Motion in Two Dimensions with Constant Acceleration

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A particle starting at position with initial velocity subjected to a constant acceleration follows a trajectory given by . For one-dimensional motion, say in the direction, this reduces to . A projectile fired upward at an angle describes a parabolic trajectory when subject to the downward acceleration of gravity. The path of the particle up to the time is shown by a dotted curve.

Contributed by: S. M. Blinder (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



Snapshot 1: linear motion when the velocity and acceleration are in the same direction

Snapshot 2: parabolic trajectory of a missile

Snapshot 3: a weight dropped, possibly off the Tower of Pisa, with a slight forward push

You can animate these simulations with the animation button on the time slider. Use the slow motion option.

Reference: E. Kasner, "The Trajectories of Dynamics," Transactions of the American Mathematical Society, 7(3) 1906 pp. 401–424.

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