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### Course: Physics archive > Unit 7

Lesson 1: Rotational kinematics# Angular motion variables

David explains the meaning of angular displacement, angular velocity, and angular acceleration. Created by David SantoPietro.

## Want to join the conversation?

- would you mind explaining how pi radians equals 180 degrees? i'm not sure i understand that part.(24 votes)
- A radian is the angle subtended by an arc when the arc is equal to the radius. So the circumference is the arc subtended when the angle goes 360 round right? That means ...

Angle subtended in radians= (2 * pi * radius)/radius

so 2 pi radians is the same as 360 degrees....

divide both sides by 2....

pi radians is the same as 180 degrees.

Hope this helped!(29 votes)

- At1:19when Dave says that if you were to revolve around the circle twice, the displacement wouldn't be two revolutions. Why would it not be zero because it ended at the same place it started?(30 votes)
- Angular displacement and displacement is different. One talks about minimum distance while the other the minimum angle(19 votes)

- Wait. Why do we use radians instead of degrees when dealing with angular variables?(11 votes)
- Radians end up being more helpful if you end up ever using calculus. For example, angular acceleration is the derivative of angular velocity, but derivatives for trig functions can only be calculated in radians, which is why using radians is better.(21 votes)

- the shape that the tennis ball took was a circle, what would happen if it was a oval? would the equations stay the same or would they change? thanks.(9 votes)
- It would be the same. Even there was no ball there, just the string, still equations will be perfect. Note that we not dealing with the shape of the object. We just care about angle, speed, radius etc.,. Nothing about the ball. Hope I didn't confuse you.(10 votes)

- Since displacement means the shortest path length,then why was the angular displacement of the tennis ball 720 degrees and not 0 as the initial and final positions are same?(6 votes)
- Since you did not ask why angular displacement is not a vector, let me give a simpler answer to what you asked, without going into commutative vector laws. Angular displacement unlike linear displacement isn't defined as the shortest path traveled between to points. When you talk about shortest path between two position coordinates in space, you, in principle, invoke vector laws to find the change in the position vectors which in turn tells you the displacement or the shortest distance you traveled from one position coordinate to the other. In circular motions you move in arcs not straight lines and the concept of shortest distance as defined in angles, is moot. An arc between any two point is always greater than a line between them. However, you can argue that we can define something like shortest angular path for angular motions, analogous to linear displacement. This is where the properties of vectors come forth.

Although defined in a similar fashion like displacement, that is, as the difference between the final (angular) position - initial (angular) position, angular displacement is not a vector.

NOTE: A rigorous mathematical answer can be given regarding why angular displacement is not like linear vector displacement. For that you need to understand commutative vector law.(12 votes)

- In angular displacement, if the tennis ball rotates a full circle, would the angular displacement be 0 or 2pi radians.If the angular displacement is 2pi radians, then why is it called angular "displacement" since in displacement the actual value would be 0.(9 votes)
- Seriously? i guess you did not get the question. the guy's asking whether angular "displacement" should be called angular "displacement" or angular "distance "(1 vote)

- can angular velocity be negative?(5 votes)
- Yes, if you define clockwise as positive rotation and something is rotating counter-clockwise it will have a negative angular velocity.(4 votes)

- Nice explanation. Though I have one doubt, So after 1 revolution will angular displacement will be zero or 2pi Radians ?

Also is there any concept of "Angular Distance"? Like we have Distance in linear physics.(4 votes) - Why is counter-clockwise positive?

If we're going off which way is rightward, counter-clockwise is only rightward on the bottom. In the popular saying righty-tighty, lefty-loosey, direction is judged from the top. Why not here as well?(2 votes)- If you take a unit circle on an XY plane and use the definition of the Y position as Sine of an angle and the X position as the Cosine of the same angle. As the angle increases the point moves around the unit circle in a counter-clockwise direction.(6 votes)

- What is a rigid object? thanks :>(3 votes)
- A rigid object is an object that can translate and rotate with all its parts locked together and without changing its shape. For example, a rod or a bowling ball. This is especially useful information for calculating rotational motion because all particles in this object will move with the same angular displacement, velocity, and acceleration. :)(4 votes)

