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Normal and Tangential

In mathematics, given a vector at a point on the
curve, that vector can be decomposed uniquely as
a sum of two vectors, one tangent to the curve,
called the tangential componentof the vector,
and another one perpendicular to the curve, called
the normal component of the vector. Similarly a
vector at a point on a surface can be broken down
the same way.
More generally, given a submanifoldN of a
manifold M, and a vector in the tangent space to
M at a point N, it can be decomposed into the component tangent to N and the
component normal to N.

More formally, let S be the surface, and x be the point on the surface. Let V be a
vector at x. Then one can write uniquely V as a sum
V=V + V
where the first vector in the sum is the tangential component and the second one is
the normal component. It follows immediately that these two vectors are
perpendicular to each other.
To calculate the tangential and normal components, consider a unit normal to the
surface , that is, a unit vector perpendicular to S and x. Then,
V = ( V )
And thus
V =V - V
where denotes the dot product. Another formula for tangential component is
V = - X ( X V),
where X denotes the cross product.

Note that these formulas do not depend on the particular unit normal used (there
exist two units normal to any surface at a given point, pointing in the opposite
directions, so one of the units normal is negative of the other one).

More generally, given a submanifoldN of a manifold M and a point p N, we get a
short exact sequence involving the tangent spaces:

The quotient space

is a generalized space of normal vectors.

If M is a Riemannian manifold, the above sequence splits, and the tangent space of
Matp decomposes as a direct sum of the component tangent to N and the
component normal to N.

Suppose N is given by non-degenerate equations.
If N is given explicitly, via parametric equations (such as a parametric curve), then
the derivative gives a spanning set for the tangent bundle (its basis if and only if
the parametrization is an immersion).
If N is given implicitly (as in the above description of the surface, more generally as
hypersurface) as a level set or intersection of level surfaces for gi, then the
gradients of gi span the normal space.
In both cases, we can again compute using the dot product; the cross product is
special to 3 dimensions though.

Rojansky, Vladimir (1979). Electromagnetic fields and waves. New York: Dover
Publications. ISBN 0486638340.

Benjamin Crowell (2003) Newtonian physics. (online version [1]) ISBN


Projectile motion
Projectile motion is a form of motion in which an object or particle (called
a projectile) is thrown near the earth's surface, and it moves along a curved path
under the action of gravity only. The only force of significance that acts on the
object is gravity, which acts downward to cause a downward acceleration. There are
no horizontal forces needed to maintain the horizontal motion consistent with the
concept of inertia.

The initial velocity

If the projectile is launched with an initial

, then it can be written as


The components


can be found if the

is known:

If the projectile's range, launch angle, and drop

height are known, launch velocity can be found
using Newton's formula

The launch angle is usually expressed by the
symbol theta, but often the symbol alpha is used.

Kinematic quantities of projectile motion

In projectile motion, the horizontal motion and the vertical motion are independent
of each other; that is, neither motion affects the other.

Since there is only acceleration in the vertical direction, the velocity in the
horizontal direction is constant, being equal to

. The vertical motion of the

projectile is the motion of a particle during its free fall. Here the acceleration is
constant, being equal to

.The components of the acceleration are:


The horizontal component of the velocity of the object remains unchanged
throughout the motion. The vertical component of the velocity increases linearly,
because the acceleration due to gravity is constant. The accelerations in the and
directions can be integrated to solve for the components of velocity at any time as
The magnitude of the velocity (under the Pythagorean theorem ):

At any time , the projectile's horizontal and
vertical displacement:
The magnitude of the displacement:

The maximum height of projectile

The highest height which the object will reach

is known as the peak of the object's motion.
The increase of the height will last, until
, that is,
Time to reach the maximum height:

From the vertical displacement of the maximum height of projectile:

Relation during horizontal range and maximum height

The relation between the range

reached at

on the horizontal plane and the maximum


Application of the work energy theorem

According to the work-energy theorem the vertical component of velocity are listed


Budgoston: KsrletifizikaI.,Budapest, Tanknyvkiad, 1986. ISBN 963 17

8772 9

Ifj. ZtonyiSndor: Fizika 9.,Budapest, NemzetiTanknyvkiad, 2009. ISBN


Hack Frigyes: Ngyjegyfggvnytblzatok, sszefggseksadatok,

Budapest, NemzetiTanknyvkiad, 2004. ISBN 963-19-3506-X

Sample problem:
Example 1 If the acceleration of an object is given by
. Find the object's velocity and position functions given
that the initial velocity is
position is

and the initial


Well first get the velocity. To do this all (well almost all) we need to do is integrate
the acceleration.

To completely get the velocity we will need to determine the constant of

integration. We can use the initial velocity to get this.

The velocity of the object is then,

We will find the position function by integrating the velocity function.

Using the initial position gives us,

So, the position function is,

Example 2 For the object in the previous example determine the tangential and
normal components of the acceleration.
There really isnt much to do here other than plug into the formulas. To do this well
need to notice that,

Lets first compute the dot product and cross product that well need for the

Next, we also need a couple of magnitudes.

The tangential component of the acceleration is then,

The normal component of the acceleration is,

PROBLEM: (Normal and tangential components)

(1) Find velocity, speed and acceleration of a particle whose trajectory is given by
r(t) = (3 cos(2t), 5t, 3 sin(2t)).

(2)Suppose a particle moves with a constant speed. Show that the acceleration is
normal to the trajectory.

(3) Find the tangential and normal components of the acceleration if r(t) = (t, cos2
(t),sin2 (t)).

