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To test your understanding of this distinction, consider the motion depicted in the diagram below. A physics teacher walks 4 meters East, 2 meters South, 4 meters West, and finally 2 meters North.
Even though the physics teacher has walked a total distance of 12 meters, her displacement is 0 meters. During the course of her motion, she has "covered 12 meters of ground" (distance = 12 m). Yet when she is finished walking, she is not "out of place" - i.e., there is no displacement for her motion (displacement = 0 m). Displacement, being a vector quantity, must give attention to direction. The 4 meters east cancels the 4 meters west; and the 2 meters southcancels the 2 meters north
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Jun 7th, 2015
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