An introductory course
Richard Fitzpatrick
Associate Professor of Physics
The University of Texas at Austin
Contents
1 Introduction 7
1.1 Major sources: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1.2 What is classical mechanics? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1.3 mks units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
1.4 Standard preﬁxes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
1.5 Other units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
1.6 Precision and signiﬁcant ﬁgures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
1.7 Dimensional analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
2 Motion in 1 dimension 18
2.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
2.2 Displacement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
2.3 Velocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
2.4 Acceleration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
2.5 Motion with constant velocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
2.6 Motion with constant acceleration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
2.7 Freefall under gravity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
3 Motion in 3 dimensions 32
3.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
3.2 Cartesian coordinates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
3.3 Vector displacement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
3.4 Vector addition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
3.5 Vector magnitude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
2
3.6 Scalar multiplication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
3.7 Diagonals of a parallelogram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
3.8 Vector velocity and vector acceleration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
3.9 Motion with constant velocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
3.10 Motion with constant acceleration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
3.11 Projectile motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
3.12 Relative velocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
4 Newton’s laws of motion 53
4.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
4.2 Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
4.3 Newton’s second law of motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
4.4 Hooke’s law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
4.5 Newton’s third law of motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
4.6 Mass and weight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
4.7 Strings, pulleys, and inclines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
4.8 Friction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
4.9 Frames of reference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
5 Conservation of energy 78
5.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
5.2 Energy conservation during freefall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
5.3 Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
5.4 Conservative and nonconservative forceﬁelds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
5.5 Potential energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
3
5.6 Hooke’s law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
5.7 Motion in a general 1dimensional potential . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
5.8 Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
6 Conservation of momentum 107
6.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
6.2 Twocomponent systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
6.3 Multicomponent systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
6.4 Rocket science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
6.5 Impulses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
6.6 Collisions in 1dimension . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
7 Circular motion 136
7.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136
7.2 Uniform circular motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136
7.3 Centripetal acceleration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138
7.4 The conical pendulum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
7.5 Nonuniform circular motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142
7.6 The vertical pendulum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
7.7 Motion on curved surfaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
8 Rotational motion 160
8.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
8.2 Rigid body rotation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
8.3 Is rotation a vector? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162
4
8.4 The vector product . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166
8.5 Centre of mass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
8.6 Moment of inertia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172
8.7 Torque . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
8.8 Power and work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
8.9 Translational motion versus rotational motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
8.10 The physics of baseball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190
9 Angular momentum 204
9.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
9.2 Angular momentum of a point particle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
9.3 Angular momentum of an extended object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209
10 Statics 217
10.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
10.2 The principles of statics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
10.3 Equilibrium of a laminar object in a gravitational ﬁeld . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220
10.4 Rods and cables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223
10.5 Ladders and walls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 226
10.6 Jointed rods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228
11 Oscillatory motion 237
11.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
11.2 Simple harmonic motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
5
11.3 The torsion pendulum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241
11.4 The simple pendulum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 242
11.5 The compound pendulum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245
11.6 Uniform circular motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246
12 Orbital motion 253
12.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253
12.2 Historical background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253
12.3 Gravity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262
12.4 Gravitational potential energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265
12.5 Satellite orbits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 268
12.6 Planetary orbits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269
13 Wave motion 279
13.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 279
13.2 Waves on a stretched string . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 279
13.3 General waves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 284
13.4 Wavepulses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 285
13.5 Standing waves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 289
13.6 The Doppler effect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 291
6
1 INTRODUCTION
1 Introduction
1.1 Major sources:
The sources which I consulted most frequently whilst developing this course are:
Analytical Mechanics: G.R. Fowles, Third edition (Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, New
York NY, 1977).
Physics: R. Resnick, D. Halliday, and K.S. Krane, Fourth edition, Vol. 1 (John Wiley
& Sons, New York NY, 1992).
Encyclopædia Brittanica: Fifteenth edition (Encyclopædia Brittanica, Chicago IL,
1994).
Physics for scientists and engineers: R.A. Serway, and R.J. Beichner, Fifth edition,
Vol. 1 (Saunders College Publishing, Orlando FL, 2000).
1.2 What is classical mechanics?
Classical mechanics is the study of the motion of bodies (including the special
case in which bodies remain at rest) in accordance with the general principles
ﬁrst enunciated by Sir Isaac Newton in his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Math
ematica (1687), commonly known as the Principia. Classical mechanics was the
ﬁrst branch of Physics to be discovered, and is the foundation upon which all
other branches of Physics are built. Moreover, classical mechanics has many im
portant applications in other areas of science, such as Astronomy (e.g., celestial
mechanics), Chemistry (e.g., the dynamics of molecular collisions), Geology (e.g.,
the propagation of seismic waves, generated by earthquakes, through the Earth’s
crust), and Engineering (e.g., the equilibrium and stability of structures). Classi
cal mechanics is also of great signiﬁcance outside the realm of science. After all,
the sequence of events leading to the discovery of classical mechanics—starting
with the groundbreaking work of Copernicus, continuing with the researches of
Galileo, Kepler, and Descartes, and culminating in the monumental achievements
7
1 INTRODUCTION 1.2 What is classical mechanics?
of Newton—involved the complete overthrow of the Aristotelian picture of the
Universe, which had previously prevailed for more than a millennium, and its
replacement by a recognizably modern picture in which humankind no longer
played a privileged role.
In our investigation of classical mechanics we shall study many different types
of motion, including:
Translational motion—motion by which a body shifts from one point in space to
another (e.g., the motion of a bullet ﬁred from a gun).
Rotational motion—motion by which an extended body changes orientation, with
respect to other bodies in space, without changing position (e.g., the motion
of a spinning top).
Oscillatory motion—motion which continually repeats in time with a ﬁxed period
(e.g., the motion of a pendulum in a grandfather clock).
Circular motion—motion by which a body executes a circular orbit about another
ﬁxed body [e.g., the (approximate) motion of the Earth about the Sun].
Of course, these different types of motion can be combined: for instance, the
motion of a properly bowled bowling ball consists of a combination of trans
lational and rotational motion, whereas wave propagation is a combination of
translational and oscillatory motion. Furthermore, the above mentioned types of
motion are not entirely distinct: e.g., circular motion contains elements of both
rotational and oscillatory motion. We shall also study statics: i.e., the subdivision
of mechanics which is concerned with the forces that act on bodies at rest and
in equilibrium. Statics is obviously of great importance in civil engineering: for
instance, the principles of statics were used to design the building in which this
lecture is taking place, so as to ensure that it does not collapse.
8
1 INTRODUCTION 1.3 mks units
1.3 mks units
The ﬁrst principle of any exact science is measurement. In mechanics there are
three fundamental quantities which are subject to measurement:
1. Intervals in space: i.e., lengths.
2. Quantities of inertia, or mass, possessed by various bodies.
3. Intervals in time.
Any other type of measurement in mechanics can be reduced to some combina
tion of measurements of these three quantities.
Each of the three fundamental quantities—length, mass, and time—is mea
sured with respect to some convenient standard. The system of units currently
used by all scientists, and most engineers, is called the mks system—after the ﬁrst
initials of the names of the units of length, mass, and time, respectively, in this
system: i.e., the meter, the kilogram, and the second.
The mks unit of length is the meter (symbol m), which was formerly the dis
tance between two scratches on a platinumiridium alloy bar kept at the Inter
national Bureau of Metric Standard in S`evres, France, but is now deﬁned as the
distance occupied by 1, 650, 763.73 wavelengths of light of the orangered spectral
line of the isotope Krypton 86 in vacuum.
The mks unit of mass is the kilogram (symbol kg), which is deﬁned as the mass
of a platinumiridium alloy cylinder kept at the International Bureau of Metric
Standard in S`evres, France.
The mks unit of time is the second (symbol s), which was formerly deﬁned in
terms of the Earth’s rotation, but is now deﬁned as the time for 9, 192, 631, 770
oscillations associated with the transition between the two hyperﬁne levels of the
ground state of the isotope Cesium 133.
In addition to the three fundamental quantities, classical mechanics also deals
with derived quantities, such as velocity, acceleration, momentum, angular mo
9
1 INTRODUCTION 1.4 Standard preﬁxes
mentum, etc. Each of these derived quantities can be reduced to some particular
combination of length, mass, and time. The mks units of these derived quantities
are, therefore, the corresponding combinations of the mks units of length, mass,
and time. For instance, a velocity can be reduced to a length divided by a time.
Hence, the mks units of velocity are meters per second:
[v] =
[L]
[T]
= ms
−1
. (1.1)
Here, v stands for a velocity, L for a length, and T for a time, whereas the operator
[· · ·] represents the units, or dimensions, of the quantity contained within the
brackets. Momentum can be reduced to a mass times a velocity. Hence, the mks
units of momentum are kilogrammeters per second:
[p] = [M][v] =
[M][L]
[T]
= kg ms
−1
. (1.2)
Here, p stands for a momentum, and M for a mass. In this manner, the mks units
of all derived quantities appearing in classical dynamics can easily be obtained.
1.4 Standard preﬁxes
mks units are speciﬁcally designed to conveniently describe those motions which
occur in everyday life. Unfortunately, mks units tend to become rather unwieldy
when dealing with motions on very small scales (e.g., the motions of molecules)
or very large scales (e.g., the motion of stars in the Galaxy). In order to help
cope with this problem, a set of standard preﬁxes has been devised, which allow
the mks units of length, mass, and time to be modiﬁed so as to deal more easily
with very small and very large quantities: these preﬁxes are speciﬁed in Tab. 1.
Thus, a kilometer (km) represents 10
3
m, a nanometer (nm) represents 10
−9
m,
and a femtosecond (fs) represents 10
−15
s. The standard preﬁxes can also be used
to modify the units of derived quantities.
10
1 INTRODUCTION 1.5 Other units
Factor Preﬁx Symbol Factor Preﬁx Symbol
10
18
exa E 10
−1
deci d
10
15
peta P 10
−2
centi c
10
12
tera T 10
−3
milli m
10
9
giga G 10
−6
micro µ
10
6
mega M 10
−9
nano n
10
3
kilo k 10
−12
pico p
10
2
hecto h 10
−15
femto f
10
1
deka da 10
−18
atto a
Table 1: Standard preﬁxes
1.5 Other units
The mks system is not the only system of units in existence. Unfortunately, the
obsolete cgs (centimetergramsecond) system and the even more obsolete fps
(footpoundsecond) system are still in use today, although their continued em
ployment is now strongly discouraged in science and engineering (except in the
US!). Conversion between different systems of units is, in principle, perfectly
straightforward, but, in practice, a frequent source of error. Witness, for ex
ample, the recent loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter because the engineers who
designed its rocket engine used fps units whereas the NASA mission controllers
employed mks units. Table 2 speciﬁes the various conversion factors between
mks, cgs, and fps units. Note that, rather confusingly (unless you are an engineer
in the US!), a pound is a unit of force, rather than mass. Additional nonstandard
units of length include the inch (1 ft = 12 in), the yard (1 ya = 3 ft), and the
mile (1 mi = 5, 280 ft). Additional nonstandard units of mass include the ton
(in the US, 1 ton = 2, 000 lb; in the UK, 1 ton = 2, 240 lb), and the metric ton
(1 tonne = 1, 000 kg). Finally, additional nonstandard units of time include the
minute (1 min = 60 s), the hour (1 hr = 3, 600 s), the day (1 da = 86, 400 s), and
the year (1 yr = 365.26 da = 31, 558, 464 s).
11
1 INTRODUCTION 1.6 Precision and signiﬁcant ﬁgures
1cm = 10
−2
m
1g = 10
−3
kg
1ft = 0.3048 m
1lb = 4.448 N
1slug = 14.59 kg
Table 2: Conversion factors
1.6 Precision and signiﬁcant ﬁgures
In this course, you are expected to perform calculations to a relative accuracy
of 1%: i.e., to three signiﬁcant ﬁgures. Since rounding errors tend to accumulate
during lengthy calculations, the easiest way in which to achieve this accuracy is to
perform all intermediate calculations to four signiﬁcant ﬁgures, and then to round
the ﬁnal result down to three signiﬁcant ﬁgures. If one of the quantities in your
calculation turns out to the the small difference between two much larger num
bers, then you may need to keep more than four signiﬁcant ﬁgures. Incidentally,
you are strongly urged to use scientiﬁc notation in all of your calculations: the
use of nonscientiﬁc notation is generally a major source of error in this course.
If your calculators are capable of operating in a mode in which all numbers (not
just very small or very large numbers) are displayed in scientiﬁc form then you
are advised to perform your calculations in this mode.
1.7 Dimensional analysis
As we have already mentioned, length, mass, and time are three fundamentally
different quantities which are measured in three completely independent units. It,
therefore, makes no sense for a prospective law of physics to express an equality
between (say) a length and a mass. In other words, the example law
m = l, (1.3)
where m is a mass and l is a length, cannot possibly be correct. One easy way of
seeing that Eq. (1.3) is invalid (as a law of physics), is to note that this equation is
dependent on the adopted system of units: i.e., if m = l in mks units, then m = l
12
1 INTRODUCTION 1.7 Dimensional analysis
in fps units, because the conversion factors which must be applied to the left and
righthand sides differ. Physicists hold very strongly to the assumption that the
laws of physics possess objective reality: in other words, the laws of physics are
the same for all observers. One immediate consequence of this assumption is that
a law of physics must take the same form in all possible systems of units that a
prospective observer might choose to employ. The only way in which this can be
the case is if all laws of physics are dimensionally consistent: i.e., the quantities
on the left and righthand sides of the equality sign in any given law of physics
must have the same dimensions (i.e., the same combinations of length, mass, and
time). A dimensionally consistent equation naturally takes the same form in all
possible systems of units, since the same conversion factors are applied to both
sides of the equation when transforming from one system to another.
As an example, let us consider what is probably the most famous equation in
physics:
E = mc
2
. (1.4)
Here, E is the energy of a body, m is its mass, and c is the velocity of light
in vacuum. The dimensions of energy are [M][L
2
]/[T
2
], and the dimensions of
velocity are [L]/[T]. Hence, the dimensions of the lefthand side are [M][L
2
]/[T
2
],
whereas the dimensions of the righthand side are [M] ([L]/[T])
2
= [M][L
2
]/[T
2
].
It follows that Eq. (1.4) is indeed dimensionally consistent. Thus, E = mc
2
holds good in mks units, in cgs units, in fps units, and in any other sensible set
of units. Had Einstein proposed E = mc, or E = mc
3
, then his error would
have been immediately apparent to other physicists, since these prospective laws
are not dimensionally consistent. In fact, E = mc
2
represents the only simple,
dimensionally consistent way of combining an energy, a mass, and the velocity of
light in a law of physics.
The last comment leads naturally to the subject of dimensional analysis: i.e.,
the use of the idea of dimensional consistency to guess the forms of simple laws
of physics. It should be noted that dimensional analysis is of fairly limited appli
cability, and is a poor substitute for analysis employing the actual laws of physics;
nevertheless, it is occasionally useful. Suppose that a special effects studio wants
to ﬁlm a scene in which the Leaning Tower of Pisa topples to the ground. In
order to achieve this, the studio might make a scale model of the tower, which
13
1 INTRODUCTION 1.7 Dimensional analysis
h
m
g
Figure 1: The Leaning Tower of Pisa
is (say) 1m tall, and then ﬁlm the model falling over. The only problem is that
the resulting footage would look completely unrealistic, because the model tower
would fall over too quickly. The studio could easily ﬁx this problem by slowing
the ﬁlm down. The question is by what factor should the ﬁlm be slowed down in
order to make it look realistic?
Although, at this stage, we do not know how to apply the laws of physics to
the problem of a tower falling over, we can, at least, make some educated guesses
as to what factors the time t
f
required for this process to occur depends on. In
fact, it seems reasonable to suppose that t
f
depends principally on the mass of
the tower, m, the height of the tower, h, and the acceleration due to gravity, g.
See Fig. 1. In other words,
t
f
= Cm
x
h
y
g
z
, (1.5)
where C is a dimensionless constant, and x, y, and z are unknown exponents.
The exponents x, y, and z can be determined by the requirement that the above
equation be dimensionally consistent. Incidentally, the dimensions of an acceler
ation are [L]/[T
2
]. Hence, equating the dimensions of both sides of Eq. (1.5), we
obtain
[T] = [M]
x
[L]
y
_
_
[L]
[T
2
]
_
_
z
. (1.6)
14
1 INTRODUCTION 1.7 Dimensional analysis
We can now compare the exponents of [L], [M], and [T] on either side of the
above expression: these exponents must all match in order for Eq. (1.5) to be
dimensionally consistent. Thus,
0 = y +z, (1.7)
0 = x, (1.8)
1 = −2 z. (1.9)
It immediately follows that x = 0, y = 1/2, and z = −1/2. Hence,
t
f
= C
¸
¸
¸
_
h
g
. (1.10)
Now, the actual tower of Pisa is approximately 100m tall. It follows that since
t
f
∝
√
h (g is the same for both the real and the model tower) then the 1m
high model tower falls over a factor of
_
100/1 = 10 times faster than the real
tower. Thus, the ﬁlm must be slowed down by a factor 10 in order to make it
look realistic.
Worked example 1.1: Conversion of units
Question: Farmer Jones has recently brought a 40 acre ﬁeld and wishes to replace
the fence surrounding it. Given that the ﬁeld is square, what length of fencing (in
meters) should Farmer Jones purchase? Incidentally, 1 acre equals 43,560 square
feet.
Answer: If 1 acre equals 43,560 ft
2
and 1 ft equals 0.3048 m (see Tab. 2) then
1 acre = 43560 ×(0.3048)
2
= 4.047 ×10
3
m
2
.
Thus, the area of the ﬁeld in mks units is
A = 40 ×4.047 ×10
3
= 1.619 ×10
5
m
2
.
Now, a square ﬁeld with sides of length l has an area A = l
2
and a circumference
D = 4l. Hence, D = 4
√
A. It follows that the length of the fence is
D = 4 ×
_
1.619 ×10
5
= 1.609 ×10
3
m.
15
1 INTRODUCTION 1.7 Dimensional analysis
Worked example 1.2: Tire pressure
Question: The recommended tire pressure in a Honda Civic is 28 psi (pounds per
square inch). What is this pressure in atmospheres (1 atmosphere is 10
5
Nm
−2
)?
Answer: First, 28 pounds per square inch is the same as 28×(12)
2
= 4032 pounds
per square foot (the standard fps unit of pressure). Now, 1 pound equals 4.448
Newtons (the standard SI unit of force), and 1 foot equals 0.3048 m (see Tab. 2).
Hence,
P = 4032 ×(4.448)/(0.3048)
2
= 1.93 ×10
5
Nm
−2
.
It follows that 28 psi is equivalent to 1.93 atmospheres.
Worked example 1.3: Dimensional analysis
Question: The speed of sound v in a gas might plausibly depend on the pressure p,
the density ρ, and the volume V of the gas. Use dimensional analysis to determine
the exponents x, y, and z in the formula
v = Cp
x
ρ
y
V
z
,
where C is a dimensionless constant. Incidentally, the mks units of pressure are
kilograms per meter per second squared.
Answer: Equating the dimensions of both sides of the above equation, we ob
tain
[L]
[T]
=
_
_
[M]
[T
2
][L]
_
_
x
_
_
[M]
[L
3
]
_
_
y
[L
3
]
z
.
A comparison of the exponents of [L], [M], and [T] on either side of the above
expression yields
1 = −x −3y +3z,
0 = x +y,
−1 = −2x.
16
1 INTRODUCTION 1.7 Dimensional analysis
The third equation immediately gives x = 1/2; the second equation then yields
y = −1/2; ﬁnally, the ﬁrst equation gives z = 0. Hence,
v = C
¸
¸
¸
_
p
ρ
.
17
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION
2 Motion in 1 dimension
2.1 Introduction
The purpose of this section is to introduce the concepts of displacement, velocity,
and acceleration. For the sake of simplicity, we shall restrict our attention to 1
dimensional motion.
2.2 Displacement
Consider a body moving in 1 dimension: e.g., a train traveling down a straight
railroad track, or a truck driving down an interstate in Kansas. Suppose that we
have a team of observers who continually report the location of this body to us
as time progresses. To be more exact, our observers report the distance x of the
body from some arbitrarily chosen reference point located on the track on which
it is constrained to move. This point is known as the origin of our coordinate
system. A positive x value implies that the body is located x meters to the right of
the origin, whereas a negative x value implies that the body is located x meters
to the left of the origin. Here, x is termed the displacement of the body from the
origin. See Fig. 2. Of course, if the body is extended then our observers will have
to report the displacement x of some conveniently chosen reference point on the
body (e.g., its centre of mass) from the origin.
Our information regarding the body’s motion consists of a set of data points,
each specifying the displacement x of the body at some time t. It is usually
illuminating to graph these points. Figure 3 shows an example of such a graph.
As is often the case, it is possible to ﬁt the data points appearing in this graph
using a relatively simple analytic curve. Indeed, the curve associated with Fig. 3
is
x = 1 +t +
t
2
2
−
t
4
4
. (2.1)
18
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.3 Velocity
2.3 Velocity
Both Fig. 3 and formula (2.1) effectively specify the location of the body whose
motion we are studying as time progresses. Let us now consider how we can use
this information to determine the body’s instantaneous velocity as a function of
time. The conventional deﬁnition of velocity is as follows:
Velocity is the rate of change of displacement with time.
This deﬁnition implies that
v =
∆x
∆t
, (2.2)
where v is the body’s velocity at time t, and ∆x is the change in displacement of
the body between times t and t +∆t.
How should we choose the time interval ∆t appearing in Eq. (2.2)? Obviously,
in the simple case in which the body is moving with constant velocity, we can
make ∆t as large or small as we like, and it will not affect the value of v. Suppose,
however, that v is constantly changing in time, as is generally the case. In this
situation, ∆t must be kept sufﬁciently small that the body’s velocity does not
change appreciably between times t and t + ∆t. If ∆t is made too large then
formula (2.2) becomes invalid.
Suppose that we require a general expression for instantaneous velocity which
is valid irrespective of how rapidly or slowly the body’s velocity changes in time.
We can achieve this goal by taking the limit of Eq. (2.2) as ∆t approaches zero.
This ensures that no matter how rapidly v varies with time, the velocity of the
x = 0
x
origin track body
displacement
Figure 2: Motion in 1 dimension
19
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.3 Velocity
Figure 3: Graph of displacement versus time
body is always approximately constant in the interval t to t +∆t. Thus,
v = lim
∆t→0
∆x
∆t
=
dx
dt
, (2.3)
where dx/dt represents the derivative of x with respect to t. The above deﬁnition
is particularly useful if we can represent x(t) as an analytic function, because it
allows us to immediately evaluate the instantaneous velocity v(t) via the rules of
calculus. Thus, if x(t) is given by formula (2.1) then
v =
dx
dt
= 1 +t −t
3
. (2.4)
Figure 4 shows the graph of v versus t obtained from the above expression. Note
that when v is positive the body is moving to the right (i.e., x is increasing in
time). Likewise, when v is negative the body is moving to the left (i.e., x is
decreasing in time). Finally, when v = 0 the body is instantaneously at rest.
The terms velocity and speed are often confused with one another. A velocity
can be either positive or negative, depending on the direction of motion. The
conventional deﬁnition of speed is that it is the magnitude of velocity (i.e., it is v
with the sign stripped off). It follows that a body can never possess a negative
speed.
20
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.4 Acceleration
Figure 4: Graph of instantaneous velocity versus time associated with the motion speciﬁed in Fig. 3
2.4 Acceleration
The conventional deﬁnition of acceleration is as follows:
Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with time.
This deﬁnition implies that
a =
∆v
∆t
, (2.5)
where a is the body’s acceleration at time t, and ∆v is the change in velocity of
the body between times t and t +∆t.
How should we choose the time interval ∆t appearing in Eq. (2.5)? Again,
in the simple case in which the body is moving with constant acceleration, we
can make ∆t as large or small as we like, and it will not affect the value of a.
Suppose, however, that a is constantly changing in time, as is generally the case.
In this situation, ∆t must be kept sufﬁciently small that the body’s acceleration
does not change appreciably between times t and t +∆t.
A general expression for instantaneous acceleration, which is valid irrespective
of how rapidly or slowly the body’s acceleration changes in time, can be obtained
21
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.4 Acceleration
Figure 5: Graph of instantaneous acceleration versus time associated with the motion speciﬁed in
Fig. 3
by taking the limit of Eq. (2.5) as ∆t approaches zero:
a = lim
∆t→0
∆v
∆t
=
dv
dt
=
d
2
x
dt
2
. (2.6)
The above deﬁnition is particularly useful if we can represent x(t) as an analytic
function, because it allows us to immediately evaluate the instantaneous acceler
ation a(t) via the rules of calculus. Thus, if x(t) is given by formula (2.1) then
a =
d
2
x
dt
2
= 1 −3t
2
. (2.7)
Figure 5 shows the graph of a versus time obtained from the above expression.
Note that when a is positive the body is accelerating to the right (i.e., v is in
creasing in time). Likewise, when a is negative the body is decelerating (i.e., v is
decreasing in time).
Fortunately, it is generally not necessary to evaluate the rate of change of ac
celeration with time, since this quantity does not appear in Newton’s laws of
motion.
22
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.5 Motion with constant velocity
∆x
x
0
t
x
0
0
t ∆
Figure 6: Graph of displacement versus time for a body moving with constant velocity
2.5 Motion with constant velocity
The simplest type of motion (excluding the trivial case in which the body under
investigation remains at rest) consists of motion with constant velocity. This type
of motion occurs in everyday life whenever an object slides over a horizontal, low
friction surface: e.g., a puck sliding across a hockey rink.
Fig. 6 shows the graph of displacement versus time for a body moving with
constant velocity. It can be seen that the graph consists of a straightline. This
line can be represented algebraically as
x = x
0
+v t. (2.8)
Here, x
0
is the displacement at time t = 0: this quantity can be determined from
the graph as the intercept of the straightline with the xaxis. Likewise, v = dx/dt
is the constant velocity of the body: this quantity can be determined from the
graph as the gradient of the straightline (i.e., the ratio ∆x/∆t, as shown). Note
that a = d
2
x/dt
2
= 0, as expected.
Fig. 7 shows a displacement versus time graph for a slightly more complicated
case of motion with constant velocity. The body in question moves to the right
23
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.6 Motion with constant acceleration
t
x
0
C D E A B
Figure 7: Graph of displacement versus time
(since x is clearly increasing with t) with a constant velocity (since the graph is a
straightline) between times Aand B. The body then moves to the right (since x is
still increasing in time) with a somewhat larger constant velocity (since the graph
is again a straight line, but possesses a larger gradient than before) between times
B and C. The body remains at rest (since the graph is horizontal) between times
C and D. Finally, the body moves to the left (since x is decreasing with t) with a
constant velocity (since the graph is a straightline) between times D and E.
2.6 Motion with constant acceleration
Motion with constant acceleration occurs in everyday life whenever an object is
dropped: the object moves downward with the constant acceleration 9.81 ms
−2
,
under the inﬂuence of gravity.
Fig. 8 shows the graphs of displacement versus time and velocity versus time
for a body moving with constant acceleration. It can be seen that the displacement
time graph consists of a curvedline whose gradient (slope) is increasing in time.
24
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.6 Motion with constant acceleration
0
t
0
0
x
x
∆
0
t
0
0
t ∆
v
v
v
Figure 8: Graphs of displacement versus time and velocity versus time for a body moving with con
stant acceleration
This line can be represented algebraically as
x = x
0
+v
0
t +
1
2
at
2
. (2.9)
Here, x
0
is the displacement at time t = 0: this quantity can be determined from
the graph as the intercept of the curvedline with the xaxis. Likewise, v
0
is the
body’s instantaneous velocity at time t = 0.
The velocitytime graph consists of a straightline which can be represented
algebraically as
v =
dx
dt
= v
0
+at. (2.10)
25
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.7 Freefall under gravity
The quantity v
0
is determined from the graph as the intercept of the straight
line with the xaxis. The quantity a is the constant acceleration: this can be
determined graphically as the gradient of the straightline (i.e., the ratio ∆v/∆t,
as shown). Note that dv/dt = a, as expected.
Equations (2.9) and (2.10) can be rearranged to give the following set of three
useful formulae which characterize motion with constant acceleration:
s = v
0
t +
1
2
at
2
, (2.11)
v = v
0
+at, (2.12)
v
2
= v
2
0
+2 as. (2.13)
Here, s = x −x
0
is the net distance traveled after t seconds.
Fig. 9 shows a displacement versus time graph for a slightly more complicated
case of accelerated motion. The body in question accelerates to the right [since
the gradient (slope) of the graph is increasing in time] between times A and B.
The body then moves to the right (since x is increasing in time) with a constant
velocity (since the graph is a straight line) between times B and C. Finally, the
body decelerates [since the gradient (slope) of the graph is decreasing in time]
between times C and D.
2.7 Freefall under gravity
Galileo Galilei was the ﬁrst scientist to appreciate that, neglecting the effect of air
resistance, all bodies in freefall close to the Earth’s surface accelerate vertically
downwards with the same acceleration: namely, g = 9.81 ms
−2
.
1
The neglect of
air resistance is a fairly good approximation for large objects which travel rela
tively slowly (e.g., a shotputt, or a basketball), but becomes a poor approxima
tion for small objects which travel relatively rapidly (e.g., a golfball, or a bullet
ﬁred from a pistol).
1
Actually, the acceleration due to gravity varies slightly over the Earth’s surface because of the combined effects
of the Earth’s rotation and the Earth’s slightly ﬂattened shape. The acceleration at the poles is about 9.834 ms
−2
,
whereas the acceleration at the equator is only 9.780 ms
−2
. The average acceleration is 9.81 ms
−2
.
26
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.7 Freefall under gravity
x
0
A B C D
t
Figure 9: Graph of displacement versus time
Equations (2.11)–(2.13) can easily be modiﬁed to deal with the special case
of an object freefalling under gravity:
s = v
0
t −
1
2
gt
2
, (2.14)
v = v
0
−gt, (2.15)
v
2
= v
2
0
−2 gs. (2.16)
Here, g = 9.81 ms
−2
is the downward acceleration due to gravity, s is the distance
the object has moved vertically between times t = 0 and t (if s > 0 then the object
has risen s meters, else if s < 0 then the object has fallen s meters), and v
0
is
the object’s instantaneous velocity at t = 0. Finally, v is the object’s instantaneous
velocity at time t.
Let us illustrate the use of Eqs. (2.14)–(2.16). Suppose that a ball is released
from rest and allowed to fall under the inﬂuence of gravity. How long does it take
the ball to fall h meters? Well, according to Eq. (2.14) [with v
0
= 0 (since the
ball is released from rest), and s = −h (since we wish the ball to fall h meters)],
h = gt
2
/2, so the time of fall is
t =
¸
¸
¸
_
2 h
g
. (2.17)
27
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.7 Freefall under gravity
Suppose that a ball is thrown vertically upwards from ground level with veloc
ity u. To what height does the ball rise, how long does it remain in the air, and
with what velocity does it strike the ground? The ball attains its maximum height
when it is momentarily at rest (i.e., when v = 0). According to Eq. (2.15) (with
v
0
= u), this occurs at time t = u/g. It follows from Eq. (2.14) (with v
0
= u, and
t = u/g) that the maximum height of the ball is given by
h =
u
2
2 g
. (2.18)
When the ball strikes the ground it has traveled zero net meters vertically, so
s = 0. It follows from Eqs. (2.15) and (2.16) (with v
0
= u and t > 0) that v = −u.
In other words, the ball hits the ground with an equal and opposite velocity to
that with which it was thrown into the air. Since the ascent and decent phases of
the ball’s trajectory are clearly symmetric, the ball’s time of ﬂight is simply twice
the time required for the ball to attain its maximum height: i.e.,
t =
2 u
g
. (2.19)
Worked example 2.1: Velocitytime graph
t (s)
v
(
m
/
s
)
4 8 12 16 0
0
4
8
28
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.7 Freefall under gravity
Question: Consider the motion of the object whose velocitytime graph is given
in the diagram.
