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University Physics Volume 1

3.3 Average and Instantaneous Acceleration

University Physics Volume 13.3 Average and Instantaneous Acceleration
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  1. Preface
  2. Unit 1. Mechanics
    1. 1 Units and Measurement
      1. Introduction
      2. 1.1 The Scope and Scale of Physics
      3. 1.2 Units and Standards
      4. 1.3 Unit Conversion
      5. 1.4 Dimensional Analysis
      6. 1.5 Estimates and Fermi Calculations
      7. 1.6 Significant Figures
      8. 1.7 Solving Problems in Physics
      9. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    2. 2 Vectors
      1. Introduction
      2. 2.1 Scalars and Vectors
      3. 2.2 Coordinate Systems and Components of a Vector
      4. 2.3 Algebra of Vectors
      5. 2.4 Products of Vectors
      6. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    3. 3 Motion Along a Straight Line
      1. Introduction
      2. 3.1 Position, Displacement, and Average Velocity
      3. 3.2 Instantaneous Velocity and Speed
      4. 3.3 Average and Instantaneous Acceleration
      5. 3.4 Motion with Constant Acceleration
      6. 3.5 Free Fall
      7. 3.6 Finding Velocity and Displacement from Acceleration
      8. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    4. 4 Motion in Two and Three Dimensions
      1. Introduction
      2. 4.1 Displacement and Velocity Vectors
      3. 4.2 Acceleration Vector
      4. 4.3 Projectile Motion
      5. 4.4 Uniform Circular Motion
      6. 4.5 Relative Motion in One and Two Dimensions
      7. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    5. 5 Newton's Laws of Motion
      1. Introduction
      2. 5.1 Forces
      3. 5.2 Newton's First Law
      4. 5.3 Newton's Second Law
      5. 5.4 Mass and Weight
      6. 5.5 Newton’s Third Law
      7. 5.6 Common Forces
      8. 5.7 Drawing Free-Body Diagrams
      9. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    6. 6 Applications of Newton's Laws
      1. Introduction
      2. 6.1 Solving Problems with Newton’s Laws
      3. 6.2 Friction
      4. 6.3 Centripetal Force
      5. 6.4 Drag Force and Terminal Speed
      6. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    7. 7 Work and Kinetic Energy
      1. Introduction
      2. 7.1 Work
      3. 7.2 Kinetic Energy
      4. 7.3 Work-Energy Theorem
      5. 7.4 Power
      6. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    8. 8 Potential Energy and Conservation of Energy
      1. Introduction
      2. 8.1 Potential Energy of a System
      3. 8.2 Conservative and Non-Conservative Forces
      4. 8.3 Conservation of Energy
      5. 8.4 Potential Energy Diagrams and Stability
      6. 8.5 Sources of Energy
      7. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
    9. 9 Linear Momentum and Collisions
      1. Introduction
      2. 9.1 Linear Momentum
      3. 9.2 Impulse and Collisions
      4. 9.3 Conservation of Linear Momentum
      5. 9.4 Types of Collisions
      6. 9.5 Collisions in Multiple Dimensions
      7. 9.6 Center of Mass
      8. 9.7 Rocket Propulsion
      9. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    10. 10 Fixed-Axis Rotation
      1. Introduction
      2. 10.1 Rotational Variables
      3. 10.2 Rotation with Constant Angular Acceleration
      4. 10.3 Relating Angular and Translational Quantities
      5. 10.4 Moment of Inertia and Rotational Kinetic Energy
      6. 10.5 Calculating Moments of Inertia
      7. 10.6 Torque
      8. 10.7 Newton’s Second Law for Rotation
      9. 10.8 Work and Power for Rotational Motion
      10. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    11. 11 Angular Momentum
      1. Introduction
      2. 11.1 Rolling Motion
      3. 11.2 Angular Momentum
      4. 11.3 Conservation of Angular Momentum
      5. 11.4 Precession of a Gyroscope
      6. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    12. 12 Static Equilibrium and Elasticity
      1. Introduction
      2. 12.1 Conditions for Static Equilibrium
      3. 12.2 Examples of Static Equilibrium
      4. 12.3 Stress, Strain, and Elastic Modulus
      5. 12.4 Elasticity and Plasticity
      6. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    13. 13 Gravitation
      1. Introduction
      2. 13.1 Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation
      3. 13.2 Gravitation Near Earth's Surface
      4. 13.3 Gravitational Potential Energy and Total Energy
      5. 13.4 Satellite Orbits and Energy
      6. 13.5 Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion
      7. 13.6 Tidal Forces
      8. 13.7 Einstein's Theory of Gravity
      9. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    14. 14 Fluid Mechanics
      1. Introduction
      2. 14.1 Fluids, Density, and Pressure
      3. 14.2 Measuring Pressure
      4. 14.3 Pascal's Principle and Hydraulics
      5. 14.4 Archimedes’ Principle and Buoyancy
      6. 14.5 Fluid Dynamics
      7. 14.6 Bernoulli’s Equation
      8. 14.7 Viscosity and Turbulence
      9. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
  3. Unit 2. Waves and Acoustics
    1. 15 Oscillations
      1. Introduction
      2. 15.1 Simple Harmonic Motion
      3. 15.2 Energy in Simple Harmonic Motion
      4. 15.3 Comparing Simple Harmonic Motion and Circular Motion
      5. 15.4 Pendulums
      6. 15.5 Damped Oscillations
      7. 15.6 Forced Oscillations
      8. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    2. 16 Waves
      1. Introduction
      2. 16.1 Traveling Waves
      3. 16.2 Mathematics of Waves
      4. 16.3 Wave Speed on a Stretched String
      5. 16.4 Energy and Power of a Wave
      6. 16.5 Interference of Waves
      7. 16.6 Standing Waves and Resonance
      8. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    3. 17 Sound
      1. Introduction
      2. 17.1 Sound Waves
      3. 17.2 Speed of Sound
      4. 17.3 Sound Intensity
      5. 17.4 Normal Modes of a Standing Sound Wave
      6. 17.5 Sources of Musical Sound
      7. 17.6 Beats
      8. 17.7 The Doppler Effect
      9. 17.8 Shock Waves
      10. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
  4. A | Units
  5. B | Conversion Factors
  6. C | Fundamental Constants
  7. D | Astronomical Data
  8. E | Mathematical Formulas
  9. F | Chemistry
  10. G | The Greek Alphabet
  11. Answer Key
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
    10. Chapter 10
    11. Chapter 11
    12. Chapter 12
    13. Chapter 13
    14. Chapter 14
    15. Chapter 15
    16. Chapter 16
    17. Chapter 17
  12. Index

