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MIT Physics 8.02 - Electricity & Magnetism

SECTION : Vector Fields          

SUBJECT: The Cross Product of Two Vectors  
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This interactive animation illustrates the concept of the cross product of two vectors. By definition, the cross product of two vectors is a mutually perpendicular vector whose direction is given by the "Right Hand Rule": when you point the fingers of your open hand in the direction of the first vector (green), and then curl them in the direction of the second vector (red) by way of the smallest angle between them, your thumb points in the direction of the cross product of those two vectors (orange). As seen in the animation, the hand points itself in the proper direction according to this rule as you rotate the red vector through an angle theta.

Note that though the angle theta goes from zero to 360 degrees, the angle used in the Right Hand Rule is always the smallest angle between the two vectors.



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