Negative time in equations of motion

beck blackfire

1. Homework Statement
My teacher keeps saying we can't have negative times because they don't exist and when I do these questions I get negatives and can't understand them at all, can someone help me?
1. How long does it take to slow a car from 10m/s to rest at a rate of -1.75m/s^2?
2.How long does it take to slow a car going 35m/s to 15m/s at an acceleration of -3.75m/

2. Homework Equations
t=v/a

3. The Attempt at a Solution
1)t=v/a
t=10/-1.75
t=-5s
2) I can't understand it almost at all

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paisiello2

In the use of your formula are you assuming the velocity is constant? Is this the case?

Borek

Mentor
Actually it should be t=Δv/a. What is Δv?

BvU

Homework Helper
And it gets even better: $a = {\Delta v\over \Delta t}$ is the right way to memorize. Any of them can be negative.

Teacher wants to keep things easy for your sake. "negative times" is too fuzzy. Time is running forward only. Time differences can be negative -- depending on when you pin down the zero of your clock (or calendar).

• Borek

CWatters

Homework Helper
Gold Member
In case you don't know what "Δ" means....

2. Homework Equations
t=v/a
What others have said. Your relevant equation is really...

Acceleration = Change in velocity / Change in time.

Rearrange that to..

Change in time = Change in velocity / Acceleration

If you apply that to the problem carefully you get a +ve answer....

1. How long does it take to slow a car from 10m/s to rest at a rate of -1.75m/s^2?
The change in velocity is 0-10 = -10m/s so the equation becomes..

Change in time = -10 / -1.75 = +5.7 seconds.

Try doing problem 2.

Last edited:

SammyS

Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
Gold Member
1. Homework Statement
My teacher keeps saying we can't have negative times because they don't exist and when I do these questions I get negatives and can't understand them at all, can someone help me?
1. How long does it take to slow a car from 10m/s to rest at a rate of -1.75m/s^2?
2.How long does it take to slow a car going 35m/s to 15m/s at an acceleration of -3.75m/

2. Homework Equations
t=v/a

3. The Attempt at a Solution
1)t=v/a
t=10/-1.75
t=-5s
2) I can't understand it almost at all
It's likely that your problem arises from problems which are quadratic in time.

Then you often have two solutions, with one of them possibly being negative.

For instance:
A ball is tossed upward with a speed of 50m/s from a height of 15m above ground level. How long does it take the ball to land on the ground?​

There will be two answers for time, t. One is negative.

BvU

Homework Helper
Dear Sam, from post #1 I estimate we are in an earlier stage here...
Better poster works on exercise 2

Last edited:

SammyS

Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Dear Sam, from post #1 I estimate we are in an earlier stage here...
Better poster works on exercise 2
Point well taken.

"Negative time in equations of motion"

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