solved physics problem

photo credit: LordJim

Todays solved physics problem is a displacement question…. here it goes!

A bee leaves his hive and flies to a tree 4 kilometers east of the hive.  After spending a bit of time at the tree he then flies 3 kilometers south.  What is the bee’s displacement with respect to the hive?

(note: if your wondering what is up with the hand-written answer… it’s how you do your work, so it’s how I do mine … I want it to look the same as yours.)

solved physics problem

Things to watch out for in this solved physics problem:

  1. Note that the diagram I drew has dotted lines showing the bees flight path …. that is because the problem did not state that the bee flew in a straight line to the tree.  Showing the dotted lines will let your instructor know you understand the concept of displacement which is a straight line between the start and the end point.
  2. This problem required two parts: one to find the distance and one to find the direction.  If I had said the answer was 5 km and NOT shown the direction that answer would be WRONG!  Displacement questions always require direction.
  3. The way that the direction is indicated is “36.9 degrees south of east” … some students find this way of describing the direction difficult.  The easiest way to get it right is to draw a compass (like the one shown in the top right corner of the page) and on your DIAGRAM lay your pencil pointing one of the 4 directions (i.e. north, south, east or west) until it is directly touching one of the lines that you know or have calculated the angle of.  Now pivot your pencil to the actual displacement line … did it travel south and your pencil was initially pointing east?  Then you have “south of east”.
  4. As with all physics problems the goal is to solve them systematically (i.e. the same general way every time).  I do that by using the same structured format for every problem … it is all the red areas.  I call it the AEIOU-Diagram method and you can read about it by clicking this link.