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What is the meaning of the sum of tan A and rad A?

  1. Sep 27, 2009 #1
    Today I was doing a homework that asked me to calculate the sum of some particular tangential acceleration and radial acceleration in a circular motion.

    We all know clearly about the concepts independently, but I wonder what the physical meaning the sum of the two accelerations is? Or it is just a some kinda tool like math?

    Thanks for reading
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2009 #2

    Doc Al

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    Staff: Mentor

    Presumably they want the vector sum of those two orthogonal components, which gives you the total acceleration of the body.
  4. Sep 28, 2009 #3
    so what is the physical meaning of the total acceleration?
    Is it something produced by the two accelerations' definitions?
  5. Sep 28, 2009 #4


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    Homework Helper

    It's the rate of change of velocity. Just the plain old regular acceleration that you've hopefully learned about before...
  6. Sep 28, 2009 #5
    Basically, any particle undergoing a curved path has an acceleration (which is what allows it to curve) - the components of the acceleration could have been taken in any direction not orthogonal to the acceleration, but since we have a conceptual basis of perpendicular to the path and tangent to the path, its easier to give the components in terms of those directions.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2009
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