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Calculate the average acceleration between two points in time.
  • Calculate the instantaneous acceleration given the functional form of velocity.
  • Explain the vector nature of instantaneous acceleration and velocity.
  • Explain the difference between average acceleration and instantaneous acceleration.
  • Find instantaneous acceleration at a specified time on a graph of velocity versus time.

The importance of understanding acceleration spans our day-to-day experience, as well as the vast reaches of outer space and the tiny world of subatomic physics. In everyday conversation, to accelerate means to speed up; applying the brake pedal causes a vehicle to slow down. We are familiar with the acceleration of our car, for example. The greater the acceleration, the greater the change in velocity over a given time. Acceleration is widely seen in experimental physics. In linear particle accelerator experiments, for example, subatomic particles are accelerated to very high velocities in collision experiments, which tell us information about the structure of the subatomic world as well as the origin of the universe. In space, cosmic rays are subatomic particles that have been accelerated to very high energies in supernovas (exploding massive stars) and active galactic nuclei. It is important to understand the processes that accelerate cosmic rays because these rays contain highly penetrating radiation that can damage electronics flown on spacecraft, for example.

Average Acceleration

The formal definition of acceleration is consistent with these notions just described, but is more inclusive.

Average Acceleration

Average acceleration is the rate at which velocity changes:

a=ΔvΔt=vfv0tft0,a=ΔvΔt=vfv0tft0,
(3.8)

where aa is average acceleration, v is velocity, and t is time. (The bar over the a means average acceleration.)

Because acceleration is velocity in meters per second divided by time in seconds, the SI units for acceleration are often abbreviated m/s2—that is, meters per second squared or meters per second per second. This literally means by how many meters per second the velocity changes every second. Recall that velocity is a vector—it has both magnitude and direction—which means that a change in velocity can be a change in magnitude (or speed), but it can also be a change in direction. For example, if a runner traveling at 10 km/h due east slows to a stop, reverses direction, and continues her run at 10 km/h due west, her velocity has changed as a result of the change in direction, although the magnitude of the velocity is the same in both directions. Thus, acceleration occurs when velocity changes in magnitude (an increase or decrease in speed) or in direction, or both.

Acceleration as a Vector

Acceleration is a vector in the same direction as the change in velocity, ΔvΔv. Since velocity is a vector, it can change in magnitude or in direction, or both. Acceleration is, therefore, a change in speed or direction, or both.

