February 18, 2018

Vectors have both magnitude and direction

A vector is a special thing in math. It has both size and direction, and both are important. Take velocity for an example. It’s important to know both the magnitude of an object’s velocity and its direction. This is what we’ve started to explore in physics. Here’s a riddle involving vectors: An orange will sit on a counter without rolling, but if the counter is titled, the orange WILL roll. Why? Gravity is the only downward force operating, and it didn’t suddenly change direction. Ask a physics kid if you’re interested.

And speaking of direction, in what direction is biodiversity headed globally? Down, mostly. Coral reefs are suffering the most with over half of all coral species set to disappear in the next 50 years or so. That’s bad in both magnitude and direction. Who cares? Ask your environmental science student about ecosystem services which are valued at over 40 trillion dollars globally.

A school year is a vector, too. It has both a magnitude and a direction. The direction is onward this week, and the rate of progress is increasing. We’re settling in and getting things worked out. Sports teams have gotten started. Clubs are getting organized. The trend is upward and onward.

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