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Hi,I was wondering if acceleration was a form of nonuniform speed?

  1. Jun 16, 2011 #1
    Hi,

    I was wondering if acceleration was a form of nonuniform speed?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2011 #2

    sophiecentaur

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    Re: Acceleration

    That's what it means!!
     
  4. Jun 16, 2011 #3
    Re: Acceleration

    Well, thank you very much for answering so promptly.
     
  5. Jun 16, 2011 #4

    cjl

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    Re: Acceleration

    Well...

    Acceleration means nonuniform velocity. An object can have a uniform speed and still be accelerating (if it is following a curved path at a constant speed).
     
  6. Jun 16, 2011 #5

    sophiecentaur

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    Re: Acceleration

    I said it the wrong way round; non-uniform speed is called / is an example of acceleration.
    You are right about change of direction, of course. Mea culpa for being so sloppy.
     
  7. Jun 16, 2011 #6
    Re: Acceleration

    Changing your direction is actually just a decrease in speed in one orthogonal dimension and an increase in another however, so fundamentally it is non-uniform speed.
     
  8. Jun 16, 2011 #7

    cjl

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    Re: Acceleration

    Since speed is the magnitude of velocity, that isn't really the case.
     
  9. Jun 16, 2011 #8
    Re: Acceleration

    Total speed is the magnitude of velocity. Acceleration is non-uniform speed in at least 1 spacial direction.
     
  10. Jun 16, 2011 #9

    cjl

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    Re: Acceleration

    You're trying to invoke direction, but by definition, speed is directionally independent. If you include directional information, you're talking about velocity, not speed.
     
  11. Jun 16, 2011 #10
    Re: Acceleration

    I was commenting on your remark that acceleration means nonuniform velocity. And that you can have a uniform speed and still be accelerating. What you mean is that you can have a uniform "total" speed in all directions and still be accelerating. This makes it much more confusing than it actually is and people get confused as to why changing direction is acceleration, it makes it sound mysterious when it is not.

    You can't say that your speed is uniform because you are making up for a loss in speed in one orthogonal direction by a gain in speed in another orthogonal direction. This is why they are "orthogonal".

    When you go around a turn in your car you are reducing your speed in the direction you were travelling, this is why you feel the same effect as if you press on your brake.
     
  12. Jun 17, 2011 #11

    HallsofIvy

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    Re: Acceleration

    This is a physics board and we are using the word "speed" in its technical, physics, meaning. Talking about "speed in the direction you were travelling" indicates that you are not.
     
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