1. What is the acceleration of the object between times t = 0 and t = 2?
2. What is the acceleration of the object between times t = 10 and t = 12?
3. What is the net displacement of the object between times t = 0 and t = 16?
Answer:
1. The vt graph is a straightline between t = 0 and t = 2, indicating constant
acceleration during this time period. Hence,
a =
∆v
∆t
=
v(t = 2) −v(t = 0)
2 −0
=
8 −0
2
= 4 ms
−2
.
2. The vt graph is a straightline between t = 10 and t = 12, indicating con
stant acceleration during this time period. Hence,
a =
∆v
∆t
=
v(t = 12) −v(t = 10)
12 −10
=
4 −8
2
= −2 ms
−2
.
The negative sign indicates that the object is decelerating.
3. Now, v = dx/dt, so
x(16) −x(0) =
16
0
v(t) dt.
In other words, the net displacement between times t = 0 and t = 16 equals
the area under the vt curve, evaluated between these two times. Recalling
that the area of a triangle is half its width times its height, the number of
gridsquares under the vt curve is 25. The area of each gridsquare is 2×2 =
4 m. Hence,
x(16) −x(0) = 4 ×25 = 100 m.
29
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.7 Freefall under gravity
Worked example 2.2: Speed trap
Question: In a speed trap, two pressureactivated strips are placed 120 m apart on
a highway on which the speed limit is 85 km/h. A driver going 110 km/h notices
a police car just as he/she activates the ﬁrst strip, and immediately slows down.
What deceleration is needed so that the car’s average speed is within the speed
limit when the car crosses the second strip?
Answer: Let v
1
= 110 km/h be the speed of the car at the ﬁrst strip. Let ∆x =
120 m be the distance between the two strips, and let ∆t be the time taken by the
car to travel from one strip to the other. The average velocity of the car is
¯v =
∆x
∆t
.
We need this velocity to be 85 km/h. Hence, we require
∆t =
∆x
¯v
=
120
85 ×(1000/3600)
= 5.082 s.
Here, we have changed units from km/h to m/s. Now, assuming that the accel
eration a of the car is uniform, we have
∆x = v
1
∆t +
1
2
a(∆t)
2
,
which can be rearranged to give
a =
2 (∆x −v
1
∆t)
(∆t)
2
=
2 (120 −110 ×(1000/3600) ×5.082)
(5.082)
2
= −2.73 ms
−2
.
Hence, the required deceleration is 2.73 ms
−2
.
Worked example 2.3: The Brooklyn bridge
Question: In 1886, Steve Brodie achieved notoriety by allegedly jumping off the
recently completed Brooklyn bridge, for a bet, and surviving. Given that the
30
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.7 Freefall under gravity
bridge rises 135ft over the East River, how long would Mr. Brodie have been in
the air, and with what speed would he have struck the water? Give all answers
in mks units. You may neglect air resistance.
Answer: Mr. Brodie’s net vertical displacement was h = −135×0.3048 = −41.15 m.
Assuming that his initial velocity was zero,
h = −
1
2
gt
2
,
where t was his time of ﬂight. Hence,
t =
¸
¸
¸
_
−2 h
g
=
¸
¸
¸
_
2 ×41.15
9.81
= 2.896 s.
His ﬁnal velocity was
v = −gt = −9.81 ×2.896 = −28.41 ms
−1
.
Thus, the speed with which he plunged into the East River was 28.41 ms
−1
, or
63.6 mi/h! Clearly, Mr. Brodie’s story should be taken with a pinch of salt.
31
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS
3 Motion in 3 dimensions
3.1 Introduction
The purpose of this section is to generalize the previously introduced concepts of
displacement, velocity, and acceleration in order to deal with motion in 3 dimen
sions.
3.2 Cartesian coordinates
Our ﬁrst task, when dealing with 3dimensional motion, is to set up a suitable
coordinate system. The most straightforward type of coordinate system is called
a Cartesian system, after Ren´e Descartes. A Cartesian coordinate system consists
of three mutually perpendicular axes, the x, y, and zaxes (say). By convention,
the orientation of these axes is such that when the index ﬁnger, the middle ﬁnger,
and the thumb of the righthand are conﬁgured so as to be mutually perpendic
ular, the index ﬁnger, the middle ﬁnger, and the thumb can be aligned along the
x, y, and zaxes, respectively. Such a coordinate system is termed righthanded.
See Fig. 10. The point of intersection of the three coordinate axes is termed the
origin of the coordinate system.
y
x
z
(middle finger)
(index finger)
(thumb)
Figure 10: A righthanded Cartesian coordinate system
32
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.3 Vector displacement
y
x
z
R
O
r
Figure 11: A vector displacement
3.3 Vector displacement
Consider the motion of a body moving in 3 dimensions. The body’s instantaneous
position is most conveniently speciﬁed by giving its displacement from the origin
of our coordinate system. Note, however, that in 3 dimensions such a displace
ment possesses both magnitude and direction. In other words, we not only have
to specify how far the body is situated from the origin, we also have to specify
in which direction it lies. A quantity which possesses both magnitude and direc
tion is termed a vector. By contrast, a quantity which possesses only magnitude
is termed a scalar. Mass and time are scalar quantities. However, in general,
displacement is a vector.
The vector displacement r of some point R from the origin O can be visualized
as an arrow running from point O to point R. See Fig. 11. Note that in typeset
documents vector quantities are conventionally written in a boldfaced font (e.g.,
r) to distinguish them from scalar quantities. In freehand notation, vectors are
usually underlined (e.g., r).
The vector displacement r can also be speciﬁed in terms of its coordinates:
r = (x, y, z). (3.1)
The above expression is interpreted as follows: in order to get from point O to
point R, ﬁrst move x meters along the xaxis (perpendicular to both the y and
zaxes), then move y meters along the yaxis (perpendicular to both the x and
33
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.4 Vector addition
S
R
r
1
r
2
r
O
Figure 12: Vector addition
zaxes), ﬁnally move z meters along the zaxis (perpendicular to both the x and
yaxes). Note that a positive x value is interpreted as an instruction to move x
meters along the xaxis in the direction of increasing x, whereas a negative x value
is interpreted as an instruction to move x meters along the xaxis in the opposite
direction, and so on.
3.4 Vector addition
Suppose that the vector displacement r of some point R from the origin O is
speciﬁed as follows:
r = r
1
+r
2
. (3.2)
Figure 12 illustrates how this expression is interpreted diagrammatically: in order
to get from point O to point R, we ﬁrst move from point O to point S along vector
r
1
, and we then move from point S to point R along vector r
2
. The net result is the
same as if we had moved from point O directly to point R along vector r. Vector
r is termed the resultant of adding vectors r
1
and r
2
.
Note that we have two ways of specifying the vector displacement of point
S from the origin: we can either write r
1
or r − r
2
. The expression r − r
2
is
interpreted as follows: starting at the origin, move along vector r in the direction
of the arrow, then move along vector r
2
in the opposite direction to the arrow.
In other words, a minus sign in front of a vector indicates that we should move
along that vector in the opposite direction to its arrow.
34
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.5 Vector magnitude
Suppose that the components of vectors r
1
and r
2
are (x
1
, y
1
, z
1
) and (x
2
, y
2
, z
2
),
respectively. As is easily demonstrated, the components (x, y, z) of the resultant
vector r = r
1
+r
2
are
x = x
1
+x
2
, (3.3)
y = y
1
+y
2
, (3.4)
z = z
1
+z
2
. (3.5)
In other words, the components of the sum of two vectors are simply the algebraic
sums of the components of the individual vectors.
3.5 Vector magnitude
If r = (x, y, z) represents the vector displacement of point R from the origin, what
is the distance between these two points? In other words, what is the length, or
magnitude, r = r, of vector r. It follows from a 3dimensional generalization of
Pythagoras’ theorem that
r =
_
x
2
+y
2
+z
2
. (3.6)
Note that if r = r
1
+r
2
then
r ≤ r
1
 + r
2
. (3.7)
In other words, the magnitudes of vectors cannot, in general, be added alge
braically. The only exception to this rule (represented by the equality sign in the
above expression) occurs when the vectors in question all point in the same di
rection. According to inequality (3.7), if we move 1m to the North (say) and
next move 1m to the West (say) then, although we have moved a total distance
of 2m, our net distance from the starting point is less than 2m—of course, this
is just common sense.
3.6 Scalar multiplication
Suppose that s = λ r. This expression is interpreted as follows: vector s points
in the same direction as vector r, but the length of the former vector is λ times
35
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.7 Diagonals of a parallelogram
A
B
X
D
C b
a a
b
c
d
Figure 13: A parallelogram
that of the latter. Note that if λ is negative then vector s points in the opposite
direction to vector r, and the length of the former vector is λ times that of the
latter. In terms of components:
s = λ (x, y, z) = (λ x, λ y, λ z). (3.8)
In other words, when we multiply a vector by a scalar then the components of
the resultant vector are obtained by multiplying all the components of the original
vector by the scalar.
3.7 Diagonals of a parallelogram
The use of vectors is very well illustrated by the following rather famous proof
that the diagonals of a parallelogram mutually bisect one another.
Suppose that the quadrilateral ABCD in Fig. 13 is a parallelogram. It follows
that the opposite sides of ABCD can be represented by the same vectors, a and
b: this merely indicates that these sides are of equal length and are parallel (i.e.,
they point in the same direction). Note that Fig. 13 illustrates an important point
regarding vectors. Although vectors possess both a magnitude (length) and a
direction, they possess no intrinsic position information. Thus, since sides AB
and DC are parallel and of equal length, they can be represented by the same
vector a, despite the fact that they are in different places on the diagram.
The diagonal BD in Fig. 13 can be represented vectorially as d = b − a. Like
wise, the diagonal AC can be written c = a +b. The displacement x (say) of the
36
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.8 Vector velocity and vector acceleration
centroid X from point A can be written in one of two different ways:
x = a +λ d, (3.9)
x = b +a −µc. (3.10)
Equation (3.9) is interpreted as follows: in order to get from point A to point
X, ﬁrst move to point B (along vector a), then move along diagonal BD (along
vector d) for an unknown fraction λ of its length. Equation (3.10) is interpreted
as follows: in order to get from point A to point X, ﬁrst move to point D (along
vector b), then move to point C (along vector a), ﬁnally move along diagonal CA
(along vector −c) for an unknown fraction µ of its length. Since X represents the
same point in Eqs. (3.9) and (3.10), we can equate these two expressions to give
a +λ (b −a) = b +a −µ(a +b). (3.11)
Now vectors a and b point in different directions, so the only way in which the
above expression can be satisﬁed, in general, is if the coefﬁcients of a and b
match on either side of the equality sign. Thus, equating coefﬁcients of a and b,
we obtain
1 −λ = 1 −µ, (3.12)
λ = 1 −µ. (3.13)
It follows that λ = µ = 1/2. In other words, the centroid X is located at the
halfway points of diagonals BD and AC: i.e., the diagonals mutually bisect one
another.
3.8 Vector velocity and vector acceleration
Consider a body moving in 3 dimensions. Suppose that we know the Cartesian
coordinates, x, y, and z, of this body as time, t, progresses. Let us consider how
we can use this information to determine the body’s instantaneous velocity and
acceleration as functions of time.
The vector displacement of the body is given by
r(t) = [x(t), y(t), z(t)]. (3.14)
37
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.8 Vector velocity and vector acceleration
By analogy with the 1dimensional equation (2.3), the body’s vector velocity v =
(v
x
, v
y
, v
z
) is simply the derivative of r with respect to t. In other words,
v(t) = lim
∆t→0
r(t +∆t) −r(t)
∆t
=
dr
dt
. (3.15)
When written in component form, the above deﬁnition yields
v
x
=
dx
dt
, (3.16)
v
y
=
dy
dt
, (3.17)
v
z
=
dz
dt
. (3.18)
Thus, the xcomponent of velocity is simply the time derivative of the xcoordinate,
and so on.
By analogy with the 1dimensional equation (2.6), the body’s vector acceler
ation a = (a
x
, a
y
, a
z
) is simply the derivative of v with respect to t. In other
words,
a(t) = lim
∆t→0
v(t +∆t) −v(t)
∆t
=
dv
dt
=
d
2
r
dt
2
. (3.19)
When written in component form, the above deﬁnition yields
a
x
=
dv
x
dt
=
d
2
x
dt
2
, (3.20)
a
y
=
dv
y
dt
=
d
2
y
dt
2
, (3.21)
a
z
=
dv
z
dt
=
d
2
z
dt
2
. (3.22)
Thus, the xcomponent of acceleration is simply the time derivative of the x
component of velocity, and so on.
As an example, suppose that the coordinates of the body are given by
x = sint, (3.23)
y = cos t, (3.24)
z = 3 t. (3.25)
38
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.9 Motion with constant velocity
The corresponding components of the body’s velocity are then simply
v
x
=
dx
dt
= cos t, (3.26)
v
y
=
dy
dt
= −sint, (3.27)
v
z
=
dz
dt
= 3, (3.28)
whilst the components of the body’s acceleration are given by
a
x
=
dv
x
dt
= −sint, (3.29)
a
y
=
dv
y
dt
= −cos t, (3.30)
a
z
=
dv
z
dt
= 0. (3.31)
3.9 Motion with constant velocity
An object moving in 3 dimensions with constant velocity v possesses a vector
displacement of the form
r(t) = r
0
+v t, (3.32)
where the constant vector r
0
is the displacement at time t = 0. Note that dr/dt =
v and d
2
r/dt
2
= 0, as expected. As illustrated in Fig. 14, the object’s trajectory
is a straightline which passes through point r
0
at time t = 0 and runs parallel to
vector v.
3.10 Motion with constant acceleration
An object moving in 3 dimensions with constant acceleration a possesses a vector
displacement of the form
r(t) = r
0
+v
0
t +
1
2
a t
2
. (3.33)
39
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.10 Motion with constant acceleration
r
0
r
v
trajectory
t = 0
t = t
Figure 14: Motion with constant velocity
Hence, the object’s velocity is given by
v(t) =
dr
dt
= v
0
+a t. (3.34)
Note that dv/dt = a, as expected. In the above, the constant vectors r
0
and v
0
are the object’s displacement and velocity at time t = 0, respectively.
As is easily demonstrated, the vector equivalents of Eqs. (2.11)–(2.13) are:
s = v
0
t +
1
2
a t
2
, (3.35)
v = v
0
+a t, (3.36)
v
2
= v
2
0
+2 a·s. (3.37)
These equation fully characterize 3dimensional motion with constant accelera
tion. Here, s = r − r
0
is the net displacement of the object between times t = 0
and t.
The quantity a·s, appearing in Eq. (3.37), is termed the scalar product of vectors
a and s, and is deﬁned
a·s = a
x
s
x
+a
y
s
y
+a
z
s
z
. (3.38)
The above formula has a simple geometric interpretation, which is illustrated in
Fig. 15. If a is the magnitude (or length) of vector a, s is the magnitude of
40
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.11 Projectile motion
s
θ
a . s = a s cos θ
a
a
cos θ s
s
Figure 15: The scalar product
vector s, and θ is the angle subtended between these two vectors, then
a·s = a s cos θ. (3.39)
In other words, the scalar product of vectors a and s equals the product of the
length of vector a times the length of that component of vector s which lies in the
same direction as vector a. It immediately follows that if two vectors are mutually
perpendicular (i.e., θ = 90
◦
) then their scalar product is zero. Furthermore, the
scalar product of a vector with itself is simply the magnitude squared of that
vector [this is immediately apparent from Eq. (3.38)]:
a·a = a
2
= a
2
. (3.40)
It is also apparent from Eq. (3.38) that a· s = s· a, and a·(b +c) = a·b +a·c, and
a·(λs) = λ(a· s).
Incidentally, Eq. (3.37) is obtained by taking the scalar product of Eq. (3.36)
with itself, taking the scalar product of Eq. (3.35) with a, and then eliminating t.
3.11 Projectile motion
As a simple illustration of the concepts introduced in the previous subsections, let
us examine the following problem. Suppose that a projectile is launched upward
from ground level, with speed v
0
, making an angle θ with the horizontal. Neglect
ing the effect of air resistance, what is the subsequent trajectory of the projectile?
41
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.11 Projectile motion
z
x
θ
v
0
0
v
v
0
cos θ
v
0
s
i
n
θ
Figure 16: Coordinates for the projectile problem
Our ﬁrst task is to set up a suitable Cartesian coordinate system. A conve
nient system is illustrated in Fig. 16. The zaxis points vertically upwards (this
is a standard convention), whereas the xaxis points along the projectile’s initial
direction of horizontal motion. Furthermore, the origin of our coordinate system
corresponds to the launch point. Thus, z = 0 corresponds to ground level.
Neglecting air resistance, the projectile is subject to a constant acceleration
g = 9.81 ms
−1
, due to gravity, which is directed vertically downwards. Thus, the
projectile’s vector acceleration is written
a = (0, 0, −g). (3.41)
Here, the minus sign indicates that the acceleration is in the minus zdirection
(i.e., downwards), as opposed to the plus zdirection (i.e., upwards).
What is the initial vector velocity v
0
with which the projectile is launched into
the air at (say) t = 0? As illustrated in Fig. 16, given that the magnitude of
this velocity is v
0
, its horizontal component is directed along the xaxis, and its
direction subtends an angle θ with this axis, the components of v
0
take the form
v
0
= (v
0
cos θ, 0, v
0
sinθ). (3.42)
Note that v
0
has zero component along the yaxis, which points into the paper in
Fig. 16.
Since the projectile moves with constant acceleration, its vector displacement
42
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.11 Projectile motion
s = (x, y, z) from its launch point satisﬁes [see Eq. (3.35)]
s = v
0
t +
1
2
a t
2
. (3.43)
Making use of Eqs. (3.41) and (3.42), the x, y, and zcomponents of the above
equation are written
x = v
0
cos θ t, (3.44)
y = 0, (3.45)
z = v
0
sinθ t −
1
2
gt
2
, (3.46)
respectively. Note that the projectile moves with constant velocity, v
x
= dx/dt =
v
0
cos θ, in the xdirection (i.e., horizontally). This is hardly surprising, since
there is zero component of the projectile’s acceleration along the xaxis. Note,
further, that since there is zero component of the projectile’s acceleration along
the yaxis, and the projectile’s initial velocity also has zero component along this
axis, the projectile never moves in the ydirection. In other words, the projectile’s
trajectory is 2dimensional, lying entirely within the xz plane. Note, ﬁnally, that
the projectile’s vertical motion is entirely decoupled from its horizontal motion.
In other words, the projectile’s vertical motion is identical to that of a second pro
jectile launched vertically upwards, at t = 0, with the initial velocity v
0
sinθ (i.e.,
the initial vertical velocity component of the ﬁrst projectile)—both projectiles will
reach the same maximum altitude at the same time, and will subsequently strike
the ground simultaneously.
Equations (3.44) and (3.46) can be rearranged to give
z = x tanθ −
1
2
gx
2
v
2
0
sec
2
θ. (3.47)
As was ﬁrst pointed out by Galileo, and is illustrated in Fig. 17, this is the equa
tion of a parabola. The horizontal range R of the projectile corresponds to its
xcoordinate when it strikes the ground (i.e., when z = 0). It follows from the
above expression (neglecting the trivial result x = 0) that
R =
2 v
2
0
g
sinθ cos θ =
v
2
0
g
sin2θ. (3.48)
43
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.12 Relative velocity
x
z
h
R
θ
Figure 17: The parabolic trajectory of a projectile
Note that the range attains its maximum value,
R
max
=
v
2
0
g
, (3.49)
when θ = 45
◦
. In other words, neglecting air resistance, a projectile travels
furthest when it is launched into the air at 45
◦
to the horizontal.
The maximum altitude h of the projectile is attained when v
z
= dz/dt = 0
(i.e., when the projectile has just stopped rising and is about to start falling). It
follows from Eq. (3.46) that the maximum altitude occurs at time t
0
= v
0
sinθ/g.
Hence,
h = z(t
0
) =
v
2
0
2 g
sin
2
θ. (3.50)
Obviously, the largest value of h,
h
max
=
v
2
0
2 g
, (3.51)
is obtained when the projectile is launched vertically upwards (i.e., θ = 90
◦
).
3.12 Relative velocity
Suppose that, on a windy day, an airplane moves with constant velocity v
a
with
respect to the air, and that the air moves with constant velocity u with respect
44
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.12 Relative velocity
v
a
v
g
u
Figure 18: Relative velocity
to the ground. What is the vector velocity v
g
of the plane with respect to the
ground? In principle, the answer to this question is very simple:
v
g
= v
a
+u. (3.52)
In other words, the velocity of the plane with respect to the ground is the vector
sum of the plane’s velocity relative to the air and the air’s velocity relative to the
ground. See Fig. 18. Note that, in general, v
g
is parallel to neither v
a
nor u. Let
us now consider how we might implement Eq. (3.52) in practice.
As always, our ﬁrst task is to set up a suitable Cartesian coordinate system. A
convenient system for dealing with 2dimensional motion parallel to the Earth’s
surface is illustrated in Fig. 19. The xaxis points northward, whereas the yaxis
points eastward. In this coordinate system, it is conventional to specify a vector r
in term of its magnitude, r, and its compass bearing, φ. As illustrated in Fig. 20, a
compass bearing is the angle subtended between the direction of a vector and the
direction to the North pole: i.e., the xdirection. By convention, compass bearings
run from 0
◦
to 360
◦
. Furthermore, the compass bearings of North, East, South,
and West are 0
◦
, 90
◦
, 180
◦
, and 270
◦
, respectively.
According to Fig. 20, the components of a general vector r, whose magnitude
is r and whose compass bearing is φ, are simply
r = (x, y) = (r cos φ, r sinφ). (3.53)
Note that we have suppressed the zcomponent of r (which is zero), for ease of
notation. Although, strictly speaking, Fig. 20 only justiﬁes the above expression
for φ in the range 0
◦
to 90
◦
, it turns out that this expression is generally valid:
i.e., it is valid for φ in the full range 0
◦
to 360
◦
.
45
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.12 Relative velocity
W E
S
N
x
y
Figure 19: Coordinates for relative velocity problem
r
c
o
s
φ
r
φ
r
x
y
r sinφ
N
E
Figure 20: A compass bearing
46
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.12 Relative velocity
As an illustration, suppose that the plane’s velocity relative to the air is 300 km/h,
at a compass bearing of 120
◦
, and the air’s velocity relative to the ground is
85 km/h, at a compass bearing of 225
◦
. It follows that the components of v
a
and u (measured in units of km/h) are
v
a
= (300 cos 120
◦
, 300 sin120
◦
) = (−1.500 ×10
2
, 2.598 ×10
2
), (3.54)
u = (85 cos 225
◦
, 85 sin225
◦
) = (−6.010 ×10
1
, −6.010 ×10
1
). (3.55)
According to Eq. (3.52), the components of the plane’s velocity v
g
relative to the
ground are simply the algebraic sums of the corresponding components of v
a
and
u. Hence,
v
g
= (−1.500 ×10
2
− 6.010 ×10
1
, 2.598 ×10
2
− 6.010 ×10
1
)
= (−2.101 ×10
2
, 1.997 ×10
2
). (3.56)
Our ﬁnal task is to reconstruct the magnitude and compass bearing of vector
v
g
, given its components (v
gx
, v
gy
). The magnitude of v
g
follows from Pythagoras’
theorem [see Eq. (3.6)]:
v
g
=
_
(v
gx
)
2
+ (v
gy
)
2
=
_
(−2.101 ×10
2
)
2
+ (1.997 ×10
2
)
2
= 289.9 km/h. (3.57)
In principle, the compass bearing of v
g
is given by the following formula:
φ = tan
−1
_
_
v
gy
v
gx
_
_
. (3.58)
This follows because v
gx
= v
g
cos φ and v
gy
= v
g
sinφ [see Eq. (3.53)]. Un
fortunately, the above expression becomes a little difﬁcult to interpret if v
gx
is
negative. An unambiguous pair of expressions for φ is given below:
φ = tan
−1
_
_
v
gy
v
gx
_
_
, (3.59)
if v
gx
≥ 0; or
φ = 180
◦
− tan
−1
_
_
v
gy
v
gx

_
_
, (3.60)
47
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.12 Relative velocity
if v
gx
< 0. These expressions can be derived from simple trigonometry. For the
case in hand, Eq. (3.60) is the relevant expression, hence
φ = 180
◦
− tan
−1
_
_
1.997 ×10
2
2.101 ×10
2
_
_
= 136.5
◦
. (3.61)
Thus, the plane’s velocity relative to the ground is 289.9 km/h at a compass bear
ing of 136.5
◦
.
Worked example 3.1: Broken play
Question: Major Applewhite receives the snap at the line of scrimmage, takes
a seven step drop (i.e., runs backwards 9 yards), but is then ﬂushed out of the
pocket by a blitzing linebacker. Major subsequently runs parallel to the line of
scrimmage for 12 yards and then gets off a forward pass, 36 yards straight down
ﬁeld, to Roy Williams, just prior to being creamed by the linebacker. What is the
magnitude of the football’s resultant displacement (in yards)?
Answer: As illustrated in the diagram, the resultant displacement r of the football
is the sum of vectors a, b, and c, which correspond to the seven step drop, the
run parallel to the line of scrimmage, and the forward pass, respectively. Using
line of scrimmage
y
x
upfield
9 yd
12 yd
36 yd
b
c
a
r
the coordinate system indicated in the diagram, the components of vectors a, b,
and c (measured in yards) are
a = (−9, 0),
48
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.12 Relative velocity
b = (0, 12),
c = (36, 0),
respectively. Hence the components of r are given by
r = (x, y) = (−9 +0 +36, 0 +12 +0) = (27, 12).
It follows that the magnitude of the football’s resultant displacement is
r =
_
x
2
+y
2
=
_
27
2
+12
2
= 29.55 yd.
Worked example 3.2: Gallileo’s experiment
Question: Legend has it that Gallileo tested out his newly developed theory of
projectile motion by throwing weights from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
(No wonder he eventually got into trouble with the authorities!) Suppose that,
one day, Gallileo simultaneously threw two equal weights off the tower from a
height of 100 m above the ground. Suppose, further, that he dropped the ﬁrst
weight straight down, whereas he threw the second weight horizontally with a
velocity of 5 m/s. Which weight struck the ground ﬁrst? How long, after it was
thrown, did it take to do this? Finally, what horizontal distance was traveled by
the second weight before it hit the ground? Neglect the effect of air resistance.
Answer: Since both weights start off traveling with the same initial velocities
in the vertical direction (i.e., zero), and both accelerate vertically downwards at
the same rate, it follows that both weights strike the ground simultaneously. The
time of ﬂight of each weight is simply the time taken to fall h = 100 m, starting
from rest, under the inﬂuence of gravity. From Eq. (2.17), this time is given by
t =
¸
¸
¸
_
2 h
g
=
¸
¸
¸
_
2 ×100
9.81
= 4.515 s.
The horizontal distance R traveled by the second weight is simply the distance
traveled by a body moving at a constant velocity u = 5 m/s (recall that gravita
tional acceleration does not affect horizontal motion) during the time taken by
the weight to drop 100m. Thus,
R = ut = 5 ×4.515 = 22.58 m.
49
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.12 Relative velocity
Worked example 3.3: Cannon shot
Question: A cannon placed on a 50m high cliff ﬁres a cannonball over the edge
of the cliff at v = 200 m/s making an angle of θ = 30
◦
to the horizontal. How
long is the cannonball in the air? Neglect air resistance.
Answer: In order to answer this question we need only consider the cannon
ball’s vertical motion. At t = 0 (i.e., the time of ﬁring) the cannonball’s height
off the ground is z
0
= 50 m and its velocity component in the vertical direction is
v
0
= v sinθ = 200 × sin30
◦
= 100 m/s. Moreover, the cannonball is accelerating
vertically downwards at g = 9.91 m/s
2
. The equation of vertical motion of the
cannonball is written
z = z
0
+v
0
t −
1
2
gt
2
,
where z is the cannonball’s height off the ground at time t. The time of ﬂight of
the cannonball corresponds to the time t at which z = 0. In other words, the time
of ﬂight is the solution of the quadratic equation
0 = z
0
+v
0
t −
1
2
gt
2
.
Hence,
t =
v
0
+
_
v
2
0
+2 gz
0
g
= 20.88 s.
Here, we have neglected the unphysical negative root of our quadratic equation.
Worked example 3.4: Hail Mary pass
Question: The Longhorns are down by 4 points with 5s left in the fourth quarter.
Chris Simms launches a Hail Mary pass into the endzone, 60 yards away, where
B.J. Johnson is waiting to make the catch. Suppose that Chris throws the ball at
55 miles per hour. At what angle to the horizontal must the ball be launched in
order for it to hit the receiver? Neglect the effect of air resistance.
50
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.12 Relative velocity
Answer: The formula for the horizontal range R of a projectile thrown with initial
velocity v
0
at an angle θ to the horizontal is [see Eq. (3.48)]:
R =
v
2
0
g
sin2θ.
In this case, R = 60 ×3 ×0.3048 = 54.86 m and v
0
= 55 ×5280 ×0.3048/3600 =
24.59 m/s. Hence,
θ =
1
2
sin
−1
_
_
Rg
v
2
0
_
_
=
1
2
sin
−1
_
_
54.86 ×9.81
(24.59)
2
_
_
= 31.45
◦
.
Thus, the ball must be launched at 31.45
◦
to the horizontal. (Actually, 58.56
◦
would work just as well. Why is this?)
Worked example 3.5: Flight UA589
Question: United Airlines ﬂight UA589 from Chicago is 20miles due North of
Austin’s Bergstrom airport. Suppose that the plane is ﬂying at 200 mi/h relative
to the air. Suppose, further, that there is a wind blowing due East at 60 mi/h. To
wards which compass bearing must the plane steer in order to land at the airport?
Answer: The problem in hand is illustrated in the diagram. The plane’s veloc
u
v
g
v
a
N
E
α
φ
ity v
g
relative to the ground is the vector sum of its velocity v
a
relative to the
air, and the velocity u of the wind relative to the ground. We know that u is di
rected due East, and we require v
g
to be directed due South. We also know that
51
3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.12 Relative velocity
v
a
 = 200 mi/h and u = 60 mi/h. Now, from simple trigonometry,
cos α =
u
v
a

=
60
200
= 0.3.
Hence,
α = 72.54
◦
.
However, it is clear from the diagram that the compass bearing φ of the plane is
given by
φ = 270
◦
−α = 270
◦
−72.54
◦
= 197.46
◦
.
Thus, in order to land at Bergstrom airport the plane must ﬂy towards compass
bearing 197.46
◦
.
52
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION
4 Newton’s laws of motion
4.1 Introduction
In his Principia, Newton reduced the basic principles of mechanics to three laws:
1. Every body continues in its state of rest, or uniform motion in a straight line,
unless compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.
2. The change of motion of an object is proportional to the force impressed upon it,
and is made in the direction of the straight line in which the force is impressed.
3. To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction; or, the mutual actions
of two bodies upon each other are always equal and directed to contrary parts.
These laws are known as Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion, Newton’s second law of
motion, and Newton’s third law of motion, respectively. In this section, we shall
examine each of these laws in detail, and then give some simple illustrations of
their use.
4.2 Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion
Newton’s ﬁrst law was actually discovered by Galileo and perfected by Descartes
(who added the crucial proviso “in a straight line”). This law states that if the
motion of a given body is not disturbed by external inﬂuences then that body
moves with constant velocity. In other words, the displacement r of the body as a
function of time t can be written
r = r
0
+v t, (4.1)
where r
0
and v are constant vectors. As illustrated in Fig. 14, the body’s trajectory
is a straightline which passes through point r
0
at time t = 0 and runs parallel to
v. In the special case in which v = 0 the body simply remains at rest.
53
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.3 Newton’s second law of motion
Nowadays, Newton’s ﬁrst law strikes us as almost a statement of the obvious.
