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Finding displacement+distance from a v-t graph

  1. Sep 10, 2011 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    This is just a general question. When you have a velocity-time graph, I know that the area under the graph is the displacement. How about the distance? It's not the same as the displacement value, is it?


    2. Relevant equations
    n/a


    3. The attempt at a solution
    I'm stumped. I don't even know if it's possible to find distance, since velocity is a vector and distance is a scalar value.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 10, 2011 #2
    You should be able to integrate to form a distance/time graph. Distance is not the displacement. If I walk 10 feet to the right, 5 feet to the left, 5 feet to the right, and 5 feet to the left, my displacement is only 5 feet to the right. The total distance I traveled is however 25 feet. If you calculate the changes in distance for each interval of increasing/decreasing, and add up the absolute value of those, you should get the total distance. It helps that the function you have is v/t, in that, you can simply solve it equal to zero and find the critical points and use them on the distance/time graph to figure out the distance.
     
  4. Sep 10, 2011 #3
    I see. Is there a way to do it without integration, though?
     
  5. Sep 10, 2011 #4
    The reason why I'm asking about not using integration is because I wasn't given the equation of the graph.
     
  6. Sep 11, 2011 #5

    Redbelly98

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    Without the actual equation, you'll have to estimate as best you can using the graph.
     
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