# SAT Subject Physics Formula Reference

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1 This guide is a compilation of about fifty of the most important physics formulas to know for the SAT Subject test in physics. (Note that formulas are not given on the test.) Each formula row contains a description of the variables or constants that make up the formula, along with a brief explanation of the formula. Kinematics v ave = x t v ave = average velocity x = displacement t = elapsed time The definition of average velocity. v ave = (v i +v f ) 2 v ave = average velocity v i = initial velocity v f = final velocity Another definition of the average velocity, which works when a is constant. a = v t a = acceleration v = change in velocity t = elapsed time The definition of acceleration. x = v i t+ 1 2 a( t)2 x = displacement v i = initial velocity t = elapsed time a = acceleration Use this formula when you don t have v f. x = v f t 1 2 a( t)2 x = displacement v f = final velocity t = elapsed time a = acceleration Use this formula when you don t have v i. erikthered.com/tutor pg. 1

2 Kinematics (continued) SAT Subject Physics Formula Reference v 2 f = v 2 i +2a x v f = final velocity v i = initial velocity a = acceleration x = displacement Use this formula when you don t have t. Dynamics F = ma F = force a = acceleration Newton s Second Law. Here, F is the net force on the mass m. W = mg W = weight g = acceleration due to gravity The weight of an object with mass m. This is really just Newton s Second Law again. f = µn f = friction force µ = coefficient of friction N = normal force The Physics is Fun equation. Here, µ can be either the kinetic coefficient of frictionµ k orthestaticcoefficient of friction µ s. p = mv p = momentum v = velocity The definition of momentum. It is conserved (constant) if there are no external forces on a system. erikthered.com/tutor pg. 2

3 Dynamics (continued) SAT Subject Physics Formula Reference p = F t p = change in momentum F = applied force t = elapsed time F t is called the impulse. Work, Energy, and Power W = Fdcosθ or W = F d W = work F = force d = distance θ = angle between F and the direction of motion F = parallel force Work is done when a force is applied to an object as it moves a distance d. F is the component of F in the direction that the object is moved. KE = 1 2 mv2 KE = kinetic energy v = velocity The definition of kinetic energy for a mass m with velocity v. PE = mgh PE = potential energy g = acceleration due to gravity h = height The potential energy for a mass m at a height h above some reference level. erikthered.com/tutor pg. 3

4 Work, Energy, Power (continued) W = (KE) W = work done KE = kinetic energy The work-energy theorem: the workdone by thenet force onanobjectequalsthechange in kinetic energy of the object. E = KE+PE E = total energy KE = kinetic energy PE = potential energy The definition of total ( mechanical ) energy. If there is no friction, it is conserved (stays constant). P = W t P = power W = work t = elapsed time Power is the amount of work done per unit time (i.e., power is the rate at which work is done). Circular Motion a c = v2 r a c = centripetal acceleration v = velocity r = radius The centripetal acceleration for an object moving around in a circle of radius r at velocity v. F c = mv2 r F c = centripetal force v = velocity r = radius The centripetal force that is needed to keep an object of mass m moving around in a circle of radius r at velocity v. erikthered.com/tutor pg. 4

5 Circular Motion (continued) SAT Subject Physics Formula Reference v = 2πr T v = velocity r = radius T = period This formula gives the velocity v of an object moving once around a circle of radius r in time T (the period). f = 1 T f = frequency T = period The frequency is the number of times per second that an object moves around a circle. Torques and Angular Momentum τ = rf sinθ or τ = rf τ = torque r = distance (radius) F = force θ = angle between F and the lever arm F = perpendicular force Torque is a force applied at a distance r from the axis of rotation. F = F sinθ is the component of F perpendicular to the lever arm. L = mvr L = angular momentum v = velocity r = radius Angular momentum is conserved (i.e., it stays constant) as long as there are no external torques. erikthered.com/tutor pg. 5

