3.4 Drawing and interpreting graphs

A graph shows the relationship between two quantities. These quantities may be very different: for instance, the price of coffee in relation to different years, or the braking distance of a car in relation to different speeds, or the height of a child at different ages. Because the quantities are different, there is no need to have equal scales on the graph, and it is often impractical to do so. However, it is essential that the scales are shown on the axes: they should indicate exactly what
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Introduction

This unit lays the foundations of the subject of mechanics. Mechanics is concerned with how and why objects stay put, and how and why they move. In particular, this unit – Modelling static problems – considers why objects stay put.

Please note that this unit assumes you have a good working knowledge of vectors.

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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should:

  • be able to solve homogeneous second-order equations;

  • know a general method for constructing solutions to inhomogeneous linear constant-coefficient second-order equations;

  • know about initial and boundary conditions to obtain particular values of constants in the general solution of second-order differential equations.


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First-order differential equations

This unit introduces the topic of differential equations. The subject is developed without assuming that you have come across it before, but it is taken for granted that you have a basic grounding in calculus. In particular, you will need to have a good grasp of the basic rules for differentiation and integration.

This unit is an adapted extract from the course Mathematical methods and
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Acknowledgements

All materials included in this unit are derived from content originated at the Open University.


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1.4.1 Bearings

In the following subsections, we apply the vector ideas introduced so far to displacements and velocities. The examples will feature directions referred to points of the compass, known as bearings.

The direction of Leeds relative to Bristol can be described as ‘15° to the East of due North’, or N 15° E. This is an instance of a bearing. Directions on the ground are typically given like this, in terms of the directions North (N), South (S), East (E)
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1.3: Summing vectors given in geometric form

The following activity illustrates how the conversion processes outlined in the preceding sections may come in useful. If two vectors are given in geometric form, and their sum is sought in the same form, one approach is to convert each of the vectors into component form, add their corresponding components, and then convert the sum back to geometric form.

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1.2: Converting to geometric form

You have seen how any vector given in geometric form, in terms of magnitude and direction, can be written in component form. You will now see how conversion in the opposite sense may be achieved, starting from component form. In other words, given a vector a = a 1 i + a 2 j, what are its magnitude |a| and direction θ?

The first part of this question is dealt with using Pythagoras’ Theorem: the magnitude of a v
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Acknowledgements

All materials included in this unit are derived from content originated at the Open University.


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Acknowledgements

The material acknowledged below is Proprietary and used under licence, see terms and conditions). This content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following:

Figures

Figur
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1 A climate change icon

The polar bear has become an international climate change icon. But how much is known about this bear, its habitat and life? This unit will talk about the role of language, but by way of introduction how about the name of this bear? To me it is the polar bear; to a German it is an Eisbär (ice bear) and to a French person it is an ours blanc (white bear). In these three examples the bear is referred to as polar, white, or an ice bear – eminently sensible. The Latin name for th
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Introduction

The scientific theory of plate tectonics suggests that at least some of these Arctic lands were once tropical. Since then the continents have moved and ice has changed the landscape. This unit will concentrate on evidence from the last 800,000 years using information collected from ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, and will use this evidence to discuss current and possible future climate. The cores show that there have been nine periods in the recent past when large areas of the Earth
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6.3 The role of active citizens and communities

Few people agree that individuals should take the main responsibility for tackling environmental issues. For example, in a 2007 poll of over 2000 UK citizens, 70% agreed that the government should take a lead in combating climate change, even if it means using the law to change people's behaviour. However, over 60% disagreed that there was nothing they could do to avert climate change and over half agreed that they would do more if others did more too, although 40% thought that recycling was
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6.1 ‘I’, ‘we’ or ‘they’?

We must abandon the conceit that individual, isolated, private actions are the answer. They can and do help. But they will not take us far enough without collective action.

(Al Gore, 2007)

There are some things that we can do as individuals: making this an energy-efficient house and making smart transport choices. Then there a
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5.3 Moving towards a sustainable carbon footprint

So far, you've been considering reductions in average individual or household carbon footprints by 20% to 30% or more.

But it is becoming increasingly clear that this will not be enough. As I mentioned in Section 4, developed countries, like Britain, Germany and America, will have to reduce their CO2e emissions by 60% to 80% or more by 2050 to prevent climate change running out of control, while at the same time allowing the growing populations of Africa, India and China to r
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2.2 Records of the Earth's temperature

To put the temperature records reported by the IPCC in context, we start with a longer-term geological perspective on the Earth's GMST.


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1.5 ‘Radiative forcing’ as an agent of climate change

Since its first major report in 1990, the IPCC has used the concept of ‘radiative forcing’ as a simple measure of the importance of a potential climate change mechanism. The basic idea is straightforward. Any factor that disturbs the radiation balance at the top of the atmosphere has the potential to ‘force’ the global climate to change: it will either warm up or cool down until a balance is restored. The perturbation to the energy balance of the whole Earth-atmosphere system i
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6.4(c) Using energy more efficiently

This, as we have seen, involves a mixture of social and technological options, applied at the demand-side of the energy chain.

How might these three approaches to improving the future sustainability of our energy systems be combined in future? What are the various possibilities, and what are the main factors that will determine the ultimate outcomes?


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3 Recorded temperatures

Analyses of over 400 proxy climate series (from trees, corals, ice cores and historical records) show that the 1990s was the warmest decade of the millennium and the 20th century the warmest century. The warmest year of the millennium was 1998, and the coldest was probably 1601. (Climatic Research Unit, 2003)

Throughout historical times, fluctuations in the Earth's mean temperature have been recorded. During the seventeenth century, the Thames periodically froze over during winter and m
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2 A 4.6 billion-year history

Climate change is a natural process of warming and cooling that has occurred all through the Earth's history. Throughout geological time there have been ‘hot-house’ periods and ice ages. In order to understand the current situation, it is necessary to have some sense of context and perspective, from historical and geological time-scales. The document below shows a chart showing a generalised temperature history of the Earth.

Click on 'View document' to see the chart

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