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Velocity to the east, acceleration to the west

  1. Oct 6, 2005 #1
    I feel like an idiot for asking this, but I am new to Physics. It still doesn't quite click in my brain...So here's the question that has me stumped:

    Can an object with a velocity in the easterly direction simultaneously experience an acceleration in the westerly direction? Why or why not? Give an example.

    Any pointers???
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 6, 2005 #2

    Physics Monkey

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    Ask yourself what acceleration means. It's the rate of change of velocity, right? So let me ask you the question in a different way. Can you be moving east while slowing down (accelerated in the opposite direction)?
     
  4. Oct 6, 2005 #3
    Yes...But doesn't a change in speed and/or direction also change the velocity? I just don't grasp how they can occur at the same time. Maybe my brain just isn't cut out for physics.
     
  5. Oct 6, 2005 #4

    Physics Monkey

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    Remember that acceleration is the rate of change of velocity. So yes, an object can't be moving to east and accelerating to the west forever. Eventually the acceleration will bring the object to rest and then start it moving toward the west. However, there can still be a period of time where the object is moving to east while accelerating to the west.

    It's just like in the car. When you apply the brakes, you're still going forward for a few seconds, but you are being accelerated backwards. When you've accelerated long enough, your velocity is zero and the car is at rest.
     
  6. Oct 6, 2005 #5
    That makes a little bit more sense to me.

    Much appreciated.
     
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