What is the definition of position in physics?
In physics, position is usually a number on an axis. A number where direction doesn't matter is called a scalar. Position is a vector, because direction matters. But distance is a scalar. Distance is how far you've traveled.
Direction is defined as the path that something takes, the path that must be taken to reach a specific place, the way in which something is starting to develop or the way you are facing. An example of direction is when you go right instead of left.
- The four cardinal directions or cardinal points are the directions north, east, south, and west, commonly denoted by their initials N, E, S, and W. East and west are at right angles to north and south, with east being in the clockwise direction of rotation from north and west being directly opposite east.
- These cardinal directions can be abbreviated as N, S, E, and W.
- Cardinal points: north, south, east, and west.
- The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
- To understand where north, south, east, and west are, first point your left arm towards the sun in the morning.
- A Definition of Position. Your browser does not support iframes. Not Required Viewing. An object's position is its location relative to a reference point (or origin of a coordinate system). Position is a vector quantity because it does have a direction.
The direction of a vector is often expressed as an angle of rotation of the vector about its "tail" from east, west, north, or south.
- A vector contains two types of information: a magnitude and a direction. The magnitude is the length of the vector while the direction tells us which way the vector points. Vector direction can be given in various forms, but is most commonly denoted in degrees. Acceleration and velocity are examples of vectors.
- Sample question
- Apply the Pythagorean theorem to find the magnitude. Plug in the numbers to get 5.1.
- Apply the equation theta= tan–1(y/x) to find the angle. Plug in the numbers to get tan–1(5.0/1.0) = 79 degrees.
- Examples of such quantities include distance, displacement, speed, velocity, acceleration, force, mass, momentum, energy, work, power, etc. All these quantities can by divided into two categories - vectors and scalars. A vector quantity is a quantity that is fully described by both magnitude and direction.
In physics, speed is a pure scalar, or something with a magnitude but no direction --such as 5 m/s. 5 meters per second does not tell us which way the object is moving. It gives us no clue about the direction. On the other hand, velocity, in Physics, must be expressed as a vector with both a magnitude and a direction.
- The magnitude is a number that characterizes the relative size of an earthquake. Magnitude is based on measurement of the maximum motion recorded by a seismograph.
- A scalar quantity is a one dimensional measurement of a quantity, like temperature, or mass. A vector has more than one number associated with it. A simple example is velocity. It has a magnitude, called speed, as well as a direction, like North or Southwest or 10 degrees west of North.
- Find the magnitude of force acting upon a cart weighing 100 N and accelerating at the rate of 2.5 m/s2.
- Remember, 10 N is equal to 9.8 kg. So, convert Newtons to kg by dividing by 9.8 kg. Your new kg value should be 10.2 kg for the mass.
- Multiply your new mass value (10.2 kg) times the acceleration (2.5 m/s2).
Updated: 17th October 2019