Keep in mind that although acceleration is in the direction of the change in velocity, it is not always in the direction of motion. When an object slows down, its acceleration is opposite to the direction of its motion. Although this is commonly referred to as deceleration Figure 3.10, we say the train is accelerating in a direction opposite to its direction of motion.

Picture shows a subway train coming into a station.
Figure 3.10 A subway train in Sao Paulo, Brazil, decelerates as it comes into a station. It is accelerating in a direction opposite to its direction of motion. (credit: modification of work by Yusuke Kawasaki)

The term deceleration can cause confusion in our analysis because it is not a vector and it does not point to a specific direction with respect to a coordinate system, so we do not use it. Acceleration is a vector, so we must choose the appropriate sign for it in our chosen coordinate system. In the case of the train in Figure 3.10, acceleration is in the negative direction in the chosen coordinate system, so we say the train is undergoing negative acceleration.

If an object in motion has a velocity in the positive direction with respect to a chosen origin and it acquires a constant negative acceleration, the object eventually comes to a rest and reverses direction. If we wait long enough, the object passes through the origin going in the opposite direction. This is illustrated in Figure 3.11.

Figure shows three vectors: a directed to the west, vf directed to the west, and vo directed to the east.
Figure 3.11 An object in motion with a velocity vector toward the east under negative acceleration comes to a rest and reverses direction. It passes the origin going in the opposite direction after a long enough time.

Example 3.5

Calculating Average Acceleration: A Racehorse Leaves the Gate A racehorse coming out of the gate accelerates from rest to a velocity of 15.0 m/s due west in 1.80 s. What is its average acceleration?

Picture shows two racehorses with riders accelerating out of the gate.
Figure 3.12 Racehorses accelerating out of the gate. (credit: modification of work by Jon Sullivan)

Strategy First we draw a sketch and assign a coordinate system to the problem Figure 3.13. This is a simple problem, but it always helps to visualize it. Notice that we assign east as positive and west as negative. Thus, in this case, we have negative velocity.

Figure shows three vectors: a has the unknown value ans is directed to the west, vf is equal to – 15 m/s and is directed to the west, vo is equal to zero.
Figure 3.13 Identify the coordinate system, the given information, and what you want to determine.

We can solve this problem by identifying ΔvandΔtΔvandΔt from the given information, and then calculating the average acceleration directly from the equation a=ΔvΔt=vfv0tft0a=ΔvΔt=vfv0tft0.

Solution First, identify the knowns: v0=0,vf=−15.0m/sv0=0,vf=−15.0m/s (the negative sign indicates direction toward the west), Δt = 1.80 s.

Second, find the change in velocity. Since the horse is going from zero to –15.0 m/s, its change in velocity equals its final velocity:

Δv=vfv0=vf=−15.0m/s.Δv=vfv0=vf=−15.0m/s.

Last, substitute the known values (ΔvandΔtΔvandΔt) and solve for the unknown aa:

a=ΔvΔt=−15.0m/s1.80s=−8.33m/s2.a=ΔvΔt=−15.0m/s1.80s=−8.33m/s2.

Significance The negative sign for acceleration indicates that acceleration is toward the west. An acceleration of 8.33 m/s2 due west means the horse increases its velocity by 8.33 m/s due west each second; that is, 8.33 meters per second per second, which we write as 8.33 m/s2. This is truly an average acceleration, because the ride is not smooth. We see later that an acceleration of this magnitude would require the rider to hang on with a force nearly equal to his weight.

Check Your Understanding 3.3

Protons in a linear accelerator are accelerated from rest to 2.0×107m/s2.0×107m/s in 10–4 s. What is the average acceleration of the protons?

Instantaneous Acceleration

Instantaneous acceleration a, or acceleration at a specific instant in time, is obtained using the same process discussed for instantaneous velocity. That is, we calculate the average acceleration between two points in time separated by ΔtΔt and let ΔtΔt approach zero. The result is the derivative of the velocity function v(t), which is instantaneous acceleration and is expressed mathematically as

a(t)=ddtv(t).a(t)=ddtv(t).
(3.9)

Thus, similar to velocity being the derivative of the position function, instantaneous acceleration is the derivative of the velocity function. We can show this graphically in the same way as instantaneous velocity. In Figure 3.14, instantaneous acceleration at time t0 is the slope of the tangent line to the velocity-versus-time graph at time t0. We see that average acceleration a=ΔvΔta=ΔvΔt approaches instantaneous acceleration as ΔtΔt approaches zero. Also in part (a) of the figure, we see that velocity has a maximum when its slope is zero. This time corresponds to the zero of the acceleration function. In part (b), instantaneous acceleration at the minimum velocity is shown, which is also zero, since the slope of the curve is zero there, too. Thus, for a given velocity function, the zeros of the acceleration function give either the minimum or the maximum velocity.

