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Right Hand Rule
Take your right hand, curl your fingers, and stick your thumb straight up. If you let the curl of
your fingers follow the path of the rotating particle or body, your thumb will point in the
direction of the angular velocity of the body. This way, the direction is constant throughout the
rotation. Below are shown a few examples of rotation, and of the resultant direction of
σ
:
Figure %: Three different directions of rotation, shown with direction of σ
Angular acceleration is defined in a similar way. If the magnitude of the angular velocity
increases, then the angular acceleration is in the same direction as the angular velocity.
Conversely, if the magnitude of the velocity decreases, the angular acceleration points in the
direction opposite the angular velocity.
Though the direction of these vectors may seem trivial for now, they become quite important
when studying concepts such as torque and angular momentum. Now, equipped with kinematic
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This note was uploaded on 02/09/2012 for the course PHY PHY2053 taught by Professor Davidjudd during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.
 Fall '10
 DavidJudd
 Physics

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