PHYS 1111L Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Parallelogram Law, Net Force

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27 Nov 2017
Acceleration, in physics, is the rate of change of velocity of an object with respect to time.
An object's acceleration is the net result of any and all forces acting on the object, as
described by Newton's Second Law. The SI unit for acceleration is metre per second squared
(m s−2). Accelerations are vector quantities (they have magnitude and direction) and add
according to the parallelogram law. As a vector, the calculated net force is equal to the
product of the object's mass (a scalar quantity) and its acceleration.
For example, when a car starts from a standstill (zero relative velocity) and travels in a
straight line at increasing speeds, it is accelerating in the direction of travel. If the car
turns, an acceleration occurs toward the new direction. In this example, we can call the
forward acceleration of the car a "linear acceleration", which passengers in the car might
experience as a force pushing them back into their seats. When changing direction, we might
call this "non-linear acceleration", which passengers might experience as a sideways force.
If the speed of the car decreases, this is an acceleration in the opposite direction from the
direction of the vehicle, sometimes called deceleration.Passengers may experience
deceleration as a force lifting them forwards. Mathematically, there is no separate formula
for deceleration: both are changes in velocity. Each of these accelerations (linear, non-
linear, deceleration) might be felt by passengers until their velocity (speed and direction)
matches that of the car.
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