However, in Galileo’s time this was far from being the case. From the time of
the ancient Greeks, philosophers—observing that objects set into motion on the
Earth’s surface eventually come to rest—had concluded that the natural state of
motion of objects was that they should remain at rest. Hence, they reasoned,
any object which moves does so under the inﬂuence of an external inﬂuence, or
force, exerted on it by some other object. It took the genius of Galileo to realize
that an object set into motion on the Earth’s surface eventually comes to rest
under the inﬂuence of frictional forces, and that if these forces could somehow
be abstracted from the motion then it would continue forever.
4.3 Newton’s second law of motion
Newton used the word “motion” to mean what we nowadays call momentum.
The momentum p of a body is simply deﬁned as the product of its mass m and
its velocity v: i.e.,
p = mv. (4.2)
Newton’s second law of motion is summed up in the equation
dp
dt
= f, (4.3)
where the vector f represents the net inﬂuence, or force, exerted on the object,
whose motion is under investigation, by other objects. For the case of a object
with constant mass, the above law reduces to its more conventional form
f = ma. (4.4)
In other words, the net force exerted on a given object by other objects equals the
product of that object’s mass and its acceleration. Of course, this law is entirely
devoid of content unless we have some independent means of quantifying the
forces exerted between different objects.
54
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.4 Hooke’s law
m
∆ x
f
handle
Figure 21: Hooke’s law
4.4 Hooke’s law
One method of quantifying the force exerted on an object is via Hooke’s law. This
law—discovered by the English scientist Robert Hooke in 1660—states that the
force f exerted by a coiled spring is directly proportional to its extension ∆x. The
extension of the spring is the difference between its actual length and its natural
length (i.e., its length when it is exerting no force). The force acts parallel to the
axis of the spring. Obviously, Hooke’s law only holds if the extension of the spring
is sufﬁciently small. If the extension becomes too large then the spring deforms
permanently, or even breaks. Such behaviour lies beyond the scope of Hooke’s
law.
Figure 21 illustrates how we might use Hooke’s law to quantify the force we
exert on a body of mass m when we pull on the handle of a spring attached to
it. The magnitude f of the force is proportional to the extension of the spring:
twice the extension means twice the force. As shown, the direction of the force is
towards the spring, parallel to its axis (assuming that the extension is positive).
The magnitude of the force can be quantiﬁed in terms of the critical extension
required to impart a unit acceleration (i.e., 1 m/s
2
) to a body of unit mass (i.e.,
1 kg). According to Eq. (4.4), the force corresponding to this extension is 1 new
ton. Here, a newton (symbol N) is equivalent to a kilogrammeter per second
squared, and is the mks unit of force. Thus, if the critical extension corresponds
to a force of 1 N then half the critical extension corresponds to a force of 0.5 N,
and so on. In this manner, we can quantify both the direction and magnitude of
the force we exert, by means of a spring, on a given body.
55
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.5 Newton’s third law of motion
f
2
f
2
f
1
f
1
m
f
Figure 22: Addition of forces
Suppose that we apply two forces, f
1
and f
2
(say), acting in different directions,
to a body of mass m by means of two springs. As illustrated in Fig. 22, the body
accelerates as if it were subject to a single force f which is the vector sum of
the individual forces f
1
and f
2
. It follows that the force f appearing in Newton’s
second law of motion, Eq. (4.4), is the resultant of all the external forces to which
the body whose motion is under investigation is subject.
Suppose that the resultant of all the forces acting on a given body is zero.
In other words, suppose that the forces acting on the body exactly balance one
another. According to Newton’s second law of motion, Eq. (4.4), the body does
not accelerate: i.e., it either remains at rest or moves with uniform velocity in
a straight line. It follows that Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion applies not only to
bodies which have no forces acting upon them but also to bodies acted upon by
exactly balanced forces.
4.5 Newton’s third law of motion
Suppose, for the sake of argument, that there are only two bodies in the Universe.
Let us label these bodies a and b. Suppose that body b exerts a force f
ab
on body
a. According to to Newton’s third law of motion, body a must exert an equal and
opposite force f
ba
= −f
ab
on body b. See Fig. 22. Thus, if we label f
ab
the “action”
56
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.6 Mass and weight
f
ba
f
ab
b
a
Figure 23: Newton’s third law
then, in Newton’s language, f
ba
is the equal and opposed “reaction”.
Suppose, now, that there are many objects in the Universe (as is, indeed, the
case). According to Newton’s third law, if object j exerts a force f
ij
on object i
then object i must exert an equal and opposite force f
ji
= −f
ij
on object j. It
follows that all of the forces acting in the Universe can ultimately be grouped
into equal and opposite actionreaction pairs. Note, incidentally, that an action
and its associated reaction always act on different bodies.
Why do we need Newton’s third law? Actually, it is almost a matter of common
sense. Suppose that bodies a and b constitute an isolated system. If f
ba
= −f
ab
then this system exerts a nonzero net force f = f
ab
+ f
ba
on itself, without the
aid of any external agency. It will, therefore, accelerate forever under its own
steam. We know, from experience, that this sort of behaviour does not occur
in real life. For instance, I cannot grab hold of my shoelaces and, thereby, pick
myself up off the ground. In other words, I cannot selfgenerate a force which
will spontaneously lift me into the air: I need to exert forces on other objects
around me in order to achieve this. Thus, Newton’s third law essentially acts as
a guarantee against the absurdity of selfgenerated forces.
4.6 Mass and weight
The terms mass and weight are often confused with one another. However, in
physics their meanings are quite distinct.
A body’s mass is a measure of its inertia: i.e., its reluctance to deviate from
uniform straightline motion under the inﬂuence of external forces. According to
Newton’s second law, Eq. (4.4), if two objects of differing masses are acted upon
57
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.6 Mass and weight
f
W
f
f
g
R
Earth
block
m
Figure 24: Weight
by forces of the same magnitude then the resulting acceleration of the larger mass
is less than that of the smaller mass. In other words, it is more difﬁcult to force
the larger mass to deviate from its preferred state of uniform motion in a straight
line. Incidentally, the mass of a body is an intrinsic property of that body, and,
therefore, does not change if the body is moved to a different place.
Imagine a block of granite resting on the surface of the Earth. See Fig. 24. The
block experiences a downward force f
g
due to the gravitational attraction of the
Earth. This force is of magnitude mg, where m is the mass of the block and g
is the acceleration due to gravity at the surface of the Earth. The block transmits
this force to the ground below it, which is supporting it, and, thereby, preventing
it from accelerating downwards. In other words, the block exerts a downward
force f
W
, of magnitude mg, on the ground immediately beneath it. We usually
refer to this force (or the magnitude of this force) as the weight of the block.
According to Newton’s third law, the ground below the block exerts an upward
reaction force f
R
on the block. This force is also of magnitude mg. Thus, the net
force acting on the block is f
g
+f
R
= 0, which accounts for the fact that the block
remains stationary.
Where, you might ask, is the equal and opposite reaction to the force of grav
itational attraction f
g
exerted by the Earth on the block of granite? It turns out
that this reaction is exerted at the centre of the Earth. In other words, the Earth
attracts the block of granite, and the block of granite attracts the Earth by an
equal amount. However, since the Earth is far more massive than the block, the
force exerted by the granite block at the centre of the Earth has no observable
consequence.
58
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.6 Mass and weight
a
mg
W
W
Figure 25: Weight in an elevator
So far, we have established that the weight W of a body is the magnitude of
the downward force it exerts on any object which supports it. Thus, W = mg,
where m is the mass of the body and g is the local acceleration due to gravity.
Since weight is a force, it is measured in newtons. A body’s weight is location
dependent, and is not, therefore, an intrinsic property of that body. For instance,
a body weighing 10N on the surface of the Earth will only weigh about 3.8 N
on the surface of Mars, due to the weaker surface gravity of Mars relative to the
Earth.
Consider a block of mass m resting on the ﬂoor of an elevator, as shown in
Fig. 25. Suppose that the elevator is accelerating upwards with acceleration a.
How does this acceleration affect the weight of the block? Of course, the block
experiences a downward force mg due to gravity. Let W be the weight of the
block: by deﬁnition, this is the size of the downward force exerted by the block
on the ﬂoor of the elevator. From Newton’s third law, the ﬂoor of the elevator
exerts an upward reaction force of magnitude W on the block. Let us apply
Newton’s second law, Eq. (4.4), to the motion of the block. The mass of the block
is m, and its upward acceleration is a. Furthermore, the block is subject to two
forces: a downward force mg due to gravity, and an upward reaction force W.
59
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.7 Strings, pulleys, and inclines
Hence,
W −mg = ma. (4.5)
This equation can be rearranged to give
W = m(g +a). (4.6)
Clearly, the upward acceleration of the elevator has the effect of increasing the
weight W of the block: for instance, if the elevator accelerates upwards at g =
9.81 m/s
2
then the weight of the block is doubled. Conversely, if the elevator
accelerates downward (i.e., if a becomes negative) then the weight of the block
is reduced: for instance, if the elevator accelerates downward at g/2 then the
weight of the block is halved. Incidentally, these weight changes could easily be
measured by placing some scales between the block and the ﬂoor of the elevator.
Suppose that the downward acceleration of the elevator matches the acceler
ation due to gravity: i.e., a = −g. In this case, W = 0. In other words, the block
becomes weightless! This is the principle behind the socalled “Vomit Comet”
used by NASA’s Johnson Space Centre to train prospective astronauts in the ef
fects of weightlessness. The “Vomit Comet” is actually a KC135 (a predecessor of
the Boeing 707 which is typically used for refueling military aircraft). The plane
typically ascends to 30,000ft and then accelerates downwards at g (i.e., drops
like a stone) for about 20s, allowing its passengers to feel the effects of weight
lessness during this period. All of the weightless scenes in the ﬁlm Apollo 11 were
shot in this manner.
Suppose, ﬁnally, that the downward acceleration of the elevator exceeds the
acceleration due to gravity: i.e., a < −g. In this case, the block acquires a
negative weight! What actually happens is that the block ﬂies off the ﬂoor of the
elevator and slams into the ceiling: when things have settled down, the block
exerts an upward force (negative weight) W on the ceiling of the elevator.
4.7 Strings, pulleys, and inclines
Consider a block of mass m which is suspended from a ﬁxed beam by means of
a string, as shown in Fig. 26. The string is assumed to be light (i.e., its mass
60
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.7 Strings, pulleys, and inclines
beam
string
block m
mg
T
Figure 26: Block suspended by a string
is negligible compared to that of the block) and inextensible (i.e., its length in
creases by a negligible amount because of the weight of the block). The string
is clearly being stretched, since it is being pulled at both ends by the block and
the beam. Furthermore, the string must be being pulled by oppositely directed
forces of the same magnitude, otherwise it would accelerate greatly (given that
it has negligible inertia). By Newton’s third law, the string exerts oppositely di
rected forces of equal magnitude, T (say), on both the block and the beam. These
forces act so as to oppose the stretching of the string: i.e., the beam experiences a
downward force of magnitude T, whereas the block experiences an upward force
of magnitude T. Here, T is termed the tension of the string. Since T is a force,
it is measured in newtons. Note that, unlike a coiled spring, a string can never
possess a negative tension, since this would imply that the string is trying to push
its supports apart, rather than pull them together.
Let us apply Newton’s second law to the block. The mass of the block is m, and
its acceleration is zero, since the block is assumed to be in equilibrium. The block
is subject to two forces, a downward force mg due to gravity, and an upward
force T due to the tension of the string. It follows that
T −mg = 0. (4.7)
In other words, in equilibrium, the tension T of the string equals the weight mg
of the block.
Figure 27 shows a slightly more complicated example in which a block of mass
m is suspended by three strings. The question is what are the tensions, T, T
1
, and
61
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.7 Strings, pulleys, and inclines
mg
T
30
60
T
1
T
2
o
o
m
Figure 27: Block suspended by three strings
T
2
, in these strings, assuming that the block is in equilibrium? Using analogous
arguments to the previous case, we can easily demonstrate that the tension T
in the lowermost string is mg. The tensions in the two uppermost strings are
obtained by applying Newton’s second law of motion to the knot where all three
strings meet. See Fig. 28.
There are three forces acting on the knot: the downward force T due to the
tension in the lower string, and the forces T
1
and T
2
due to the tensions in the
upper strings. The latter two forces act along their respective strings, as indicate
in the diagram. Since the knot is in equilibrium, the vector sum of all the forces
acting on it must be zero.
Consider the horizontal components of the forces acting on the knot. Let com
ponents acting to the right be positive, and vice versa. The horizontal component
of tension T is zero, since this tension acts straight down. The horizontal compo
nent of tension T
1
is T
1
cos 60
◦
= T
1
/2, since this force subtends an angle of 60
◦
with respect to the horizontal (see Fig. 16). Likewise, the horizontal component
of tension T
2
is −T
2
cos 30
◦
= −
√
3 T
2
/2. Since the knot does not accelerate in the
horizontal direction, we can equate the sum of these components to zero:
T
1
2
−
√
3 T
2
2
= 0. (4.8)
Consider the vertical components of the forces acting on the knot. Let com
ponents acting upward be positive, and vice versa. The vertical component of
62
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.7 Strings, pulleys, and inclines
T
1
T
2
T
30
60
o
o
Figure 28: Detail of Fig. 27
tension T is −T = −mg, since this tension acts straight down. The vertical com
ponent of tension T
1
is T
1
sin60
◦
=
√
3 T
1
/2, since this force subtends an angle of
60
◦
with respect to the horizontal (see Fig. 16). Likewise, the vertical component
of tension T
2
is T
2
sin30
◦
= T
2
/2. Since the knot does not accelerate in the vertical
direction, we can equate the sum of these components to zero:
−mg +
√
3 T
1
2
+
T
2
2
= 0. (4.9)
Finally, Eqs. (4.8) and (4.9) yield
T
1
=
√
3 mg
2
, (4.10)
T
2
=
mg
2
. (4.11)
Consider a block of mass m sliding down a smooth frictionless incline which
subtends an angle θ to the horizontal, as shown in Fig 29. The weight mg of
the block is directed vertically downwards. However, this force can be resolved
into components mg cos θ, acting perpendicular (or normal) to the incline, and
mg sinθ, acting parallel to the incline. Note that the reaction of the incline to
the weight of the block acts normal to the incline, and only matches the normal
component of the weight: i.e., it is of magnitude mg cos θ. This is a general
result: the reaction of any unyielding surface is always locally normal to that
surface, directed outwards (away from the surface), and matches the normal
63
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.7 Strings, pulleys, and inclines
θ
mg
θ mg cos
mg cos θ
mg sinθ
x
y
m
Figure 29: Block sliding down an incline
component of any inward force applied to the surface. The block is clearly in
equilibrium in the direction normal to the incline, since the normal component of
the block’s weight is balanced by the reaction of the incline. However, the block
is subject to the unbalanced force mg sinθ in the direction parallel to the incline,
and, therefore, accelerates down the slope. Applying Newton’s second law to this
problem (with the coordinates shown in the ﬁgure), we obtain
m
d
2
x
dt
2
= mg sinθ, (4.12)
which can be solved to give
x = x
0
+v
0
t +
1
2
g sinθt
2
. (4.13)
In other words, the block accelerates down the slope with acceleration g sinθ.
Note that this acceleration is less than the full acceleration due to gravity, g. In
fact, if the incline is fairly gentle (i.e., if θ is small) then the acceleration of the
block can be made much less than g. This was the technique used by Galileo in
his pioneering studies of motion under gravity—by diluting the acceleration due
to gravity, using inclined planes, he was able to obtain motion sufﬁciently slow
for him to make accurate measurements using the crude timekeeping devices
available in the 17th Century.
Consider two masses, m
1
and m
2
, connected by a light inextensible string.
Suppose that the ﬁrst mass slides over a smooth, frictionless, horizontal table,
64
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.7 Strings, pulleys, and inclines
whilst the second is suspended over the edge of the table by means of a light fric
tionless pulley. See Fig. 30. Since the pulley is light, we can neglect its rotational
inertia in our analysis. Moreover, no force is required to turn a frictionless pulley,
so we can assume that the tension T of the string is the same on either side of
the pulley. Let us apply Newton’s second law of motion to each mass in turn. The
ﬁrst mass is subject to a downward force m
1
g, due to gravity. However, this force
is completely canceled out by the upward reaction force due to the table. The
mass m
1
is also subject to a horizontal force T, due to the tension in the string,
which causes it to move rightwards with acceleration
a =
T
m
1
. (4.14)
The second mass is subject to a downward force m
2
g, due to gravity, plus an
upward force T due to the tension in the string. These forces cause the mass to
move downwards with acceleration
a = g −
T
m
2
. (4.15)
Now, the rightward acceleration of the ﬁrst mass must match the downward ac
celeration of the second, since the string which connects them is inextensible.
Thus, equating the previous two expressions, we obtain
T =
m
1
m
2
m
1
+m
2
g, (4.16)
a =
m
2
m
1
+m
2
g. (4.17)
Note that the acceleration of the two coupled masses is less than the full accel
eration due to gravity, g, since the ﬁrst mass contributes to the inertia of the
system, but does not contribute to the downward gravitational force which sets
the system in motion.
Consider two masses, m
1
and m
2
, connected by a light inextensible string
which is suspended from a light frictionless pulley, as shown in Fig. 31. Let us
again apply Newton’s second law to each mass in turn. Without being given the
values of m
1
and m
2
, we cannot determine beforehand which mass is going to
move upwards. Let us assume that mass m
1
is going to move upwards: if we are
65
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.7 Strings, pulleys, and inclines
T
T
m
1
2
m g
2
m
Figure 30: Block sliding over a smooth table, pulled by a second block
wrong in this assumption then we will simply obtain a negative acceleration for
this mass. The ﬁrst mass is subject to an upward force T, due to the tension in the
string, and a downward force m
1
g, due to gravity. These forces cause the mass
to move upwards with acceleration
a =
T
m
1
−g. (4.18)
The second mass is subject to a downward force m
2
g, due to gravity, and an
upward force T, due to the tension in the string. These forces cause the mass to
move downward with acceleration
a = g −
T
m
2
. (4.19)
Now, the upward acceleration of the ﬁrst mass must match the downward accel
eration of the second, since they are connected by an inextensible string. Hence,
equating the previous two expressions, we obtain
T =
2 m
1
m
2
m
1
+m
2
g, (4.20)
a =
m
2
−m
1
m
1
+m
2
g. (4.21)
As expected, the ﬁrst mass accelerates upward (i.e., a > 0) if m
2
> m
1
, and vice
versa. Note that the acceleration of the system is less than the full acceleration
due to gravity, g, since both masses contribute to the inertia of the system, but
66
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.8 Friction
m
T
T
m
1
m g
1
m g
2
2
.
.
Figure 31: An Atwood machine
their weights partially cancel one another out. In particular, if the two masses are
almost equal then the acceleration of the system becomes very much less than g.
Incidentally, the device pictured in Fig. 31 is called an Atwood machine, after
the eighteenth Century English scientist George Atwood, who used it to “slow
down” freefall sufﬁciently to make accurate observations of this phenomena us
ing the primitive timekeeping devices available in his day.
4.8 Friction
When a body slides over a rough surface a frictional force generally develops
which acts to impede the motion. Friction, when viewed at the microscopic level,
is actually a very complicated phenomenon. Nevertheless, physicists and engi
neers have managed to develop a relatively simple empirical law of force which
allows the effects of friction to be incorporated into their calculations. This law of
force was ﬁrst proposed by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), and later extended
by Charles Augustin de Coulomb (1736–1806) (who is more famous for discov
67
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.8 Friction
ering the law of electrostatic attraction). The frictional force exerted on a body
sliding over a rough surface is proportional to the normal reaction R
n
at that sur
face, the constant of proportionality depending on the nature of the surface. In
other words,
f = µR
n
, (4.22)
where µ is termed the coefﬁcient of (dynamical) friction. For ordinary surfaces, µ
is generally of order unity.
Consider a block of mass m being dragged over a horizontal surface, whose
coefﬁcient of friction is µ, by a horizontal force F. See Fig. 32. The weight
W = mg of the block acts vertically downwards, giving rise to a reaction R = mg
acting vertically upwards. The magnitude of the frictional force f, which impedes
the motion of the block, is simply µ times the normal reaction R = mg. Hence,
f = µmg. The acceleration of the block is, therefore,
a =
F −f
m
=
F
m
−µg, (4.23)
assuming that F > f. What happens if F < f: i.e., if the applied force F is less than
the frictional force f? In this case, common sense suggests that the block simply
remains at rest (it certainly does not accelerate backwards!). Hence, f = µmg
is actually the maximum force which friction can generate in order to impede
the motion of the block. If the applied force F is less than this maximum value
then the applied force is canceled out by an equal and opposite frictional force,
and the block remains stationary. Only if the applied force exceeds the maximum
frictional force does the block start to move.
Consider a block of mass m sliding down a rough incline (coefﬁcient of friction
µ) which subtends an angle θ to the horizontal, as shown in Fig 33. The weight
mg of the block can be resolved into components mg cos θ, acting normal to the
incline, and mg sinθ, acting parallel to the incline. The reaction of the incline
to the weight of the block acts normally outwards from the incline, and is of
magnitude mg cos θ. Parallel to the incline, the block is subject to the downward
gravitational force mg sinθ, and the upward frictional force f (which acts to
prevent the block sliding down the incline). In order for the block to move, the
magnitude of the former force must exceed the maximum value of the latter,
68
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.8 Friction
m g
W
R
f
F
Figure 32: Friction
which is µ time the magnitude of the normal reaction, or µmg cos θ. Hence, the
condition for the weight of the block to overcome friction, and, thus, to cause the
block to slide down the incline, is
mg sinθ > µmg cos θ, (4.24)
or
tanθ > µ. (4.25)
In other words, if the slope of the incline exceeds a certain critical value, which
depends on µ, then the block will start to slide. Incidentally, the above formula
suggests a fairly simple way of determining the coefﬁcient of friction for a given
object sliding over a particular surface. Simply tilt the surface gradually until the
object just starts to move: the coefﬁcient of friction is simply the tangent of the
critical tilt angle (measured with respect to the horizontal).
Up to now, we have implicitly suggested that the coefﬁcient of friction between
an object and a surface is the same whether the object remains stationary or slides
over the surface. In fact, this is generally not the case. Usually, the coefﬁcient of
friction when the object is stationary is slightly larger than the coefﬁcient when
the object is sliding. We call the former coefﬁcient the coefﬁcient of static friction,
µ
s
, whereas the latter coefﬁcient is usually termed the coefﬁcient of kinetic (or
dynamical) friction, µ
k
. The fact that µ
s
> µ
k
simply implies that objects have a
tendency to “stick” to rough surfaces when placed upon them. The force required
to unstick a given object, and, thereby, set it in motion, is µ
s
times the normal
69
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.9 Frames of reference
θ
mg
θ mg cos
mg cos θ
mg sinθ
m
f
Figure 33: Block sliding down a rough slope
reaction at the surface. Once the object has been set in motion, the frictional force
acting to impede this motion falls somewhat to µ
k
times the normal reaction.
4.9 Frames of reference
As discussed in Sect. 1, the laws of physics are assumed to possess objective real
ity. In other words, it is assumed that two independent observers, studying the
same physical phenomenon, would eventually formulate identical laws of physics
in order to account for their observations. Now, two completely independent
observers are likely to choose different systems of units with which to quantify
physical measurements. However, as we have seen in Sect. 1, the dimensional
consistency of valid laws of physics renders them invariant under transformation
from one system of units to another. Independent observers are also likely to
choose different coordinate systems. For instance, the origins of their separate
coordinate systems might differ, as well as the orientation of the various coordi
nate axes. Are the laws of physics also invariant under transformation between
coordinate systems possessing different origins, or a different orientation of the
various coordinate axes?
Consider the vector equation
r = r
1
+r
2
, (4.26)
which is represented diagrammatically in Fig. 12. Suppose that we shift the origin
70
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.9 Frames of reference
of our coordinate system, or rotate the coordinate axes. Clearly, in general, the
components of vectors r, r
1
, and r
2
are going to be modiﬁed by this change in
our coordinate scheme. However, Fig. 12 still remains valid. Hence, we conclude
that the vector equation (4.26) also remains valid. In other words, although
the individual components of vectors r, r
1
, and r
2
are modiﬁed by the change
in coordinate scheme, the interrelation between these components expressed in
Eq. (4.26) remains invariant. This observation suggests that the independence
of the laws of physics from the arbitrary choice of the location of the underlying
coordinate system’s origin, or the equally arbitrary choice of the orientation of
the various coordinate axes, can be made manifest by simply writing these laws
as interrelations between vectors. In particular, Newton’s second law of motion,
f = ma, (4.27)
is clearly invariant under shifts in the origin of our coordinate system, or changes
in the orientation of the various coordinate axes. Note that the quantity m (i.e.,
the mass of the body whose motion is under investigation), appearing in the
above equation, is invariant under any changes in the coordinate system, since
measurements of mass are completely independent of measurements of distance.
We refer to such a quantity as a scalar (this is an improved deﬁnition). We con
clude that valid laws of physics must consist of combinations of scalars and vec
tors, otherwise they would retain an unphysical dependence on the details of the
chosen coordinate system.
Up to now, we have implicitly assumed that all of our observers are stationary
(i.e., they are all standing still on the surface of the Earth). Let us, now, relax
this assumption. Consider two observers, O and O
, whose coordinate systems
coincide momentarily at t = 0. Suppose that observer O is stationary (on the
surface of the Earth), whereas observer O
moves (with respect to observer O)
with uniform velocity v
0
. As illustrated in Fig. 34, if r represents the displacement
of some body P in the stationary observer’s frame of reference, at time t, then the
corresponding displacement in the moving observer’s frame of reference is simply
r
= r −v
0
t. (4.28)
The velocity of body P in the stationary observer’s frame of reference is deﬁned
71
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.9 Frames of reference
O’
P
O
v
0
t
r
r
’
Figure 34: A moving observer
as
v =
dr
dt
. (4.29)
Hence, the corresponding velocity in the moving observer’s frame of reference
takes the form
v
=
dr
dt
= v −v
0
. (4.30)
Finally, the acceleration of body P in stationary observer’s frame of reference is
deﬁned as
a =
dv
dt
, (4.31)
whereas the corresponding acceleration in the moving observer’s frame of refer
ence takes the form
a
=
dv
dt
= a. (4.32)
Hence, the acceleration of body P is identical in both frames of reference.
It is clear that if observer O concludes that body P is moving with constant ve
locity, and, therefore, subject to zero net force, then observer O
will agree with
this conclusion. Furthermore, if observer O concludes that body P is accelerating,
and, therefore, subject to a force a/m, then observer O
will remain in agreement.
It follows that Newton’s laws of motion are equally valid in the frames of refer
ence of the moving and the stationary observer. Such frames are termed inertial
frames of reference. There are inﬁnitely many inertial frames of reference—within
72
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.9 Frames of reference
which Newton’s laws of motion are equally valid—all moving with constant ve
locity with respect to one another. Consequently, there is no universal standard
of rest in physics. Observer O might claim to be at rest compared to observer O
,
and vice versa: however, both points of view are equally valid. Moreover, there
is absolutely no physical experiment which observer O could perform in order to
demonstrate that he/she is at rest whilst observer O
is moving. This, in essence,
is the principle of special relativity, ﬁrst formulated by Albert Einstein in 1905.
Worked example 4.1: In equilibrium
Question: Consider the diagram. If the system is in equilibrium, and the tension
in string 2 is 50 N, determine the mass M.
40
2
1
M M
3
o
40
o
Answer: It follows from symmetry that the tensions in strings 1 and 3 are equal.
Let T
1
be the tension in string 1, and T
2
the tension in string 2. Consider the
equilibrium of the knot above the leftmost mass. As shown below, this knot
is subject to three forces: the downward force T
4
= Mg due to the tension
in the string which directly supports the leftmost mass, the rightward force T
2
due to the tension in string 2, and the upward and leftward force T
1
due to the
tension in string 1. The resultant of all these forces must be zero, otherwise the
system would not be in equilibrium. Resolving in the horizontal direction (with
rightward forces positive), we obtain
T
2
−T
1
sin40
◦
= 0.
Likewise, resolving in the vertical direction (with upward forces positive) yields
T
1
cos 40
◦
−T
4
= 0.
73
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.9 Frames of reference
Combining the above two expressions, making use of the fact that T
4
= Mg, gives
M =
T
2
g tan40
◦
.
Finally, since T
2
= 50 N and g = 9.81 m/s
2
, we obtain
M =
50
9.81 ×0.8391
= 6.074 kg.
40
T
2
1
T
4
T
o
Worked example 4.2: Block accelerating up a slope
Question: Consider the diagram. Suppose that the block, mass m = 5 kg, is
subject to a horizontal force F = 27 N. What is the acceleration of the block up
the (frictionless) slope?
F
m
25
o
Answer: Only that component of the applied force which is parallel to the incline
has any inﬂuence on the block’s motion: the normal component of the applied
force is canceled out by the normal reaction of the incline. The component of
the applied force acting up the incline is F cos 25
◦
. Likewise, the component of
74
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.9 Frames of reference
the block’s weight acting down the incline is mg sin25
◦
. Hence, using Newton’s
second law to determine the acceleration a of the block up the incline, we obtain
a =
F cos 25
◦
−mg sin25
◦
m
.
Since m = 5 kg and F = 27 N, we have
a =
27 ×0.9063 −5 ×9.81 ×0.4226
5
= 0.7483 m/s
2
.
Worked example 4.3: Raising a platform
Question: Consider the diagram. The platform and the attached frictionless pulley
weigh a total of 34N. With what force F must the (light) rope be pulled in order
to lift the platform at 3.2 m/s
2
?
platform
pulley
F
Answer: Let W be the weight of the platform, m = W/g the mass of the platform,
and T the tension in the rope. From Newton’s third law, it is clear that T = F.
Let us apply Newton’s second law to the upward motion of the platform. The
platform is subject to two vertical forces: a downward force W due to its weight,
and an upward force 2 T due to the tension in the rope (the force is 2 T, rather
than T, because both the leftmost and rightmost sections of the rope, emerging
from the pulley, are in tension and exerting an upward force on the pulley). Thus,
75
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.9 Frames of reference
the upward acceleration a of the platform is
a =
2 T −W
m
.
Since T = F and m = W/g, we obtain
F =
W(a/g +1)
2
.
Finally, given that W = 34 N and a = 3.2 m/s
2
, we have
F =
34 (3.2/9.81 +1)
2
= 22.55 N.
Worked example 4.4: Suspended block
Question: Consider the diagram. The mass of block A is 75 kg and the mass
of block B is 15 kg. The coefﬁcient of static friction between the two blocks is
µ = 0.45. The horizontal surface is frictionless. What minimum force F must be
exerted on block A in order to prevent block B from falling?
F
A
B
Answer: Suppose that block A exerts a rightward force R on block B. By New
ton’s third law, block B exerts an equal and opposite force on block A. Applying
Newton’s second law of motion to the rightward acceleration a of block B, we
obtain
a =
R
m
B
,
where m
B
is the mass of block B. The normal reaction at the interface between
the two blocks is R. Hence, the maximum frictional force that block A can ex
ert on block B is µR. In order to prevent block B from falling, this maximum
76
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.9 Frames of reference
frictional force (which acts upwards) must exceed the downward acting weight,
m
B
g, of the block. Hence, we require
µR > m
B
g,
or
a >
g
µ
.
Applying Newton’s second law to the rightward acceleration a of both blocks
(remembering that the equal and opposite forces exerted between the blocks
cancel one another out), we obtain
a =
F
m
A
+m
B
,
where m
A
is the mass of block A. It follows that
F >
(m
A
+m
B
) g
µ
.
Since m
A
= 75 kg, m
B
= 15 kg, and µ = 0.45, we have
F >
(75 +15) ×9.81
0.45
= 1.962 ×10
3
N.
77
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY
5 Conservation of energy
5.1 Introduction
Nowadays, the conservation of energy is undoubtedly the single most important
idea in physics. Strangely enough, although the basic idea of energy conservation
was familiar to scientists from the time of Newton onwards, this crucial concept
only moved to centrestage in physics in about 1850 (i.e., when scientists ﬁrst
realized that heat was a form of energy).
