is the acceleration due to gravity positive or negativeby holtvg Tags: acceleration, gravity, negative, positive 

#1
Sep2808, 07:45 PM

P: 18

I know that purely the acceleration due to gravity is positive because it accelerates things not decelerates or negative acceleration. But in some cases it can be negative but i'm not sure in which cases. For example if i'm just standing here on the ground is gravity working in a positive or negative direction.




#2
Sep2808, 07:48 PM

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Gravity always is down. You can choose your coordinate system so that down is positive or so that up is positive. If up is positive then, since gravity points down, gravity would be in the negative direction.




#3
Sep2808, 10:37 PM

HW Helper
P: 6,925

Acceleration only occurs if there are no equal and opposing forces to gravity. Normally the sign of acceleration due to gravity of earth on an object near the earth is negative, since the direction of altitude or height is normally upwards (outwards) relative to the earth. 



#4
Sep2908, 08:51 PM

P: 18

is the acceleration due to gravity positive or negative
If a ball is thrown up while it's going up gravity is negative but when it's going down it's positive, so it can be either positive or negative right? But what also confuses me as when it's is seen as negative i see it as decelerating an object when it's supposed to accelerate it.




#5
Sep2908, 09:04 PM

Sci Advisor
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#6
Sep2908, 09:06 PM

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#7
Sep2908, 09:58 PM

P: 18

Guess it will be negative in my case cause up is positive and down is negative and it's pulling down. But what is really important during 2 dimensional motion is if the velocity vector is in the same direction as gravity then gravity is positive, if the velocity vector is in the opposite direction of gravity then gravity is negative on the yaxis




#8
Sep2908, 10:34 PM

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#9
Sep3008, 06:23 AM

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P: 11,984

If the ball is falling at, for example, a speed of 10.0 m/s, then it's velocity is
v = 10.0 m/s. Since g = 9.8 m/s^{2}, then 1 second later we have v = 19.8 m/s Note that 19.8 is less than 10.0 ... so velocity has decreased, even though the speed has increased from 10.0 to 19.8 m/s. Hope that helps clear things up. 



#10
Feb611, 02:56 PM

P: 2

Here is something that may help you all discern between when to use a () or (+) sign in front of acceleration. Basically, I didn't quite get it 100% until I started using this. I use it as follows:
Think of velocity as directional. Acceleration is NOT directional. So if you assign a (+) to velocity when it goes up or to the right, then a () would be assigned to down and the left. Let's do it that way. Now, open the attachment. Ok? Let's take a look. To figure out the acceleration, use the chart and go by velocity and motion. Therefore, If velocity is () (down or to the left) and x (motion) is speeding up, then acceleration will have a () sign in front of it. If velocity is (+) (up or to the right) and x (motion) is slowing down, then acceleration will have a () sign in front of it. Get it? Try it on your own. It's quite simple once you've got this down. One more... if velocity is () and the x (motion) is slowing down, then acceleration is (+). Nice, eh? One more thing... I find it easier to use the vf= vo + a(t) formula with these (where a= gravity or g). If you go with the equation that holds g as a (), it throws it off. Good luck! 



#11
Feb611, 03:14 PM

P: 5,634

Using up and down is many times not that useful: Consider the gravitational attraction between two planets, each with an inhabitant asking your question....and say one throws a ball up in the air.....he sees it deccelerating away from him while she sees it decelerating towards her on the distant planet.
Another way to get a perspective on "positive" and "negative" is to realize that gravitational potential is taken to be zero at infinite separation and negative when objects are closer...in other words, positive work must be done to separate the objects. You have to do positive work to move a balls upwards. This is in fact the convention used in physics and is why it is said that the total energy in the universe is zero...gravity offsets everything else. 


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