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Difference Between Distance and Displacement for JEE Main 2024

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Last updated date: 19th May 2024
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What Are Distance and Displacement: Introduction

To explain distance and displacement: In the study of motion and mechanics, two fundamental concepts often encountered are distance and displacement. While they both relate to the measurement of an object's position, they represent distinct quantities with different meanings and implications. Understanding the difference between distance and displacement is essential for accurately describing and analyzing the motion of objects.


Category:

JEE Main Difference Between

Content-Type:

Text, Images, Videos and PDF

Exam:

JEE Main

Topic Name:

Difference Between Distance and Displacement

Academic Session:

2024

Medium:

English Medium

Subject:

Mathematics

Available Material:

Chapter-wise Difference Between Topics


Distance refers to the total length of the path travelled by an object. It is a scalar quantity that only takes into account the magnitude of the motion and disregards the direction. In other words, distance is a measure of how far an object has travelled, regardless of its starting and ending points. It can be measured in units such as meters, kilometers, or any other unit of length.


On the other hand, displacement refers to the change in position of an object from its initial point to its final point. It is a vector quantity that considers both magnitude and direction. Displacement takes into account the shortest straight-line path (also known as the displacement vector) between the starting and ending points of the object's motion. It is represented by an arrow that points from the initial position to the final position, indicating the object's overall change in position.


The distinction between distance and displacement becomes evident when considering the scenario of an object moving back and forth. Suppose an object starts at point A, moves to point B, and then returns to point A. The distance travelled by the object during this motion would be the total length of the path travelled from A to B and back to A. However, the displacement would be zero because the object's overall change in position is zero—it returns to its initial position.


Furthermore, distance is always a non-negative value, as it represents a scalar quantity that quantifies the magnitude of motion. Displacement, on the other hand, can be positive, negative, or zero, depending on the direction of motion relative to the reference point


What is Distance and Displacement? 

Diffraction and interference are both fundamental phenomena that occur when waves interact with each other or encounter obstacles. They are key concepts in the field of wave physics and have applications in various scientific and technological domains.


Diffraction refers to the bending, spreading, and interference of waves as they encounter an obstacle or pass through a narrow opening. When waves encounter an obstacle or aperture, they diffract and change direction, leading to the bending of their wavefronts. This bending occurs due to the interference of different parts of the wavefront, resulting in changes to the intensity and direction of the wave. Diffraction can be observed with various types of waves, such as light waves, sound waves, and water waves.


Interference, on the other hand, is the interaction and combination of two or more waves that meet or overlap in space. When waves interfere, their amplitudes (the heights or intensities of the waves) combine at each point in space. Depending on the relative phases of the waves, interference can be either constructive or destructive. Constructive interference occurs when the peaks of the waves align, leading to an increase in amplitude or intensity. Destructive interference occurs when the peaks of one wave align with the troughs of another wave, resulting in a decrease in amplitude or intensity. Interference can create distinct patterns of reinforcement and cancellation, known as interference patterns.


Both diffraction and interference are observed in various wave systems. In optics, diffraction and interference play crucial roles in phenomena such as the bending of light around corners, the formation of diffraction patterns in double-slit experiments, and the creation of colorful patterns in thin-film interference. In acoustics, diffraction and interference affect the behavior of sound waves, leading to phenomena like the audibility of sound around obstacles and the formation of beats in musical instruments. 


Defining Distance

Distance refers to the total length travelled by an object or the spatial separation between two points in space. It is a fundamental concept in the study of motion and is often used to calculate various quantities, such as speed, velocity, and acceleration. It is measured along the actual path travelled by an object, regardless of any changes in direction or reversals in motion.


When calculating distance in physics, it is essential to consider the entire length covered by the object, including any deviations or changes in direction. For example, if an object moves 10 meters forward, then 5 meters backward, the total distance travelled would be the sum of these magnitudes, resulting in a distance of 15 meters.


Defining Displacement

The change in an object's position or the vector quantity that describes the straight-line distance and direction from the object's initial position to its final position is referred to as displacement. It takes into account the magnitude of the motion as well as its direction.


It is measured in any length unit that is appropriate for the situation, such as meters (m) or centimeters (cm).


Dislodging is a vector amount, meaning it has both greatness and heading. The shortest distance between the starting and ending positions is represented by the magnitude of the displacement, while the direction depicts the straight line path.


Relocation is a fundamental idea in kinematics, the investigation of movement, as it works out different amounts like speed and speed increase. It enables a more precise comprehension of an object's motion and trajectory by providing information about its shift in position.


Relocation in material science alludes to the adjustment of position of an item, taking into account both the extent and course of the movement. It provides valuable insights into the object's motion and spatial displacement because it represents the straight-line distance and direction from the object's initial position to its final position.


Distance and Displacement Differences

Sl.No

Properties

Distance

Displacement

1.

Definition

Total length of the path traveled by an object

Change in position from the initial to the final point

2.

Quantity

Scalar quantity

Vector quantity

3.

Magnitude

Magnitude represents the total length traveled

Magnitude represents the shortest distance between points


Summary

Distance refers to the total length traveled by an object, while displacement represents the change in position from the initial to the final point. Distance is a scalar quantity that considers magnitude, while displacement is a vector quantity that includes magnitude and direction. Distance doesn't consider direction or path, whereas displacement considers the shortest straight-line path. Understanding both concepts is crucial for accurately analyzing motion, velocity, and acceleration. Understanding the characteristics of distance and displacement is crucial for accurately describing and analyzing the motion of objects.

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FAQs on Difference Between Distance and Displacement for JEE Main 2024

1. What is the main difference between distance and displacement?

The main difference is that distance is a scalar quantity representing the total length travelled, while displacement is a vector quantity representing the change in position from the initial to the final point, including both magnitude and direction.

2. Can distance and displacement have different values for the same motion?

Yes, they can have different values. Distance considers the entire path travelled, while displacement only looks at the change in position. Therefore, if an object returns to its starting point, the distance travelled will be greater than zero, but the displacement will be zero.

3. Is distance always a positive value?

Yes, distance is always a non-negative value because it represents the magnitude of motion and does not consider direction.

4. Can displacement be negative?

Yes, displacement can be positive, negative, or zero. It depends on the direction of motion relative to the reference point. A positive displacement indicates motion in one direction, a negative displacement indicates motion in the opposite direction, and a displacement of zero means there is no change in position.

5. Can both distance and displacement be measured in any unit of length?

Yes, both distance and displacement can be measured in units such as meters, kilometers, miles, or any other unit of length appropriate for the given context. The choice of units depends on the specific application and convenience.