According to the ideas of modern physics, energy is the substance from which
all things in the Universe are made up. Energy can take many different forms:
e.g., potential energy, kinetic energy, electrical energy, thermal energy, chemi
cal energy, nuclear energy, etc. In fact, everything that we observe in the world
around us represents one of the multitudinous manifestations of energy. Now,
there exist processes in the Universe which transform energy from one form into
another: e.g., mechanical processes (which are the focus of this course), thermal
processes, electrical processes, nuclear processes, etc. However, all of these pro
cesses leave the total amount of energy in the Universe invariant. In other words,
whenever, and however, energy is transformed from one form into another, it
is always conserved. For a closed system (i.e., a system which does not exchange
energy with the rest of the Universe), the above law of universal energy conserva
tion implies that the total energy of the system in question must remain constant
in time.
5.2 Energy conservation during freefall
Consider a mass m which is falling vertically under the inﬂuence of gravity. We
already know how to analyze the motion of such a mass. Let us employ this
knowledge to search for an expression for the conserved energy during this pro
cess. (N.B., This is clearly an example of a closed system, involving only the mass
and the gravitational ﬁeld.) The physics of freefall under gravity is summarized
by the three equations (2.14)–(2.16). Let us examine the last of these equations:
78
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.2 Energy conservation during freefall
v
2
= v
2
0
−2 gs. Suppose that the mass falls from height h
1
to h
2
, its initial velocity
is v
1
, and its ﬁnal velocity is v
2
. It follows that the net vertical displacement of
the mass is s = h
2
− h
1
. Moreover, v
0
= v
1
and v = v
2
. Hence, the previous
expression can be rearranged to give
1
2
mv
2
1
+mgh
1
=
1
2
mv
2
2
+mgh
2
. (5.1)
The above equation clearly represents a conservation law, of some description,
since the lefthand side only contains quantities evaluated at the initial height,
whereas the righthand side only contains quantities evaluated at the ﬁnal height.
In order to clarify the meaning of Eq. (5.1), let us deﬁne the kinetic energy of the
mass,
K =
1
2
mv
2
, (5.2)
and the gravitational potential energy of the mass,
U = mgh. (5.3)
Note that kinetic energy represents energy the mass possesses by virtue of its
motion. Likewise, potential energy represents energy the mass possesses by virtue
of its position. It follows that Eq. (5.1) can be written
E = K +U = constant. (5.4)
Here, E is the total energy of the mass: i.e., the sum of its kinetic and potential
energies. It is clear that E is a conserved quantity: i.e., although the kinetic and
potential energies of the mass vary as it falls, its total energy remains the same.
Incidentally, the expressions (5.2) and (5.3) for kinetic and gravitational po
tential energy, respectively, are quite general, and do not just apply to freefall
under gravity. The mks unit of energy is called the joule (symbol J). In fact, 1
joule is equivalent to 1 kilogram metersquared per secondsquared, or 1 newton
meter. Note that all forms of energy are measured in the same units (otherwise
the idea of energy conservation would make no sense).
One of the most important lessons which students learn during their studies is
that there are generally many different paths to the same result in physics. Now,
79
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.2 Energy conservation during freefall
we have already analyzed freefall under gravity using Newton’s laws of motion.
However, it is illuminating to reexamine this problem from the point of view of
energy conservation. Suppose that a mass m is dropped from rest and falls a
distance h. What is the ﬁnal velocity v of the mass? Well, according to Eq. (5.1),
if energy is conserved then
∆K = −∆U : (5.5)
i.e., any increase in the kinetic energy of the mass must be offset by a correspond
ing decrease in its potential energy. Now, the change in potential energy of the
mass is simply ∆U = mgs = −mgh, where s = −h is its net vertical displace
ment. The change in kinetic energy is simply ∆K = (1/2) mv
2
, where v is the
ﬁnal velocity. This follows because the initial kinetic energy of the mass is zero
(since it is initially at rest). Hence, the above expression yields
1
2
mv
2
= mgh, (5.6)
or
v =
_
2 gh. (5.7)
Suppose that the same mass is thrown upwards with initial velocity v. What
is the maximum height h to which it rises? Well, it is clear from Eq. (5.3) that
as the mass rises its potential energy increases. It, therefore, follows from energy
conservation that its kinetic energy must decrease with height. Note, however,
from Eq. (5.2), that kinetic energy can never be negative (since it is the product
of the two positive deﬁnite quantities, m and v
2
/2). Hence, once the mass has
risen to a height h which is such that its kinetic energy is reduced to zero it can
rise no further, and must, presumably, start to fall. The change in potential energy
of the mass in moving from its initial height to its maximum height is mgh. The
corresponding change in kinetic energy is −(1/2) mv
2
; since (1/2) mv
2
is the
initial kinetic energy, and the ﬁnal kinetic energy is zero. It follows from Eq. (5.5)
that −(1/2) mv
2
= −mgh, which can be rearranged to give
h =
v
2
2 g
. (5.8)
It should be noted that the idea of energy conservation—although extremely
useful—is not a replacement for Newton’s laws of motion. For instance, in the
80
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.3 Work
previous example, there is no way in which we can deduce how long it takes
the mass to rise to its maximum height from energy conservation alone—this
information can only come from the direct application of Newton’s laws.
5.3 Work
We have seen that when a mass freefalls under the inﬂuence of gravity some of
its kinetic energy is transformed into potential energy, or vice versa. Let us now
investigate, in detail, how this transformation is effected. The mass falls because
it is subject to a downwards gravitational force of magnitude mg. It stands to
reason, therefore, that the transformation of kinetic into potential energy is a
direct consequence of the action of this force.
This is, perhaps, an appropriate point at which to note that the concept of
gravitational potential energy—although extremely useful—is, strictly speaking,
ﬁctitious. To be more exact, the potential energy of a body is not an intrinsic
property of that body (unlike its kinetic energy). In fact, the gravitational po
tential energy of a given body is stored in the gravitational ﬁeld which surrounds
it. Thus, when the body rises, and its potential energy consequently increases by
an amount ∆U; in reality, it is the energy of the gravitational ﬁeld surrounding
the body which increases by this amount. Of course, the increase in energy of
the gravitational ﬁeld is offset by a corresponding decrease in the body’s kinetic
energy. Thus, when we speak of a body’s kinetic energy being transformed into
potential energy, we are really talking about a ﬂow of energy from the body to the
surrounding gravitational ﬁeld. This energy ﬂow is mediated by the gravitational
force exerted by the ﬁeld on the body in question.
Incidentally, according to Einstein’s general theory of relativity (1917), the
gravitational ﬁeld of a mass consists of the local distortion that mass induces in
the fabric of spacetime. Fortunately, however, we do not need to understand
general relativity in order to talk about gravitational ﬁelds or gravitational po
tential energy. All we need to know is that a gravitational ﬁeld stores energy
without loss: i.e., if a given mass rises a certain distance, and, thereby, gives up
a certain amount of energy to the surrounding gravitational ﬁeld, then that ﬁeld
81
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.3 Work
will return this energy to the mass—without loss—if the mass falls by the same
distance. In physics, we term such a ﬁeld a conservative ﬁeld (see later).
Suppose that a mass m falls a distance h. During this process, the energy of
the gravitational ﬁeld decreases by a certain amount (i.e., the ﬁctitious potential
energy of the mass decreases by a certain amount), and the body’s kinetic energy
increases by a corresponding amount. This transfer of energy, from the ﬁeld to
the mass, is, presumably, mediated by the gravitational force −mg (the minus
sign indicates that the force is directed downwards) acting on the mass. In fact,
given that U = mgh, it follows from Eq. (5.5) that
∆K = f ∆h. (5.9)
In other words, the amount of energy transferred to the mass (i.e., the increase in
the mass’s kinetic energy) is equal to the product of the force acting on the mass
and the distance moved by the mass in the direction of that force.
In physics, we generally refer to the amount of energy transferred to a body,
when a force acts upon it, as the amount of work W performed by that force on
the body in question. It follows from Eq. (5.9) that when a gravitational force
f acts on a body, causing it to displace a distance x in the direction of that force,
then the net work done on the body is
W = f x. (5.10)
It turns out that this equation is quite general, and does not just apply to grav
itational forces. If W is positive then energy is transferred to the body, and its
intrinsic energy consequently increases by an amount W. This situation occurs
whenever a body moves in the same direction as the force acting upon it. Like
wise, if W is negative then energy is transferred from the body, and its intrinsic
energy consequently decreases by an amount W. This situation occurs when
ever a body moves in the opposite direction to the force acting upon it. Since an
amount of work is equivalent to a transfer of energy, the mks unit of work is the
same as the mks unit of energy: namely, the joule.
In deriving equation (5.10), we have made two assumptions which are not
universally valid. Firstly, we have assumed that the motion of the body upon
82
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.3 Work
which the force acts is both 1dimensional and parallel to the line of action of the
force. Secondly, we have assumed that the force does not vary with position. Let
us attempt to relax these two assumptions, so as to obtain an expression for the
work W done by a general force f.
Let us start by relaxing the ﬁrst assumption. Suppose, for the sake of argument,
that we have a mass m which moves under gravity in 2dimensions. Let us adopt
the coordinate system shown in Fig. 35, with z representing vertical distance,
and x representing horizontal distance. The vector acceleration of the mass is
simply a = (0, −g). Here, we are neglecting the redundant ycomponent, for the
sake of simplicity. The physics of motion under gravity in more than 1dimension
is summarized by the three equations (3.35)–(3.37). Let us examine the last of
these equations:
v
2
= v
2
0
+2 a·s. (5.11)
Here, v
0
is the speed at t = 0, v is the speed at t = t, and s = (∆x, ∆z) is the
net displacement of the mass during this time interval. Recalling the deﬁnition
of a scalar product [i.e., a·b = (a
x
b
x
+a
y
b
y
+a
z
b
z
)], the above equation can be
rearranged to give
1
2
mv
2
−
1
2
mv
2
0
= −mg∆z. (5.12)
Since the righthand side of the above expression is manifestly the increase in the
kinetic energy of the mass between times t = 0 and t = t, the lefthand side must
equal the decrease in the mass’s potential energy during the same time interval.
Hence, we arrive at the following expression for the gravitational potential energy
of the mass:
U = mgz. (5.13)
Of course, this expression is entirely equivalent to our previous expression for
gravitational potential energy, Eq. (5.3). The above expression merely makes
manifest a point which should have been obvious anyway: namely, that the grav
itational potential energy of a mass only depends on its height above the ground,
and is quite independent of its horizontal displacement.
Let us now try to relate the ﬂow of energy between the gravitational ﬁeld and
the mass to the action of the gravitational force, f = (0, −mg). Equation (5.12)
83
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.3 Work
z
x
m
Figure 35: Coordinate system for 2dimensional motion under gravity
can be rewritten
∆K = W = f· s. (5.14)
In other words, the work W done by the force f is equal to the scalar product of f
and the vector displacement s of the body upon which the force acts. It turns out
that this result is quite general, and does not just apply to gravitational forces.
Figure 36 is a visualization of the deﬁnition (5.14). The work W performed
by a force f when the object upon which it acts is subject to a displacement s is
W = f s cos θ. (5.15)
where θ is the angle subtended between the directions of f and s. In other words,
the work performed is the product of the magnitude of the force, f, and the
displacement of the object in the direction of that force, s cos θ. It follows that
any component of the displacement in a direction perpendicular to the force gen
erates zero work. Moreover, if the displacement is entirely perpendicular to the
direction of the force (i.e., if θ = 90
◦
) then no work is performed, irrespective
of the nature of the force. As before, if the displacement has a component in
the same direction as the force (i.e., if θ < 90
◦
) then positive work is performed
Likewise, if the displacement has a component in the opposite direction to the
force (i.e., if θ > 90
◦
) then negative work is performed.
Suppose, now, that an object is subject to a force f which varies with position.
What is the total work done by the force when the object moves along some
general trajectory in space between points A and B (say)? See Fig. 37. Well,
one way in which we could approach this problem would be to approximate the
trajectory as a series of N straightline segments, as shown in Fig. 38. Suppose
84
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.3 Work
s
θ
cos θ
s
f
f
s
Figure 36: Deﬁnition of work
that the vector displacement of the ith segment is ∆r
i
. Suppose, further, that N is
sufﬁciently large that the force f does not vary much along each segment. In fact,
let the average force along the ith segment be f
i
. We shall assume that formula
(5.14)—which is valid for constant forces and straightline displacements—holds
good for each segment. It follows that the net work done on the body, as it moves
from point A to point B, is approximately
W
N
i=1
f
i
·∆r
i
. (5.16)
We can always improve the level of our approximation by increasing the number
N of the straightline segments which we use to approximate the body’s trajectory
between points A and B. In fact, if we take the limit N → ∞ then the above
expression becomes exact:
W = lim
N→∞
N
i=1
f
i
·∆r
i
=
B
A
f(r)·dr. (5.17)
Here, r measures vector displacement from the origin of our coordinate system,
and the mathematical construct
B
A
f(r)·dr is termed a lineintegral.
The meaning of Eq. (5.17) becomes a lot clearer if we restrict our attention to
1dimensional motion. Suppose, therefore, that an object moves in 1dimension,
with displacement x, and is subject to a varying force f(x) (directed along the
xaxis). What is the work done by this force when the object moves from x
A
85
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.3 Work
A
B
Figure 37: Possible trajectory of an object in a variable forceﬁeld
A
B
Figure 38: Approximation to the previous trajectory using straightline segments
86
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.3 Work
x x x >
A B
f

>
Figure 39: Work performed by a 1dimensional force
to x
B
? Well, a straightforward application of Eq. (5.17) [with f = (f, 0, 0) and
dr = (dx, 0, 0)] yields
W =
x
B
x
A
f(x) dx. (5.18)
In other words, the net work done by the force as the object moves from displace
ment x
A
to x
B
is simply the area under the f(x) curve between these two points,
as illustrated in Fig. 39.
Let us, ﬁnally, roundoff this discussion by rederiving the socalled work
energy theorem, Eq. (5.14), in 1dimension, allowing for a nonconstant force.
According to Newton’s second law of motion,
f = m
d
2
x
dt
2
. (5.19)
Combining Eqs. (5.18) and (5.19), we obtain
W =
x
B
x
A
m
d
2
x
dt
2
dx =
t
B
t
A
m
d
2
x
dt
2
dx
dt
dt =
t
B
t
A
d
dt
_
_
m
2
_
dx
dt
_
2
_
_
dt, (5.20)
where x(t
A
) = x
A
and x(t
B
) = x
B
. It follows that
W =
1
2
mv
2
B
−
1
2
mv
2
A
= ∆K, (5.21)
where v
A
= (dx/dt)
t
A
and v
B
= (dx/dt)
t
B
. Thus, the net work performed on a
body by a nonuniform force, as it moves from point A to point B, is equal to the
87
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.4 Conservative and nonconservative forceﬁelds
net increase in that body’s kinetic energy between these two points. This result
is completely general (at least, for conservative forceﬁelds—see later), and does
not just apply to 1dimensional motion.
Suppose, ﬁnally, that an object is subject to more than one force. How do we
calculate the net work W performed by all these forces as the object moves from
point A to point B? One approach would be to calculate the work done by each
force, taken in isolation, and then to sum the results. In other words, deﬁning
W
i
=
B
A
f
i
(r)·dr (5.22)
as the work done by the ith force, the net work is given by
W =
i
W
i
. (5.23)
An alternative approach would be to take the vector sum of all the forces to ﬁnd
the resultant force,
f =
i
f
i
, (5.24)
and then to calculate the work done by the resultant force:
W =
B
A
f(r)·dr. (5.25)
It should, hopefully, be clear that these two approaches are entirely equivalent.
5.4 Conservative and nonconservative forceﬁelds
Suppose that a nonuniform forceﬁeld f(r) acts upon an object which moves
along a curved trajectory, labeled path 1, from point A to point B. See Fig. 40.
As we have seen, the work W
1
performed by the forceﬁeld on the object can be
written as a lineintegral along this trajectory:
W
1
=
A→B:path1
f·dr. (5.26)
88
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.4 Conservative and nonconservative forceﬁelds
B
2
1
A
Figure 40: Two alternative paths between points A and B
Suppose that the same object moves along a different trajectory, labeled path
2, between the same two points. In this case, the work W
2
performed by the
forceﬁeld is
W
2
=
A→B:path2
f·dr. (5.27)
Basically, there are two possibilities. Firstly, the lineintegrals (5.26) and (5.27)
might depend on the end points, A and B, but not on the path taken between
them, in which case W
1
= W
2
. Secondly, the lineintegrals (5.26) and (5.27)
might depend both on the end points, A and B, and the path taken between
them, in which case W
1
= W
2
(in general). The ﬁrst possibility corresponds
to what physicists term a conservative forceﬁeld, whereas the second possibility
corresponds to a nonconservative forceﬁeld.
What is the physical distinction between a conservative and a nonconservative
forceﬁeld? Well, the easiest way of answering this question is to slightly modify
the problem discussed above. Suppose, now, that the object moves from point
A to point B along path 1, and then from point B back to point A along path 2.
What is the total work done on the object by the forceﬁeld as it executes this
closed circuit? Incidentally, one fact which should be clear from the deﬁnition of
a lineintegral is that if we simply reverse the path of a given integral then the
89
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.4 Conservative and nonconservative forceﬁelds
value of that integral picks up a minus sign: in other words,
B
A
f·dr = −
A
B
f·dr, (5.28)
where it is understood that both the above integrals are taken in opposite direc
tions along the same path. Recall that conventional 1dimensional integrals obey
an analogous rule: i.e., if we swap the limits of integration then the integral picks
up a minus sign. It follows that the total work done on the object as it executes
the circuit is simply
∆W = W
1
−W
2
, (5.29)
where W
1
and W
2
are deﬁned in Eqs. (5.26) and (5.27), respectively. There is a
minus sign in front of W
2
because we are moving from point B to point A, instead
of the other way around. For the case of a conservative ﬁeld, we have W
1
= W
2
.
Hence, we conclude that
∆W = 0. (5.30)
In other words, the net work done by a conservative ﬁeld on an object taken
around a closed loop is zero. This is just another way of saying that a conservative
ﬁeld stores energy without loss: i.e., if an object gives up a certain amount of
energy to a conservative ﬁeld in traveling from point A to point B, then the ﬁeld
returns this energy to the object—without loss—when it travels back to point B.
For the case of a nonconservative ﬁeld, W
1
= W
2
. Hence, we conclude that
∆W = 0. (5.31)
In other words, the net work done by a nonconservative ﬁeld on an object taken
around a closed loop is nonzero. In practice, the net work is invariably negative.
This is just another way of saying that a nonconservative ﬁeld dissipates energy:
i.e., if an object gives up a certain amount of energy to a nonconservative ﬁeld
in traveling from point A to point B, then the ﬁeld only returns part, or, perhaps,
none, of this energy to the object when it travels back to point B. The remainder
is usually dissipated as heat.
What are typical examples of conservative and nonconservative ﬁelds? Well,
a gravitational ﬁeld is probably the most wellknown example of a conservative
ﬁeld (see later). A typical example of a nonconservative ﬁeld might consist of
90
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.4 Conservative and nonconservative forceﬁelds
∆ r
i
f
i
Figure 41: Closed circuit over a rough horizontal surface
an object moving over a rough horizontal surface. Suppose, for the sake of sim
plicity, that the object executes a closed circuit on the surface which is made up
entirely of straightline segments, as shown in Fig. 41. Let ∆r
i
represent the vec
tor displacement of the ith leg of this circuit. Suppose that the frictional force
acting on the object as it executes this leg is f
i
. One thing that we know about a
frictional force is that it is always directed in the opposite direction to the instan
taneous direction of motion of the object upon which it acts. Hence, f
i
∝ −∆r
i
.
It follows that f
i
·∆r
i
= −f
i
 ∆r
i
. Thus, the net work performed by the frictional
force on the object, as it executes the circuit, is given by
∆W =
i
f
i
·∆r
i
= −
i
f
i
 ∆r
i
 < 0. (5.32)
The fact that the net work is negative indicates that the frictional force continually
drains energy from the object as it moves over the surface. This energy is actu
ally dissipated as heat (we all know that if we rub two rough surfaces together,
sufﬁciently vigorously, then they will eventually heat up: this is how mankind
ﬁrst made ﬁre) and is, therefore, lost to the system. (Generally speaking, the
laws of thermodynamics forbid energy which has been converted into heat from
being converted back to its original form.) Hence, friction is an example of a
nonconservative force, because it dissipates energy rather than storing it.
91
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.5 Potential energy
5.5 Potential energy
Consider a body moving in a conservative forceﬁeld f(r). Let us arbitrarily pick
some point O in this ﬁeld. We can deﬁne a function U(r) which possesses a
unique value at every point in the ﬁeld. The value of this function associated
with some general point R is simply
U(R) = −
R
O
f·dr. (5.33)
In other words, U(R) is just the energy transferred to the ﬁeld (i.e., minus the
work done by the ﬁeld) when the body moves from point O to point R. Of
course, the value of U at point O is zero: i.e., U(O) = 0. Note that the above
deﬁnition uniquely speciﬁes U(R), since the work done when a body moves be
tween two points in a conservative forceﬁeld is independent of the path taken
between these points. Furthermore, the above deﬁnition would make no sense
in a nonconservative ﬁeld, since the work done when a body moves between
two points in such a ﬁeld is dependent on the chosen path: hence, U(R) would
have an inﬁnite number of different values corresponding to the inﬁnite number
of different paths the body could take between points O and R.
According to the workenergy theorem,
∆K =
R
O
f·dr. (5.34)
In other words, the net change in the kinetic energy of the body, as it moves from
point O to point R, is equal to the work done on the body by the forceﬁeld during
this process. However, comparing with Eq. (5.33), we can see that
∆K = U(O) −U(R) = −∆U. (5.35)
In other words, the increase in the kinetic energy of the body, as it moves from
point O to point R, is equal to the decrease in the function U evaluated between
these same two points. Another way of putting this is
E = K +U = constant : (5.36)
92
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.6 Hooke’s law
i.e., the sumof the kinetic energy and the function Uremains constant as the body
moves around in the forceﬁeld. It should be clear, by now, that the function U
represents some form of potential energy.
The above discussion leads to the following important conclusions. Firstly, it
should be possible to associate a potential energy (i.e., an energy a body pos
sesses by virtue of its position) with any conservative forceﬁeld. Secondly, any
forceﬁeld for which we can deﬁne a potential energy must necessarily be con
servative. For instance, the existence of gravitational potential energy is proof
that gravitational ﬁelds are conservative. Thirdly, the concept of potential en
ergy is meaningless in a nonconservative forceﬁeld (since the potential energy
at a given point cannot be uniquely deﬁned). Fourthly, potential energy is only
deﬁned to within an arbitrary additive constant. In other words, the point in
space at which we set the potential energy to zero can be chosen at will. This im
plies that only differences in potential energies between different points in space
have any physical signiﬁcance. For instance, we have seen that the deﬁnition of
gravitational potential energy is U = mgz, where z represents height above the
ground. However, we could just as well write U = mg(z − z
0
), where z
0
is the
height of some arbitrarily chosen reference point (e.g., the top of Mount Ever
est, or the bottom of the Dead Sea). Fifthly, the difference in potential energy
between two points represents the net energy transferred to the associated force
ﬁeld when a body moves between these two points. In other words, potential
energy is not, strictly speaking, a property of the body—instead, it is a property
of the forceﬁeld within which the body moves.
5.6 Hooke’s law
Consider a mass m which slides over a horizontal frictionless surface. Suppose
that the mass is attached to a light horizontal spring whose other end is anchored
to an immovable object. See Fig. 42. Let x be the extension of the spring: i.e.,
the difference between the spring’s actual length and its unstretched length. Ob
viously, x can also be used as a coordinate to determine the horizontal displace
ment of the mass. According to Hooke’s law, the force f that the spring exerts on
93
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.6 Hooke’s law
x = 0
x
m
Figure 42: Mass on a spring
the mass is directly proportional to its extension, and always acts to reduce this
extension. Hence, we can write
f = −k x, (5.37)
where the positive quantity k is called the force constant of the spring. Note that
the minus sign in the above equation ensures that the force always acts to reduce
the spring’s extension: e.g., if the extension is positive then the force acts to the
left, so as to shorten the spring.
According to Eq. (5.18), the work performed by the spring force on the mass
as it moves from displacement x
A
to x
B
is
W =
x
B
x
A
f(x) dx = −k
x
B
x
A
x dx = −
_
1
2
k x
2
B
−
1
2
k x
2
A
_
. (5.38)
Note that the righthand side of the above expression consists of the difference
between two factors: the ﬁrst only depends on the ﬁnal state of the mass, whereas
the second only depends on its initial state. This is a sure sign that it is possible
to associate a potential energy with the spring force. Equation (5.33), which is
the basic deﬁnition of potential energy, yields
U(x
B
) −U(x
A
) = −
x
B
x
A
f(x) dx =
1
2
k x
2
B
−
1
2
k x
2
A
. (5.39)
94
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.6 Hooke’s law
Hence, the potential energy of the mass takes the form
U(x) =
1
2
k x
2
. (5.40)
Note that the above potential energy actually represents energy stored by the
spring—in the form of mechanical stresses—when it is either stretched or com
pressed. Incidentally, this energy must be stored without loss, otherwise the con
cept of potential energy would be meaningless. It follows that the spring force is
another example of a conservative force.
It is reasonable to suppose that the form of the spring potential energy is some
how related to the form of the spring force. Let us now explicitly investigate this
relationship. If we let x
B
→x and x
A
→0 then Eq. (5.39) gives
U(x) = −
x
0
f(x
) dx
. (5.41)
We can differentiate this expression to obtain
f = −
dU
dx
. (5.42)
Thus, in 1dimension, a conservative force is equal to minus the derivative (with
respect to displacement) of its associated potential energy. This is a quite general
result. For the case of a spring force: U = (1/2) k x
2
, so f = −dU/dx = −k x.
As is easily demonstrated, the 3dimensional equivalent to Eq. (5.42) is
f = −
_
∂U
∂x
,
∂U
∂y
,
∂U
∂z
_
. (5.43)
For example, we have seen that the gravitational potential energy of a mass m
moving above the Earth’s surface is U = mgz, where z measures height off the
ground. It follows that the associated gravitational force is
f = (0, 0, −mg). (5.44)
In other words, the force is of magnitude mg, and is directed vertically down
ward.
95
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.7 Motion in a general 1dimensional potential
The total energy of the mass shown in Fig. 42 is the sum of its kinetic and
potential energies:
E = K +U = K +
1
2
k x
2
. (5.45)
Of course, E remains constant during the mass’s motion. Hence, the above ex
pression can be rearranged to give
K = E −
1
2
k x
2
. (5.46)
Since it is impossible for a kinetic energy to be negative, the above expression
suggests that x can never exceed the value
x
0
=
¸
¸
¸
_
2 E
k
. (5.47)
Here, x
0
is termed the amplitude of the mass’s motion. Note that when x attains its
maximum value x
0
, or its minimum value −x
0
, the kinetic energy is momentarily
zero (i.e., K = 0).
5.7 Motion in a general 1dimensional potential
Suppose that the curve U(x) in Fig. 43 represents the potential energy of some
mass m moving in a 1dimensional conservative forceﬁeld. For instance, U(x)
might represent the gravitational potential energy of a cyclist freewheeling in a
hilly region. Note that we have set the potential energy at inﬁnity to zero. This is
a useful, and quite common, convention (recall that potential energy is undeﬁned
to within an arbitrary additive constant). What can we deduce about the motion
of the mass in this potential?
Well, we know that the total energy, E—which is the sum of the kinetic energy,
K, and the potential energy, U—is a constant of the motion. Hence, we can write
K(x) = E −U(x). (5.48)
Now, we also know that a kinetic energy can never be negative, so the above
expression tells us that the motion of the mass is restricted to the region (or
96
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.7 Motion in a general 1dimensional potential
E
0
x
0
x >
0
E
E
1
2
x x
1 2
U

>
Figure 43: General 1dimensional potential
regions) in which the potential energy curve U(x) falls below the value E. This
idea is illustrated in Fig. 43. Suppose that the total energy of the system is E
0
.
It is clear, from the ﬁgure, that the mass is trapped inside one or other of the
two dips in the potential—these dips are generally referred to as potential wells.
Suppose that we now raise the energy to E
1
. In this case, the mass is free to enter
or leave each of the potential wells, but its motion is still bounded to some extent,
since it clearly cannot move off to inﬁnity. Finally, let us raise the energy to E
2
.
Now the mass is unbounded: i.e., it can move off to inﬁnity. In systems in which it
makes sense to adopt the convention that the potential energy at inﬁnity is zero,
bounded systems are characterized by E < 0, whereas unbounded systems are
characterized by E > 0.
The above discussion suggests that the motion of a mass moving in a potential
generally becomes less bounded as the total energy E of the system increases.
Conversely, we would expect the motion to become more bounded as E decreases.
In fact, if the energy becomes sufﬁciently small, it appears likely that the system
will settle down in some equilibrium state in which the mass is stationary. Let us
try to identify any prospective equilibrium states in Fig. 43. If the mass remains
stationary then it must be subject to zero force (otherwise it would accelerate).
Hence, according to Eq. (5.42), an equilibrium state is characterized by
dU
dx
= 0. (5.49)
97
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.7 Motion in a general 1dimensional potential
In other words, a equilibrium state corresponds to either a maximum or a min
imum of the potential energy curve U(x). It can be seen that the U(x) curve
shown in Fig. 43 has three associated equilibrium states: these are located at
x = x
0
, x = x
1
, and x = x
2
.
Let us now make a distinction between stable equilibrium points and unstable
equilibrium points. When the system is slightly perturbed from a stable equi
librium point then the resultant force f should always be such as to attempt to
return the system to this point. In other words, if x = x
0
is an equilibrium point,
then we require
df
dx
¸
¸
¸
¸
¸
x
0
< 0 (5.50)
for stability: i.e., if the system is perturbed to the right, so that x − x
0
> 0, then
the force must act to the left, so that f < 0, and vice versa. Likewise, if
df
dx
¸
¸
¸
¸
¸
x
0
> 0 (5.51)
then the equilibrium point x = x
0
is unstable. It follows, from Eq. (5.42), that
stable equilibrium points are characterized by
d
2
U
dx
2
> 0. (5.52)
In other words, a stable equilibrium point corresponds to a minimum of the po
tential energy curve U(x). Likewise, an unstable equilibrium point corresponds
to a maximum of the U(x) curve. Hence, we conclude that x = x
0
and x = x
2
are
stable equilibrium points, in Fig. 43, whereas x = x
1
is an unstable equilibrium
point. Of course, this makes perfect sense if we think of U(x) as a gravitational
potential energy curve, in which case U is directly proportional to height. All we
are saying is that it is easy to conﬁne a low energy mass at the bottom of a valley,
but very difﬁcult to balance the same mass on the top of a hill (since any slight
perturbation to the mass will cause it to fall down the hill). Note, ﬁnally, that if
dU
dx
=
d
2
U
dx
2
= 0 (5.53)
at any point (or in any region) then we have what is known as a neutral equilib
rium point. We can move the mass slightly off such a point and it will still remain
98
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.8 Power
x >
Neutral Equilibrium Unstable Equilibrium Stable Equilibrium
U
(
x
)

>
Figure 44: Different types of equilibrium
in equilibrium (i.e., it will neither attempt to return to its initial state, nor will
it continue to move). A neutral equilibrium point corresponds to a ﬂat spot in a
U(x) curve. See Fig. 44.
5.8 Power
Suppose that an object moves in a general forceﬁeld f(r). We now know how to
calculate how much energy ﬂows from the forceﬁeld to the object as it moves
along a given path between two points. Let us now consider the rate at which
this energy ﬂows. If dW is the amount of work that the forceﬁeld performs on
the mass in a time interval dt then the rate of working is given by
P =
dW
dt
. (5.54)
In other words, the rate of working—which is usually referred to as the power—is
simply the time derivative of the work performed. Incidentally, the mks unit of
power is called the watt (symbol W). In fact, 1 watt equals 1 kilogram meter
squared per secondcubed, or 1 joule per second.
