Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Why can objects at rest accelerate?
Name: N/A
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A

Can anyone explain why an object which is at rest can have acceleration?

Acceleration is nothing but the rate of change of velocity. Now consider a car that is at rest but is about to start moving. You press the accelerator and the car starts moving. As the velocity of car has changed from zero to a nonzero value, the car must have had acceleration even though it was at rest. I hope this will suffice.


You might also want to consider what you mean by "at rest". Something that is a rest and stays at rest is not accelerating -- in the frame of reference in which the "at rest" measurement was made. However, if we step into a different reference frame (for example, a space ship watching the earth) we would find that a book on a table (on earth) which appears stationary to someone on earth is actually travelling in a very complicated path (earth rotating & revolving, galaxy moving, etc.) and was indeed accelerating when measured from that frame.

gregory r bradburn

Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory