Albert Teen

YOU ARE LEARNING:

Distance vs Displacement

Distance vs Displacement

Distance vs Displacement

Distance is how far you've gone. Displacement is how far you've ultimately moved.

A quick question to get started: which option best describes what distance is?

1

Which of these two cars has travelled the furthest distance? Car A or Car B?

2

Which of the two cars ended up furthest away from its starting point?

3

Now have a look at this image. Which two statements below are true?

Pick the object with the biggest displacement.

True or false? Distance is how far an object has travelled in a straight line to a given destination.

1

To recap! Distance is how far an object has travelled in total, whereas displacement is how far the object ultimately ends up from its starting point.

You measure displacement in a straight line.

Pick the three options that are true.

Vectors and Scalars

1

So distance is the total path taken of an object to get to a certain point. Do you think the direction of travel matters?

2

A scalar quantity is one which describes only the magnitude of something. A vector quantity is one which describes the magnitude and direction of something. What is distance?

3

Does direction matter for displacement?

4

What is displacement?

5

Displacement is a vector quantity which means it takes into account direction as well as magnitude.

This means that if an object has travelled backwards, the displacement will be negative.

An example

1

What is the distance travelled from point A to point D?

2

What is the displacement from point A to point D?

Summary!

1

Distance is a scalar quantity.

It describes total distance an object has moved.

2

Displacement is a vector quantity.

It describes how far away from its starting point the object ends up, measured in a straight line.

3

Distance is not necessarily larger than displacement.

For example, if an object simply moved 3 metres in a straight line, the object's distance and displacement would be the same (3 metres).