Graph A shows velocity plotted versus time. Velocity increases from t1 to t2 and t3. It reaches maximum at t0. It decreases to t4 and continues to decrease to t5 and t6. The slope of the tangent line at t0 is indicated as the instantaneous velocity. Graph B shows velocity plotted versus time. Velocity decreases from t1 to t2 and t3. It reaches minimum at t0. It increases to t4 and continues to increase to t5 and t6. The slope of the tangent line at t0 is indicated as the instantaneous velocity.
Figure 3.14 In a graph of velocity versus time, instantaneous acceleration is the slope of the tangent line. (a) Shown is average acceleration a=ΔvΔt=vfvitftia=ΔvΔt=vfvitfti between times Δt=t6t1,Δt=t5t2Δt=t6t1,Δt=t5t2, and Δt=t4t3Δt=t4t3. When Δt0Δt0, the average acceleration approaches instantaneous acceleration at time t0. In view (a), instantaneous acceleration is shown for the point on the velocity curve at maximum velocity. At this point, instantaneous acceleration is the slope of the tangent line, which is zero. At any other time, the slope of the tangent line—and thus instantaneous acceleration—would not be zero. (b) Same as (a) but shown for instantaneous acceleration at minimum velocity.

To illustrate this concept, let’s look at two examples. First, a simple example is shown using Figure 3.9(b), the velocity-versus-time graph of Example 3.4, to find acceleration graphically. This graph is depicted in Figure 3.15(a), which is a straight line. The corresponding graph of acceleration versus time is found from the slope of velocity and is shown in Figure 3.15(b). In this example, the velocity function is a straight line with a constant slope, thus acceleration is a constant. In the next example, the velocity function has a more complicated functional dependence on time.

Graph A shows velocity in meters per second plotted versus time in seconds. Graph is linear and has a negative constant slope. Graph B shows acceleration in meters per second square plotted versus time in seconds. Graph is linear and has a zero slope with the acceleration being equal to -6.
Figure 3.15 (a, b) The velocity-versus-time graph is linear and has a negative constant slope (a) that is equal to acceleration, shown in (b).

If we know the functional form of velocity, v(t), we can calculate instantaneous acceleration a(t) at any time point in the motion using Equation 3.9.

Example 3.6

Calculating Instantaneous Acceleration A particle is in motion and is accelerating. The functional form of the velocity is v(t)=20t5t2m/sv(t)=20t5t2m/s.

  1. Find the functional form of the acceleration.
  2. Find the instantaneous velocity at t = 1, 2, 3, and 5 s.
  3. Find the instantaneous acceleration at t = 1, 2, 3, and 5 s.
  4. Interpret the results of (c) in terms of the directions of the acceleration and velocity vectors.

Strategy We find the functional form of acceleration by taking the derivative of the velocity function. Then, we calculate the values of instantaneous velocity and acceleration from the given functions for each. For part (d), we need to compare the directions of velocity and acceleration at each time.

Solution

  1. a(t)=dv(t)dt=2010tm/s2a(t)=dv(t)dt=2010tm/s2
  2. v(1s)=15m/sv(1s)=15m/s, v(2s)=20m/sv(2s)=20m/s, v(3s)=15m/sv(3s)=15m/s, v(5s)=−25m/sv(5s)=−25m/s
  3. a(1 s)=10 m/s2a(1 s)=10 m/s2, a(2 s)=0m/s2a(2 s)=0m/s2, a(3 s)=−10m/s2a(3 s)=−10m/s2, a(5s)=−30m/s2a(5s)=−30m/s2
  4. At t = 1 s, velocity v(1s)=15m/sv(1s)=15m/s is positive and acceleration is positive, so both velocity and acceleration are in the same direction. The particle is moving faster.

At t = 2 s, velocity has increased tov(2s)=20m/sv(2s)=20m/s, where it is maximum, which corresponds to the time when the acceleration is zero. We see that the maximum velocity occurs when the slope of the velocity function is zero, which is just the zero of the acceleration function.

At t = 3 s, velocity is v(3s)=15m/sv(3s)=15m/s and acceleration is negative. The particle has reduced its velocity and the acceleration vector is negative. The particle is slowing down.

