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Difference Between Vector Quantity and Scalar Quantity

Vector Quantity vs Scalar Quantity

It is a well-known fact that most of the physical quantities that you are bound to encounter in physics fall into two categories. They are either vector quantities or scalar quantities. To get a feel for what a scalar quantity is, it is good to list some examples. Time, speed, temperature, and volume are but some examples of a scalar quantity.

When you consider the units that define what time is; hours, minutes, and seconds, they simply are a representation of time. They have no ability to define the direction in which the time is moving. This component is missing entirely. On the other hand, when you work with a vector quantity, you need to have the capacity to represent it in terms of direction.

Vector and scalar quantities have been the subject of many debates among scientists for many years. It took numerous studies and papers for clear distinctions to emerge between the two entities. Nowadays, it is easy to state what a scalar quantity is from a vector quantity. For you to work with vectors, you must be able to represent it in terms of direction.

The difference between vector quantity and scalar quantity is quite clear. Due to the advancement in technology, information flow has been made quite easy and accessible to whomever is interested. If you need to learn about something, all you need to do is type the keyword, and the information is displayed for you.

There are two elements that define what a vector quantity is without which whatever it is cannot be defined as such. Similarly, a scalar quantity is defined by one element. If it is lacking, then there is no scalar quantity. Magnitude is the only thing that can define a scalar quantity.

Therefore, the main difference between a vector quantity and a scalar quantity is that a vector quantity has both magnitude and direction while a scalar quantity has only magnitude and no direction. Some additional scalar quantities are; energy, mass, and density. These also depict a magnitude but cannot define a specific direction.

The difference between vector quantity and scalar quantity is that the magnitude in the vector must be able to move in a given direction. If it cannot move in that given direction, science disqualifies it from being a vector quantity. In the same breath, a scalar quantity only has the magnitude with which it qualifies to be a scalar quantity. As soon as it starts moving in a given direction, the parameters change and it no longer is a scalar quantity.

The difference between vector quantity and scalar quantity is that in a vector quantity, the length of a vector depicts magnitude. The arrow, on the other hand, shows the direction in which the magnitude is moving.

Summary:

1.The differences between vector quantity and scalar quantity are:

2.Vector quantity has both magnitude and direction.

3.Scalar quantity has only the magnitude and no given direction.


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2 Comments

  1. I think the simple form of explanation should be:

    Any measurable quantity that has no direction is scalar
    otherwise vector. Simple as that.

    The beauty, grace and harmony lies in simplicity (Plato 4th Century B.C.)
    not in elaboration and confusion.

  2. Thanks, differencebetween.net. This site help me a lot to understand the basic difference between scalar and vector.

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