Suppose that the object displaces by dr in the time interval dt. By deﬁnition,
the amount of work done on the object during this time interval is given by
dW = f·dr. (5.55)
It follows from Eq. (5.54) that
P = f·v, (5.56)
99
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.8 Power
where v = dr/dt is the object’s instantaneous velocity. Note that power can be
positive or negative, depending on the relative directions of the vectors f and v.
If these two vectors are mutually perpendicular then the power is zero. For the
case of 1dimensional motion, the above expression reduces to
P = f v. (5.57)
In other words, in 1dimension, power simply equals force times velocity.
Worked example 5.1: Bucket lifted from a well
Question: A man lifts a 30 kg bucket from a well whose depth is 150 m. Assuming
that the man lifts the bucket at a constant rate, how much work does he perform?
Answer: Let m be the mass of the bucket and h the depth of the well. The gravita
tional force f
acting on the bucket is of magnitude mg and is directed vertically
downwards. Hence, f
= −mg (where upward is deﬁned to be positive). The net
upward displacement of the bucket is h. Hence, the work W
performed by the
gravitational force is the product of the (constant) force and the displacement of
the bucket along the line of action of that force:
W
= f
h = −mgh.
Note that W
is negative, which implies that the gravitational ﬁeld surrounding
the bucket gains energy as the bucket is lifted. In order to lift the bucket at a
constant rate, the man must exert a force f on the bucket which balances (and
very slightly exceeds) the force due to gravity. Hence, f = −f
. It follows that the
work W done by the man is
W = f h = mgh = 30 ×150 ×9.81 = 4.415 ×10
4
J.
Note that the work is positive, which implies that the man expends energy whilst
lifting the bucket. Of course, since W = −W
, the energy expended by the man
equals the energy gained by the gravitational ﬁeld.
100
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.8 Power
F
f
dock
chest
m g
R
θ
Worked example 5.2: Dragging a treasure chest
Question: A pirate drags a 50kg treasure chest over the rough surface of a dock
by exerting a constant force of 95N acting at an angle of 15
◦
above the horizon
tal. The chest moves 6m in a straight line, and the coefﬁcient of kinetic friction
between the chest and the dock is 0.15. How much work does the pirate perform?
How much energy is dissipated as heat via friction? What is the ﬁnal velocity of
the chest?
Answer: Referring to the diagram, the force F exerted by the pirate can be re
solved into a horizontal component F cos θ and a vertical component F sinθ.
Since the chest only moves horizontally, the vertical component of F performs
zero work. The work W performed by the horizontal component is simply the
magnitude of this component times the horizontal distance x moved by the chest:
W = F cos θx = 95 ×cos 15
◦
×6 = 550.6 J.
The chest is subject to the following forces in the vertical direction: the down
ward force mg due to gravity, the upward reaction force R due to the dock, and
the upward component F sinθ of the force exerted by the pirate. Since the chest
does not accelerate in the vertical direction, these forces must balance. Hence,
R = mg −F sinθ = 50 ×9.81 −95 ×sin15
◦
= 465.9 N.
The frictional force f is the product of the coefﬁcient of kinetic friction µ
k
and the
normal reaction R, so
f = µ
k
R = 0.15 ×465.9 = 69.89 N.
101
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.8 Power
The work W
done by the frictional force is
W
= −f x = −69.89 ×6 = −419.3 J.
Note that there is a minus sign in front of the f because the displacement of
the chest is in the opposite direction to the frictional force. The fact that W
is
negative indicates a loss of energy by the chest: this energy is dissipated as heat
via friction. Hence, the dissipated energy is 419.3 J.
The ﬁnal kinetic energy K of the chest (assuming that it is initially at rest)
is the difference between the work W done by the pirate and the energy −W
dissipated as heat. Hence,
K = W +W
= 550.6 −419.3 = 131.3 J.
Since K = (1/2) mv
2
, the ﬁnal velocity of the chest is
v =
¸
¸
¸
_
2 K
m
=
¸
¸
¸
_
2 ×131.3
50
= 2.29 m/s.
Worked example 5.3: Stretching a spring
Question: The force required to slowly stretch a spring varies from 0N to 105N
as the spring is extended by 13cm from its unstressed length. What is the force
constant of the spring? What work is done in stretching the spring? Assume that
the spring obeys Hooke’s law.
Answer: The force f that the spring exerts on whatever is stretching it is f = −k x,
where k is the force constant, and x is the extension of the spring. The minus
sign indicates that the force acts in the opposite direction to the extension. Since
the spring is stretched slowly, the force f
which must be exerted on it is (almost)
equal and opposite to f. Hence, f
= −f = k x. We are told that f
= 105 N when
x = 0.13 m. It follows that
k =
105
0.13
= 807.7 N/m.
102
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.8 Power
A
B
h
1
h
2
The work W
done by the external force in extending the spring from 0 to x is
W
=
x
0
f
dx = k
x
0
x dx =
1
2
k x
2
.
Hence,
W
= 0.5 ×807.7 ×0.13
2
= 6.83 J.
Worked example 5.4: Roller coaster ride
Question: A roller coaster cart of mass m = 300 kg starts at rest at point A, whose
height off the ground is h
1
= 25 m, and a little while later reaches point B, whose
height off the ground is h
2
= 7 m. What is the potential energy of the cart relative
to the ground at point A? What is the speed of the cart at point B, neglecting the
effect of friction?
Answer: The gravitational potential energy of the cart with respect to the ground
at point A is
U
A
= mgh
1
= 300 ×9.81 ×25 = 7.36 ×10
4
J.
Likewise, the potential energy of the cart at point B is
U
B
= mgh
2
= 300 ×9.81 ×7 = 2.06 ×10
4
J.
Hence, the change in the cart’s potential energy in moving from point A to point
B is
∆U = U
B
−U
A
= 2.06 ×10
4
−7.36 ×10
4
= −5.30 ×10
4
J.
103
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.8 Power
By energy conservation, ∆K = −∆U, where K represents kinetic energy. How
ever, since the initial kinetic energy is zero, the change in kinetic energy ∆K is
equivalent to the ﬁnal kinetic energy K
B
. Thus,
K
B
= −∆U = 5.30 ×10
4
J.
Now, K
B
= (1/2) mv
2
B
, where v
B
is the ﬁnal speed. Hence,
v
B
=
¸
¸
¸
_
2 K
B
m
=
¸
¸
¸
_
2 ×5.30 ×10
4
300
= 18.8 m/s.
Worked example 5.5: Sliding down a plane
Question: A block of mass m = 3 kg starts at rest at a height of h = 43 cm on a
plane that has an angle of inclination of θ = 35
◦
with respect to the horizontal.
The block slides down the plane, and, upon reaching the bottom, then slides
along a horizontal surface. The coefﬁcient of kinetic friction of the block on both
surfaces is µ = 0.25. How far does the block slide along the horizontal surface
before coming to rest?
Answer: The normal reaction of the plane to the block’s weight is
R = mg cos θ.
Hence, the frictional force acting on the block when it is sliding down the plane
is
f = µR = 0.25 ×3 ×9.81 ×cos 35
◦
= 6.03 N.
The change in gravitational potential energy of the block as it slides down the
plane is
∆U = −mgh = −3 ×9.81 ×0.43 = −12.65 J.
The work W done on the block by the frictional force during this process is
W = −f x,
104
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.8 Power
where x = h/ sinθ is the distance the block slides. The minus sign indicates that
f acts in the opposite direction to the displacement of the block. Hence,
W = −
6.03 ×0.43
sin35
◦
= −4.52 J.
Now, by energy conservation, the kinetic energy K of the block at the bottom of
the plane equals the decrease in the block’s potential energy plus the amount of
work done on the block:
K = −∆U+W = 12.65 −4.52 = 8.13 J.
The frictional force acting on the block when it slides over the horizontal sur
face is
f
= µmg = 0.25 ×3 ×9.81 = 7.36 N.
The work done on the block as it slides a distance y over this surface is
W
= −f
y.
By energy conservation, the block comes to rest when the action of the frictional
force has drained all of the kinetic energy from the block: i.e., when W
= −K. It
follows that
y =
K
f
=
8.13
7.36
= 1.10 m.
Worked example 5.6: Driving up an incline
Question: A car of weight 3000N possesses an engine whose maximum power
output is 160kW. The maximum speed of this car on a level road is 35m/s.
Assuming that the resistive force (due to a combination of friction and air re
sistance) remains constant, what is the car’s maximum speed on an incline of 1
in 20 (i.e., if θ is the angle of the incline with respect to the horizontal, then
sinθ = 1/20)?
Answer: When the car is traveling on a level road at its maximum speed, v, then
all of the power output, P, of its engine is used to overcome the power dissipated
by the resistive force, f. Hence,
P = f v
105
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.8 Power
θ
h
m
f
where the lefthand side is the power output of the engine, and the righthand
side is the power dissipated by the resistive force (i.e., minus the rate at which
this force does work on the car). It follows that
f =
P
v
=
160 ×10
3
35
= 4.57 ×10
3
N.
When the car, whose weight is W, is traveling up an incline, whose angle with
respect to the horizontal is θ, it is subject to the additional force f
= W sinθ,
which acts to impede its motion. Of course, this force is just the component of
the car’s weight acting down the incline. Thus, the new power balance equation
is written
P = f v
+W sinθv
,
where v
is the maximum velocity of the car up the incline. Here, the lefthand
side represents the power output of the car, whereas the righthand side repre
sents the sum of the power dissipated by the resistive force and the power ex
pended to overcome the component of the car’s weight acting down the incline.
It follows that
v
=
P
f +W sinθ
=
160 ×10
3
4.57 ×10
3
+3000/20
= 33.90 m/s.
106
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM
6 Conservation of momentum
6.1 Introduction
Up to now, we have only analyzed the behaviour of dynamical systems which
consist of single point masses (i.e., objects whose spatial extent is either negligi
ble or plays no role in their motion) or arrangements of point masses which are
constrained to move together because they are connected via inextensible cables.
Let us now broaden our approach somewhat in order to take into account systems
of point masses which exert forces on one another, but are not necessarily con
strained to move together. The classic example of such a multicomponent point
mass system is one in which two (or more) freely moving masses collide with one
another. The physical concept which plays the central role in the dynamics of
multicomponent point mass systems is the conservation of momentum.
6.2 Twocomponent systems
The simplest imaginable multicomponent dynamical system consists of two point
mass objects which are both constrained to move along the same straightline.
See Fig. 45. Let x
1
be the displacement of the ﬁrst object, whose mass is m
1
.
Likewise, let x
2
be the displacement of the second object, whose mass is m
2
.
Suppose that the ﬁrst object exerts a force f
21
on the second object, whereas the
second object exerts a force f
12
on the ﬁrst. From Newton’s third law of motion,
we have
f
12
= −f
21
. (6.1)
Suppose, ﬁnally, that the ﬁrst object is subject to an external force (i.e., a force
which originates outside the system) F
1
, whilst the second object is subject to an
external force F
2
.
Applying Newton’s second law of motion to each object in turn, we obtain
m
1
¨ x
1
= f
12
+F
1
, (6.2)
m
2
¨ x
2
= f
21
+F
2
. (6.3)
107
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.2 Twocomponent systems
Here, ˙ is a convenient shorthand for d/dt. Likewise, ¨ means d
2
/dt
2
.
At this point, it is helpful to introduce the concept of the centre of mass. The
centre of mass is an imaginary point whose displacement x
cm
is deﬁned to be the
mass weighted average of the displacements of the two objects which constitute
the system. In other words,
x
cm
=
m
1
x
1
+m
2
x
2
m
1
+m
2
. (6.4)
Thus, if the two masses are equal then the centre of mass lies half way between
them; if the second mass is three times larger than the ﬁrst then the centre of
mass lies threequarters of the way along the line linking the ﬁrst and second
masses, respectively; if the second mass is much larger than the ﬁrst then the
centre of mass is almost coincident with the second mass; and so on.
Summing Eqs. (6.2) and (6.3), and then making use of Eqs. (6.1) and (6.4),
we obtain
m
1
¨ x
1
+m
2
¨ x
2
= (m
1
+m
2
) ¨ x
cm
= F
1
+F
2
. (6.5)
Note that the internal forces, f
12
and f
21
, have canceled out. The physical signiﬁ
cance of this equation becomes clearer if we write it in the following form:
M¨ x
cm
= F, (6.6)
where M = m
1
+ m
2
is the total mass of the system, and F = F
1
+ F
2
is the
net external force acting on the system. Thus, the motion of the centre of mass
is equivalent to that which would occur if all the mass contained in the system
were collected at the centre of mass, and this conglomerate mass were then acted
upon by the net external force. In general, this suggests that the motion of the
centre of mass is simpler than the motions of the component masses, m
1
and m
2
.
x
x
2
f
21
F
1
f
12
x
1
m
1
F
2
m
2
Figure 45: A 1dimensional dynamical system consisting of two point mass objects
108
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.2 Twocomponent systems
This is particularly the case if the internal forces, f
12
and f
21
, are complicated in
nature.
Suppose that there are no external forces acting on the system (i.e., F
1
= F
2
=
0), or, equivalently, suppose that the sum of all the external forces is zero (i.e.,
F = F
1
+ F
2
= 0). In this case, according to Eq. (6.6), the motion of the centre
of mass is governed by Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion: i.e., it consists of uniform
motion in a straightline. Hence, in the absence of a net external force, the motion
of the centre of mass is almost certainly far simpler than that of the component
masses.
Now, the velocity of the centre of mass is written
v
cm
= ˙ x
cm
=
m
1
˙ x
1
+m
2
˙ x
2
m
1
+m
2
. (6.7)
We have seen that in the absence of external forces v
cm
is a constant of the motion
(i.e., the centre of mass does not accelerate). It follows that, in this case,
m
1
˙ x
1
+m
2
˙ x
2
(6.8)
is also a constant of the motion. Recall, however, from Sect. 4.3, that momentum
is deﬁned as the product of mass and velocity. Hence, the momentum of the ﬁrst
mass is written p
1
= m
1
˙ x
1
, whereas the momentum of the second mass takes the
form p
2
= m
2
˙ x
2
. It follows that the above expression corresponds to the total
momentum of the system:
P = p
1
+p
2
. (6.9)
Thus, the total momentum is a conserved quantity—provided there is no net
external force acting on the system. This is true irrespective of the nature of the
internal forces. More generally, Eq. (6.6) can be written
dP
dt
= F. (6.10)
In other words, the time derivative of the total momentum is equal to the net
external force acting on the system—this is just Newton’s second law of motion
applied to the system as a whole.
109
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.2 Twocomponent systems
x
g
x
w
x
cable
gondola
balloon
sandbag
Figure 46: An example twocomponent system
Let us now try to apply some of the concepts discussed above. Consider the
simple twocomponent system shown in Fig. 46. A gondola of mass m
g
hangs
from a hotair balloon whose mass is negligible compared to that of the gondola.
A sandbag of mass m
w
is suspended from the gondola by means of a light inex
tensible cable. The system is in equilibrium. Suppose, for the sake of consistency
with our other examples, that the xaxis runs vertically upwards. Let x
g
be the
height of the gondola, and x
w
the height of the sandbag. Suppose that the upper
end of the cable is attached to a winch inside the gondola, and that this winch is
used to slowly shorten the cable, so that the sandbag is lifted upwards a distance
∆x
w
. The question is this: does the height of the gondola also change as the cable
is reeled in? If so, by how much?
Let us identify all of the forces acting on the system shown in Fig. 46. The
internal forces are the upward force exerted by the gondola on the sandbag, and
the downward force exerted by the sandbag on the gondola. These forces are
transmitted via the cable, and are equal and opposite (by Newton’s third law of
motion). The external forces are the net downward force due to the combined
weight of the gondola and the sandbag, and the upward force due to the buoy
ancy of the balloon. Since the system is in equilibrium, these forces are equal
and opposite (it is assumed that the cable is reeled in sufﬁciently slowly that the
110
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.2 Twocomponent systems
v
b
cannon cannonball
ground
v
r
Figure 47: Another example twocomponent system
equilibrium is not upset). Hence, there is zero net external force acting on the
system. It follows, from the previous discussion, that the centre of mass of the
system is subject to Newton’s ﬁrst law. In particular, since the centre of mass is
clearly stationary before the winch is turned on, it must remain stationary both
during and after the period in which the winch is operated. Hence, the height of
the centre of mass,
x
cm
=
m
g
x
g
+m
w
x
w
m
g
+m
w
, (6.11)
is a conserved quantity.
Suppose that the operation of the winch causes the height of the sandbag to
change by ∆x
w
, and that of the gondola to simultaneously change by ∆x
g
. If x
cm
is a conserved quantity, then we must have
0 = m
g
∆x
g
+m
w
∆x
w
, (6.12)
or
∆x
g
= −
m
w
m
g
∆x
w
. (6.13)
Thus, if the winch is used to raise the sandbag a distance ∆x
w
then the gondola
is simultaneously pulled downwards a distance (m
w
/m
g
) ∆x
w
. It is clear that we
could use a suspended sandbag as a mechanism for adjusting a hotair balloon’s
altitude: the balloon descends as the sandbag is raised, and ascends as it is low
ered.
Our next example is pictured in Fig. 47. Suppose that a cannon of mass M
propels a cannonball of mass m horizontally with velocity v
b
. What is the recoil
111
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.3 Multicomponent systems
velocity v
r
of the cannon? Let us ﬁrst identify all of the forces acting on the sys
tem. The internal forces are the force exerted by the cannon on the cannonball,
as the cannon is ﬁred, and the equal and opposite force exerted by the cannon
ball on the cannon. These forces are extremely large, but only last for a short
instance in time: in physics, we call these impulsive forces. There are no external
forces acting in the horizontal direction (which is the only direction that we are
considering in this example). It follows that the total (horizontal) momentum
P of the system is a conserved quantity. Prior to the ﬁring of the cannon, the
total momentum is zero (since momentum is mass times velocity, and nothing is
initially moving). After the cannon is ﬁred, the total momentum of the system
takes the form
P = mv
b
+Mv
r
. (6.14)
Since P is a conserved quantity, we can set P = 0. Hence,
v
r
= −
m
M
v
b
. (6.15)
Thus, the recoil velocity of the cannon is in the opposite direction to the velocity
of the cannonball (hence, the minus sign in the above equation), and is of magni
tude (m/M) v
b
. Of course, if the cannon is far more massive that the cannonball
(i.e., Mm), which is usually the case, then the recoil velocity of the cannon is
far smaller in magnitude than the velocity of the cannonball. Note, however, that
the momentum of the cannon is equal in magnitude to that of the cannonball.
It follows that it takes the same effort (i.e., force applied for a certain period of
time) to slow down and stop the cannon as it does to slow down and stop the
cannonball.
6.3 Multicomponent systems
Consider a system of N mutually interacting point mass objects which move in
3dimensions. See Fig. 48. Let the ith object, whose mass is m
i
, be located at
vector displacement r
i
. Suppose that this object exerts a force f
ji
on the jth object.
By Newton’s third law of motion, the force f
ij
exerted by the jth object on the ith
is given by
f
ij
= −f
ji
. (6.16)
112
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.3 Multicomponent systems
r
i
r
j
m
i
j
m
f
i j
f
j i
F
F
i
j
Figure 48: A 3dimensional dynamical system consisting of many point mass objects.
Finally, suppose that the ith object is subject to an external force F
i
.
Newton’s second law of motion applied to the ith object yields
m
i
¨r
i
=
j=i
j=1,N
f
ij
+F
i
. (6.17)
Note that the summation on the righthand side of the above equation excludes
the case j = i, since the ith object cannot exert a force on itself. Let us now take
the above equation and sum it over all objects. We obtain
i=1,N
m
i
¨r
i
=
j=i
i,j=1,N
f
ij
+
i=1,N
F
i
. (6.18)
Consider the sum over all internal forces: i.e., the ﬁrst term on the righthand
side. Each element of this sum—f
ij
, say—can be paired with another element—
f
ji
, in this case—which is equal and opposite. In other words, the elements of the
sum all cancel out in pairs. Thus, the net value of the sum is zero. It follows that
the above equation can be written
M¨r
cm
= F, (6.19)
113
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.3 Multicomponent systems
where M =
N
i=1
m
i
is the total mass, and F =
N
i=1
F
i
is the net external force.
The quantity r
cm
is the vector displacement of the centre of mass. As before, the
centre of mass is an imaginary point whose coordinates are the mass weighted
averages of the coordinates of the objects which constitute the system. Thus,
r
cm
=
N
i=1
m
i
r
i
N
i=1
m
i
. (6.20)
According to Eq. (6.19), the motion of the centre of mass is equivalent to that
which would be obtained if all the mass contained in the system were collected
at the centre of mass, and this conglomerate mass were then acted upon by the
net external force. As before, the motion of the centre of mass is likely to be far
simpler than the motions of the component masses.
Suppose that there is zero net external force acting on the system, so that
F = 0. In this case, Eq. (6.19) implies that the centre of mass moves with uniform
velocity in a straightline. In other words, the velocity of the centre of mass,
˙r
cm
=
N
i=1
m
i
˙r
i
N
i=1
m
i
, (6.21)
is a constant of the motion. Now, the momentum of the ith object takes the form
p
i
= m
i
˙r
i
. Hence, the total momentum of the system is written
P =
N
i=1
m
i
˙r
i
. (6.22)
A comparison of Eqs. (6.21) and (6.22) suggests that P is also a constant of the
motion when zero net external force acts on the system. Finally, Eq. (6.19) can
be rewritten
dP
dt
= F. (6.23)
In other words, the time derivative of the total momentum is equal to the net
external force acting on the system.
It is clear, from the above discussion, that most of the important results ob
tained in the previous section, for the case of a twocomponent system moving in
1dimension, also apply to a multicomponent system moving in 3dimensions.
114
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.4 Rocket science
trajectory of centre of mass
Krypton
explosion
fragments of Krypton
Figure 49: The unfortunate history of the planet Krypton.
As an illustration of the points raised in the above discussion, let us con
sider the unfortunate history of the planet Krypton. As you probably all know,
Krypton—Superman’s home planet—eventually exploded. Note, however, that
before, during, and after this explosion the net external force acting on Krypton,
or the fragments of Krypton—namely, the gravitational attraction to Krypton’s
sun—remained the same. In other words, the forces responsible for the explo
sion can be thought of as large, transitory, internal forces. We conclude that the
motion of the centre of mass of Krypton, or the fragments of Krypton, was un
affected by the explosion. This follows, from Eq. (6.19), since the motion of the
centre of mass is independent of internal forces. Before the explosion, the planet
Krypton presumably executed a standard elliptical orbit around Krypton’s sun.
We conclude that, after the explosion, the fragments of Krypton (or, to be more
exact, the centre of mass of these fragments) continued to execute exactly the
same orbit. See Fig. 49.
6.4 Rocket science
A rocket engine is the only type of propulsion device that operates effectively in
outer space. As shown in Fig. 50, a rocket works by ejecting a propellant at high
velocity from its rear end. The rocket exerts a backward force on the propellant,
in order to eject it, and, by Newton’s third law, the propellant exerts an equal and
opposite force on the rocket, which propels it forward.
115
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.4 Rocket science
rocket
propellant
Figure 50: A rocket.
M+m
v+dv v
dm
vu
M+m+dm
t t+dt
Figure 51: Derivation of the rocket equation.
Let us attempt to ﬁnd the equation of motion of a rocket. Let M be the ﬁxed
mass of the rocket engine and the payload, and m(t) the total mass of the pro
pellant contained in the rocket’s fuel tanks at time t. Suppose that the rocket
engine ejects the propellant at some ﬁxed velocity u relative to the rocket. Let
us examine the rocket at two closely spaced instances in time. Suppose that at
time t the rocket and propellant, whose total mass is M + m, are traveling with
instantaneous velocity v. Suppose, further, that between times t and t + dt the
rocket ejects a quantity of propellant of mass −dm (n.b., dm is understood to
be negative, so this represents a positive mass) which travels with velocity v − u
(i.e., velocity −u in the instantaneous rest frame of the rocket). As a result of the
fuel ejection, the velocity of the rocket at time t +dt is boosted to v +dv, and its
total mass becomes M+m+dm. See Fig. 51.
Now, there is zero external force acting on the system, since the rocket is
116
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.4 Rocket science
assumed to be in outer space. It follows that the total momentum of the system is
a constant of the motion. Hence, we can equate the momenta evaluated at times
t and t +dt:
(M+m) v = (M+m+dm) (v +dv) + (−dm) (v −u). (6.24)
Neglecting second order quantities (i.e., dmdv), the above expression yields
0 = (M+m) dv +udm. (6.25)
Rearranging, we obtain
dv
u
= −
dm
M+m
. (6.26)
Let us integrate the above equation between an initial time at which the rocket
is fully fueled—i.e., m = m
p
, where m
p
is the maximum mass of propellant that
the rocket can carry—but stationary, and a ﬁnal time at which the mass of the
fuel is m and the velocity of the rocket is v. Hence,
v
0
dv
u
= −
m
m
p
dm
M+m
. (6.27)
It follows that
_
v
u
_
v=v
v=0
= − [ln(M+m)]
m=m
m=m
p
, (6.28)
which yields
v = u ln
_
M+m
p
M+m
_
. (6.29)
The ﬁnal velocity of the rocket (i.e., the velocity attained by the time the rocket
has exhausted its fuel, so that m = 0) is
v
f
= u ln
_
1 +
m
p
M
_
. (6.30)
Note that, unless the initial mass of the fuel exceeds the ﬁxed mass of the rocket
by many orders of magnitude (which is highly unlikely), the ﬁnal velocity v
f
of
the rocket is similar to the velocity u with which fuel is ejected from the rear
of the rocket in its instantaneous rest frame. This follows because lnx ∼ O(1),
unless x becomes extremely large.
117
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.5 Impulses
Let us now consider the factors which might inﬂuence the design of a rocket
for use in interplanetary or interstellar travel. Since the distances involved in
such travel are vast, it is important that the rocket’s ﬁnal velocity be made as
large as possible, otherwise the journey is going to take an unacceptably long
time. However, as we have just seen, the factor which essentially determines the
ﬁnal velocity v
f
of a rocket is the speed of ejection u of the propellant relative to
the rocket. Broadly speaking, v
f
can never signiﬁcantly exceed u. It follows that
a rocket suitable for interplanetary or interstellar travel should have as high an
ejection speed as practically possible. Now, ordinary chemical rockets (the kind
which powered the Apollo moon program) can develop enormous thrusts, but
are limited to ejection velocities below about 5000 m/s. Such rockets are ideal
for lifting payloads out of the Earth’s gravitational ﬁeld, but their relatively low
ejection velocities render them unsuitable for long distance space travel. A new
type of rocket engine, called an ion thruster, is currently under development:
ion thrusters operate by accelerating ions electrostatically to great velocities, and
then ejecting them. Although ion thrusters only generate very small thrusts, com
pared to chemical rockets, their much larger ejection velocities (up to 100 times
those of chemical rockets) makes them far more suitable for interplanetary or
interstellar space travel. The ﬁrst spacecraft to employ an ion thruster was the
Deep Space 1 probe, which was launched from Cape Canaveral on October 24,
1998: this probe successfully encountered the asteroid 9969 Braille in July, 1999.
6.5 Impulses
Suppose that a ball of mass m and speed u
i
strikes an immovable wall normally
and rebounds with speed u
f
. See Fig. 52. Clearly, the momentum of the ball is
changed by the collision with the wall, since the direction of the ball’s velocity
is reversed. It follows that the wall must exert a force on the ball, since force is
the rate of change of momentum. This force is generally very large, but is only
exerted for the short instance in time during which the ball is in physical contact
with the wall. As we have already mentioned, physicists generally refer to such a
force as an impulsive force.
118
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.5 Impulses
before
after
m
+ve
wall
u
u
f
i
Figure 52: A ball bouncing off a wall.
t
1
t
2
t
f
Figure 53: An impulsive force.
119
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.5 Impulses
Figure 53 shows the typical time history of an impulsive force, f(t). It can be
seen that the force is only nonzero in the short time interval t
1
to t
2
. It is helpful
to deﬁne a quantity known as the net impulse, I, associated with f(t):
I =
t
2
t
1
f(t) dt. (6.31)
In other words, I is the total area under the f(t) curve shown in Fig. 53.
Consider a object subject to the impulsive force pictured in Fig. 53. Newton’s
second law of motion yields
dp
dt
= f, (6.32)
where p is the momentum of the object. Integrating the above equation, making
use of the deﬁnition (6.31), we obtain
∆p = I. (6.33)
Here, ∆p = p
f
− p
i
, where p
i
is the momentum before the impulse, and p
f
is the
momentum after the impulse. We conclude that the net change in momentum
of an object subject to an impulsive force is equal to the total impulse associated
with that force. For instance, the net change in momentum of the ball bouncing
off the wall in Fig. 52 is ∆p = mu
f
− m(−u
i
) = m(u
f
+ u
i
). [Note: The initial
velocity is −u
i
, since the ball is initially moving in the negative direction.] It
follows that the net impulse imparted to the ball by the wall is I = m(u
f
+ u
i
).
Suppose that we know the ball was only in physical contact with the wall for the
short time interval ∆t. We conclude that the average force
¯
f exerted on the ball
during this time interval was
¯
f =
I
∆t
. (6.34)
The above discussion is only relevant to 1dimensional motion. However, the
generalization to 3dimensional motion is fairly straightforward. Consider an
impulsive force f(t), which is only nonzero in the short time interval t
1
to t
2
.
The vector impulse associated with this force is simply
I =
t
2
t
1
f(t) dt. (6.35)
120
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.6 Collisions in 1dimension
v
i1
1
m
2
m
after
before
v
m
2
m
1
v
f1
v
i
f
2
2
Figure 54: A collision in 1dimension.
The net change in momentum of an object subject to f(t) is
∆p = I. (6.36)
Finally, if t
2
− t
1
= ∆t, then the average force experienced by the object in the
time interval t
1
to t
2
is
¯
f =
I
∆t
. (6.37)
6.6 Collisions in 1dimension
Consider two objects of mass m
1
and m
2
, respectively, which are free to move
in 1dimension. Suppose that these two objects collide. Suppose, further, that
both objects are subject to zero net force when they are not in contact with one
another. This situation is illustrated in Fig. 54.
Both before and after the collision, the two objects move with constant velocity.
Let v
i1
and v
i2
be the velocities of the ﬁrst and second objects, respectively, before
the collision. Likewise, let v
f1
and v
f2
be the velocities of the ﬁrst and second
objects, respectively, after the collision. During the collision itself, the ﬁrst object
exerts a large transitory force f
21
on the second, whereas the second object exerts
an equal and opposite force f
12
= −f
21
on the ﬁrst. In fact, we can model the
collision as equal and opposite impulses given to the two objects at the instant in
time when they come together.
We are clearly considering a system in which there is zero net external force
(the forces associated with the collision are internal in nature). Hence, the total
121
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.6 Collisions in 1dimension
momentum of the system is a conserved quantity. Equating the total momenta
before and after the collision, we obtain
m
1
v
i1
+m
2
v
i2
= m
1
v
f1
+m
2
v
f2
. (6.38)
This equation is valid for any 1dimensional collision, irrespective its nature. Note
that, assuming we know the masses of the colliding objects, the above equation
only fully describes the collision if we are given the initial velocities of both ob
jects, and the ﬁnal velocity of at least one of the objects. (Alternatively, we could
be given both ﬁnal velocities and only one of the initial velocities.)
There are many different types of collision. An elastic collision is one in which
the total kinetic energy of the two colliding objects is the same before and after
the collision. Thus, for an elastic collision we can write
1
2
m
1
v
2
i1
+
1
2
m
2
v
2
i2
=
1
2
m
1
v
2
f1
+
1
2
m
2
v
2
f2
, (6.39)
in addition to Eq. (6.38). Hence, in this case, the collision is fully speciﬁed once
we are given the two initial velocities of the colliding objects. (Alternatively, we
could be given the two ﬁnal velocities.)
