Momentum as a Vector Quantity

Momentum is a vector quantity. As discussed in an earlier unit, a vector quantity is a quantity that is fully described by both magnitude and direction. To fully describe the momentum of a 5-kg bowling ball moving westward at 2 m/s, you

must include information about both the magnitude and the direction of the bowling ball. It is not enough to say that the ball has 10 kg•m/s of momentum; the momentum of the ball is not fully described until information about its direction is given. The direction of the momentum vector is the same as the direction of the velocity of the ball. In a previous unit, it was said that the direction of the velocity vector is the same as the direction that an object is moving. If the bowling ball is moving westward, then its momentum can be fully described by saying that it is 10 kg•m/s, westward. As a vector quantity, the momentum of an object is fully described by both magnitude and direction.

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