Forces are vectors, which add and subtract differently from ordinary numbers (scalars). You have learned to add vectors two different ways: the parallelogram law and the method of components. In this lab we will show that vector addition is appropriate for forces.

Consider two arbitrary vectors, A and B, drawn below. Figure 1(a) shows the vectors apart and figure 1(b) shows them moved so they join head to tail. The vectors are the same after moving if their magnitude (length) and direction are the same after the moving. Figure 1(b) enables us to identify the sum or resultant R = A + B from the parallelogram of sides A and B. This new vector R is clearly not the same as the sum of the magnitudes of A and B.

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