting vectors
To find the resulting vector’s magnitude and direction:
Use trig functions to find the resulting vector’s direction, as an
angle
Use Pythagoras’ theorem to find the resulting vector’s magnitude
ON THE MCAT
1. A wooden crate, with a mass of 100 kg, is being dragged 25 m up a 30 degree
incline using a crank cable system. What is the minimum force that must be
applied by the machine to drag the crate up the incline?
Note: the coefficient of friction is 0.5
A.
67
Step 1a: Find x component length
Step 1b: Find y component length
B.
500
C.
866
Step 2: Find force of friction
Step 3: Find F push

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REFLECT

Now you should be able to… Describe the unit circle Describe the sine and cosine functions using the unit circle Convert between degrees and radians Differentiate between vectors and scalars Use component vectors to find vector sums