Acceleration is defined as the rate of change of velocity. If the velocity of an object is increased from 20 mph to 30 mph, the object has been accelerated. If the increase in velocity is 10 mph in 5 seconds, the rate of change in velocity is 10 mph in 5 seconds, or 2 mph per second. If this were multiplied by 1.467, it could also be expressed as an acceleration of 2.93 feet per second per second (fps/s). By comparison, the acceleration due to gravity is 32.2 fps/s.
To calculate acceleration, the following formula is used.
Acceleration (A) =Velocity Final (Vf) - Velocity Initial (Vi)/ Time (t)
Example: An Air Force F-15 fighter is cruising at 400 mph. The pilot advances the throttles to full afterburner and accelerates to 1,200 mph in 20 seconds. What is the average acceleration in mph/s and fps/s?
A = Vf - Vi/t
In the example just shown, the acceleration was found to be 58.7 fps/s. Since 32.2 fps/s is equal to the acceleration due to gravity, divide the F-15’s acceleration by 32.2 to find out how many G forces the pilot is experiencing. In this case, it would be 1.82 Gs.
Newton’s Law of Motion
When a magician snatches a tablecloth from a table and leaves a full setting of dishes undisturbed, he is not displaying a mystic art; he is demonstrating the principle of inertia. Inertia is responsible for the discomfort felt when an airplane is brought to a sudden halt in the parking area and the passengers are thrown forward in their seats. Inertia is a property of matter. This property of matter is described by Newton’s first law of motion, which states:
Objects at rest tend to remain at rest and objects in motion tend to remain in motion at the same speed and in the same direction, unless acted on by an external force.
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