You are on page 1of 3

TwoDimensionalPhysicsComponents

Letssayyouhaveavector(e.g.force)thatisdirectedinadiagonaldirection.Howdoyouwork
withit?
Ifaforceispointinginadirectionthatisnotalongthexoryaxis(Figure1),itisimportantto
notethatitismadeupofcomponentsthatarepointinginthexandydirection(Figure2).
Y

F 1

1,y

F 1

Figure1Figure2

F1,x

Whentheangle,,isbetweenthemainforce,F1,andthecomponentforceyouaretryingto
determine,theformulaF1component=F1cosisused.Forexample,inFigure3,thexcomponent
oftheforceisdeterminedbytheformula:F1x=F1cos

F 1

F1,x

Figure3
Todeterminetheothercomponentofthemainforce,useF1component2=F1sin.Therefore,in
Figure4F1y=F1sin.

F1,y

F 1

Figure4
**Becarefulnottoalwaysassociatethexcomponentoftheforcewiththecosfunctionsince
coscanalsobeusedtodeterminetheycomponent,providedtheangleisbetweenthemain
forceanditsycomponent(Figure5).**

F 1

Figure5
ThereforeinFigure5,F1y=F1cos.

MemoryTrick

Remembertoalwayscollapseontheangletogetthatspecificcomponent
Meaning:usecoswhentheangleisbetweentheforceand
thedesiredcomponent,andusesinotherwise.

Notethatthesevectorcomponentsandthemainforcecanbearrangedinsuchawaytocreate
arightangletriangle(Figure6).
Y

F 1

F1,y

Figure6 F1,x

Thisarrangementallowstheuseofvariousequationssuchastrigonometricratios(SOHCAH
TOA)orthePythagoreanTheorem(a2+b2=c2).Asaresult,iftwoofthesidesareknown,one
cansolvefortheunknown,includingtheangle.
Additionally,ifyouareaskedtofindthemetmagnitudeanddirectionofacombinationof2d
forces,youcansolveforitbycombiningforcecomponentswiththerightangletriangleusing
themethodsstatedabove.
Notethatwhenstatingtheangle,youmustspecifywhereitiscomingfrom.

F 1

F 1

50o
50o

Figure7Figure8
Forexample,theangleforF1inFigure7is50ofromthepositivexaxis.FortheangleforF1in
Figure8,itis50ofromthepositiveyaxis.