(4)A water-skier is pulled forward by a rope at u = 7.1 m s1 , following a curved

path which can be approximated by a circular arc of radius r = 20 m. Find the
velocity and acceleration components if = 45?

(5) Starting from rest, a motorboat travels around a circular path of = 50 m at a

speed that increases with time, v = (0.2 t2) m/s. Find: The magnitudes of the boats
velocity and acceleration at the instant t = 3 s. Plan: The boat starts from rest (v =
0 when t = 0). 1) Calculate the velocity at t = 3s using v(t). 2) Calculate the
tangential and normal components of acceleration and then the magnitude of the
acceleration vector.

(1) Let us first find the derivatives. The velocity is
v(t) = r 0 (t) = (6 sin(2t), 5, 6 cos(2t)).
The acceleration is
a(t) = v 0 (t) = (12 cos(2t), 0, 12 sin(2t)).
Speed is the magnitude of the velocity vector, so
v = |v(t)| = q 36 sin2 (2t) + 25 + 36 cos2 (2t) = 36 + 25 = 61.
Note, that the speed is independent of time, so by the next problem the
acceleration is normal to the trajectory.
(2) Since the speed is constant, its square is constant as well:
v v = |v(t)| 2 = const.
Differentiating this equation with respect to t, we get
2a v = 0,
i.e. acceleration is orthogonal to velocity.
(3) The derivatives are
v(t) = (1, 2 cos(t) sin(t), 2 sin(t) cos(t)) = (1, sin(2t),sin(2t))
and a(t) = (0, 2 cos(2t), 2 cos(2t)).
The tangential component of the acceleration is

To find the normal component of the acceleration, compute the cross product first:

The normal component of the acceleration can be found using the formula


5. Solution: 1) The velocity vector is v = v ut , where the magnitude is given by v =

(0.2t2) m/s. At t = 3s:
v = 0.2t2 = 0.2(3)2 = 1.8 m/s
2) The acceleration vector is a = atut + anun = vut + (v2/)un.
Tangential component: at = v = d(.2t2)/dt = 0.4t m/s2
At t = 3s: at = 0.4t = 0.4(3) = 1.2 m/s2 .
Normal component: an = v2/ = (0.2t2)2/() m/s2
At t = 3s: an = [(0.2)(32)]2/(50) = 0.0648 m/s2
The magnitude of the acceleration is
a = [(at)2 + (an)2]0.5 = [(1.2)2 + (0.0648)2]0.5 = 1.20 m/s2

Problem: (projectile motion)

1. A ball is thrown off a balcony and has an initial velocity of 18 m/s horizontally.
Determine the position of the ball at t 1.0 s, 2.0 s, 3.0 s, and 4.0 s.

2. A child travels down a water slide, leaving it with a velocity of 4.2 m/s
horizontally, as in Figure 7(a). The child then experiences projectile motion,
landing in a swimming pool 3.2 m below the slide. For how long is the child

3. A helicopter, travelling horizontally, is 82 m above the ground. The pilot

prepares to release a relief package intended to land on the ground 96 m
horizontally ahead. Air resistance is negligible. The pilot does not throw the
package, but lets it drop. What is the initial velocity of the package relative to
the ground?

4. A golfer strikes a golf ball on level ground. The ball leaves the ground with an
initial velocity of 42 m/s [32 above the horizontal]. The initial conditions are
shown in Figure 12. If air resistance is negligible, determine the balls
horizontal range (assuming that it lands at the same level from which it

5. A ball is tossed from an upper-story window of a building. The ball is given an

initial velocity of 8m/s at an angle of 200 below the horizontal, where it
strikes the ground 3 seconds later.
a. How far horizontally from the base of the building does the ball strike the
b. At what height was the ball thrown?

1. Let the x direction be to the right and the y direction be downward (which is
convenient since there is no upward motion) (see Figure 6(a)). Horizontally
(constant vix ):
Vix= 18 m/s
t =1.0 s
x= ?
x= vixt

=(18 m/s)(1.0 s)
x =18 m
2. Horizontally (constant vix ):
vix =4.2 m/s
x= ?
t= ?
Vertically (constant ay ):
viy =0
y=3.2 m
ay =+g =9.8 m/s2 vfy =?
The horizontal motion has two unknowns and only one equation x vixt. We
can analyze the vertical motion to determine t :

3. Horizontally (constant vix ):

x =96 m
t= ?
vix= ?
Vertically (constant ay ):
viy =0 m/s
y= 82 m
ay =+g= 9.8 m/s2 t =?

4. We begin by finding the horizontal and vertical components of the initial

Vix= vi cos v
viy = vi sin v
= (42 m/s)(cos 32)
=(42 m/s)(sin 32)
vix =36 m/s
viy =22 m/s
Horizontally (constant vix ):
vix =36 m/s
x= ?
t= ?
Vertically (constant ay ):
Ay= -g=- 9.8 m/s2
y =0
viy =22 m/s
t =?
vfy =-22 m/s
Since the horizontal motion has two unknowns and only one equation, we can
use the vertical motion to solve for t:

Therefore, the ball was hit at t 0 and the ball lands at 22 m/s 4.9 m/s2 t 0.
Solving for t, we find that t 4.5 s, which we can use to find the horizontal
x =vixt
= (36 m/s)(4.5 s)
x =1.6 102 m
The horizontal range is 1.6 102 m.
5. (a) x = vxit = (8.00 cos 20.0)(3.00)
= 22.6 m
(b) Taking y positive downwards,
y = vyit + 1 2 gt2 = 8.00(cos 20.0)3.00 + 1 2 (9.80)(3.00) 2
= 52.3 m