Team Physics -
Created by: Team Physics -, Last Updated: July 14, 2024


Motion in physics refers to the change in position of an object over time relative to a reference point. It involves the concepts of displacement, velocity, acceleration, and time, and can be described in terms of linear, rotational, or oscillatory movements. Understanding motion is fundamental to physics, as it helps explain how and why objects move, interact, and respond to forces, providing a basis for studying various physical phenomena and principles. This includes the application of Newton’s Laws of Motion, particularly Newton’s Second Law of Motion which relates force, mass, and acceleration, and Newton’s Third Law of Motion which states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

What Is Motion?

Motion is the change in an object’s position over time relative to a reference point. It involves displacement, velocity, and acceleration, and is influenced by various forces. Motion is a fundamental concept in physics, describing everything from simple movements to complex orbits.

Motion Formulas

Motion in physics can be described using several key formulas that relate displacement, velocity, acceleration, and time. Here are the essential formulas:

Distance (s):

s = v × t

where s is distance, v is velocity, and t is time.

Velocity (v):

v = Δx / Δt

where v is velocity, Δx is displacement, and Δt is time interval.

Acceleration (a):

a = Δv / Δt

where aa is acceleration, Δv is change in velocity, and Δt is time interval

Equation of Motion (with initial velocity uu):

s = ut + 1/2 at²

where s is displacement, u is initial velocity, a is acceleration, and t is time.

Final Velocity (v):

v = u + at

where v is final velocity, u is initial velocity, a is acceleration, and t is time.

Examples of Motion

  1. Car Driving on a Highway: A car moving in a straight line on a highway represents linear motion.
  2. Falling Object: An apple falling from a tree exhibits linear motion due to gravity.
  3. Spinning Top: A top rotating around its axis displays rotational motion.
  4. Earth’s Rotation: The Earth rotating on its axis, causing day and night, is an example of rotational motion.
  5. Pendulum: A pendulum swinging back and forth in a clock exhibits oscillatory motion.
  6. Vibrating Guitar String: A plucked guitar string vibrating to produce sound shows oscillatory motion.
  7. Thrown Ball: A ball thrown into the air follows a curved path, showing projectile motion.
  8. Cannonball: A cannonball fired from a cannon travels in a parabolic trajectory, demonstrating projectile motion.
  9. Ferris Wheel: The cabins of a Ferris wheel moving in a circular path demonstrate circular motion.
  10. Satellite Orbit: A satellite orbiting around the Earth follows circular motion.
  11. Roller Coaster: A roller coaster moving along its track, experiencing various types of motion such as linear and circular motion.
  12. Bouncing Ball: A ball bouncing up and down on the ground exhibits oscillatory motion.
  13. Swinging Child: A child swinging back and forth on a playground swing demonstrates periodic motion.
  14. Helicopter Blades: The blades of a helicopter rotating to generate lift are an example of rotational motion.
  15. Running Athlete: An athlete sprinting on a track represents linear motion.
  16. Clock Hands: The hands of an analog clock moving in a circular path show circular motion.
  17. Diving Dolphin: A dolphin leaping out of the water and diving back in follows projectile motion.
  18. Windmill: The blades of a windmill rotating in the wind exhibit rotational motion.
  19. Seesaw: A seesaw moving up and down with children on either end shows oscillatory motion.
  20. Cycling: A person riding a bicycle involves both linear motion (forward movement) and rotational motion (spinning wheels).
  21. Boat on Waves: A boat rocking back and forth on ocean waves exhibits oscillatory motion.
  22. Mars Rover: The Mars Rover moving across the surface of Mars demonstrates linear motion.
  23. Swinging Lantern: A lantern hanging and swinging in the wind displays periodic motion.
  24. Wind Blowing Leaves: Leaves being carried and twirling by the wind show random linear motion and rotational motion.
  25. Merry-Go-Round: Horses on a merry-go-round moving in a circular path demonstrate circular motion.

Laws of Motion

1. Newton’s First Law of Motion (Law of Inertia):

An object at rest will remain at rest, and an object in motion will continue moving at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force.
Example: A book lying on a table will stay at rest until someone applies a force to move it. Similarly, a hockey puck sliding on ice will keep moving in a straight line until friction or another force slows it down.

2. Newton’s Second Law of Motion (Law of Acceleration):

The acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the net force acting on it and inversely proportional to its mass. Mathematically, F=maF = maF=ma, where FFF is the force, mmm is the mass, and aaa is the acceleration.
Example: Pushing a car with more force will cause it to accelerate faster, but the same force applied to a truck will result in less acceleration due to the truck’s greater mass.