## Video transcript

- [Instructor] I found
that for many people the hardest part about solving
a rotational motion problem is just keeping track of all the new names for all the rotational
quantities that there are. So in this video, I want to
go over all the different rotational variables like
angular displacement, angular velocity, and
angular exhilaration. We'll explain what they
mean, how they're defined, and how you can solve for
them, so let's do this. Let's consider this example. Say take a tennis ball,
you tie a string to it, and you whirl the tennis
ball around in a circle. If you did this and you
wanted to start defining motion variables that would
describe the rotational motion of this tennis ball, maybe
the most basic quantity you'd come up with would
just be how much angle has this tennis ball swung
through during its motion. So if we imagine the
tennis ball starting there and it rotates over to here,
we could define a quantity that just says how much angle
has this thing gone through. And that would be what's called
the angular displacement. And it's given the symbol delta theta, because theta is the angle
and delta theta is the change in the angle, so this is really theta final minus theta initial. For instance if we started the
tennis ball over here at zero and we ended it at 180,
theta final would be 180, theta initial would be zero,
so our angular displacement would be 180 degrees or pi radians. And if we started at zero and went through an entire circle all the
way, and then another circle all the way, our angular
displacement wouldn't be zero. It would technically be
two whole revolutions, which would be either 720
degrees or four pi radians. And we don't even have
to start at the zero. Our theta initial could
be over here at 180, and we'd go down to 270,
in which case the angular displacement would be 90
degrees or pi over two radians. So this is how we define
the angular displacement and we typically measure it in radians, as opposed to degrees for
reasons that I'll show you in just a second. And the name for this
symbol here is theta. And we should mention
that this is analogous to how we defined the
regular displacement, so if you imagine a tennis ball just going in a straight line, the
regular displacement was a defined b, the final position minus the initial positions,
which we called delta x. And that's just usually
called the displacement, which is measured in meters. Okay, so now we know how
to quantify the amount of angle that this ball
has rotated through, but another quantity that might be useful is the rate at which it's
traveling through that angle. Just like up here, knowing
about the displacement is good, but you might want to know about the rate that it's being displaced. In terms of regular linear
quantities that was called the velocity of the
ball, and it was defined to be the displacement per time. So down here we'll define
a similar quantity, but it's going to be the angular velocity, which is defined analogously
to the regular velocity. If regular velocity is
displacement per time, the angular velocity is
going to be the angular displacement per time. And the symbol we used to
represent angular velocity is the Greek letter omega,
which looks like a w, but it's really the Greek letter omega. And the units of omega, angular velocity, are going to be radians per seconds. Since delta theta, the
angular displacement is in radians, and the time is in seconds. Just like how regular velocity had units of meters per second,
angular velocity has units of radians per second. What is angular velocity mean? What is this omega? It represents the rate at which an object is changing its angle in time. So let's say the tennis ball starts here, and it's going through a
circle at this leisurely rate, that means the rate at which
it's changing its angle is very small and it
has a very small omega. Whereas if you had this tennis
ball going through a circle very fast, the rate at
which it's going in a circle would be large and that
means the angular velocity and omega would also be large. So the velocity and the
angular velocity are related, they're not equal because
the velocity gives you how many meters per second
something is going through, and the angular velocity
gives you how many radians per second it's going through, but if it's got a larger angular velocity, it's going to have a
larger velocity as well. And just like velocity is a vector, angular velocity is also a vector, so I'll put an arrow over this omega. Which way does it point? Technically speaking, you'd
use the same right hand rule you use to determine the direction of the angular displacement. But again if it's rotating
counter clockwise, we can just consider that to be positive, and if it's rotating
clockwise, we can consider that to be a negative omega,
or a negative angular velocity. So let me get rid of
these, and let's define our last angular motion variable. You can probably guess what it is. There's regular displacement and there's angular displacement. There's regular velocity and
there's angular velocity. And then the next logical
step in this motion variable sequence would
be the acceleration, which was defined for
regular variables to be the change in velocity
over the change in time. So we'll define an
analogous angular quantity that would be the angular acceleration. And it's going to be
defined to be, instead of change in velocity over
change in time, it's going to be the change in the angular velocity over the change in time. And the letter we use to
denote angular acceleration is this Greek letter alpha, so this is the Greek letter alpha. It looks like a little
fishy, and that represents the angular acceleration of an object. So what does this angular
acceleration mean? Well, looking at the units,
helps us to figure this out, so the units of regular
acceleration were meters per second per second, so regular
acceleration represented the rate at which the
velocity is changing, and that's the same analogous
definition down here. The units down here are going
to be radians per second per second, so this is going to represent this angular acceleration
is going to represent the rate at which the
angular velocity is changing. What would that look like? Well if we've got this
ball rotating in a circle, if it's rotating at a constant rate, there's no angular
acceleration since the omega, the angular velocity wouldn't be changing. So in other words, if it's
rotating at a constant rate, there's no change in the angular velocity, and that means there's
no angular acceleration. But conversely, if it
starts off moving slowly, and it speeds up its angular
velocity is increasing, then there is an angular
acceleration because there's a change in the
angular velocity of this ball. And just like any acceleration,
