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velocity, change in displacement with respect to time. Displacement is the vector counterpart of distance, having both magnitude and direction. Velocity is therefore also a vector quantity. The magnitude of velocity is known as the speed of a body. The average velocity or average speed of a moving body during a time period *t* may be computed by dividing the total displacement or total distance by *t.* Computation of the instantaneous velocity at a particular moment, however, usually requires the methods of the calculus.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright © 2004.

Licensed from Columbia University Press

Licensed from Columbia University Press

Quantity that designates the speed and direction in which a body moves. It can be represented graphically by an arrow (pointing in the direction of the motion), the length of which is proportional to the magnitude, or speed. For an object in circular motion, the direction at any instant is tangential to the circle at that point, and so is perpendicular to the radius at that point. The instantaneous speed of a vehicle, such as an automobile, can be determined by a speedometer, or mathematically by differential calculus. The average speed is the ratio of the distance traveled in any given time interval divided by the time taken.

Learn more about velocity with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.

Speed sufficient for a body to escape from a gravitational centre of attraction without accelerating further. It decreases with altitude and equals the square root of 2 (about 1.414) times the speed needed to maintain a circular orbit at the same altitude. At the surface of Earth, disregarding atmospheric resistance, escape velocity is about 6.96 mi/second (11.2 km/second). Escape velocity from the surface of the Moon is about one-third of this.

Learn more about escape velocity with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.

In physics, velocity is defined as the rate of change of position. It is a vector physical quantity; both speed and direction are required to define it. In the SI (metric) system, it is measured in meters per second: (m/s) or ms^{-1}. The scalar absolute value (magnitude) of velocity is speed. For example, "5 meters per second" is a scalar and not a vector, whereas "5 meters per second east" is a vector. The average velocity v of an object moving through a displacement $(Delta\; mathbf\{x\})$ during a time interval $(Delta\; t)$ is described by the formula:## Equation of motion

## Relative velocity

### Scalar velocities

In the one dimensional case, the velocities are scalars and the equation is either:
## Polar coordinates

In polar coordinates, a two-dimensional velocity is described by a radial velocity, defined as the component of velocity away from or toward the origin (also known as velocity made good), and an angular velocity, which is the rate of rotation about the origin (with positive quantities representing counter-clockwise rotation and negative quantities representing clockwise rotation, in a right-handed coordinate system).

- $bar\{mathbf\{v\}\}\; =\; frac\{Delta\; mathbf\{x\}\}\{Delta\; t\}.$

The rate of change of velocity is referred to as acceleration.

The instant velocity vector $,\; v$ of an object that has positions $,\; x(t)$ at time $,\; t$ and $,\; x(t\; +\; \{Delta\; t\})$ at time $,\; t\; +\{Delta\; t\}$, can be computed as the derivative of position:

- $,\; mathbf\{v\}\; =\; lim\_\{Delta\; t\; to\; 0\}\{\{mathbf\{x\}(t+Delta\; t)-mathbf\{x\}(t)\}\; over\; Delta\; t\}=\{mathrm\{d\}mathbf\{x\}\; over\; mathrm\{d\}t\}$

The equation for an object's velocity can be obtained mathematically by evaluating the integral of the equation for its acceleration beginning from some initial period time $,\; t\_0$ to some point in time later $,\; t\_n$.

The final velocity v of an object which starts with velocity u and then accelerates at constant acceleration a for a period of time $,\; (Delta\; t)$ is:

- $mathbf\{v\}\; =\; mathbf\{u\}\; +\; mathbf\{a\}\; Delta\; t$

The average velocity of an object undergoing constant acceleration is $begin\{matrix\}\; frac\; \{(mathbf\{u\}\; +\; mathbf\{v\})\}\{2\}\; ;\; end\{matrix\}$, where u is the initial velocity and v is the final velocity. To find the displacement, x, of such an accelerating object during a time interval, $Delta\; t$, then:

- $Delta\; mathbf\{x\}\; =\; frac\; \{(mathbf\{u\}\; +\; mathbf\{v\}\; )\}\{2\}Delta\; t$

When only the object's initial velocity is known, the expression,

- $Delta\; mathbf\{x\}\; =\; mathbf\{u\}\; Delta\; t\; +\; frac\{1\}\{2\}mathbf\{a\}\; Delta\; t^2,$

can be used.