3. Newton’s Third Law of Motion (Action and Reaction):

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This means that forces always occur in pairs.
Example: When you jump off a boat, you push the boat backward (action), and the boat pushes you forward with an equal force (reaction). Similarly, when a rocket expels gas downward (action), the rocket is propelled upward (reaction).

Types of Motion

Types of Motion

Motion can be categorized into several types based on the nature of the movement and the forces involved. Here are the main types:

  1. Linear Motion : Linear motion occurs when an object moves along a straight path. This can be uniform (constant speed) or non-uniform (changing speed). Examples include a car driving on a straight road and a ball rolling down a hill.
  2. Circular Motion : Circular motion happens when an object moves along a circular path. This includes both uniform circular motion (constant speed around a circle) and non-uniform circular motion (changing speed). Examples include the rotation of a wheel and the orbit of a planet around the sun.
  3. Rotational Motion : Rotational motion occurs when an object spins around an internal axis. Examples include a spinning top, the rotation of Earth on its axis, and the turning of a merry-go-round.
  4. Oscillatory Motion : Oscillatory motion involves an object moving back and forth around a central point or equilibrium position. Examples include the swinging of a pendulum, the vibration of a guitar string, and the movement of a piston in an engine.
  5. Periodic Motion : Periodic motion is a type of oscillatory motion that repeats at regular intervals. Examples include the motion of a clock’s pendulum, the orbits of planets, and the cycles of a sine wave.
  6. Random Motion : Random motion is characterized by erratic, unpredictable movement. Examples include the movement of gas molecules in the air and the motion of pollen grains in water (Brownian motion).

Causes of Motion

  1. Forces
    • Gravitational Force: The attractive force between two masses (e.g., Earth’s gravity pulling objects downward).
    • Frictional Force: The force that opposes the motion of an object (e.g., a sliding book coming to a stop).
    • Applied Force: A force applied to an object by another object or person (e.g., pushing a cart).
    • Normal Force: The support force exerted upon an object in contact with another stable object (e.g., a book resting on a table).
    • Tension Force: The force transmitted through a string, rope, cable, or wire when it is pulled tight (e.g., a rope in a tug-of-war).
    • Air Resistance Force: A type of frictional force that acts upon objects as they travel through the air (e.g., a parachute slowing down descent).
    • Electromagnetic Forces: Forces associated with electric and magnetic fields (e.g., magnets attracting or repelling each other).
  2. Newton’s Laws of Motion
    • First Law (Law of Inertia): An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an external force.
    • Second Law (Law of Acceleration): The acceleration of an object depends on the mass of the object and the amount of force applied (F=maF = maF=ma).
    • Third Law (Action and Reaction): For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
  3. Energy
    • Kinetic Energy: The energy an object has due to its motion (e.g., a moving car).
    • Potential Energy: The energy stored in an object due to its position or state (e.g., a ball at the top of a hill).
  4. Momentum
    • The product of an object’s mass and its velocity (e.g., a speeding bullet has high momentum).
    • The law of conservation of momentum states that the total momentum of a closed system remains constant if no external forces act on it.
  5. External Factors
    • Gravity: The force of attraction between masses (e.g., objects falling to the ground).
    • Friction: The resistive force that opposes the relative motion of two surfaces in contact (e.g., a sled slowing down on snow).
    • Air Resistance: The frictional force air exerts against a moving object (e.g., slowing down a falling leaf).


What is uniform motion?

Uniform motion occurs when an object covers equal distances in equal intervals of time.

What is non-uniform motion?

Non-uniform motion occurs when an object covers unequal distances in equal intervals of time.

What is velocity?

Velocity is the speed of an object in a specific direction.

What is the acceleration due to gravity on Earth?

Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with time.

What is the difference between speed and velocity?

Speed is the rate of distance covered, while velocity includes both speed and direction.

What is deceleration?

Deceleration is negative acceleration, indicating a decrease in velocity.

What is the formula for speed?

Speed is calculated by dividing distance by time (Speed = Distance/Time).

What is displacement?

Displacement is the shortest distance from the initial to the final position, considering direction.

What is the difference between distance and displacement?

Distance is the total path covered, while displacement is the straight-line distance between start and end points.

What is circular motion?

Circular motion is when an object moves along a circular path, maintaining a constant distance from a central point.

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