6 Springs F s = kx F s = spring force k = spring constant x = spring stretch or compression Hooke s Law. The force is opposite to the stretch or compression direction. PE s = 1 2 kx2 PE s = potential energy k = spring constant x = amount of spring stretch or compression The potential energy stored in a spring when it is either stretched or compressed. Here, x = 0 corresponds to the natural length of the spring. Simple Harmonic Motion m T s = 2π k T s = period of motion k = spring constant m = attached mass The period of the simple harmonic motion of a mass m attached to an ideal spring with spring constant k. l T p = 2π g T p = period of motion l = pendulum length g = acceleration due to gravity The period of the simple harmonic motion of a mass m on an ideal pendulum of length l. erikthered.com/tutor pg. 6

7 Gravity F g = G m 1m 2 r 2 F g = force of gravity G = a constant m 1,m 2 = masses r = distance of separation Newton s Law of Gravitation: this formula gives the attractive force between two masses a distance r apart. Electric Fields and Forces F = k q 1q 2 r 2 F = electric force k = a constant q 1,q 2 = charges r = distance of separation Coulomb s Law. This formula gives the force of attraction or repulsion between two charges a distance r apart. F = qe F = electric force E = electric field q = charge A charge q, when placed in an electricfielde, willfeelaforce on it, given by this formula (q is sometimes called a test charge, since it tests the electric field strength). E = k q r 2 E = electric field k = a constant q = charge r = distance of separation This formula gives the electric field due to a charge q at a distance r from the charge. Unlike the test charge, the charge q here is actually generating the electric field. erikthered.com/tutor pg. 7

8 Electric Fields and Forces (continued) U E = k q 1q 2 r U E = electric PE k = a constant q 1,q 2 = charges r = distance of separation This formula gives the electric potential energy for two charges a distance r apart. For more than one pair of charges, use this formula for each pair, then add all the U E s. V = W E q = U E q V = potential difference W E = work done by E field U E = electric PE q = charge The potential difference V between two points is defined as the negative of the work done by the electric field per unit charge as charge q moves from one point to the other. Alternately, it is the change in electric potential energy per unit charge. V = k q r V = electric potential k = a constant q = charge r = distance of separation This formula gives the electric potential due to a charge q at a distance r from the charge. For more than one charge, use this formula for each charge, then add all the V s. E = V d E = electric field V = voltage d = distance Between two large plates of metal separated by a distance d which are connected to a battery of voltage V, a uniform electric field between the plates is set up, as given by this formula. Circuits V = IR V = voltage I = current R = resistance Ohm s Law. This law gives the relationship between the battery voltage V, the current I, and the resistance R in a circuit. erikthered.com/tutor pg. 8

9 Circuits (continued) SAT Subject Physics Formula Reference P = IV or P = V 2 /R or P = I 2 R P = power I = current V = voltage R = resistance All of these power formulas are equivalent and give the power used in a circuit resistor R. Use the formula that has the quantities that you know. R s = R 1 +R R s = total (series) resistance R 1 = first resistor R 2 = second resistor... When resistors are placed end to end, which is called in series, the effective total resistance is just the sum of the individual resistances. 1 R p = 1 R R R p = total (parallel) resistance R 1 = first resistor R 2 = second resistor... When resistors are placed side by side (or in parallel ), the effective total resistance is the inverse of the sum of the reciprocals of the individual resistances (whew!). q = CV q = charge C = capacitance V = voltage This formula is Ohm s Law for capacitors. Here, C is a number specific to the capacitor (like R for resistors), q is the charge on one side of the capacitor, and V is the voltage across the capacitor. erikthered.com/tutor pg. 9

