• Support PF! Buy your school textbooks, materials and every day products Here!

Can a vector of magnitude zero have a nonzero component?

  • #1
During baseball practice, a batter hits a very high fly ball, and then runs in a straight line and catches it. Which had the greater displacement, the player or the ball or neither? Explain.

I think it's neither but i'm not sure and i don't understand why. could someone please explain.

Also, Can a vector of magnitude zero have a nonzero component?

Thanks for your help!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
HallsofIvy
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
41,770
911
"displacement" is the straight line distance between the starting point and the ending point. Both batter and ball started at the same point and ended at the same point.


(Strictly speaking, "displacement" is the vector form the starting point to the ending point- but it doesn't make sense to talk about one vector being "greater" than another so I assume you really mean the magnitude of the displacement.)
 
  • #3
ok so i understand the first question now. but i'm still confused about if a vector of magnitude zero have a nonzero component?
 
  • #4
15
0
A vector CAN NOT have a non-zero component and a zero magnitude.
Example in a 3D space:
Consider a vector [tex]\vec{V}=(v_1,v_2,v_3)[/tex].
By definition its magnitude is:
[tex]\|\vec{V}\|= \sqrt{\vec{V} \cdot \vec{V}}[/tex]
That is [tex]\|\vec{V}\|=\sqrt{v_1^2+v_2^2+v_3^2}[/tex]
Because the square of any number is always positive, it is clear that:
1- [tex]v_1 \neq 0[/tex] or [tex]v_2 \neq 0[/tex] or [tex]v_3 \neq 0[/tex] leads to [tex]\|\vec{V}\|>0[/tex],
2- [tex]\|\vec{V}\|=0[/tex] implies that [tex]v_1 = v_2 = v_3 = 0[/tex]

Does it make it any clearer?
 
  • #5
167
0
Of course you presume that the ball is struck and caught at the same height.
 
  • #6
HallsofIvy
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
41,770
911
You don't have to. If the ball flies up into orbit, goes around the world, then falls back onto the top of Mount Everest while the batter gets into an airplane, flies to Paris, spends the day looking at the Mona Lisa, then takes a boat through the Suez Canal to India, and climbs Mount Everest just in time to catch the ball, the displacement vector (and its length) of the ball and batter are exactly the same!
 
  • #7
15
0
HallsofIvy: I think that NewScientist meant that eventhough the ball can be assumed to be a point, the batter can not. Therefore, defining the displacement of the batter by that of his center of gravity, the ball might have a slightly different displacement if it was struck and caught at different distances from the batter's center of gravity.

However I guess this kind of consideration is out of the scope of this problem.
 

Related Threads for: Can a vector of magnitude zero have a nonzero component?

Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
4
Views
789
Replies
2
Views
2K
Replies
10
Views
5K
Replies
1
Views
8K
Replies
12
Views
26K
Replies
5
Views
16K
Top