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Interpreting direction of motion from velocity-time graph

Let's explore how a velocity-time graph can reveal the direction of an object's linear motion. We'll decipher whether the object is moving forward or backward, or even right or left, based on the graph's details. Together, we'll make sense of these intriguing mathematical representations of motion.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] An object is moving along a line. The following graph gives the object's velocity over time. For each point on the graph, is the object moving forward, backward, or neither? So pause this video and see if you can figure that out. All right, now let's do this together. And so we can see these different points on this velocity-versus-time graph. And the important thing to realize is is if the velocity is positive, we're moving forward. If the velocity is negative, we're moving backward. And if the velocity is zero, we're not moving either forward nor backwards, or neither forward nor backwards. So right over here we see that our velocity is positive. It's a positive two meters per second. So that means that we are moving forward. Now, over here our velocity is zero meters per second. So this is neither. Now, over here our velocity is negative four meters per second. So one way to think about it is we're moving four meters per second backward. So I'll write backward. Now, this is interesting, this last point. 'Cause you might be tempted to say all right, I'm oscillating. I'm going up. Then I'm going down. Then I'm going back up. Maybe I'm moving forward here. But remember, what we're thinking about here, this isn't position versus time. This is velocity versus time. So if our velocity is negative, we're moving backwards. And here our velocity is still negative. It's becoming less negative, but it's still negative. So we are still moving, we are still moving backward. If we were at this point right over here or at this point, then we would be moving forward if our velocity were positive.