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What is Displacement?

What is Displacement?
This is one of the terms with several meanings depending on where it is used or applied. Displacement as used in chemistry, fluid mechanics, psychology, psychiatry, mechanical engineering as well as a number of other different fields has various meanings. Most of these meanings relate to some sort of movement. Examples of displacement definitions that have to do with movement are in orthopedics where it refers to the change in position of fracture fragments or particle displacement which refers to the distance a particle moves in a particular medium while transmitting a wave. These are however not the most common applications of displacement.

Displacement is most commonly used to refer to one of two things. The first has to do with movement and this is where displacement is used to refer t the shortest distance between two points. In most cases this straight line is an imaginary line which does not refer to the actual path normally taken from one point to the other. There are however situations where displacement can be along a curve such as when considering the distance between two points that are along the equator. Displacement as defined here is measured in meters.

The other common use of displacement is in fluid mechanics where it refers to the volume of fluid that is pushed out of the way by a solid object that is immersed in the fluid. This is also a way to measure the volume of solids as the volume of fluid displaced is equal to the volume of the object immersed in the fluid. This kind of displacement and measure of volume only applies with objects that completely sink in the fluid that they are immersed in. For objects that float, the fluid displaced will be equal to the weight of the object that is put in the fluid.

Displacement is also often used to refer to the forceful removal of something from its original position. This could also be used when looking at forced movement and eviction of human beings from one location to another or in the case of animals from their original habitat to other areas. Displacement of human beings and also that of animals has been a source of conflict between various interested parties such as governments and businesses, squatters and landowners, or different communities. There has also been a lot of conflict between man and animals as population growth forces more people to move into habitats that were previously the exclusive home to different animal and plant species.

There are many other uses of the term displacement. Most of these are in different science disciplines and even under each of these sciences, displacement has several meanings. It is important to understand what the term means each time it is applied so as to avoid getting confused or send a confusing message. With about twenty five different meanings of the term displacement, context is the best way to effectively communicate and understand which displacement we are looking at in any given sentence.

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Posted by Washington W on Feb 6th, 2011 and filed under Science. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response via following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site