differentiate between distance and displacement

Following are the differences between distance and displacement:

1. Distance is the length of the path travelled by a body while moving from an initial position to a final position; Displacement is the shortest distance between the initial position and the final position of the body.

2. Distance is a scalar quantity; Displacement is a vector quantity.

3. Distance measured is always positive; Displacement can be positive or negative depending on the reference point.

4. The total distance covered is equal to the algebraic sum of all the distances travelled in different directions. The net displacement is the vector sum of the individual displacements in different directions.

5. There is always a distance covered whenever there is a motion; Displacement will be zero if the body comes back to its initial position.

Suppose you are observing an ant on the table, as shown in the diagram below. The ant moves from one corner of the table to the other corner. The blue irregular line shows the path of the ant.

Length of this blue line is the distance covered by the ant.

The straight green line, which is the minimum distance between the two corners of the table is the displacement of the ant. Called the displacement.

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