SummaryWriting_ch3 - Vectors This chapter of Physics for...

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Vectors This chapter of “Physics for Scientists and Engineers” explains the use of vectors in physics. Particularly, the use of coordinate systems as a means of describing locations in space, the difference between vector and scalar quantities, the properties of a vector, simple vector arithmetic, the components of a vector and using unit vectors to aid in describing direction in 2D and 3D space. Coordinate Systems When dealing with vectors in two dimensional space, the coordinate system used is the Cartesian coordinate system. Vectors can be represented by their Cartesian coordinates (a pair of xy coordinates showing the initial and final position of the vector) or by their plane polar coordinates (the magnitude of the vector represented by r and the angle of the vector with respect to the x axis in a counterclockwise direction represented by theta .) Cartesian coordinates can be translated into polar coordinates using basic trigonometry. Since the vector forms a right triangle on the Cartesian plane, the magnitude r can be calculated using the Pythagorean theorem. Making further use of the right triangle, we can calculate the angle theta using trigonometric ratios. Vector and Scalar Quantities The difference between a scalar quantity and a vector quantity is the vector quantity has a direction. Both quantities are represented by a value with a unit designation but the vector quantity has
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This note was uploaded on 05/09/2011 for the course PHYS 204 taught by Professor B.frank during the Winter '08 term at Concordia Canada.

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SummaryWriting_ch3 - Vectors This chapter of Physics for...

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