this angular acceleration can increase the angular
velocity and speed something up. Or it can slow the
object down and decrease the angular velocity. But if the angular velocity
is remaining constant, in other words it's rotating
in a circle at a constant rate, then the angular acceleration
is zero and that means alpha equals zero. And just like the rest of
these motion variables, angular acceleration is a vector, just like regular
acceleration is a vector. And the direction that the
angular acceleration points will be in the direction of the change in the angular velocity. So in other words, if this
tennis ball is speeding up, then the angular acceleration is pointed in the same direction
as the angular velocity. And if the angular
velocity is slowing down, the angular acceleration points
in the opposite direction to the angular velocity. At this point, I wouldn't
blame you if you weren't like why, why do we need to
define all these new angular variables when
we already had all these regular variables up here. And the answer is that it's
the same reason we define most variables in physics,
because it turns out to be really convenient to do so, and these angular
variables are going to be way more convenient to describe an object that's rotating than
these regular variables. For this reason, imagine
you wanted to describe not just the ball on
the end of the string, but all points on the string as well. If you limited yourself
to only these regular motion variables, you'd
run into a problem. You'd realize that his
ball goes through a circle in a certain amount of
time, but every point on this string also goes
through a circumference in that same amount of time,
so the velocity of the ball is going to be greater
than the velocity of points on the string that are
closer to the center. Because everything's taking
the same amount of time to go through one circle,
but the circle the ball goes through has a larger circumference than the circle that points
nearer to the center do. And so all points on this
string are going to have a different velocity the closer you get to the center of the string. So trying to describe its
motion with just velocity might be a nightmare, whereas
if you were just going to use angular velocity, note that
every point on the string, including the ball moved
through the same amount of angle in the same amount of time. They don't move through the same amount of meters per second,
but they do move through the same amount of radians per second because when the ball has
rotated through two pi radians, once full circle, every
point on this string has rotated through two pi radians. If this ball and string
are going to maintain the same shape. So that's the great thing
about these angular motion variables, every point on
a rigid object is going to have the same angular displacement, the same angular velocity, and the same angular acceleration. It won't matter what point
you're talking about. The angular displacement,
angular velocity, and angular acceleration will be the same for every point on that rotating object. Alright, so before this gets too abstract, let's try a sample problem. Let's say that the ball
starts over here at rest, and it rotates all the way to
this point in four seconds. So it started over here
at rest, and it took four seconds for it to
rotate over to this point. And let's say when the ball
makes it over to this side, it's going 1.57 radians per second. Let's say that's the
final angular velocity. So let's just go through
and try to figure these out. What would the angular
displacement be for this example? Well if the ball started here
and it made it over to here, the angular displacement
would be pi radians, or 180 degrees. What would the angular velocity be? Well it started at rest,
so initially omega was zero at this point here, and
then finally it tells us what the final omega would be, 1.57. So you might wonder, what
would we do with this formula? What if we just used this
formula, what would we get? Well if we used that formula there, we're going to get that
it went pi radians, and it did it in four seconds, which gives us 0.785 radians per second. So you might be like wait a minute, this omega doesn't correspond
to the initial omega or the final omega. What is this corresponding to? Well this would be the average omega. This is the average angular velocity between this initial and final point. This at rest initially
shows that the omega started off as zero. The instantaneous omega was zero, and the instantaneous omega,
or the final angular velocity would be 1.57, so you got to be careful. The instantaneous values
are not necessarily equal to the average value. You can get the average
value by taking the change in theta over the change in
time, but it doesn't necessarily give you the instantaneous
angular velocity at a specific point on the trip. And we can find the angular
acceleration as well if we use this formula. The change in omega
over the change in time. That would be the angular acceleration, our omega final minus
omega initial over time would come out to be 1.57 as
our final angular velocity minus zero was our
initial angular velocity, and that took four seconds to accomplish, so our angular acceleration
would come out to be 0.393 radians per second per second, or you can write that as
radians per second squared. Now technically that is also the average angular acceleration during this trip, but if the angular
acceleration was constant during this trip, which
in almost all cases we're going to look at,
the angular acceleration is going to be constant. If that's the case, this would be both the average value and
the instantaneous value of the angular acceleration
at every point on the trip since the angular acceleration
would be remaining constant. So in this example, we
can say that the angular displacement was pi radians. The average angular velocity
was 0.785 radians per second. The initial angular velocity was zero. The final angular velocity was 1.57, and the angular acceleration was 0.393 radians per second squared. So recapping, the angular
displacement represents the angle through which
an object is rotated. It's typically measured in radians, and it's represented with a delta theta. The angular velocity represents the rate at which an object is rotating. It's measured in radians per second, and it's represented with
a Greek letter omega. And the angular acceleration
represents the rate at which an object is
changing its angular velocity, so if an object rotates
at a constant rate, there is zero angular acceleration, but conversely, if an object's
rotation is speeding up or slowing down, there must
be angular acceleration. It's measured in units of
radians per second per second or radians per second squared, and it's represented with
the Greek letter alpha.