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Splitting vectors into Components

  1. May 16, 2013 #1
    I suppose this is less of a "help me with a problem" question than a question asking why something happens. All semester I have been working with vectors and vector components in my general physics class. I understand how to do it and how to solve a complex problem using this method. What I don't understand, however, is why this works. I would really appreciate some insight into this matter.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2013 #2

    madmike159

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    Gold Member

    General problems should really go in the maths section, rather than the homework help section.

    If you want to know exactly how vectors relate to the real world, you could be asking a very deep and complex (and philosophical) question.

    In general though vectors give magnitude and direction (using trig to find angles etc), and most real world values are actually vectors. Mass of an object is a scalar, but its acceleration is best described as a vector since both the magnitude and direction of acceleration are important for describing the object.

    [itex]\vec{F}[/itex] = m[itex]\vec{a}[/itex]

    So we get a vector describing the force on an object, and as you said we split the vector up into its component parts to allow us to solve equations more easily. Why can we describe the natural world using maths, no one knows yet.
     
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