2We assume a weightless spring and frictionless surface, e.g.
the object (mass „m‟) moves on an air
track. In physics we usually start with an idealized system,
and add the complications later, i.e. fric-tion, gravity and
weight of real springs. What would friction do?The force produced by the spring actsto push or pull the
mass back to itsequilibrium position at !!
Therestoring force, , on the mass isgiven by the equation:
which is commonly known as
where x is the displace-ment from equilibrium and is thespring constant,
[ i.e. the restoringforce/unit displacement].
The negativesign shows that restoring force acts inthe a direction opposite to the dis-
placement ‘x’ !!
is measured fromthe equilibrium point
is the maximum displacement
is a full to-and-fro motion; this figure shows half a cycle
is the time required to complete one cycle
is the number of cycles completed per second (Hz
The system must also obey Newton‟s second law of motion which states that the force is equal to mass
. We thus obtain theequation of motion of the massRemember This is the basic equation of simple harmonic motion (SHM) and is thebasis for its description and understanding.The motion is oscillatory and best described by sinusoidalfunctions
like „Sine‟ and „Cosine‟.
Figure 1.2 Variation of displacement
for a mass undergoing SHM.Then we can write the force equation:is a constant and it is the angular frequency of the oscillation. can also be defined as returnforce per unit displacement per unit mass. Note that
simple harmonic oscillators have an equationof this form. It is a linear second-order differential equation.
Note that ω
is equal to the restoring forceper unit displacement per unit mass.
Another example mass on a vertical spring :