Conceptual Understanding in Introductory Physics XII

This is post is long overdue, and I’m sorry for that. Life and work got busy late in the semester. I have far many more ideas for more posts in this thread that I doubt I’ll ever be able to write them all up but I will try.

In this post, I focus on an interesting idea for which I found inspiration in a book called The Shaggy Steed of Physics by David Oliver, a book I consider a little gem. Here is the question.

In introductory physics, a particle’s position and velocity are usually the first two vector quantities encountered. Using appropriate symbols for both, find as many unique combinations of position and velocity as you can, and comment on the physical significance of each combination. Your commentary should consist of at least one complete sentence and at most one paragraph for each combination you find.

This can be taken as an open ended question or a specific number of quantities can be required. I choose the former as I think it would foster deeper thinking. What do you think?


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