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Statics For Dummies by James H. Allen, III, PE, PhD

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Chapter 4. Viewing the World through Vectors

Before you can build a bridge or even think about completing a design, you have to begin by understanding the way engineers depict the world around them, a fundamental concept in statics. Enter the vector. Essentially, the study of vectors is the first step into this larger world of statics analysis.

This chapter focuses on exploring the behavior of vectors, seeing the commonalities in their construction, and understanding some of the subtle differences in their creation and application. In this chapter, I define the three major pieces of information you use to help a vector properly describe an action, I show you a few ways to draw a vector, and I break down the three primary types of vectors. This chapter won't have you building a bridge immediately, but it does help you take your first step in getting a handle on the world around you in proper statics style.

Defining a Vector

You quickly discover that the ability to create and define a proper vector is an invaluable set of skills. This ability lends itself fluidly to solving statics problems. However, before you can become truly proficient in statics, you first need to understand some basic terminology and the three pieces of information you need to properly define a vector.

Simply put, a vector is a quantity that helps describe the way that an action is applied to ...

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