The majority of collisions occurring in real life are not elastic in nature. Some
fraction of the initial kinetic energy of the colliding objects is usually converted
into some other form of energy—generally heat energy, or energy associated with
the mechanical deformation of the objects—during the collision. Such collisions
are termed inelastic. For instance, a large fraction of the initial kinetic energy of
a typical automobile accident is converted into mechanical energy of deformation
of the two vehicles. Inelastic collisions also occur during squash/racquetball/handball
games: in each case, the ball becomes warm to the touch after a long game,
because some fraction of the ball’s kinetic energy of collision with the walls of
the court has been converted into heat energy. Equation (6.38) remains valid
for inelastic collisions—however, Eq. (6.39) is invalid. Thus, generally speak
ing, an inelastic collision is only fully characterized when we are given the initial
velocities of both objects, and the ﬁnal velocity of at least one of the objects.
There is, however, a special case of an inelastic collision—called a totally inelastic
collision—which is fully characterized once we are given the initial velocities of
122
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.6 Collisions in 1dimension
the colliding objects. In a totally inelastic collision, the two objects stick together
after the collision, so that v
f1
= v
f2
.
Let us, now, consider elastic collisions in more detail. Suppose that we trans
form to a frame of reference which comoves with the centre of mass of the
system. The motion of a multicomponent system often looks particularly simple
when viewed in such a frame. Since the system is subject to zero net external
force, the velocity of the centre of mass is invariant, and is given by
v
cm
=
m
1
v
i1
+m
2
v
i2
m
1
+m
2
=
m
1
v
f1
+m
2
v
f2
m
1
+m
2
. (6.40)
An object which possesses a velocity v in our original frame of reference—henceforth,
termed the laboratory frame—possesses a velocity v
= v − v
cm
in the centre of
mass frame. It is easily demonstrated that
v
i1
= −
m
2
m
1
+m
2
(v
i2
−v
i1
), (6.41)
v
i2
= +
m
1
m
1
+m
2
(v
i2
−v
i1
), (6.42)
v
f1
= −
m
2
m
1
+m
2
(v
f2
−v
f1
), (6.43)
v
f2
= +
m
1
m
1
+m
2
(v
f2
−v
f1
). (6.44)
The above equations yield
−p
i1
= p
i2
= µ(v
i2
−v
i1
), (6.45)
−p
f1
= p
f2
= µ(v
f2
−v
f1
), (6.46)
where µ = m
1
m
2
/(m
1
+ m
2
) is the socalled reduced mass, and p
i1
= m
1
v
i1
is the initial momentum of the ﬁrst object in the centre of mass frame, etc. In
other words, when viewed in the centre of mass frame, the two objects approach
one another with equal and opposite momenta before the collision, and diverge
from one another with equal and opposite momenta after the collision. Thus, the
centre of mass momentum conservation equation,
p
i1
+p
i2
= p
f1
+p
f2
, (6.47)
123
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.6 Collisions in 1dimension
is trivially satisﬁed, because both the left and righthand sides are zero. Inciden
tally, this result is valid for both elastic and inelastic collisions.
The centre of mass kinetic energy conservation equation takes the form
p
2
i1
2 m
1
+
p
2
i2
2 m
2
=
p
2
f1
2 m
1
+
p
2
f2
2 m
2
. (6.48)
Note, incidentally, that if energy and momentum are conserved in the laboratory
frame then they must also be conserved in the centre of mass frame. A compari
son of Eqs. (6.45), (6.46), and (6.48) yields
(v
i2
−v
i1
) = −(v
f2
−v
f1
). (6.49)
In other words, the relative velocities of the colliding objects are equal and opposite
before and after the collision. This is true in all frames of reference, since relative
velocities are frame invariant. Note, however, that this result only applies to fully
elastic collisions.
Equations (6.38) and (6.49) can be combined to give the following pair of
equations which fully specify the ﬁnal velocities (in the laboratory frame) of two
objects which collide elastically, given their initial velocities:
v
f1
=
(m
1
−m
2
)
m
1
+m
2
v
i1
+
2 m
2
m
1
+m
2
v
i2
, (6.50)
v
f2
=
2 m
1
m
1
+m
2
v
i1
−
(m
1
−m
2
)
m
1
+m
2
v
i2
. (6.51)
Let us, now, consider some special cases. Suppose that two equal mass objects
collide elastically. If m
1
= m
2
then Eqs. (6.50) and (6.51) yield
v
f1
= v
i2
, (6.52)
v
f2
= v
i1
. (6.53)
In other words, the two objects simply exchange velocities when they collide. For
instance, if the second object is stationary and the ﬁrst object strikes it headon
with velocity v then the ﬁrst object is brought to a halt whereas the second object
moves off with velocity v. It is possible to reproduce this effect in pool by striking
124
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.6 Collisions in 1dimension
the cue ball with great force in such a manner that it slides, rather that rolls, over
the table—in this case, when the cue ball strikes another ball headon it comes to
a complete halt, and the other ball is propelled forward very rapidly. Incidentally,
it is necessary to prevent the cue ball from rolling, because rolling motion is not
taken into account in our analysis, and actually changes the answer.
Suppose that the second object is much more massive than the ﬁrst (i.e., m
2
m
1
) and is initially at rest (i.e., v
i2
= 0). In this case, Eqs. (6.50) and (6.51) yield
v
f1
−v
i1
, (6.54)
v
f2
0. (6.55)
In other words, the velocity of the light object is effectively reversed during the
collision, whereas the massive object remains approximately at rest. Indeed, this
is the sort of behaviour we expect when an object collides elastically with an
immovable obstacle: e.g., when an elastic ball bounces off a brick wall.
Suppose, ﬁnally, that the second object is much lighter than the ﬁrst (i.e.,
m
2
m
1
) and is initially at rest (i.e., v
i2
= 0). In this case, Eqs. (6.50) and
(6.51) yield
v
f1
v
i1
, (6.56)
v
f2
2 v
i1
. (6.57)
In other words, the motion of the massive object is essentially unaffected by the
collision, whereas the light object ends up going twice as fast as the massive one.
Let us, now, consider totally inelastic collisions in more detail. In a totally
inelastic collision the two objects stick together after colliding, so they end up
moving with the same ﬁnal velocity v
f
= v
f1
= v
f2
. In this case, Eq. (6.38)
reduces to
v
f
=
m
1
v
i1
+m
2
v
i2
m
1
+m
2
= v
cm
. (6.58)
In other words, the common ﬁnal velocity of the two objects is equal to the centre
of mass velocity of the system. This is hardly a surprising result. We have already
seen that in the centre of mass frame the two objects must diverge with equal and
opposite momenta after the collision. However, in a totally inelastic collision these
125
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.6 Collisions in 1dimension
m
1
m
2
m
2
m
1
v
i1
v
f2
v
f1
x
y
θ
2
θ
1
Figure 55: A collision in 2dimensions.
two momenta must also be equal (since the two objects stick together). The only
way in which this is possible is if the two objects remain stationary in the centre
of mass frame after the collision. Hence, the two objects move with the centre of
mass velocity in the laboratory frame.
Suppose that the second object is initially at rest (i.e., v
i2
= 0). In this special
case, the common ﬁnal velocity of the two objects is
v
f
=
m
1
m
1
+m
2
v
i1
. (6.59)
Note that the ﬁrst object is slowed down by the collision. The fractional loss in
kinetic energy of the system due to the collision is given by
f =
K
i
−K
f
K
i
=
m
1
v
2
i1
− (m
1
+m
2
) v
2
f
m
1
v
2
i1
=
m
2
m
1
+m
2
. (6.60)
The loss in kinetic energy is small if the (initially) stationary object is much lighter
than the moving object (i.e., if m
2
m
1
), and almost 100% if the moving object
is much lighter than the stationary one (i.e., if m
2
m
1
). Of course, the lost
kinetic energy of the system is converted into some other form of energy: e.g.,
heat energy.
126
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions
6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions
Suppose that an object of mass m
1
, moving with initial speed v
i1
, strikes a second
object, of mass m
2
, which is initially at rest. Suppose, further, that the collision
is not headon, so that after the collision the ﬁrst object moves off at an angle
θ
1
to its initial direction of motion, whereas the second object moves off at an
angle θ
2
to this direction. Let the ﬁnal speeds of the two objects be v
f1
and v
f2
,
respectively. See Fig. 55.
We are again considering a system in which there is zero net external force
(the forces associated with the collision are internal in nature). It follows that the
total momentum of the system is a conserved quantity. However, unlike before,
we must now treat the total momentum as a vector quantity, since we are no
longer dealing with 1dimensional motion. Note that if the collision takes place
wholly within the xy plane, as indicated in Fig. 55, then it is sufﬁcient to equate
the x and y components of the total momentum before and after the collision.
Consider the xcomponent of the system’s total momentum. Before the colli
sion, the total xmomentum is simply m
1
v
i1
, since the second object is initially
stationary, and the ﬁrst object is initially moving along the xaxis with speed
v
i1
. After the collision, the xmomentum of the ﬁrst object is m
1
v
f1
cos θ
1
: i.e.,
m
1
times the xcomponent of the ﬁrst object’s ﬁnal velocity. Likewise, the ﬁnal x
momentum of the second object is m
2
v
f2
cos θ
2
. Hence, momentum conservation
in the xdirection yields
m
1
v
i1
= m
1
v
f1
cos θ
1
+m
2
v
f2
cos θ
2
. (6.61)
Consider the ycomponent of the system’s total momentum. Before the colli
sion, the total ymomentum is zero, since there is initially no motion along the
yaxis. After the collision, the ymomentum of the ﬁrst object is −m
1
v
f1
sinθ
1
:
i.e., m
1
times the ycomponent of the ﬁrst object’s ﬁnal velocity. Likewise, the
ﬁnal ymomentum of the second object is m
2
v
f2
sinθ
2
. Hence, momentum con
servation in the ydirection yields
m
1
v
f1
sinθ
1
= m
2
v
f2
sinθ
2
. (6.62)
127
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions
m + m
1 2
m
1
m
2
v
i2
v
i1
v
f
θ
i
θ
f x
y
Figure 56: A totally inelastic collision in 2dimensions.
For the special case of an elastic collision, we can equate the total kinetic ener
gies of the two objects before and after the collision. Hence, we obtain
1
2
m
1
v
2
i1
=
1
2
m
1
v
2
f1
+
1
2
m
2
v
2
f2
. (6.63)
Given the initial conditions (i.e., m
1
, m
2
, and v
i1
), we have a system of three
equations [i.e., Eqs. (6.61), (6.62), and (6.63)] and four unknowns (i.e., θ
1
, θ
2
,
v
f1
, and v
f2
). Clearly, we cannot uniquely solve such a system without being given
additional information: e.g., the direction of motion or speed of one of the objects
after the collision.
Figure 56 shows a 2dimensional totally inelastic collision. In this case, the
ﬁrst object, mass m
1
, initially moves along the xaxis with speed v
i1
. On the other
hand, the second object, mass m
2
, initially moves at an angle θ
i
to the xaxis with
speed v
i2
. After the collision, the two objects stick together and move off at an
angle θ
f
to the xaxis with speed v
f
. Momentum conservation along the xaxis
yields
m
1
v
i1
+m
2
v
i2
cos θ
i
= (m
1
+m
2
) v
f
cos θ
f
. (6.64)
Likewise, momentum conservation along the yaxis gives
m
2
v
i2
sinθ
i
= (m
1
+m
2
) v
f
sinθ
f
. (6.65)
Given the initial conditions (i.e., m
1
, m
2
, v
i1
, v
i2
, and θ
i
), we have a system of
128
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions
two equations [i.e., Eqs. (6.64) and (6.65)] and two unknowns (i.e., v
f
and θ
f
).
Clearly, we should be able to ﬁnd a unique solution for such a system.
Worked example 6.1: Cannon in a railway carriage
Question: A cannon is bolted to the ﬂoor of a railway carriage, which is free to
move without friction along a straight track. The combined mass of the cannon
and the carriage is M = 1200 kg. The cannon ﬁres a cannonball, of mass m =
1.2 kg, horizontally with velocity v = 115 m/s. The cannonball travels the length
of the carriage, a distance L = 85 m, and then becomes embedded in the carriage’s
end wall. What is the recoil speed of the carriage right after the cannon is ﬁred?
What is the velocity of the carriage after the cannonball strikes the far wall? What
net distance, and in what direction, does the carriage move as a result of the ﬁring
of the cannon?
L
v
M
m
Answer: Conservation of momentum implies that the net horizontal momentum
of the system is the same before and after the cannon is ﬁred. The momentum
before the cannon is ﬁred is zero, since nothing is initially moving. Hence, we
can also set the momentum after the cannon is ﬁred to zero, giving
0 = Mu +mv,
where u is the recoil velocity of the carriage. It follows that
u = −
m
M
v = −
1.2 ×115
1200
= −0.115 m/s.
The minus sign indicates that the recoil velocity of the carriage is in the opposite
direction to the direction of motion of the cannonball. Hence, the recoil speed of
the carriage is u = 0.115 m/s.
129
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions
Suppose that, after the cannonball strikes the far wall of the carriage, both
the cannonball and the carriage move with common velocity w. Conservation of
momentum implies that the net horizontal momentum of the system is the same
before and after the collision. Hence, we can write
Mu +mv = (M+m) w.
However, we have already seen that Mu + mv = 0. It follows that w = 0:
in other words, the carriage is brought to a complete halt when the cannonball
strikes its far wall.
In the frame of reference of the carriage, the cannonball moves with velocity
v −u after the cannon is ﬁred. Hence, the time of ﬂight of the cannonball is
t =
L
v −u
=
85
115 +0.115
= 0.738 s.
The distance moved by the carriage in this time interval is
d = ut = −0.115 ×0.738 = −0.0849 m.
Thus, the carriage moves 8.49 cm in the opposite direction to the direction of
motion of the cannonball.
Worked example 6.2: Hitting a softball
Question: A softball of mass m = 0.35 kg is pitched at a speed of u = 12 m/s. The
batter hits the ball directly back to the pitcher at a speed of v = 21 m/s. The bat
acts on the ball for t = 0.01 s. What impulse is imparted by the bat to the ball?
What average force is exerted by the bat on the ball?
Answer: The initial momentum of the softball is −mu, whereas its ﬁnal mo
mentum is mv. Here, the ﬁnal direction of motion of the softball is taken to be
positive. Thus, the net change in momentum of the softball due to its collision
with the bat is
∆p = mv − (−) mu = 0.35 ×(21 +12) = 11.55 Ns.
130
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions
By deﬁnition, the net momentum change is equal to the impulse imparted by the
bat, so
I = ∆p = 11.55 Ns.
The average force exerted by the bat on the ball is simply the net impulse
divided by the time interval over which the ball is in contact with the bat. Hence,
¯
f =
I
t
=
11.55
0.01
= 1155.0 N.
Worked example 6.3: Skater and medicine ball
Question: A skater of mass M = 120 kg is skating across a pond with uniform
velocity v = 8 m/s. One of the skater’s friends, who is standing at the edge of
the pond, throws a medicine ball of mass m = 20 kg with velocity u = 3 m/s to
the skater, who catches it. The direction of motion of the ball is perpendicular
to the initial direction of motion of the skater. What is the ﬁnal speed of the
skater? What is the ﬁnal direction of motion of the skater relative to his/her
initial direction of motion? Assume that the skater moves without friction.
y
x
θ
p
1
p
2
p
3
Answer: Suppose that the skater is initially moving along the xaxis, whereas the
initial direction of motion of the medicine ball is along the yaxis. The skater’s
initial momentum is
p
1
= (Mv, 0) = (120 ×8, 0) = (960, 0) Ns.
Likewise, the initial momentum of the medicine ball is
p
2
= (0, mu) = (0, 20 ×3) = (0, 60) Ns.
131
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions
After the skater catches the ball, the combined momentum of the skater and the
ball is
p
3
= p
1
+p
2
= (960, 60) Ns.
This follows from momentum conservation. The ﬁnal speed of the skater (and
the ball) is
v
=
p
3

M+m
=
√
960
2
+60
2
120 +20
= 6.87 m/s.
The ﬁnal direction of motion of the skater is parameterized by the angle θ (see
the above diagram), where
θ = tan
−1
_
_
p
2

p
1

_
_
= tan
−1
_
60
960
_
= 3.58
◦
.
Worked example 6.4: Bullet and block
Question: A bullet of mass m = 12 g strikes a stationary wooden block of mass
M = 5.2 kg standing on a frictionless surface. The block, with the bullet embed
ded in it, acquires a velocity of v = 1.7 m/s. What was the velocity of the bullet
before it struck the block? What fraction of the bullet’s initial kinetic energy is
lost (i.e., dissipated) due to the collision with the block?
Answer: Let u be the initial velocity of the bullet. Momentum conservation re
quires the total horizontal momentum of the system to be the same before and
after the bullet strikes the block. The initial momentum of the system is simply
mu, since the block is initially at rest. The ﬁnal momentum is (M + m) v, since
both the block and the bullet end up moving with velocity v. Hence,
mu = (M+m) v,
giving
u =
M+m
m
v =
(0.012 +5.2) ×1.7
0.012
= 738.4 m/s.
The initial kinetic energy of the bullet is
K
i
=
1
2
mu
2
= 0.5 ×0.012 ×738.4
2
= 3.2714 kJ.
132
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions
The ﬁnal kinetic energy of the system is
K
f
=
1
2
(M+m) v
2
= 0.5 ×(0.012 +5.2) ×1.7
2
= 7.53 J.
Hence, the fraction of the initial kinetic energy which is dissipated is
f =
K
i
−K
f
K
i
=
3.2714 ×10
3
−7.53
3.2714 ×10
3
= 0.9977.
Worked example 6.5: Elastic collision
Question: An object of mass m
1
= 2 kg, moving with velocity v
i1
= 12 m/s, col
lides headon with a stationary object whose mass is m
2
= 6 kg. Given that the
collision is elastic, what are the ﬁnal velocities of the two objects. Neglect friction.
Answer: Momentum conservation yields
m
1
v
i1
= m
1
v
f1
+m
2
v
f2
,
where v
f1
and v
f2
are the ﬁnal velocities of the ﬁrst and second objects, respec
tively. Since the collision is elastic, the total kinetic energy must be the same
before and after the collision. Hence,
1
2
m
1
v
2
i1
=
1
2
m
1
v
2
f1
+
1
2
m
2
v
2
f2
.
Let x = v
f1
/v
i1
and y = v
f2
/v
i1
. Noting that m
2
/m
1
= 3, the above two
equations reduce to
1 = x +3 y,
and
1 = x
2
+3 y
2
.
Eliminating x between the previous two expressions, we obtain
1 = (1 −3 y)
2
+3 y
2
,
or
6 y(2 y −1) = 0,
133
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions
which has the nontrivial solution y = 1/2. The corresponding solution for x is
x = (1 −3 y) = −1/2.
It follows that the ﬁnal velocity of the ﬁrst object is
v
f1
= x v
i1
= −0.5 ×12 = −6 m/s.
The minus sign indicates that this object reverses direction as a result of the
collision. Likewise, the ﬁnal velocity of the second object is
v
f2
= yv
i1
= 0.5 ×12 = 6 m/s.
Worked example 6.6: 2dimensional collision
Question: Two objects slide over a frictionless horizontal surface. The ﬁrst object,
mass m
1
= 5 kg, is propelled with speed v
i1
= 4.5 m/s toward the second object,
mass m
2
= 2.5 kg, which is initially at rest. After the collision, both objects have
velocities which are directed θ = 30
◦
on either side of the original line of motion
of the ﬁrst object. What are the ﬁnal speeds of the two objects? Is the collision
elastic or inelastic?
m
1
m
2
m
2
m
1
v
i1
v
f2
x
y
θ
θ
v
f1
Answer: Let us adopt the coordinate system shown in the diagram. Conservation
of momentum along the xaxis yields
m
1
v
i1
= m
1
v
f1
cos θ +m
2
v
f2
cos θ.
Likewise, conservation of momentum along the yaxis yields
m
1
v
f1
sinθ = m
2
v
f2
sinθ.
134
6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions
The above pair of equations can be combined to give
v
f1
=
v
i1
2 cos θ
=
4.5
2 ×cos 30
◦
= 2.5981 m/s,
and
v
f2
=
m
1
m
2
v
f1
=
5 ×2.5981
2.5
= 5.1962 m/s.
The initial kinetic energy of the system is
K
i
=
1
2
m
1
v
2
i1
= 0.5 ×5 ×4.5
2
= 50.63 J.
The ﬁnal kinetic energy of the system is
K
f
=
1
2
m
1
v
2
f1
+
1
2
m
2
v
2
f2
= 0.5 ×5 ×2.5981
2
+0.5 ×2.5 ×5.1962
2
= 50.63 J.
Since K
i
= K
f
, the collision is elastic.
135
7 CIRCULAR MOTION
7 Circular motion
7.1 Introduction
Up to now, we have basically only considered rectilinear motion: i.e., motion in
a straightline. Let us now broaden our approach so as to take into account the
most important type of nonrectilinear motion: namely, circular motion.
7.2 Uniform circular motion
Suppose that an object executes a circular orbit of radius r with uniform tan
gential speed v. The instantaneous position of the object is most conveniently
speciﬁed in terms of an angle θ. See Fig. 57. For instance, we could decide that
θ = 0
◦
corresponds to the object’s location at t = 0, in which case we would write
θ(t) = ωt, (7.1)
where ω is termed the angular velocity of the object. For a uniformly rotating
object, the angular velocity is simply the angle through which the object turns in
one second.
r
r
v
v
t = 0
t = t
(t) θ
s
Figure 57: Circular motion.
Consider the motion of the object in the time interval between t = 0 and t = t.
In this interval, the object rotates through an angle θ, and traces out a circular
arc of length s. See Fig. 57. It is fairly obvious that the arc length s is directly
136
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.2 Uniform circular motion
proportional to the angle θ: but, what is the constant of proportionality? Well,
an angle of 360
◦
corresponds to an arc length of 2πr. Hence, an angle θ must
correspond to an arc length of
s =
2π
360
◦
r θ(
◦
). (7.2)
At this stage, it is convenient to deﬁne a new angular unit known as a radian
(symbol rad.). An angle measured in radians is related to an angle measured in
degrees via the following simple formula:
θ(rad.) =
2π
360
◦
θ(
◦
). (7.3)
Thus, 360
◦
corresponds to 2 π radians, 180
◦
corresponds to π radians, 90
◦
corre
sponds to π/2 radians, and 57.296
◦
corresponds to 1 radian. When θ is measured
in radians, Eq. (7.2) simpliﬁes greatly to give
s = r θ. (7.4)
Henceforth, in this course, all angles are measured in radians by default.
Consider the motion of the object in the short interval between times t and
t +δt. In this interval, the object turns through a small angle δθ and traces out a
short arc of length δs, where
δs = r δθ. (7.5)
Now δs/δt (i.e., distance moved per unit time) is simply the tangential velocity
v, whereas δθ/δt (i.e., angle turned through per unit time) is simply the angular
velocity ω. Thus, dividing Eq. (7.5) by δt, we obtain
v = r ω. (7.6)
Note, however, that this formula is only valid if the angular velocity ω is mea
sured in radians per second. From now on, in this course, all angular velocities
are measured in radians per second by default.
An object that rotates with uniform angular velocity ω turns through ω radi
ans in 1 second. Hence, the object turns through 2 π radians (i.e., it executes a
complete circle) in
T =
2 π
ω
(7.7)
137
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.3 Centripetal acceleration
seconds. Here, T is the repetition period of the circular motion. If the object
executes a complete cycle (i.e., turns through 360
◦
) in T seconds, then the number
of cycles executed per second is
f =
1
T
=
ω
2 π
. (7.8)
Here, the repetition frequency, f, of the motion is measured in cycles per second—
otherwise known as hertz (symbol Hz).
As an example, suppose that an object executes uniform circular motion, ra
dius r = 1.2 m, at a frequency of f = 50 Hz (i.e., the object executes a complete
rotation 50 times a second). The repetition period of this motion is simply
T =
1
f
= 0.02 s. (7.9)
Furthermore, the angular frequency of the motion is given by
ω = 2πf = 314.16 rad./s. (7.10)
Finally, the tangential velocity of the object is
v = r ω = 1.2 ×314.16 = 376.99 m/s. (7.11)
7.3 Centripetal acceleration
An object executing a circular orbit of radius r with uniform tangential speed v
possesses a velocity vector v whose magnitude is constant, but whose direction
is continuously changing. It follows that the object must be accelerating, since
(vector) acceleration is the rate of change of (vector) velocity, and the (vector)
velocity is indeed varying in time.
Suppose that the object moves from point P to point Q between times t and
t + δt, as shown in Fig. 58. Suppose, further, that the object rotates through δθ
radians in this time interval. The vector
→
PX, shown in the diagram, is identical
to the vector
→
QY. Moreover, the angle subtended between vectors
→
PZ and
→
PX is
138
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.3 Centripetal acceleration
r
P
Q
v
v
v
Z
X
δv
δθ
Y
Figure 58: Centripetal acceleration.
simply δθ. The vector
→
ZX represents the change in vector velocity, δv, between
times t and t +δt. It can be seen that this vector is directed towards the centre of
the circle. From standard trigonometry, the length of vector
→
ZX is
δv = 2 v sin(δθ/2). (7.12)
However, for small angles sinθ θ, provided that θ is measured in radians.
Hence,
δv v δθ. (7.13)
It follows that
a =
δv
δt
= v
δθ
δt
= v ω, (7.14)
where ω = δθ/δt is the angular velocity of the object, measured in radians per
second. In summary, an object executing a circular orbit, radius r, with uniform
tangential velocity v, and uniform angular velocity ω = v/r, possesses an acceler
ation directed towards the centre of the circle—i.e., a centripetal acceleration—of
magnitude
a = v ω =
v
2
r
= r ω
2
. (7.15)
139
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.3 Centripetal acceleration
r
v
T
m
weight
cable
Figure 59: Weight on the end of a cable.
Suppose that a weight, of mass m, is attached to the end of a cable, of length
r, and whirled around such that the weight executes a horizontal circle, radius r,
with uniform tangential velocity v. As we have just learned, the weight is subject
to a centripetal acceleration of magnitude v
2
/r. Hence, the weight experiences a
centripetal force
f =
mv
2
r
. (7.16)
What provides this force? Well, in the present example, the force is provided by
the tension T in the cable. Hence, T = mv
2
/r.
Suppose that the cable is such that it snaps whenever the tension in it exceeds
a certain critical value T
max
. It follows that there is a maximum velocity with
which the weight can be whirled around: namely,
v
max
=
¸
¸
¸
_
r T
max
m
. (7.17)
If v exceeds v
max
then the cable will break. As soon as the cable snaps, the weight
will cease to be subject to a centripetal force, so it will ﬂy off—with velocity v
max
—
along the straightline which is tangential to the circular orbit it was previously
executing.
140
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.4 The conical pendulum
h
r
θ
m
m g
T
l
Figure 60: A conical pendulum.
7.4 The conical pendulum
Suppose that an object, mass m, is attached to the end of a light inextensible
string whose other end is attached to a rigid beam. Suppose, further, that the
object is given an initial horizontal velocity such that it executes a horizontal
circular orbit of radius r with angular velocity ω. See Fig. 60. Let h be the
vertical distance between the beam and the plane of the circular orbit, and let θ
be the angle subtended by the string with the downward vertical.
The object is subject to two forces: the gravitational force mg which acts ver
tically downwards, and the tension force T which acts upwards along the string.
The tension force can be resolved into a component T cos θ which acts vertically
upwards, and a component T sinθ which acts towards the centre of the circle.
Force balance in the vertical direction yields
T cos θ = mg. (7.18)
In other words, the vertical component of the tension force balances the weight
of the object.
Since the object is executing a circular orbit, radius r, with angular velocity ω,
it experiences a centripetal acceleration ω
2
r. Hence, it is subject to a centripetal
force mω
2
r. This force is provided by the component of the string tension which
141
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.5 Nonuniform circular motion
acts towards the centre of the circle. In other words,
T sinθ = mω
2
r. (7.19)
Taking the ratio of Eqs. (7.18) and (7.19), we obtain
tanθ =
ω
2
r
g
. (7.20)
However, by simple trigonometry,
tanθ =
r
h
. (7.21)
Hence, we ﬁnd
ω =
¸
g
h
. (7.22)
Note that if l is the length of the string then h = l cos θ. It follows that
ω =
¸
g
l cos θ
. (7.23)
For instance, if the length of the string is l = 0.2 m and the conical angle is
θ = 30
◦
then the angular velocity of rotation is given by
ω =
¸
¸
¸
_
9.81
0.2 ×cos 30
◦
= 7.526 rad./s. (7.24)
This translates to a rotation frequency in cycles per second of
f =
ω
2 π
= 1.20 Hz. (7.25)
7.5 Nonuniform circular motion
Consider an object which executes nonuniform circular motion, as shown in
Fig. 61. Suppose that the motion is conﬁned to a 2dimensional plane. We can
specify the instantaneous position of the object in terms of its polar coordinates r
142
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.5 Nonuniform circular motion
r
θ
e
r
e
θ
Figure 61: Polar coordinates.
and θ. Here, r is the radial distance of the object from the origin, whereas θ is
the angular bearing of the object from the origin, measured with respect to some
arbitrarily chosen direction. We imagine that both r and θ are changing in time.
As an example of nonuniform circular motion, consider the motion of the Earth
around the Sun. Suppose that the origin of our coordinate system corresponds to
the position of the Sun. As the Earth rotates, its angular bearing θ, relative to the
Sun, obviously changes in time. However, since the Earth’s orbit is slightly ellipti
cal, its radial distance r from the Sun also varies in time. Moreover, as the Earth
moves closer to the Sun, its rate of rotation speeds up, and vice versa. Hence, the
rate of change of θ with time is nonuniform.
Let us deﬁne two unit vectors, e
r
and e
θ
. Incidentally, a unit vector simply a
vector whose length is unity. As shown in Fig. 61, the radial unit vector e
r
always
points from the origin to the instantaneous position of the object. Moreover, the
tangential unit vector e
θ
is always normal to e
r
, in the direction of increasing θ.
The position vector r of the object can be written
r = r e
r
. (7.26)
In other words, vector r points in the same direction as the radial unit vector e
r
,
and is of length r. We can write the object’s velocity in the form
v = ˙r = v
r
e
r
+v
θ
e
θ
, (7.27)
143
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.5 Nonuniform circular motion
whereas the acceleration is written
a = ˙ v = a
r
e
r
+a
θ
e
θ
. (7.28)
Here, v
r
is termed the object’s radial velocity, whilst v
θ
is termed the tangential ve
locity. Likewise, a
r
is the radial acceleration, and a
θ
is the tangential acceleration.
But, how do we express these quantities in terms of the object’s polar coordinates
r and θ? It turns out that this is a far from straightforward task. For instance, if
we simply differentiate Eq. (7.26) with respect to time, we obtain
v = ˙r e
r
+r ˙ e
r
, (7.29)
where ˙ e
r
is the time derivative of the radial unit vector—this quantity is non
zero because e
r
changes direction as the object moves. Unfortunately, it is not
entirely clear how to evaluate ˙ e
r
. In the following, we outline a famous trick for
calculating v
r
, v
θ
, etc. without ever having to evaluate the time derivatives of the
unit vectors e
r
and e
θ
.
Consider a general complex number,
z = x +i y, (7.30)
where x and y are real, and i is the square root of −1 (i.e., i
2
= −1). Here, x is
the real part of z, whereas y is the imaginary part. We can visualize z as a point in
the socalled complex plane: i.e., a 2dimensional plane in which the real parts of
complex numbers are plotted along one Cartesian axis, whereas the correspond
ing imaginary parts are plotted along the other axis. Thus, the coordinates of z
in the complex plane are simply (x, y). See Fig. 62. In other words, we can use
a complex number to represent a position vector in a 2dimensional plane. Note
that the length of the vector is equal to the modulus of the corresponding complex
number. Incidentally, the modulus of z = x +i y is deﬁned
z =
_
x
2
+y
2
. (7.31)
Consider the complex number e
i θ
, where θ is real. A famous result in complex
analysis—known as de Moivre’s theorem—allows us to split this number into its
real and imaginary components:
e
i θ
= cos θ +i sinθ. (7.32)
144
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.5 Nonuniform circular motion
I
m
(
z
)
Re(z)
x
y
z
Figure 62: Representation of a complex number in the complex plane.
