# Calculate the total distance traversed by the car

1. Feb 10, 2006

### angina1

Please can somebody help me with this problem.A car undergoes a displacement of 500m due east, followed by another displacement due south of 1200m.
a) Calculate the total distance traversed by the car.
b) Calculate the total displacement of the car.

2. Feb 10, 2006

### chroot

Staff Emeritus
Draw a diagram showing the car's initial position as a dot, and each movement as a line. Note that the two lines form two sides of a right triangle. Can you use geometry to solve for the hypotenuse of that triangle?

- Warren

3. Feb 10, 2006

### angina1

i was trying to get the displacement using the formula, so the total displacemt must be 1700m, is that right?

4. Feb 10, 2006

### Pengwuino

No, the total displacement is from point A to point Z no matter how many B's or C's or D's you had to go through to get there. They're asking for a straight line change in position from your original point.

Displacement vs. distance transversed is two different things. Displacement is the absolute end result of how far you are from point A. Distance transversed is the actual distance of the path you took during the whole trip.

5. Feb 10, 2006

### chroot

Staff Emeritus
Pengwuino is right. The total distance travelled is just the sum of the 500m and 1200m movements, for a total of 1700m.

The total displacement, however, is the distance between the starting and ending points of the trip, which is smaller than 1700m.

- Warren

6. Feb 10, 2006

### angina1

so the total displacement is going to be 700m

7. Feb 10, 2006

### Pengwuino

No, did you draw the diagram?

8. Feb 10, 2006

### angina1

but the displacement's formula is final value-initial value, an the rf=1200m ant the initial=500

9. Feb 10, 2006

### chroot

Staff Emeritus
angina,

Positions are two-dimensional in this case; distances, in general, cannot be found by only using a single number.

The original position of the car is (0,0), while the final position is (500, -1200). You need to draw a picture of the path the car takes, and use geometry to find the resulting distance, as we have now said several times.

- Warren

10. Feb 10, 2006

### angina1

thank you so much for your help

11. Feb 10, 2006

### nick727kcin

distance is scalar. no direction, so just add up those two numbers to get this

however, with displacement youd have to do the pythagorean theorem