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Relative Velocity HTML5

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Summary

Sometimes, an object moves within a medium which is moving with respect to a fixed observer. Here you have a boat sailing straight right. in a current. Therefore the magnitude of the velocity of the boat with respect to a fixed observer on land will not be the one indicated by the speedometer on-board.
This simulation is an application of the velocity composition law:

  • The green vector is the velocity of the boat relative to the ground.
  • The red vector is the velocity of the boat relative to the water.
  • The blue vector is the velocity of the water relative to the ground.

The velocity of the boat relative to the ground (the only one necessary to determine the sailing route) is the addition of the two others.
These considerations would be the same for an airplane which encounters a wind.

Click on the grid to modify the water current.

Learning goals

  • To illustrate a vector addition in the case of the velocity composition law.
  • To show the resultant vector as the result of adding the individual vectors.
  • To introduce the components of a vector.
  • To illustrate a common navigation problem.

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