Is displacement south negative?

Answered by James Kissner

When it comes to discussing displacement, it is important to understand that the concept of positive and negative depends on the reference frame. In the context of a coordinate system, where one axis represents the North-South direction, and the other represents the East-West direction, we can assign positive and negative values to displacement.

In this coordinate system, if an object moves towards the North or East, its displacement is considered positive. Conversely, if the object moves towards the South or West, its displacement is considered negative. So, in this particular context, moving South would indeed be considered a negative displacement.

To illustrate this concept, let me share a personal experience. Imagine you are standing at a point on a map, and you decide to walk towards the South. As you start moving, your displacement from the starting point is increasing in the negative direction. The further South you go, the more negative your displacement becomes.

Similarly, if you were to move towards the North, your displacement would be increasing in the positive direction. This means that if you were to walk back to your starting point from the South, your displacement would change from negative to positive as you move towards the North.

It is worth noting that this notion of positive and negative displacement is specific to the chosen coordinate system. In other contexts, such as a situation where there is no defined reference frame or when discussing displacement without a coordinate system, the terms positive and negative may not be applicable.

To summarize, in a coordinate system where North-South is represented by positive and negative values, moving South would be considered a negative displacement. However, it is important to remember that positive and negative are relative terms that depend on the chosen reference frame.