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Introduction to Projectile Motion Animation

When an object moves in a straight line with no attractive forces to change its path, then the motion of the object is called the “motion in a straight line”. In this motion, if an attractive force is present, which attracts the object to one particular direction, then the object travels in a curved path in a plane. This type of motion is called “plane motion”.

Projectile motion is an example of plane motion. When an object travels in a plane in a curved path due to some attractive force, it's motion is called projectile motion.

The object that demonstrates projectile motion is called a projectile, and the path travelled by a projectile is called its trajectory.

Examples of Projectile Motion

  • A ball thrown in air obliquely, but not vertically above. This ball, under the action of gravity, will travel a path that is a curved path in a plane; it will rise up in a curve to a maximum height, and under the action of gravitational pull, it will reach the ground in a curved path forming a parabola in the air.

  • A javelin when thrown in air is an example of projectile motion.

  • A cathode ray oscilloscope is an example of projectile motion, since in it, the electrons travelling in a straight line are pulled by an electrical field, which causes the electrons to follow a curved path forming a parabola.


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Equation of Projectile Motion

The equation of projectile motion of an object enables us to predict the position of the object even before launching it. This is specially useful in many fields like outdoor games (javelin, shot put), in military applications (throwing food packets from air, throwing bombs from aircraft, etc), in fire extinguishing, in animation, etc.

In projectile motion, an object travels in a curved path called a parabola. The equation of a parabola is a quadratic equation. Thus the equation of the path travelled by any projectile is quadratic in nature.

A general equation of projectile motion is one which applies to all cases of projectile motion. It is derived from arithmetic and geometry application. The general equation of projectile motion is as follows:-

`y = tan(theta)x - 1/2 *(g/(u^2cos^2(theta)))x^2`

In the above equation, at any point in the path of a parabola,

y = height of parabola

x = horizontal distance covered by the parabola

`(theta)` = angle of inclination to the horizontal when the projectile is released.

G = gravitational acceleration = 9.8 `m/(s^2)`

u = initial velocity. The following diagram enumerates all the variables mentioned above. 



Projectile Motion Animation


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