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Graphical Methods of Vector Addition

Know the difference between scalars and vectors, add vectors head to toe

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Graphically Adding and Resolving Vectors

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A scalar is a quantity of magnitude without direction.

A vector is a quantity of magnitude and direction and is often represented with an arrow.

What are examples of scalars and vectors?

Graphical Addition of Vectors

While adding vectors in 2-dimensions, like the vectors below, use the "tip-to-tail" method.

License: CC BY-NC 3.0


License: CC BY-NC 3.0


 Align the vectors with the tip of one at the tail of the other and draw a vector from the exposed tail of one vector to the tip of the other.

How can you find the magnitude of the resulting vector?

In the above example, the vectors being added are conveniently perpendicular to each other, but vectors do not have to be perpenidicular to be added together.  What other methods can you use to find the magnitude of the resulting vector if the vectors aren't perpendicular to each other?

How do you add vectors in 1-dimension?

Resolving Vectors

While at times it is important to add vectors, vectors are easier to work with while they are in their axial components.

Describe how you can resolve vectors into x and y components if you are given the magnitude and an angle of the vector.

For guidance in answering the questions in this guide, consult with the embedded links above.

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