If a car travels 60 mi. north for one-half hour, 100 mi. west for one hour, and 60 mi. south for 30 minutes, what is the total displacement of the car?

1 Answer
Dec 11, 2016

Displacement is the distance between the initial position and the final position. For example, if we ran around a track field one time, our displacement would be 0 meters because our starting and ending positions are at the exact same point. This is different from distance, which would be 400 meters around a track field, the total length that we moved.

Now back to the question at hand

The car travels 60 miles north, 100 miles west, and 60 miles south.

If we traveled 60 miles north and 60 miles south, our displacement is 0! We just end up at the same place that we started.

Therefore, the total displacement of the car would be 100 miles west.

In contrast, the total distance would be 220 miles.