10 Magnetic Fields and Forces SAT Subject Physics Formula Reference F = ILBsinθ F = force on a wire I = current in the wire L = length of wire B = external magnetic field θ = angle between the current direction and the magnetic field This formula gives the force on a wire carrying current I while immersed in a magnetic field B. Here, θ is the angle between the direction of the current and the direction of the magnetic field (θ is usually 90, so that the force is F = ILB). F = qvbsinθ F = force on a charge q = charge v = velocity of the charge B = external magnetic field θ = angle between the direction of motion and the magnetic field The force on a charge q as it travels with velocity v through a magnetic field B is given by this formula. Here, θ is the angle between the direction of the charge s velocity and the direction of the magnetic field (θ is usually 90, so that the force is F = qvb). Waves and Optics v = λf v = wave velocity λ = wavelength f = frequency This formula relates the wavelength and the frequency of a wave to its speed. The formula works for both sound and light waves. v = c n v = velocity of light c = vacuum light speed n = index of refraction When light travels through a medium (say, glass), it slows down. This formula gives the speed of light in a medium that has an index of refraction n. Here, c = m/s. erikthered.com/tutor pg. 10

11 Waves and Optics (continued) n 1 sinθ 1 = n 2 sinθ 2 n 1 = incident index θ 1 = incident angle n 2 = refracted index θ 2 = refracted angle Snell s Law. When light moves from one medium (say, air) to another (say, glass) with a different index of refraction n, it changes direction (refracts). The angles are taken from the normal (perpendicular). 1 d o + 1 d i = 1 f d o = object distance d i = image distance f = focal length This formula works for lenses and mirrors, and relates the focal length, object distance, and image distance. m = d i d o m = magnification d i = image distance d o = object distance The magnification m is how much bigger ( m > 1) or smaller ( m < 1) the image is compared to the object. If m < 0, the image is inverted compared to the object. Heat and Thermodynamics Q = mc T Q = heat added or removed of substance c = specific heat T = change in temperature The specific heat c for a substance gives the heat needed to raise the temperature of a mass m of that substance by T degrees. If T < 0, the formula gives the heat that has toberemoved tolower the temperature. erikthered.com/tutor pg. 11

12 Heat and Thermodynamics (continued) Q = ml Q = heat added or removed of substance l = specific heat of transformation When a substance undergoes a change of phase (for example, when ice melts), the temperature doesn t change; however, heat has to be added (ice melting) or removed (water freezing). The specific heat of transformation l is different for each substance. U = Q W U = change in internal energy Q = heat added W = work done by the system The first law of thermodynamics. The change in internal energy of a system is the heat added minus the work done by the system. E eng = W Q hot 100 E eng = % efficiency of the heat engine W = work done by the engine Q hot = heat absorbed by the engine A heat engine essentially converts heat into work. The engine does work by absorbing heat from a hot reservoir and discarding some heat to a cold reservoir. The formula gives the quality( efficiency ) of the engine. Pressure and Gases P = F A P = pressure F = force A = area The definition of pressure. P is a force per unit area exerted by a gas or fluid on the walls of the container. erikthered.com/tutor pg. 12

13 Pressure and Gases (continued) PV T = constant Modern Physics and Relativity P = pressure V = volume T = temperature The Ideal Gas Law. For ideal gases (and also for real-life gases at low pressure), the pressure of the gas times the volume of the gas divided by the temperature of the gas is a constant. E = hf E = photon energy h = a constant f = wave frequency The energy of a photon is proportional to its wave frequency; h is a number called Planck s constant. KE max = hf φ KE max = max kinetic energy h = a constant f = light frequency φ = work function of the metal The photoelectric effect formula. If light of frequency f is shined on a metal with work function φ, and hf > φ, then electrons are emitted from the metal. The electrons have kinetic energies no greater than KE max. λ = h p λ = matter wavelength h = a constant p = momentum A particle can act like a wave withwavelengthλ, asgivenby this formula, if it has momentum p. This is called waveparticle duality. γ = 1 1 (v/c) 2 γ = the relativistic factor v = speed of moving observer c = speed of light The relativistic factor γ is the amount by which moving clocks slow down and lengths contract, as seen by an observer compared to those of another observer moving at speed v (note that γ 1). erikthered.com/tutor pg. 13

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