
What is displacement? 
Question Date: 20171025   Answer 1:
An excellent question!
It might be helpful to distinguish between
displacement and distance.
Both are related, and are different ways to
measure lengths.
Distance is a scalar, meaning it is just a
number whereas displacement is a vector,
meaning it is a number associated with a
direction. The distance depends on the path
you take, whereas displacement depends only the
initial and final coordinates of the moving
object.
Let's put this info in a table as a summary.
Distance and
Displacement

Distance 
Displacement 

Type: 
Scalar 
Vector 
Definition: 
the total length
of motion 
the net length
traveled 
Let's say you walk around a 1 m^{2} table
and end up at the same place you started, then....
Example 
you will have
traveled a distance
of 4 meters

you will be
displaced 0 meters

Let's say you walk around
only three sides of the same table clockwise,
then...
Example 
you will have
traveled a distance
of 3 meters

you will be
displaced 1 meter
to the left

You could have also taken a really long path
around the table, but if you end in the same place
you start, your displacement is still 0 m.
Hope this helps!
Best,
  Answer 2:
Displacement can have a few meanings. When one
thing displaces another thing, for instance a dog
displacing a cat, it means that the dog pushes the
cat away from where the cat originally was, and
the dog is now where the cat used to be. When a
solid object displaces a liquid, it means that the
solid has pushed the liquid out of the way. When
the word "displacement" is used in math and
physics, it means the shortest distance, in one
straight line, between two points. In chemistry,
there are displacement reactions, where very small
particles replace other very small particles.
  Answer 3:
Displacement means different things in
different contexts. Basically, it means when
something takes the place of something else, then
the something else is displaced. Displacement
of a ship is the amount of water that is moved by
the weight of the ship. Displacement in
evolution is where a species evolves in a
different direction as a result of competition
with another species.
  Answer 4:
The definition of displacement is moving
something from its place or position. That
means when you move from one side of the room to
the other, you've been displaced from your
original spot. One important application of
displacement happens with fluid. When you get into
the bathtub, you'll notice that the water level
rises. This is called fluid displacement.
Scientists use this to find the volume of objects!
  Answer 5:
The word "displacement" can mean two
things generally:
1. It can mean moving something from its place
or position. Technically, if your mom or dad
moved you from your bedroom to the bathroom to
brush your teeth, they "displaced" you.
2. Displacement can also mean the act of
putting something into water, and watching the
water level move. This is really cool way of
getting to know the exact volume of an object,
depending on if the object behaves properly.
If you put smooth rock into a scientific
glassware piece known as a "graduated
cylinder" that has water in it (it tells you
exactly how much volume a liquid is taking up),
the water will move the exact volume that the rock
takes up. All you have to do is subtract the
volume before you added the rock, away from the
water with the rock. That will tell you volume of
the rock.
You can use this method to figure out how much
water something absorbs, which is important for
when they're designing something like paper towels
or diapers!
  Answer 6:
Displacement and position are
very closely related. When we think of position,
we can think of something like a football field.
If a runner is on the 20 yard line, his position
is 20 yards.
This means when we talk about the runner's
position, we really talk about the difference
between one point and another special point.
For the runner on a football field, we really care
about the difference between where the runner is,
and a special point we call 0, which is the
endzone. If we say we are at position equal to 0,
let’s say the runner is still at 20 yards away.
This means the difference is just 20 yards.
Displacement is the difference between two
points. If we are at the special 0 point, then
the runner’s displacement is equal to the
difference between his position, 20 yards, and our
position, 0. In this way, displacement is more
general than position, and when we want to
talk about how far something is away, we talk
about its displacement from us. I hope this helps!
  Answer 7:
Displacement is a measure of how much one
object has moved from its starting position.
In physics, we treat displacement as a
vector, that is, we always describe it with a
magnitude (distance) and a direction. For
example, if a bird flies from the south pole to
the north pole in a straight line, we can say that
its displacement is 12,430 miles North.
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