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Velocity and Acceleration

Velocity Velocity is the vector equivalent of speed. This just means that it is the same as speed, except that we are specifying the direction in which that speed is going. Speed gives us much less information than velocity. If I say that a car is travelling at 90 mph, that gives much less information than saying a car is travelling at 90 mph towards you. The units of velocity are metres per second (ms-1, or m/s). Something with a velocity of 1ms-1 travels 1 metre every second.

Acceleration Acceleration means the rate of change of velocity. So it is the change in velocity divided by the time it took to make that change. Acceleration has units of metres per second per second (ms-2, or m/s/s). i.e.

On Earth the acceleration due to gravity is 9.81ms-2. This means that if you drop an object from a height, its velocity (towards the centre of the earth) will increase by 9.81ms-1 every second. Compare this to about 1.63ms-2 on the Moon.

This a body that is accelerating at 1ms-2 gets faster by 1ms-1 every second.

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