Really Smart



The term “velocity” can refer to a few different concepts in physics, but the most common meaning is the speed of a moving object in a certain direction. Velocity is a vector quantity, which means that it has a magnitude (speed) and a direction. In physics, we use the symbol “v” to represent velocity. For example, if you are driving a car at a speed of 60 miles per hour east, then your velocity would be written as “v = 60 mph east”. This can also be written as “v = 60 mph, 45° east of north”. Velocity is related to both the acceleration and the displacement of an object. If you accelerate an object, its velocity will change in both magnitude and direction. Similarly, if an object moves from one place to another, its velocity (the rate at which it is changing its location) will also change. Analogies are often helpful when trying to understand velocity. For example, think of a boat that is traveling upstream on a river. The boat has to work much harder than a boat traveling downstream, because it is not only fighting the current of the river, but also trying to move forward. In this analogy, the current of the river represents the force of gravity, and the forward motion of the boat represents its velocity. Fun Fact: The fastest recorded velocity ever achieved by a human-made object is the speed of the Helios 2 probe, which flew past the sun at a speed of 153,454 miles per hour in 1976!