Difference Between Speed and Velocity

Speed vs Velocity

Speed and velocity are two very important concepts in science, and despite being similar, they are quite different from one another. People always confuse whether they should use one or the other when talking about a moving object. To help remove confusion, this article will highlight the difference between these two terms and also their properties.

You must be aware of concepts of distance and displacements. To understand the difference between speed and velocity, it is better to brush up the difference between distance and displacement. It is easy to find the distance traveled by a ball that has been thrown up in air and comes down to the same point. But the displacement of the ball is zero as it comes back to its start point. Same can be said about your puppy when he returns back with the ball in his mouth to you. Have you seen an ant moving here and there all the time and covering a lot of distance but ending up only a few feet or less in terms of displacement?

The same concept applies to speed and velocity. Where as speed is a scalar quantity that only tells you how fast an object is moving, velocity also tells you the direction of the moving body. Velocity is a vector quantity that tells you the rate at which an object changes its position. This is why when mentioning the velocity of an object; it is not enough to write it as merely in Km/ph as this is the way speed is written, and to write velocity, direction also needs to be mentioned. So the one major difference between speed and velocity is that speed does not keep track of direction while direction is a must for velocity. Or in other words, velocity is speed with direction.

So while speed= Distance/time,

Velocity= Displacement/time.

We know that displacement is the shortest path between two points and hence speed is either less or at best equal to the velocity of a moving object.

In brief:

• Speed is the rate at which an object is moving while velocity also takes into consideration the direction of the moving object.

• To calculate speed, distance is divided by time taken while to calculate, one needs to know the displacement of the object.

• Speed is a scalar quantity while velocity is a vector quantity.