Now, as we have just discussed, we can think of e
i θ
as representing a vector in
the complex plane: the real and imaginary parts of e
i θ
form the coordinates of
the head of the vector, whereas the tail of the vector corresponds to the origin.
What are the properties of this vector? Well, the length of the vector is given by
¸
¸
¸e
i θ
¸
¸
¸ =
_
cos
2
θ + sin
2
θ = 1. (7.33)
In other words, e
i θ
represents a unit vector. In fact, it is clear from Fig. 63 that e
i θ
represents the radial unit vector e
r
for an object whose angular polar coordinate
(measured anticlockwise from the real axis) is θ. Can we also ﬁnd a complex
representation of the corresponding tangential unit vector e
θ
? Actually, we can.
The complex number i e
i θ
can be written
i e
i θ
= −sinθ +i cos θ. (7.34)
Here, we have just multiplied Eq. (7.32) by i, making use of the fact that i
2
= −1.
This number again represents a unit vector, since
¸
¸
¸i e
i θ
¸
¸
¸ =
_
sin
2
θ + cos
2
θ = 1. (7.35)
Moreover, as is clear from Fig. 63, this vector is normal to e
r
, in the direction of
increasing θ. In other words, i e
i θ
represents the tangential unit vector e
θ
.
Consider an object executing nonuniform circular motion in the complex
plane. By analogy with Eq. (7.26), we can represent the instantaneous position
145
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.5 Nonuniform circular motion
θ cos
θ
c
o
s
s
i
n
θ
i θ
i θ
I
m
(
z
)
Re(z)
θ
θ  sin
e
θ
r
e
i e
e
Figure 63: Representation of the unit vectors e
r
and e
θ
in the complex plane.
vector of this object via the complex number
z = r e
i θ
. (7.36)
Here, r(t) is the object’s radial distance from the origin, whereas θ(t) is its angu
lar bearing relative to the real axis. Note that, in the above formula, we are using
e
i θ
to represent the radial unit vector e
r
. Now, if z represents the position vector
of the object, then ˙ z = dz/dt must represent the object’s velocity vector. Differ
entiating Eq. (7.36) with respect to time, using the standard rules of calculus, we
obtain
˙ z = ˙r e
i θ
+r
˙
θi e
i θ
. (7.37)
Comparing with Eq. (7.27), recalling that e
i θ
represents e
r
and i e
i θ
represents
e
θ
, we obtain
v
r
= ˙r, (7.38)
v
θ
= r
˙
θ = r ω, (7.39)
where ω = dθ/dt is the object’s instantaneous angular velocity. Thus, as desired,
we have obtained expressions for the radial and tangential velocities of the object
in terms of its polar coordinates, r and θ. We can go further. Let us differentiate
˙ z with respect to time, in order to obtain a complex number representing the
object’s vector acceleration. Again, using the standard rules of calculus, we obtain
¨ z = (¨r −r
˙
θ
2
) e
i θ
+ (r
¨
θ +2˙r
˙
θ) i e
i θ
. (7.40)
146
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.5 Nonuniform circular motion
Comparing with Eq. (7.28), recalling that e
i θ
represents e
r
and i e
i θ
represents
e
θ
, we obtain
a
r
= ¨r −r
˙
θ
2
= ¨r −r ω
2
, (7.41)
a
θ
= r
¨
θ +2˙r
˙
θ = r ˙ ω+2˙r ω. (7.42)
Thus, we now have expressions for the object’s radial and tangential accelerations
in terms of r and θ. The beauty of this derivation is that the complex analysis
has automatically taken care of the fact that the unit vectors e
r
and e
θ
change
direction as the object moves.
Let us now consider the commonly occurring special case in which an object
executes a circular orbit at ﬁxed radius, but varying angular velocity. Since the
radius is ﬁxed, it follows that ˙r = ¨r = 0. According to Eqs. (7.38) and (7.39), the
radial velocity of the object is zero, and the tangential velocity takes the form
v
θ
= r ω. (7.43)
Note that the above equation is exactly the same as Eq. (7.6)—the only difference
is that we have now proved that this relation holds for nonuniform, as well as
uniform, circular motion. According to Eq. (7.41), the radial acceleration is given
by
a
r
= −r ω
2
. (7.44)
The minus sign indicates that this acceleration is directed towards the centre
of the circle. Of course, the above equation is equivalent to Eq. (7.15)—the only
difference is that we have now proved that this relation holds for nonuniform, as
well as uniform, circular motion. Finally, according to Eq. (7.42), the tangential
acceleration takes the form
a
θ
= r ˙ ω. (7.45)
The existence of a nonzero tangential acceleration (in the former case) is the
one difference between nonuniform and uniform circular motion (at constant
radius).
147
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.6 The vertical pendulum
θ
θ
v
v’
mg
mg
θ mg cos
T
B
A
r
r cos
Figure 64: Motion in a vertical circle.
7.6 The vertical pendulum
Let us now examine an example of nonuniform circular motion. Suppose that
an object of mass m is attached to the end of a light rigid rod, or light string, of
length r. The other end of the rod, or string, is attached to a stationary pivot in
such a manner that the object is free to execute a vertical circle about this pivot.
Let θ measure the angular position of the object, measured with respect to the
downward vertical. Let v be the velocity of the object at θ = 0
◦
. How large do we
have to make v in order for the object to execute a complete vertical circle?
Consider Fig. 64. Suppose that the object moves from point A, where its
tangential velocity is v, to point B, where its tangential velocity is v
. Let us,
ﬁrst of all, obtain the relationship between v and v
. This is most easily achieved
by considering energy conservation. At point A, the object is situated a vertical
distance r below the pivot, whereas at point B the vertical distance below the
pivot has been reduced to r cos θ. Hence, in moving from A to B the object gains
potential energy mgr (1 −cos θ). This gain in potential energy must be offset by
a corresponding loss in kinetic energy. Thus,
1
2
mv
2
−
1
2
mv
2
= mgr (1 − cos θ), (7.46)
148
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.6 The vertical pendulum
which reduces to
v
2
= v
2
−2 r g(1 − cos θ). (7.47)
Let us now examine the radial acceleration of the object at point B. The ra
dial forces acting on the object are the tension T in the rod, or string, which
acts towards the centre of the circle, and the component mg cos θ of the object’s
weight, which acts away from the centre of the circle. Since the object is execut
ing circular motion with instantaneous tangential velocity v
, it must experience
an instantaneous acceleration v
2
/r towards the centre of the circle. Hence, New
ton’s second law of motion yields
mv
2
r
= T −mg cos θ. (7.48)
Equations (7.47) and (7.48) can be combined to give
T =
mv
2
r
+mg(3 cos θ −2). (7.49)
Suppose that the object is, in fact, attached to the end of a piece of string,
rather than a rigid rod. One important property of strings is that, unlike rigid
rods, they cannot support negative tensions. In other words, a string can only pull
objects attached to its two ends together—it cannot push them apart. Another
way of putting this is that if the tension in a string ever becomes negative then
the string will become slack and collapse. Clearly, if our object is to execute
a full vertical circle then then tension T in the string must remain positive for
all values of θ. It is clear from Eq. (7.49) that the tension attains its minimum
value when θ = 180
◦
(at which point cos θ = −1). This is hardly surprising, since
θ = 180
◦
corresponds to the point at which the object attains its maximum height,
and, therefore, its minimum tangential velocity. It is certainly the case that if the
string tension is positive at this point then it must be positive at all other points.
Now, the tension at θ = 180
◦
is given by
T
0
=
mv
2
r
−5 mg. (7.50)
Hence, the condition for the object to execute a complete vertical circle without
the string becoming slack is T
0
> 0, or
v
2
> 5 r g. (7.51)
149
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.7 Motion on curved surfaces
Note that this condition is independent of the mass of the object.
Suppose that the object is attached to the end of a rigid rod, instead of a piece
of string. There is now no constraint on the tension, since a rigid rod can quite
easily support a negative tension (i.e., it can push, as well as pull, on objects
attached to its two ends). However, in order for the object to execute a complete
vertical circle the square of its tangential velocity v
2
must remain positive at all
values of θ. It is clear from Eq. (7.47) that v
2
attains its minimum value when
θ = 180
◦
. This is, again, hardly surprising. Thus, if v
2
is positive at this point
then it must be positive at all other points. Now, the expression for v
2
at θ = 180
◦
is
(v
2
)
0
= v
2
−4 r g. (7.52)
Hence, the condition for the object to execute a complete vertical circle is (v
2
)
0
>
0, or
v
2
> 4 r g. (7.53)
Note that this condition is slightly easier to satisfy than the condition (7.51). In
other words, it is slightly easier to cause an object attached to the end of a rigid
rod to execute a vertical circle than it is to cause an object attached to the end of
a string to execute the same circle. The reason for this is that the rigidity of the
rod helps support the object when it is situated above the pivot point.
7.7 Motion on curved surfaces
Consider a smooth rigid vertical hoop of internal radius r, as shown in Fig. 65.
Suppose that an object of mass m slides without friction around the inside of this
hoop. What is the motion of this object? Is it possible for the object to execute a
complete vertical circle?
Suppose that the object moves from point A to point B in Fig. 65. In doing so,
it gains potential energy mgr (1 − cos θ), where θ is the angular coordinate of
the object measured with respect to the downward vertical. This gain in potential
energy must be offset by a corresponding loss in kinetic energy. Thus,
1
2
mv
2
−
1
2
mv
2
= mgr (1 − cos θ), (7.54)
150
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.7 Motion on curved surfaces
θ
θ
v
v’
mg
mg
θ mg cos
B
A
R
r
r cos
Figure 65: Motion on the inside of a vertical hoop.
which reduces to
v
2
= v
2
−2 r g(1 − cos θ). (7.55)
Here, v is the velocity at point A (θ = 0
◦
), and v
is the velocity at point B
(θ = θ
◦
).
Let us now examine the radial acceleration of the object at point B. The radial
forces acting on the object are the reaction R of the vertical hoop, which acts
towards the centre of the hoop, and the component mg cos θ of the object’s
weight, which acts away from the centre of the hoop. Since the object is executing
circular motion with instantaneous tangential velocity v
, it must experience an
instantaneous acceleration v
2
/r towards the centre of the hoop. Hence, Newton’s
second law of motion yields
mv
2
r
= R −mg cos θ. (7.56)
Note, however, that there is a constraint on the reaction R that the hoop can
exert on the object. This reaction must always be positive. In other words, the
hoop can push the object away from itself, but it can never pull it towards itself.
Another way of putting this is that if the reaction ever becomes negative then
151
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.7 Motion on curved surfaces
the object will ﬂy off the surface of the hoop, since it is no longer being pressed
into this surface. It should be clear, by now, that the problem we are considering
is exactly analogous to the earlier problem of an object attached to the end of a
piece of string which is executing a vertical circle, with the reaction R of the hoop
playing the role of the tension T in the string.
Let us imagine that the hoop under consideration is a “loop the loop” segment
in a fairground rollercoaster. The object sliding around the inside of the loop
then becomes the rollercoaster train. Suppose that the fairground operator can
vary the velocity v with which the train is sent into the bottom of the loop (i.e.,
the velocity at θ = 0
◦
). What is the safe range of v? Now, if the train starts at
θ = 0
◦
with velocity v then there are only three possible outcomes. Firstly, the
train can execute a complete circuit of the loop. Secondly, the train can slide
part way up the loop, come to a halt, reverse direction, and then slide back down
again. Thirdly, the train can slide part way up the loop, but then fall off the loop.
Obviously, it is the third possibility that the fairground operator would wish to
guard against.
Using the analogy between this problem and the problem of a mass on the end
of a piece of string executing a vertical circle, the condition for the rollercoaster
train to execute a complete circuit is
v
2
> 5 r g. (7.57)
Note, interestingly enough, that this condition is independent of the mass of the
train.
Equation (7.56) yields
v
2
=
r R
m
−r g cos θ. (7.58)
Now, the condition for the train to reverse direction without falling off the loop
is v
2
= 0 with R > 0. Thus, the train reverses direction when
R = mg cos θ. (7.59)
Note that this equation can only be satisﬁed for positive R when cos θ > 0. In
other words, the train can only turn around without falling off the loop if the
152
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.7 Motion on curved surfaces
mg
θ
R
mg cos
m
θ
θ
v
r
r cos
Figure 66: A skier on a hemispherical mountain.
turning point lies in the lower half of the loop (i.e., −90
◦
< θ < 90
◦
). The
condition for the train to fall off the loop is
v
2
= −r g cos θ. (7.60)
Note that this equation can only be satisﬁed for positive v
2
when cos θ < 0. In
other words, the train can only fall off the loop when it is situated in the upper
half of the loop. It is fairly clear that if the train’s initial velocity is not sufﬁciently
large for it to execute a complete circuit of the loop, and not sufﬁciently small
for it to turn around before entering the upper half of the loop, then it must
inevitably fall off the loop somewhere in the loop’s upper half. The critical value
of v
2
above which the train executes a complete circuit is 5 r g [see Eq. (7.57)].
The critical value of v
2
at which the train just turns around before entering the
upper half of the loop is 2 r g [this is obtained from Eq. (7.55) by setting v
= 0
and θ = 90
◦
]. Hence, the dangerous range of v
2
is
2 r g < v
2
< 5 r g. (7.61)
For v
2
< 2 r g, the train turns around in the lower half of the loop. For v
2
> 5 r g,
the train executes a complete circuit around the loop. However, for 2 r g < v
2
<
5 r g, the train falls off the loop somewhere in its upper half.
Consider a skier of mass m skiing down a hemispherical mountain of radius r,
as shown in Fig. 66. Let θ be the angular coordinate of the skier, measured with
respect to the upward vertical. Suppose that the skier starts at rest (v = 0) on
top of the mountain (θ = 0
◦
), and slides down the mountain without friction. At
what point does the skier ﬂy off the surface of the mountain?
153
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.7 Motion on curved surfaces
Suppose that the skier has reached angular coordinate θ. At this stage, the
skier has fallen though a height r (1 − cos θ). Thus, the tangential velocity v of
the skier is given by energy conservation:
1
2
mv
2
= mgr (1 − cos θ). (7.62)
Let us now consider the skier’s radial acceleration. The radial forces acting on the
skier are the reaction R exerted by the mountain, which acts radially outwards,
and the component of the skier’s weight mg cos θ, which acts radially inwards.
Since the skier is executing circular motion, radius r, with instantaneous tangen
tial velocity v, he/she experiences an instantaneous inward radial acceleration
v
2
/r. Hence, Newton’s second law of motion yields
m
v
2
r
= mg cos θ −R. (7.63)
Equations (7.62) and (7.63) can be combined to give
R = mg(3 cos θ −2). (7.64)
As before, the reaction R is constrained to be positive—the mountain can push
outward on the skier, but it cannot pull the skier inward. In fact, as soon as the
reaction becomes negative, the skier ﬂies of the surface of the mountain. This
occurs when cos θ
0
= 2/3, or θ
0
= 48.19
◦
. The height through which the skier
falls before becoming a skijumper is h = r (1 − cos θ
0
) = a/3.
Worked example 7.1: A banked curve
Question: Civil engineers generally bank curves on roads in such a manner that
a car going around the curve at the recommended speed does not have to rely
on friction between its tires and the road surface in order to round the curve.
Suppose that the radius of curvature of a given curve is r = 60 m, and that
the recommended speed is v = 40 km/h. At what angle θ should the curve be
banked?
154
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.7 Motion on curved surfaces
centre of curvature
θ
banked curve
mg
car
R
r
Answer: Consider a car of mass m going around the curve. The car’s weight, mg,
acts vertically downwards. The road surface exerts an upward normal reaction R
on the car. The vertical component of the reaction must balance the downward
weight of the car, so
R cos θ = mg.
The horizontal component of the reaction, R sinθ, acts towards the centre of
curvature of the road. This component provides the force mv
2
/r towards the
centre of the curvature which the car experiences as it rounds the curve. In other
words,
R sinθ = m
v
2
r
,
which yields
tanθ =
v
2
r g
,
or
θ = tan
−1
_
_
v
2
r g
_
_
.
Hence,
θ = tan
−1
_
_
(40 ×1000/3600)
2
60 ×9.81
_
_
= 11.8
◦
.
Note that if the car attempts to round the curve at the wrong speed then mv
2
/r =
mg tanθ, and the difference has to be made up by a sideways friction force
exerted between the car’s tires and the road surface. Unfortunately, this does not
always work—especially if the road surface is wet!
155
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.7 Motion on curved surfaces
Worked example 7.2: Circular race track
Question: A car of mass m = 2000 kg travels around a ﬂat circular race track of
radius r = 85 m. The car starts at rest, and its speed increases at the constant rate
a
θ
= 0.6 m/s. What is the speed of the car at the point when its centripetal and
tangential accelerations are equal?
Answer: The tangential acceleration of the car is a
θ
= 0.6 m/s. When the car
travels with tangential velocity v its centripetal acceleration is a
r
= v
2
/r. Hence,
a
r
= a
θ
when
v
2
r
= a
θ
,
or
v =
√
r a
θ
=
√
85 ×0.6 = 7.14 m/s.
Worked example 7.3: Amusement park ride
Question: An amusement park ride consists of a vertical cylinder that spins about
a vertical axis. When the cylinder spins sufﬁciently fast, any person inside it is
held up against the wall. Suppose that the coefﬁcient of static friction between
a typical person and the wall is µ = 0.25. Let the mass of an typical person be
m = 60 kg, and let r = 7 m be the radius of the cylinder. Find the critical angular
velocity of the cylinder above which a typical person will not slide down the
wall. How many revolutions per second is the cylinder executing at this critical
velocity?
Answer: In the vertical direction, the person is subject to a downward force mg
due to gravity, and a maximum upward force f = µR due to friction with the
wall. Here, R is the normal reaction between the person and the wall. In order
for the person not to slide down the wall, we require f > mg. Hence, the critical
case corresponds to
f = µR = mg.
In the radial direction, the person is subject to a single force: namely, the
156
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.7 Motion on curved surfaces
R
mg f
r
reaction R due to the wall, which acts radially inwards. If the cylinder (and,
hence, the person) rotates with angular velocity ω, then this force must provided
the acceleration r ω
2
towards the axis of rotation. Hence,
R = mr ω
2
.
It follows that, in the critical case,
ω =
¸
¸
¸
_
g
µr
=
¸
¸
¸
_
9.81
0.25 ×7
= 2.37 rad/s.
The corresponding number of revolutions per second is
f =
ω
2 π
=
2.37
2 ×3.1415
= 0.38 Hz.
Worked example 7.4: Aerobatic maneuver
Question: A stunt pilot experiences weightlessness momentarily at the top of
a “loop the loop” maneuver. Given that the speed of the stunt plane is v =
500 km/h, what is the radius r of the loop?
Answer: Let m be the mass of the pilot. Consider the radial acceleration of the
pilot at the top of the loop. The pilot is subject to two radial forces: the gravita
tional force mg, which acts towards the centre of the loop, and the reaction force
R, due to the plane, which acts away from the centre of the loop. Since the pilot
157
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.7 Motion on curved surfaces
mg
R
r
experiences an acceleration v
2
/r towards the centre of the loop, Newton’s second
law of motion yields
m
v
2
r
= mg −R.
Now, the reaction R is equivalent to the apparent weight of the pilot. In partic
ular, if the pilot is “weightless” then he/she exerts no force on the plane, and,
therefore, the plane exerts no reaction force on the pilot. Hence, if the pilot is
weightless at the top of the loop then R = 0, giving
r =
v
2
g
=
(500 ×1000/3600)
2
9.81
= 1.97 km.
Worked example 7.5: Ballistic pendulum
Question: A bullet of mass m = 10 g strikes a pendulum bob of mass M = 1.3 kg
horizontally with speed v, and then becomes embedded in the bob. The bob is
initially at rest, and is suspended by a stiff rod of length l = 0.6 m and negligible
mass. The bob is free to rotate in the vertical direction. What is the minimum
value of v which causes the bob to execute a complete vertical circle? How does
the answer change if the bob is suspended from a light ﬂexible rod (of the same
length), instead of a stiff rod?
Answer: When the bullet strikes the bob, and then sticks to it, the bullet and bob
move off with a velocity v
which is given by momentum conservation:
mv = (M+m) v
.
158
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.7 Motion on curved surfaces
Hence,
v
=
mv
M+m
.
Consider the case where the bob is suspended by a rigid rod. If the bob and
bullet only just manage to execute a vertical loop, then their initial kinetic energy
(1/2) (M+m) v
2
must only just be sufﬁcient to lift them from the bottom to the
top of the loop—a distance 2 l. Hence, in this critical case, energy conservation
yields
1
2
(M+m) v
2
= (M+m) 2 gl,
which implies
v
2
= 4 gl,
or
v =
(M+m)
√
4 gl
m
=
1.31 ×
√
4 ×9.81 ×0.6
0.01
= 635.6 m/s.
Consider the case where the bob is suspended by a ﬂexible rod. The velocity v
of the bob and bullet at the top of the loop is obtained from energy conservation:
1
2
(M+m) v
2
=
1
2
(M+m) v
2
− (M+m) 2 gl.
If the bob and bullet only just manage to execute a vertical loop, then the tension
in the rod is zero at the top of the loop. Hence, the acceleration due to gravity
g must account exactly for the required acceleration v
2
/l towards the centre of
the loop:
v
2
l
= g.
It follows that, in this critical case,
v
2
= 5 gl,
or
v =
(M+m)
√
5 gl
m
=
1.31 ×
√
5 ×9.81 ×0.6
0.01
= 710.7 m/s.
159
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION
8 Rotational motion
8.1 Introduction
Up to now, we have only analyzed the dynamics of point masses (i.e., objects
whose spatial extent is either negligible or plays no role in their motion). Let us
now broaden our approach in order to take extended objects into account. Now,
the only type of motion which a point mass object can exhibit is translational mo
tion: i.e., motion by which the object moves from one point in space to another.
However, an extended object can exhibit another, quite distinct, type of motion
by which it remains located (more or less) at the same spatial position, but con
stantly changes its orientation with respect to other ﬁxed points in space. This
new type of motion is called rotation. Let us investigate rotational motion.
8.2 Rigid body rotation
Consider a rigid body executing pure rotational motion (i.e., rotational motion
which has no translational component). It is possible to deﬁne an axis of rotation
(which, for the sake of simplicity, is assumed to pass through the body)—this axis
corresponds to the straightline which is the locus of all points inside the body
which remain stationary as the body rotates. A general point located inside the
body executes circular motion which is centred on the rotation axis, and orien
tated in the plane perpendicular to this axis. In the following, we tacitly assume
that the axis of rotation remains ﬁxed.
Figure 67 shows a typical rigidly rotating body. The axis of rotation is the line
AB. A general point P lying within the body executes a circular orbit, centred
on AB, in the plane perpendicular to AB. Let the line QP be a radius of this
orbit which links the axis of rotation to the instantaneous position of P at time
t. Obviously, this implies that QP is normal to AB. Suppose that at time t + δt
point P has moved to P
, and the radius QP has rotated through an angle δφ.
160
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.2 Rigid body rotation
B
A
P’
P
δφ
Q
axis of rotation
rigid body
σ
Figure 67: Rigid body rotation.
The instantaneous angular velocity of the body ω(t) is deﬁned
ω = lim
δt→0
δφ
δt
=
dφ
dt
. (8.1)
Note that if the body is indeed rotating rigidly, then the calculated value of ω
should be the same for all possible points P lying within the body (except for
those points lying exactly on the axis of rotation, for which ω is illdeﬁned). The
rotation speed v of point P is related to the angular velocity ω of the body via
v = σω, (8.2)
where σ is the perpendicular distance from the axis of rotation to point P. Thus, in
a rigidly rotating body, the rotation speed increases linearly with (perpendicular)
distance from the axis of rotation.
It is helpful to introduce the angular acceleration α(t) of a rigidly rotating
body: this quantity is deﬁned as the time derivative of the angular velocity. Thus,
α =
dω
dt
=
d
2
φ
dt
2
, (8.3)
where φ is the angular coordinate of some arbitrarily chosen point reference
within the body, measured with respect to the rotation axis. Note that angular
161
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.3 Is rotation a vector?
velocities are conventionally measured in radians per second, whereas angular
accelerations are measured in radians per second squared.
For a body rotating with constant angular velocity, ω, the angular acceleration
is zero, and the rotation angle φ increases linearly with time:
φ(t) = φ
0
+ωt, (8.4)
where φ
0
= φ(t = 0). Likewise, for a body rotating with constant angular accel
eration, α, the angular velocity increases linearly with time, so that
ω(t) = ω
0
+αt, (8.5)
and the rotation angle satisﬁes
φ(t) = φ
0
+ω
0
t +
1
2
αt
2
. (8.6)
Here, ω
0
= ω(t = 0). Note that there is a clear analogy between the above equa
tions, and the equations of rectilinear motion at constant acceleration introduced
in Sect. 2.6—rotation angle plays the role of displacement, angular velocity plays
the role of (regular) velocity, and angular acceleration plays the role of (regular)
acceleration.
8.3 Is rotation a vector?
Consider a rigid body which rotates through an angle φ about a given axis. It
is tempting to try to deﬁne a rotation “vector” φ which describes this motion.
For example, suppose that φ is deﬁned as the “vector” whose magnitude is the
angle of rotation, φ, and whose direction runs parallel to the axis of rotation.
Unfortunately, this deﬁnition is ambiguous, since there are two possible directions
which run parallel to the rotation axis. However, we can resolve this problem by
adopting the following convention—the rotation “vector” runs parallel to the axis
of rotation in the sense indicated by the thumb of the righthand, when the ﬁngers
of this hand circulate around the axis in the direction of rotation. This convention
is known as the righthand grip rule. The righthand grip rule is illustrated in
Fig. 68.
162
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.3 Is rotation a vector?
sense of rotation
direction of rotation vector
Figure 68: The righthand grip rule.
The rotation “vector” φnow has a welldeﬁned magnitude and direction. But,
is this quantity really a vector? This may seem like a strange question to ask,
but it turns out that not all quantities which have welldeﬁned magnitudes and
directions are necessarily vectors. Let us review some properties of vectors. If a
and b are two general vectors, then it is certainly the case that
a +b = b +a. (8.7)
In other words, the addition of vectors is necessarily commutative (i.e., it is in
dependent of the order of addition). Is this true for “vector” rotations, as we
have just deﬁned them? Figure 69 shows the effect of applying two successive
90
◦
rotations—one about the xaxis, and the other about the zaxis—to a six
sided die. In the lefthand case, the zrotation is applied before the xrotation,
and vice versa in the righthand case. It can be seen that the die ends up in two
completely different states. Clearly, the zrotation plus the xrotation does not
equal the xrotation plus the zrotation. This noncommutative algebra cannot be
represented by vectors. We conclude that, although rotations have welldeﬁned
magnitudes and directions, they are not, in general, vector quantities.
There is a direct analogy between rotation and motion over the Earth’s surface.
After all, the motion of a pointer along the Earth’s equator from longitude 0
◦
W to
163
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.3 Is rotation a vector?
zaxis xaxis
xaxis zaxis
y
z
x
Figure 69: The addition of rotation is noncommutative.
164
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.3 Is rotation a vector?
longitude 90
◦
W could just as well be achieved by keeping the pointer ﬁxed and ro
tating the Earth through 90
◦
about a NorthSouth axis. The noncommutative na
ture of rotation “vectors” is a direct consequence of the nonplanar (i.e., curved)
nature of the Earth’s surface. For instance, suppose we start off at (0
◦
N, 0
◦
W),
which is just off the Atlantic coast of equatorial Africa, and rotate 90
◦
northwards
and then 90
◦
eastwards. We end up at (0
◦
N, 90
◦
E), which is in the middle of the
Indian Ocean. However, if we start at the same point, and rotate 90
◦
eastwards
and then 90
◦
northwards, we end up at the North pole. Hence, large rotations
over the Earth’s surface do not commute. Let us now repeat this experiment
on a far smaller scale. Suppose that we walk 10m northwards and then 10m
eastwards. Next, suppose that—starting from the same initial position—we walk
10m eastwards and then 10m northwards. In this case, few people would need
much convincing that the two end points are essentially identical. The crucial
point is that for sufﬁciently small displacements the Earth’s surface is approxi
mately planar, and vector displacements on a plane surface commute with one
another. This observation immediately suggests that rotation “vectors” which cor
respond to rotations through small angles must also commute with one another.
In other words, although the quantity φ, deﬁned above, is not a true vector, the
inﬁnitesimal quantity δφ, which is deﬁned in a similar manner but corresponds
to a rotation through an inﬁnitesimal angle δφ, is a perfectly good vector.
We have just established that it is possible to deﬁne a true vector δφ which
describes a rotation through a small angle δφ about a ﬁxed axis. But, how is this
deﬁnition useful? Well, suppose that vector δφ describes the small rotation that
a given object executes in the inﬁnitesimal time interval between t and t+δt. We
can then deﬁne the quantity
ω= lim
δt→0
δφ
δt
=
dφ
dt
. (8.8)
This quantity is clearly a true vector, since it is simply the ratio of a true vector
and a scalar. Of course, ωrepresents an angular velocity vector. The magnitude of
this vector, ω, speciﬁes the instantaneous angular velocity of the object, whereas
the direction of the vector indicates the axis of rotation. The sense of rotation
is given by the righthand grip rule: if the thumb of the righthand points along
the direction of the vector, then the ﬁngers of the righthand indicate the sense of
165
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.4 The vector product
rotation. We conclude that, although rotation can only be thought of as a vector
quantity under certain very special circumstances, we can safely treat angular
velocity as a vector quantity under all circumstances.
Suppose, for example, that a rigid body rotates at constant angular velocity
ω
1
. Let us now combine this motion with rotation about a different axis at con
stant angular velocity ω
2
. What is the subsequent motion of the body? Since we
know that angular velocity is a vector, we can be certain that the combined mo
tion simply corresponds to rotation about a third axis at constant angular velocity
ω
3
= ω
1
+ω
2
, (8.9)
where the sum is performed according to the standard rules of vector addition.
[Note, however, the following important proviso. In order for Eq. (8.9) to be
valid, the rotation axes corresponding to ω
1
and ω
2
must cross at a certain
point—the rotation axis corresponding to ω
3
then passes through this point.]
Moreover, a constant angular velocity
ω= ω
x
^ x +ω
y
^ y +ω
z
^z (8.10)
can be thought of as representing rotation about the xaxis at angular velocity ω
x
,
combined with rotation about the yaxis at angular velocity ω
y
, combined with
rotation about the zaxis at angular velocity ω
z
. [There is, again, a proviso—
namely, that the rotation axis corresponding to ω must pass through the origin.
Of course, we can always shift the origin such that this is the case.] Clearly, the
knowledge that angular velocity is vector quantity can be extremely useful.
8.4 The vector product
We saw earlier, in Sect. 3.10, that it is possible to combine two vectors multi
plicatively, by means of a scalar product, to form a scalar. Recall that the scalar
product a·b of two vectors a = (a
x
, a
y
, a
z
) and b = (b
x
, b
y
, b
z
) is deﬁned
a·b = a
x
b
x
+a
y
b
y
+a
z
b
z
= a b cos θ, (8.11)
where θ is the angle subtended between the directions of a and b.
166
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.4 The vector product
a x b
a x b
b
a
θ
 = a b sin θ 
Figure 70: The vector product.
