What is displacement?

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ncchemist | eNotes Employee

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Displacement is a term that can have specialized meanings depending on the scientific discipline in question.  In the general physics sense, displacement is when one object replaces the space occupied by another object.  The classic example is putting an object in water.  If the object sinks in the water (like a brick), then the rise in the water level is equal to the volume of the object because the object displaces (literally takes the place of) the water.  If the object floats in the water (like a boat), then the water level rises by the same amount as the volume of the boat that remains submerged in the water.

In chemistry, displacement is used to describe a particular type of chemical reaction.  A displacement reaction is one where one element or group of elements in a chemical compound is replaced at the same position by another element or group of elements.  The new group displaces the original group (takes its place).

In some math/physics applications, displacement refers to the change in position and direction between the starting and final positions of a point or object.  The actual path traveled by the object is not taken into account, only the overall change in position from start to finish.

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sid-sarfraz | Student, Graduate | (Level 2) Salutatorian

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Displacement usually means to remove an object from its place, and the distance measured in vector quantity in the change of position. 

In simple words displacement means to measure the overall change in the position of an object or the distance measured measured from the original position to the current position of a certain object.

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CaitlynnReeves | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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Displacement is a phenomenon that occurs in physics. It is usually used to describe volume.

Whenever you sit in a bathtub and the water rises, that is displacement. Submerging a solid in a liquid will displace an amount of liquid equal to the volume of the solid. The principle of displacement is useful for figuring the volume of irregular objects.

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mmenon | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 3) eNoter

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Displacement in Physics means the change in position of an object. It is a vector quantity(changes with direction). Beware! The distance traveled(scalar) and displacement are not equal!
For example, if you walked 6 meters from a tree(the origin) and then walked 3 meters back towards the tree, your distance traveled would be 6+3=9 while your displacement would be how far away is your final position from the origin, which would be 3 meters.

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panda2014 | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Honors

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In Psychology, displacement is a defense mechanism developed by Sigmund Freud. Displacement involves taking out one's frustrations, feelings, and impulses on people or objects that are less threatening. Since displacement is a defense mechanism, it is used to reduce any anxiety one may be having. An example of displacement is that instead of yelling at your boss (who could fire you if you did that), you yell at a child or kick a dog. 

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ayl0124 | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Displacement is not to be mistaken with position. Displacement is never negative, while position can be. Displacement is the total distance traveled, while position is the total distance from the origin. 

For example, if I walked to my friend's house, which is 2 miles from my house, and then walked back home halfway, my total displacement would 3 miles. Meanwhile, my position would be 1 mile because I am only 1 mile from my house.

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Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

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In physics and calculus, displacement is the distance traveled. To determine this, we find the area under the curve of a velocity versus time graph from time a to b. This is the same as integrating the velocity equation from a to b. Problems typically involve a particle moving along the x axis. 

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zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Displacement could refer to the distance of an object using how far an object moves from its original destination. Displacement is widely used in physics to talk and refer to distance of objects and images

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nicole8923 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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Displacement or single replacement is a type of chemical reaction. For example, this would be the formula:

single replacement/ displacement: A + BC → AC + B

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