Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Understanding Seconds Squared

In dealing with any physics problem of acceleration you will run across the notation of meters per second squared  m/s² often.  It has been established that the acceleration due to gravity is 9.8 m/s² whether a young Sir Isaac Newton was really hit on the head with an apple and came up with the theory of gravity is questionable.   The square of a number means multiplying it by itself 4² would be 4 x 4 = 16.  It is easy to visualize units of distance squared but the idea of time squared just did n’t make sense to me.  With a quick Internet search I found I was not alone, many people have been asking to have this clarified, and the following are parts of the most understandable explanations for me.

Distance Squared easy to visualize
Think of it Like This

One way of thinking of this is by wording it meter per second per second or as the velocity per second. This can be written out as   velocity  (meters per second) / time (per second).  If you look up the rules for division of fractions you multiply the divisor by the reciprocal.  In other words the numerator and divisor are flipped around the same can be done with the m/s² notation.

Bill Kuhl

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