This can be expanded to give the position at any time t in the following way:

- $mathbf\{x\}(t)\; =\; mathbf\{x\}(0)\; +\; Delta\; mathbf\{x\}\; =\; mathbf\{x\}(0)\; +\; mathbf\{u\}\; Delta\; t\; +\; frac\{1\}\{2\}mathbf\{a\}\; Delta\; t^2,$

These basic equations for final velocity and displacement can be combined to form an equation that is independent of time, also known as Torricelli's equation:

- $v^2\; =\; u^2\; +\; 2aDelta\; x.,$

The above equations are valid for both Newtonian mechanics and special relativity. Where Newtonian mechanics and special relativity differ is in how different observers would describe the same situation. In particular, in Newtonian mechanics, all observers agree on the value of t and the transformation rules for position create a situation in which all non-accelerating observers would describe the acceleration of an object with the same values. Neither is true for special relativity. In other words only relative velocity can be calculated.

In Newtonian mechanics, the kinetic energy (energy of motion), $,\; E\_\{K\}$, of a moving object is linear with both its mass and the square of its velocity:

- $E\_\{K\}\; =\; begin\{matrix\}\; frac\{1\}\{2\}\; end\{matrix\}\; mv^2.$

The kinetic energy is a scalar quantity.

Escape velocity is the minimum velocity a body must have in order to escape from the gravitational field of the earth. To escape from the earth's gravitational field an object must have greater kinetic energy than its gravitational potential energy. The value of the escape velocity from Earth is approximately 11100 m/s

Relative velocity is a measurement of velocity between two objects as determined in a single coordinate system. Relative velocity is fundamental in both classical and modern physics, since many systems in physics deal with the relative motion of two or more particles. In Newtonian mechanics, the relative velocity is independent of the chosen inertial reference frame. This is not the case anymore with special relativity in which velocities depend on the choice of reference frame.

If an object A is moving with velocity vector v and an object B with velocity vector w , then the velocity of object A relative to object B is defined as the difference of the two velocity vectors:

$mathbf\{v\}\_\{Arelative\; toB\}\; =\; mathbf\{v\}\; -\; mathbf\{w\}$

$mathbf\{v\}\_\{Brelative\; toA\}\; =\; mathbf\{w\}\; -\; mathbf\{v\}$

$,\; v\_\{rel\}\; =\; v\; -\; (-w)$, if the two objects are moving in opposite directions, or:

$,\; v\_\{rel\}\; =\; v\; -(+w)$, if the two objects are moving in the same direction.

The radial and angular velocities can be derived from the Cartesian velocity and displacement vectors by decomposing the velocity vector into radial and transverse components. The transverse velocity is the component of velocity along a circle centered at the origin.

- $mathbf\{v\}=mathbf\{v\}\_T+mathbf\{v\}\_R$

- $mathbf\{v\}\_T$ is the transverse velocity

- $mathbf\{v\}\_R$ is the radial velocity

- $v\_R=frac\{mathbf\{v\}\; cdot\; mathbf\{r\}\}\{left|mathbf\{r\}right|\}$

- $mathbf\{r\}$ is displacement

- $v\_T=frac$
{|mathbf{r}=omega|mathbf{r}|>

- $omega=frac$>{|mathbf{r}|^2}

Angular momentum in scalar form is the mass times the distance to the origin times the transverse velocity, or equivalently, the mass times the distance squared times the angular speed. The sign convention for angular momentum is the same as that for angular velocity.- $L=mrv\_T=mr^2omega,$

- $m,$ is mass

- $r=|mathbf\{r\}|$

If forces are in the radial direction only with an inverse square dependence, as in the case of a gravitational orbit, angular momentum is constant, and transverse speed is inversely proportional to the distance, angular speed is inversely proportional to the distance squared, and the rate at which area is swept out is constant. These relations are known as Kepler's laws of planetary motion

## Time-Average Velocity

The velocity of an object over one period of time.

## See also

- Kinematics
- Relative velocity
- Terminal velocity
- Hypervelocity
- Four-velocity (relativistic version of velocity for Minkowski spacetime)
- Rapidity (a version of velocity additive at relativistic speeds)
- Proper velocity (in relativity, using traveler time instead of observer time)

## References

- Halliday, David, Robert Resnick and Jearl Walker, Fundamentals of Physics, Wiley; 7 Sub edition (June 16, 2004). ISBN 0471232319.

## External links

- Speed and Velocity (The Physics Classroom)
- Introduction to Mechanisms (Carnegie Mellon University)

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