Encyclopedia > Velocity

  Article Content


Velocity is a vector measurement of the rate and direction of motion. The scalar absolute value (magnitude) of velocity is speed.

In both mechanics the average speed v of an object moving a distance d during a time interval t is described by the simple formula:

v = d/t.

The instantaneous velocity vector v of an object whose position at time t is given by x(t) can be computed as the derivative

v = dx/dt.

Acceleration is the change of an object's velocity over time. The average acceleration of a of an object whose speed changes from vi to vf during a time interval t is given by:

a = (vf - vi)/t.

The instantaneous acceleration vector a of an object whose position at time t is given by x(t) is

a = d2x/(dt)2

The final velocity vf of an object which starts with velocity vi and then accelerates at constant acceleration a for a period of time t is:

vf = vi + at

The average velocity of an object undergoing constant acceleration is (vf + vi)/2. To find the displacement d of such an accelerating object during a time interval t, substitute this expression into the first formula to get:

d = t(vf + vi)/2

When only the object's initial velocity is known, the expression

d = vit + (a't2)/2

can be used. These basic equations for final velocity and displacement can be combined to form an equation that is independent of time:

vf2 = vi2 + 2ad

The above equations are valid for both classical mechanics and special relativity. Where classical mechanics and special relativity differ is in how different observers would describe the same situation. In particular, in classical mechanics, all observers agree on the value of 't' and the transformation rules for position create a situation in which all non-accelerating observers would describe the acceleration of an object with the same values. Neither is true for special relativity.

The kinetic energy (movement energy) of a moving object is linear with both its mass and the square of its speed:

<math>E_{v} = \frac{1}{2} mv^2</math>

The kinetic energy is a scalar quantity.

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
Richard Nixon

... of Representatives from California in 1948 where he became a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee and was instrumental in the trial of the ex-government ...