Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne 3d vectors & ejection seats
Name: N/A
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A

I am doing research on ejection seats. Any good references on 3D vectors for HS students without a calculus background?

Well, you do not need to know anything about calculus to understand vectors. A vector can be thought of in a number of different ways, but the most general for physics purposes is a combination of two different things - a vector gives (1) a direction, and (2) a magnitude (ie. length). The concept of direction is pretty simple - just follow along the way the vector is pointing, and it is the same concept whether you are in 2 dimensions, 3D, or even any arbitrary number of dimensions (higher dimensions turn up all the time in mathematics, though they may or may not have much to do with the real world). The magnitude tells you something about the size of whatever property is associated with that direction - it could be a force, or a velocity, or an acceleration, or just a particular change in position. Of course, a vector is usually represented as a collection of numbers that indicate its components along standard directions (usually the x, y, z axes in 3D). And then the magnitude is the square root of the some of the squares of the components (sorrow, that should be "sum") ie. magnitude = sqrt(vx^2 + vy^2 + vz^2) where the vector is represented as (vx,vy,vz). Hope that helps

Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory