College Physics 2.66 – Solving for velocity and acceleration from position graph


Figure 2.68 shows the position graph for a particle for 6 s.

(a) Draw the corresponding Velocity vs. Time graph.

(b) What is the acceleration between 0 s and 2 s?

(c) What happens to the acceleration at exactly 2 s?

position graph for a particle for 6 s.
Figure 2.68

Solution:

Part A

The velocity of the particle is the slope of the position vs time graph. Since the position graph is compose of straight lines, we can say that the velocity is constant for several time ranges.

Time RangesSlope of the position Graph/Velocity
0 to 2 seconds=\frac{2-0}{2-0}=1\:\text{m/s}
2 to 3 seconds=\frac{-3-2}{3-2}=\frac{-5}{1}=-5\:\text{m/s}
3 to 5 seconds0 \text{m/s}
5 to 5 seconds=\frac{-2-\left(-3\right)}{6-5}=\frac{1}{1}=1\:\text{m/s}

Based from the data in the table, we can draw the velocity diagram

velocity vs time graph

Part B

Since the velocity is constant between 0 seconds and 2 seconds, we say that the acceleration is 0.

Part C

Since there is a sudden change in velocity at exactly 2 seconds in a very short amount of time, we say that the acceleration is undefined in this case.