Vector quantity

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A vector quantity is a measurement that contains both magnitude[1] and directional information,.[2] It is different from a scalar quantity, which contains only magnitude.

Force is an example of a vector quantity, because it includes both a magnitude (push) and a direction (the direction the force is in). For example, when an airplane is taking off, the air under the wings is exerting a force in an upward direction, gravity is exerting a force in a downward direction, the engine is exerting a force pushing the plane forward, while winds may be exerting forces from side to side.

Temperature is an example of a scalar quantity. The temperature is simply a number of units: normal body temperature is 37° Celsius. You can't speak of an upward temperature, or a northeast temperature; it has no direction. The temperature trend however does have a direction (up or down).

For more detail on vectors, see vector space.


  1. Stewart, James. Calculus: Early Transcendentals. Brooks/Cole, 2008
  2. Wile, Dr. Jay L. Exploring Creation With Physical Science. Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. 1999, 2000