At t = 5 s, velocity is v(5s)=−25m/sv(5s)=−25m/s and acceleration is increasingly negative. Between the times t = 3 s and t = 5 s the particle has decreased its velocity to zero and then become negative, thus reversing its direction. The particle is now speeding up again, but in the opposite direction.

We can see these results graphically in Figure 3.16.

Graph A shows velocity in meters per second plotted versus time in seconds. Velocity starts at zero, increases to 15 at 1 second, and reaches maximum of 20 at 2 seconds. It decreases to 15 at 3 seconds and continues to decrease to -25 at 5 seconds. Graph B shows acceleration in meters per second squared plotted versus time in seconds. Graph is linear and has a negative constant slope. Acceleration starts at 20 when time is zero, decreases to 10 at 1 second, to zero at 2 seconds, to -10 at 3 seconds, and to -30 and 5 seconds.
Figure 3.16 (a) Velocity versus time. Tangent lines are indicated at times 1, 2, and 3 s. The slopes of the tangent lines are the accelerations. At t = 3 s, velocity is positive. At t = 5 s, velocity is negative, indicating the particle has reversed direction. (b) Acceleration versus time. Comparing the values of accelerations given by the black dots with the corresponding slopes of the tangent lines (slopes of lines through black dots) in (a), we see they are identical.

Significance By doing both a numerical and graphical analysis of velocity and acceleration of the particle, we can learn much about its motion. The numerical analysis complements the graphical analysis in giving a total view of the motion. The zero of the acceleration function corresponds to the maximum of the velocity in this example. Also in this example, when acceleration is positive and in the same direction as velocity, velocity increases. As acceleration tends toward zero, eventually becoming negative, the velocity reaches a maximum, after which it starts decreasing. If we wait long enough, velocity also becomes negative, indicating a reversal of direction. A real-world example of this type of motion is a car with a velocity that is increasing to a maximum, after which it starts slowing down, comes to a stop, then reverses direction.

Check Your Understanding 3.4

An airplane lands on a runway traveling east. Describe its acceleration.

Getting a Feel for Acceleration

You are probably used to experiencing acceleration when you step into an elevator, or step on the gas pedal in your car. However, acceleration is happening to many other objects in our universe with which we don’t have direct contact. Table 3.2 presents the acceleration of various objects. We can see the magnitudes of the accelerations extend over many orders of magnitude.

Acceleration Value (m/s2)
High-speed train 0.25
Elevator 2
Cheetah 5
Object in a free fall without air resistance near the surface of Earth 9.8
Space shuttle maximum during launch 29
Parachutist peak during normal opening of parachute 59
F16 aircraft pulling out of a dive 79
Explosive seat ejection from aircraft 147
Sprint missile 982
Fastest rocket sled peak acceleration 1540
Jumping flea 3200
Baseball struck by a bat 30,000
Closing jaws of a trap-jaw ant 1,000,000
Proton in the large Hadron collider 1.9×1091.9×109
Table 3.2 Typical Values of Acceleration (credit: Wikipedia: Orders of Magnitude (acceleration))

In this table, we see that typical accelerations vary widely with different objects and have nothing to do with object size or how massive it is. Acceleration can also vary widely with time during the motion of an object. A drag racer has a large acceleration just after its start, but then it tapers off as the vehicle reaches a constant velocity. Its average acceleration can be quite different from its instantaneous acceleration at a particular time during its motion. Figure 3.17 compares graphically average acceleration with instantaneous acceleration for two very different motions.

Graph A shows acceleration in meters per second squared plotted versus time in seconds. Acceleration varies only slightly and is always in the same direction, since it is positive. The average over the interval is nearly the same as the acceleration at any given time. Graph B shows acceleration in meters per second squared plotted versus time in seconds. Acceleration varies greatly: from -4 meters per second squared to 5 meters per second squared.
Figure 3.17 Graphs of instantaneous acceleration versus time for two different one-dimensional motions. (a) Acceleration varies only slightly and is always in the same direction, since it is positive. The average over the interval is nearly the same as the acceleration at any given time. (b) Acceleration varies greatly, perhaps representing a package on a post office conveyor belt that is accelerated forward and backward as it bumps along. It is necessary to consider small time intervals (such as from 0–1.0 s) with constant or nearly constant acceleration in such a situation.

Interactive

Learn about position, velocity, and acceleration graphs. Move the little man back and forth with a mouse and plot his motion. Set the position, velocity, or acceleration and let the simulation move the man for you. Visit this link to use the moving man simulation.

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