Is it also possible to combine two vector multiplicatively to form a third (non
coplanar) vector? It turns out that this goal can be achieved via the use of the
socalled vector product. By deﬁnition, the vector product, a × b, of two vectors
a = (a
x
, a
y
, a
z
) and b = (b
x
, b
y
, b
z
) is of magnitude
a ×b = a b sinθ. (8.12)
The direction of a ×b is mutually perpendicular to a and b, in the sense given by
the righthand grip rule when vector a is rotated onto vector b (the direction of
rotation being such that the angle of rotation is less than 180
◦
). See Fig. 70. In
coordinate form,
a ×b = (a
y
b
z
−a
z
b
y
, a
z
b
x
−a
x
b
z
, a
x
b
y
−a
y
b
x
). (8.13)
There are a number of fairly obvious consequences of the above deﬁnition.
Firstly, if vector b is parallel to vector a, so that we can write b = λ a, then the
vector product a ×b has zero magnitude. The easiest way of seeing this is to note
that if a and b are parallel then the angle θ subtended between them is zero,
hence the magnitude of the vector product, a b sinθ, must also be zero (since
sin0
◦
= 0). Secondly, the order of multiplication matters. Thus, b × a is not
equivalent to a ×b. In fact, as can be seen from Eq. (8.13),
b ×a = −a ×b. (8.14)
In other words, b × a has the same magnitude as a × b, but points in diagram
matically the opposite direction.
167
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.5 Centre of mass
Now that we have deﬁned the vector product of two vectors, let us ﬁnd a use
for this concept. Figure 71 shows a rigid body rotating with angular velocity ω.
For the sake of simplicity, the axis of rotation, which runs parallel to ω, is as
sumed to pass through the origin O of our coordinate system. Point P, whose
position vector is r, represents a general point inside the body. What is the veloc
ity of rotation v at point P? Well, the magnitude of this velocity is simply
v = σω = ωr sinθ, (8.15)
where σ is the perpendicular distance of point P from the axis of rotation, and
θ is the angle subtended between the directions of ω and r. The direction of
the velocity is into the page. Another way of saying this, is that the direction of
the velocity is mutually perpendicular to the directions of ω and r, in the sense
indicated by the righthand grip rule when ωis rotated onto r (through an angle
less than 180
◦
). It follows that we can write
v = ω×r. (8.16)
Note, incidentally, that the direction of the angular velocity vector ω indicates
the orientation of the axis of rotation—however, nothing actually moves in this
direction; in fact, all of the motion is perpendicular to the direction of ω.
8.5 Centre of mass
The centre of mass—or centre of gravity—of an extended object is deﬁned in much
the same manner as we earlier deﬁned the centre of mass of a set of mutually
interacting point mass objects—see Sect. 6.3. To be more exact, the coordinates
of the centre of mass of an extended object are the mass weighted averages of
the coordinates of the elements which make up that object. Thus, if the object
has net mass M, and is composed of N elements, such that the ith element has
mass m
i
and position vector r
i
, then the position vector of the centre of mass is
given by
r
cm
=
1
M
i=1,N
m
i
r
i
. (8.17)
168
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.5 Centre of mass
ω
O
θ
r
P
v
σ
Figure 71: Rigid rotation.
If the object under consideration is continuous, then
m
i
= ρ(r
i
) V
i
, (8.18)
where ρ(r) is the mass density of the object, and V
i
is the volume occupied by
the ith element. Here, it is assumed that this volume is small compared to the
total volume of the object. Taking the limit that the number of elements goes
to inﬁnity, and the volume of each element goes to zero, Eqs. (8.17) and (8.18)
yield the following integral formula for the position vector of the centre of mass:
r
cm
=
1
M
ρ r dV. (8.19)
Here, the integral is taken over the whole volume of the object, and dV =
dx dydz is an element of that volume. Incidentally, the triple integral sign in
dicates a volume integral: i.e., a simultaneous integral over three independent
Cartesian coordinates. Finally, for an object whose mass density is constant—
which is the only type of object that we shall be considering in this course—the
above expression reduces to
r
cm
=
1
V
r dV, (8.20)
169
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.5 Centre of mass
where V is the volume of the object. According to Eq. (8.20), the centre of mass
of a body of uniform density is located at the geometric centre of that body.
a
a
a
geometric centre
Figure 72: Locating the geometric centre of a cube.
For many solid objects, the location of the geometric centre follows from sym
metry. For instance, the geometric centre of a cube is the point of intersection
of the cube’s diagonals. See Fig. 72. Likewise, the geometric centre of a right
cylinder is located on the axis, halfway up the cylinder. See Fig. 73.
h
h/2
geometric centre
axis
Figure 73: Locating the geometric centre of a right cylinder.
As an illustration of the use of formula (8.20), let us calculate the geometric
centre of a regular squaresided pyramid. Figure 74 shows such a pyramid. Let a
be the length of each side. It follows, from simple trigonometry, that the height
of the pyramid is h = a/
√
2. Suppose that the base of the pyramid lies on the
xy plane, and the apex is aligned with the zaxis, as shown in the diagram. It
follows, from symmetry, that the geometric centre of the pyramid lies on the z
axis. It only remains to calculate the perpendicular distance, z
cm
, between the
geometric centre and the base of the pyramid. This quantity is obtained from the
170
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.5 Centre of mass
a
a
y
x
a
cm
z
geometric centre
top view
a
z
x
h
side view
Figure 74: Locating the geometric centre of a regular squaresided pyramid.
zcomponent of Eq. (8.20):
z
cm
=
z dx dydz
dx dydz
, (8.21)
where the integral is taken over the volume of the pyramid.
In the above integral, the limits of integration for z are z = 0 to z = h, respec
tively (i.e., from the base to the apex of the pyramid). The corresponding limits of
integration for x and y are x, y = −a(1−z/h)/2 to x, y = +a(1−z/h)/2, respec
tively (i.e., the limits are x, y = ±a/2 at the base of the pyramid, and x, y = ±0
at the apex). Hence, Eq. (8.21) can be written more explicitly as
z
cm
=
h
0
z dz
+a(1−z/h)/2
−a(1−z/h)/2
dy
+a(1−z/h)/2
−a(1−z/h)/2
dx
h
0
dz
+a(1−z/h)/2
−a(1−z/h)/2
dy
+a(1−z/h)/2
−a(1−z/h)/2
dx
. (8.22)
As indicated above, it makes sense to perform the x and y integrals before
the zintegrals, since the limits of integration for the x and y integrals are z
dependent. Performing the xintegrals, we obtain
z
cm
=
h
0
z dz
+a(1−z/h)/2
−a(1−z/h)/2
a(1 −z/h) dy
h
0
dz
+a(1−z/h)/2
−a(1−z/h)/2
a(1 −z/h) dy
. (8.23)
171
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.6 Moment of inertia
Performing the yintegrals, we obtain
z
cm
=
h
0
a
2
z (1 −z/h)
2
dz
h
0
a
2
(1 −z/h)
2
dz
. (8.24)
Finally, performing the zintegrals, we obtain
z
cm
=
a
2
_
z
2
/2 −2 z
3
/(3 h) +z
4
/(4 h
2
)
_
h
0
a
2
[z −z
2
/(h) +z
3
/(3 h)]
h
0
=
a
2
h
2
/12
a
2
h/3
=
h
4
. (8.25)
Thus, the geometric centre of a regular squaresided pyramid is located on the
symmetry axis, one quarter of the way from the base to the apex.
8.6 Moment of inertia
Consider an extended object which is made up of N elements. Let the ith element
possess mass m
i
, position vector r
i
, and velocity v
i
. The total kinetic energy of
the object is written
K =
i=1,N
1
2
m
i
v
2
i
. (8.26)
Suppose that the motion of the object consists merely of rigid rotation at angular
velocity ω. It follows, from Sect. 8.4, that
v
i
= ω×r
i
. (8.27)
Let us write
ω= ωk, (8.28)
where k is a unit vector aligned along the axis of rotation (which is assumed
to pass through the origin of our coordinate system). It follows from the above
equations that the kinetic energy of rotation of the object takes the form
K =
i=1,N
1
2
m
i
k ×r
i

2
ω
2
, (8.29)
or
K =
1
2
I ω
2
. (8.30)
172
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.6 Moment of inertia
Here, the quantity I is termed the moment of inertia of the object, and is written
I =
i=1,N
m
i
k ×r
i

2
=
i=1,N
m
i
σ
2
i
, (8.31)
where σ
i
= k ×r
i
 is the perpendicular distance from the ith element to the axis
of rotation. Note that for translational motion we usually write
K =
1
2
Mv
2
, (8.32)
where M represents mass and v represents speed. A comparison of Eqs. (8.30)
and (8.32) suggests that moment of inertia plays the same role in rotational
motion that mass plays in translational motion.
For a continuous object, analogous arguments to those employed in Sect. 8.5
yield
I =
ρ σ
2
dV, (8.33)
where ρ(r) is the mass density of the object, σ = k × r is the perpendicular
distance from the axis of rotation, and dV is a volume element. Finally, for an
object of constant density, the above expression reduces to
I = M
σ
2
dV
dV
. (8.34)
Here, M is the total mass of the object. Note that the integrals are taken over the
whole volume of the object.
The moment of inertia of a uniform object depends not only on the size and
shape of that object but on the location of the axis about which the object is
rotating. In particular, the same object can have different moments of inertia
when rotating about different axes.
Unfortunately, the evaluation of the moment of inertia of a given body about
a given axis invariably involves the performance of a nasty volume integral. In
fact, there is only one trivial moment of inertia calculation—namely, the moment
of inertia of a thin circular ring about a symmetric axis which runs perpendicular
to the plane of the ring. See Fig. 75. Suppose that M is the mass of the ring, and
173
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.6 Moment of inertia
ring
axis
M
2
I = M b
b
Figure 75: The moment of inertia of a ring about a perpendicular symmetric axis.
b is its radius. Each element of the ring shares a common perpendicular distance
from the axis of rotation—i.e., σ = b. Hence, Eq. (8.34) reduces to
I = Mb
2
. (8.35)
In general, moments of inertia are rather tedious to calculate. Fortunately,
there exist two powerful theorems which enable us to simply relate the moment
of inertia of a given body about a given axis to the moment of inertia of the same
body about another axis. The ﬁrst of these theorems is called the perpendicular
axis theorem, and only applies to uniform laminar objects. Consider a laminar
object (i.e., a thin, planar object) of uniform density. Suppose, for the sake of
simplicity, that the object lies in the xy plane. The moment of inertia of the
object about the zaxis is given by
I
z
= M
(x
2
+y
2
) dx dy
dx dy
, (8.36)
where we have suppressed the trivial zintegration, and the integral is taken over
the extent of the object in the xy plane. Incidentally, the above expression fol
lows from the observation that σ
2
= x
2
+y
2
when the axis of rotation is coincident
with the zaxis. Likewise, the moments of inertia of the object about the x and
y axes take the form
I
x
= M
y
2
dx dy
dx dy
, (8.37)
174
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.6 Moment of inertia
z
y
x
I = I + I
z x y
Figure 76: The perpendicular axis theorem.
I
y
= M
x
2
dx dy
dx dy
, (8.38)
respectively. Here, we have made use of the fact that z = 0 inside the object. It
follows by inspection of the previous three equations that
I
z
= I
x
+I
y
. (8.39)
See Fig. 76.
Let us use the perpendicular axis theorem to ﬁnd the moment of inertia of a
thin ring about a symmetric axis which lies in the plane of the ring. Adopting the
coordinate system shown in Fig. 77, it is clear, from symmetry, that I
x
= I
y
. Now,
we already know that I
z
= Mb
2
, where M is the mass of the ring, and b is its
radius. Hence, the perpendicular axis theorem tells us that
2 I
x
= I
z
, (8.40)
or
I
x
=
I
z
2
=
1
2
Mb
2
. (8.41)
Of course, I
z
> I
x
, because when the ring spins about the zaxis its elements are,
on average, farther from the axis of rotation than when it spins about the xaxis.
The second useful theorem regarding moments of inertia is called the parallel
axis theorem. The parallel axis theorem—which is quite general—states that if I
is the moment of inertia of a given body about an axis passing through the centre
175
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.6 Moment of inertia
x
y
z
ring
Figure 77: The moment of inertia of a ring about a coplanar symmetric axis.
of mass of that body, then the moment of inertia I
of the same body about a
second axis which is parallel to the ﬁrst is
I
= I +Md
2
, (8.42)
where M is the mass of the body, and d is the perpendicular distance between
the two axes.
In order to prove the parallel axis theorem, let us choose the origin of our
coordinate system to coincide with the centre of mass of the body in question.
Furthermore, let us orientate the axes of our coordinate system such that the z
axis coincides with the ﬁrst axis of rotation, whereas the second axis pieces the
xy plane at x = d, y = 0. From Eq. (8.20), the fact that the centre of mass is
located at the origin implies that
x dx dydz =
ydx dydz =
z dx dydz = 0, (8.43)
where the integrals are taken over the volume of the body. From Eq. (8.34), the
expression for the ﬁrst moment of inertia is
I = M
(x
2
+y
2
) dx dydz
dx dydz
, (8.44)
since x
2
+ y
2
is the perpendicular distance of a general point (x, y, z) from the
zaxis. Likewise, the expression for the second moment of inertia takes the form
I
= M
[(x −d)
2
+y
2
] dx dydz
dx dydz
. (8.45)
176
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.6 Moment of inertia
The above equation can be expanded to give
I
= M
[(x
2
+y
2
) −2 dx +d
2
] dx dydz
dx dydz
= M
(x
2
+y
2
) dx dydz
dx dydz
−2 dM
x dx dydz
dx dydz
+d
2
M
dx dydz
dx dydz
. (8.46)
It follows from Eqs. (8.43) and (8.44) that
I
= I +Md
2
, (8.47)
which proves the theorem.
Let us use the parallel axis theorem to calculate the moment of inertia, I
, of
a thin ring about an axis which runs perpendicular to the plane of the ring, and
passes through the circumference of the ring. We knowthat the moment of inertia
of a ring of mass M and radius b about an axis which runs perpendicular to the
plane of the ring, and passes through the centre of the ring—which coincides
with the centre of mass of the ring—is I = Mb
2
. Our new axis is parallel to this
original axis, but shifted sideways by the perpendicular distance b. Hence, the
parallel axis theorem tells us that
I
= I +Mb
2
= 2 Mb
2
. (8.48)
See Fig. 78.
As an illustration of the direct application of formula (8.34), let us calculate
the moment of inertia of a thin circular disk, of mass M and radius b, about an
axis which passes through the centre of the disk, and runs perpendicular to the
plane of the disk. Let us choose our coordinate system such that the disk lies
in the xy plane with its centre at the origin. The axis of rotation is, therefore,
coincident with the zaxis. Hence, formula (8.34) reduces to
I = M
(x
2
+y
2
) dx dy
dx dy
, (8.49)
177
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.6 Moment of inertia
ring
M
2
ring
axis
M
2
axis
original axis new axis
I = M b
b b
I = 2 M b
Figure 78: An application of the parallel axis theorem.
where the integrals are taken over the area of the disk, and the redundant z
integration has been suppressed. Let us divide the disk up into thin annuli. Con
sider an annulus of radius σ =
_
x
2
+y
2
and radial thickness dσ. The area of this
annulus is simply 2πσdσ. Hence, we can replace dx dy in the above integrals by
2πσdσ, so as to give
I = M
b
0
2πσ
3
dσ
b
0
2πσdσ
. (8.50)
The above expression yields
I = M
_
2 πσ
4
/4
_
b
0
[2 πσ
2
/2]
b
0
=
1
2
Mb
2
. (8.51)
Similar calculations to the above yield the following standard results:
• The moment of inertia of a thin rod of mass M and length l about an axis
passing through the centre of the rod and perpendicular to its length is
I =
1
12
Ml
2
.
• The moment of inertia of a thin rectangular sheet of mass M and dimensions
a and b about a perpendicular axis passing through the centre of the sheet
is
I =
1
12
M(a
2
+b
2
).
178
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.7 Torque
• The moment of inertia of a solid cylinder of mass M and radius b about the
cylindrical axis is
I =
1
2
Mb
2
.
• The moment of inertia of a thin spherical shell of mass M and radius b about
a diameter is
I =
2
3
Mb
2
.
• The moment of inertia of a solid sphere of mass M and radius b about a
diameter is
I =
2
5
Mb
2
.
8.7 Torque
We have now identiﬁed the rotational equivalent of velocity—namely, angular
velocity—and the rotational equivalent of mass—namely, moment of inertia. But,
what is the rotational equivalent of force?
Consider a bicycle wheel of radius b which is free to rotate around a perpen
dicular axis passing through its centre. Suppose that we apply a force f, which
is coplanar with the wheel, to a point P lying on its circumference. See Fig. 79.
What is the wheel’s subsequent motion?
Let us choose the origin O of our coordinate system to coincide with the pivot
point of the wheel—i.e., the point of intersection between the wheel and the axis
of rotation. Let r be the position vector of point P, and let θ be the angle sub
tended between the directions of r and f. We can resolve f into two components—
namely, a component f cos θ which acts radially, and a component f sinθ which
acts tangentially. The radial component of f is canceled out by a reaction at the
pivot, since the wheel is assumed to be mounted in such a manner that it can only
rotate, and is prevented from displacing sideways. The tangential component of
f causes the wheel to accelerate tangentially. Let v be the instantaneous rotation
velocity of the wheel’s circumference. Newton’s second law of motion, applied to
179
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.7 Torque
θ
r
O
P
f sinθ
f
b
Figure 79: A rotating bicycle wheel.
the tangential motion of the wheel, yields
M˙v = f sinθ, (8.52)
where M is the mass of the wheel (which is assumed to be concentrated in the
wheel’s rim).
Let us now convert the above expression into a rotational equation of motion.
If ω is the instantaneous angular velocity of the wheel, then the relation between
ω and v is simply
v = bω. (8.53)
Since the wheel is basically a ring of radius b, rotating about a perpendicular
symmetric axis, its moment of inertia is
I = Mb
2
. (8.54)
Combining the previous three equations, we obtain
I ˙ ω = τ, (8.55)
where
τ = f b sinθ. (8.56)
Equation (8.55) is the angular equation of motion of the wheel. It relates the
wheel’s angular velocity, ω, and moment of inertia, I, to a quantity, τ, which is
known as the torque. Clearly, if I is analogous to mass, and ω is analogous to
180
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.7 Torque
O
θ
f
P
l
τ = f l
b
Figure 80: Deﬁnition of the length of the level arm, l.
velocity, then torque must be analogous to force. In other words, torque is the
rotational equivalent of force.
It is clear, from Eq. (8.56), that a torque is the product of the magnitude of
the applied force, f, and some distance l = b sinθ. The physical interpretation
of l is illustrated in Fig. 80. If can be seen that l is the perpendicular distance of
the line of action of the force from the axis of rotation. We usually refer to this
distance as the length of the lever arm.
In summary, a torque measures the propensity of a given force to cause the
object upon which it acts to twist about a certain axis. The torque, τ, is simply
the product of the magnitude of the applied force, f, and the length of the lever
arm, l:
τ = f l. (8.57)
Of course, this deﬁnition makes a lot of sense. We all know that it is far easier
to turn a rusty bolt using a long, rather than a short, wrench. Assuming that we
exert the same force on the end of each wrench, the torque we apply to the bolt
is larger in the former case, since the perpendicular distance between the line of
action of the force and the bolt (i.e., the length of the wrench) is greater.
181
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.7 Torque
Since force is a vector quantity, it stands to reason that torque must also be
a vector quantity. It follows that Eq. (8.57) deﬁnes the magnitude, τ, of some
torque vector, τ. But, what is the direction of this vector? By convention, if a
torque is such as to cause the object upon which it acts to twist about a certain
axis, then the direction of that torque runs along the direction of the axis in the
sense given by the righthand grip rule. In other words, if the ﬁngers of the right
hand circulate around the axis of rotation in the sense in which the torque twists
the object, then the thumb of the righthand points along the axis in the direction
of the torque. It follows that we can rewrite our rotational equation of motion,
Eq. (8.55), in vector form:
I
dω
dt
= I α = τ, (8.58)
where α = dω/dt is the vector angular acceleration. Note that the direction of α
indicates the direction of the rotation axis about which the object accelerates (in
the sense given by the righthand grip rule), whereas the direction of τ indicates
the direction of the rotation axis about which the torque attempts to twist the
object (in the sense given by the righthand grip rule). Of course, these two
rotation axes are identical.
Although Eq. (8.58) was derived for the special case of a torque applied to a
ring rotating about a perpendicular symmetric axis, it is, nevertheless, completely
general.
It is important to appreciate that the directions we ascribe to angular velocities,
angular accelerations, and torques are merely conventions. There is actually no
physical motion in the direction of the angular velocity vector—in fact, all of the
motion is in the plane perpendicular to this vector. Likewise, there is no physical
acceleration in the direction of the angular acceleration vector—again, all of the
acceleration is in the plane perpendicular to this vector. Finally, no physical forces
act in the direction of the torque vector—in fact, all of the forces act in the plane
perpendicular to this vector.
Consider a rigid body which is free to pivot in any direction about some ﬁxed
point O. Suppose that a force f is applied to the body at some point P whose
position vector relative to O is r. See Fig. 81. Let θ be the angle subtended
182
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.7 Torque
θ
f
r
P
pivot
O
torque
Figure 81: Torque about a ﬁxed point.
between the directions of r and f. What is the vector torque τ acting on the
object about an axis passing through the pivot point? The magnitude of this
torque is simply
τ = r f sinθ. (8.59)
In Fig. 81, the conventional direction of the torque is out of the page. Another
way of saying this is that the direction of the torque is mutually perpendicular
to both r and f, in the sense given by the righthand grip rule when vector r is
rotated onto vector f (through an angle less than 180
◦
degrees). It follows that
we can write
τ = r ×f. (8.60)
In other words, the torque exerted by a force acting on a rigid body which pivots
about some ﬁxed point is the vector product of the displacement of the point of
application of the force from the pivot point with the force itself. Equation (8.60)
speciﬁes both the magnitude of the torque, and the axis of rotation about which
the torque twists the body upon which it acts. This axis runs parallel to the
direction of τ, and passes through the pivot point.
183
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.8 Power and work
8.8 Power and work
Consider a mass m attached to the end of a light rod of length l whose other end
is attached to a ﬁxed pivot. Suppose that the pivot is such that the rod is free
to rotate in any direction. Suppose, further, that a force f is applied to the mass,
whose instantaneous angular velocity about an axis of rotation passing through
the pivot is ω.
Let v be the instantaneous velocity of the mass. We know that the rate at which
the force f performs work on the mass—otherwise known as the power—is given
by (see Sect. 5.8)
P = f·v. (8.61)
However, we also know that (see Sect. 8.4)
v = ω×r, (8.62)
where r is the vector displacement of the mass from the pivot. Hence, we can
write
P = ω×r · f (8.63)
(note that a·b = b·a).
Now, for any three vectors, a, b, and c, we can write
a ×b · c = a · b ×c. (8.64)
This theorem is easily proved by expanding the vector and scalar products in
component formusing the deﬁnitions (8.11) and (8.13). It follows that Eq. (8.63)
can be rewritten
P = ω· r ×f. (8.65)
However,
τ = r ×f, (8.66)
where τ is the torque associated with force f about an axis of rotation passing
through the pivot. Hence, we obtain
P = τ·ω. (8.67)
184
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.8 Power and work
In other words, the rate at which a torque performs work on the object upon
which it acts is the scalar product of the torque and the angular velocity of the
object. Note the great similarity between Eq. (8.61) and Eq. (8.67).
Now the relationship between work, W, and power, P, is simply
P =
dW
dt
. (8.68)
Likewise, the relationship between angular velocity, ω, and angle of rotation, φ,
is
ω=
dφ
dt
. (8.69)
It follows that Eq. (8.67) can be rewritten
dW = τ·dφ. (8.70)
Integration yields
W =
τ·dφ. (8.71)
Note that this is a good deﬁnition, since it only involves an inﬁnitesimal rotation
vector, dφ. Recall, from Sect. 8.3, that it is impossible to deﬁne a ﬁnite rotation
vector. For the case of translational motion, the analogous expression to the
above is
W =
f·dr. (8.72)
Here, f is the force, and dr is an element of displacement of the body upon which
the force acts.
Although Eqs. (8.67) and (8.71) were derived for the special case of the ro
tation of a mass attached to the end of a light rod, they are, nevertheless, com
pletely general.
Consider, ﬁnally, the special case in which the torque is aligned with the an
gular velocity, and both are constant in time. In this case, the rate at which the
torque performs work is simply
P = τ ω. (8.73)
185
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.9 Translational motion versus rotational motion
Translational motion Rotational motion
Displacement dr Angular displacement dφ
Velocity v = dr/dt Angular velocity ω= dφ/dt
Acceleration a = dv/dt Angular acceleration α = dω/dt
Mass M Moment of inertia I =
ρ
^
ω×r
2
dV
Force f = Ma Torque τ ≡ r ×f = I α
Work W =
f·dr Work W =
τ·dφ
Power P = f·v Power P = τ·ω
Kinetic energy K = Mv
2
/2 Kinetic energy K = I ω
2
/2
Table 3: The analogies between translational and rotational motion.
Likewise, the net work performed by the torque in twisting the body upon which
it acts through an angle ∆φ is just
W = τ ∆φ. (8.74)
8.9 Translational motion versus rotational motion
It should be clear, by now, that there is a strong analogy between rotational mo
tion and standard translational motion. Indeed, each physical concept used to
analyze rotational motion has its translational concomitant. Likewise, every law
of physics governing rotational motion has a translational equivalent. The analo
gies between rotational and translational motion are summarized in Table 3.
8.10 The physics of baseball
Baseball players know from experience that there is a “sweet spot” on a baseball
bat, about 17cm from the end of the barrel, where the shock of impact with the
ball, as felt by the hands, is minimized. In fact, if the ball strikes the bat exactly
on the “sweet spot” then the hitter is almost unaware of the collision. Conversely,
if the ball strikes the bat well away from the “sweet spot” then the impact is felt
as a painful jarring of the hands.
186
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.10 The physics of baseball
v
ω
h
b
l
bat
ball
centre of mass
pivot
J’ J’
J J
Figure 82: A schematic baseball bat.
The existence of a “sweet spot” on a baseball bat is just a consequence of ro
tational dynamics. Let us analyze this problem. Consider the schematic baseball
bat shown in Fig. 82. Let M be the mass of the bat, and let l be its length. Sup
pose that the bat pivots about a ﬁxed point located at one of its ends. Let the
centre of mass of the bat be located a distance b from the pivot point. Finally,
suppose that the ball strikes the bat a distance h from the pivot point.
The collision between the bat and the ball can be modeled as equal and oppo
site impulses, J, applied to each object at the time of the collision (see Sect. 6.5).
At the same time, equal and opposite impulses J
are applied to the pivot and the
bat, as shown in Fig. 82. If the pivot actually corresponds to a hitter’s hands then
the latter impulse gives rise to the painful jarring sensation felt when the ball is
not struck properly.
We saw earlier that in a general multicomponent system—which includes an
extended body such as a baseball bat—the motion of the centre of mass takes
a particularly simple form (see Sect. 6.3). To be more exact, the motion of the
centre of mass is equivalent to that of the point particle obtained by concentrating
the whole mass of the system at the centre of mass, and then allowing all of the
external forces acting on the system to act upon that mass. Let us use this idea to
187
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.10 The physics of baseball
analyze the effect of the collision with the ball on the motion of the bat’s centre
of mass. The centre of mass of the bat acts like a point particle of mass M which
is subject to the two impulses, J and J
(which are applied simultaneously). If v
is the instantaneous velocity of the centre of mass then the change in momentum
of this point due to the action of the two impulses is simply
M∆v = −J −J
. (8.75)
The minus signs on the righthand side of the above equation follow from the fact
that the impulses are oppositely directed to v in Fig. 82.
Note that in order to specify the instantaneous state of an extended body we
must do more than just specify the location of the body’s centre of mass. In
deed, since the body can rotate about its centre of mass, we must also specify its
orientation in space. Thus, in order to follow the motion of an extended body,
we must not only follow the translational motion of its centre of mass, but also
the body’s rotational motion about this point (or any other convenient reference
point located within the body).
Consider the rotational motion of the bat shown in Fig. 82 about a perpendic
ular (to the bat) axis passing through the pivot point. This motion satisﬁes
I
dω
dt
= τ, (8.76)
where I is the moment of inertia of the bat, ωis its instantaneous angular velocity,
and τ is the applied torque. The bat is actually subject to an impulsive torque (i.e.,
a torque which only lasts for a short period in time) at the time of the collision
with the ball. Deﬁning the angular impulse K associated with an impulsive torque
τ in much the same manner as we earlier deﬁned the impulse associated with an
impulsive force (see Sect. 6.5), we obtain
K =
t
τ dt. (8.77)
It follows that we can integrate Eq. (8.76) over the time of the collision to ﬁnd
I ∆ω = K, (8.78)
188
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.10 The physics of baseball
where ∆ω is the change in angular velocity of the bat due to the collision with
the ball.
Now, the torque associated with a given force is equal to the magnitude of the
force times the length of the lever arm. Thus, it stands to reason that the angular
impulse, K, associated with an impulse, J, is simply
K = J x, (8.79)
where x is the perpendicular distance from the line of action of the impulse to the
axis of rotation. Hence, the angular impulses associated with the two impulses,
J and J
, to which the bat is subject when it collides with the ball, are J h and 0,
respectively. The latter angular impulse is zero since the point of application of
the associated impulse coincides with the pivot point, and so the length of the
lever arm is zero. It follows that Eq. (8.78) can be written
I ∆ω = −J h. (8.80)
The minus sign comes from the fact that the impulse J is oppositely directed to
the angular velocity in Fig. 82.
Now, the relationship between the instantaneous velocity of the bat’s centre of
mass and the bat’s instantaneous angular velocity is simply
v = bω. (8.81)
Hence, Eq. (8.75) can be rewritten
Mb∆ω = −J −J
. (8.82)
Equations (8.80) and (8.82) can be combined to yield
J
= −
_
1 −
Mbh
I
_
J. (8.83)
’ The above expression speciﬁes the magnitude of the impulse J
applied to the
hitter’s hands terms of the magnitude of the impulse J applied to the ball.
Let us crudely model the bat as a uniform rod of length l and mass M. It
follows, by symmetry, that the centre of mass of the bat lies at its halfway point:
189
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
i.e.,
b =
l
2
. (8.84)
Moreover, the moment of inertia of the bat about a perpendicular axis passing
through one of its ends is
I =
1
3
Ml
2
(8.85)
(this is a standard result). Combining the previous three equations, we obtain
J
= −
_
1 −
3 h
2 l
_
J = −
_
1 −
h
h
0
_
J, (8.86)
where
h
0
=
2
3
l. (8.87)
Clearly, if h = h
0
then no matter how hard the ball is hit (i.e., no matter how
large we make J) zero impulse is applied to the hitter’s hands. We conclude that
the “sweet spot”—or, in scientiﬁc terms, the centre of percussion—of a uniform
baseball bat lies twothirds of the way down the bat from the hitter’s end. If
we adopt a more realistic model of a baseball bat, in which the bat is tapered
such that the majority of its weight is located at its hitting end, we can easily
demonstrate that the centre of percussion is shifted further away from the hitter
(i.e., it is more that twothirds of the way along the bat).
8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
In Sect. 4.7, we analyzed the motion of a block sliding down a frictionless incline.
We found that the block accelerates down the slope with uniform acceleration
g sinθ, where θ is the angle subtended by the incline with the horizontal. In this
case, all of the potential energy lost by the block, as it slides down the slope, is
converted into translational kinetic energy (see Sect. 5). In particular, no energy
is dissipated.
There is, of course, no way in which a block can slide over a frictional surface
without dissipating energy. However, we know from experience that a round
190
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
object can roll over such a surface with hardly any dissipation. For instance, it
is far easier to drag a heavy suitcase across the concourse of an airport if the
suitcase has wheels on the bottom. Let us investigate the physics of round objects
rolling over rough surfaces, and, in particular, rolling down rough inclines.
Consider a uniform cylinder of radius b rolling over a horizontal, frictional
surface. See Fig. 83. Let v be the translational velocity of the cylinder’s centre
of mass, and let ω be the angular velocity of the cylinder about an axis running
along its length, and passing through its centre of mass. Consider the point of
contact between the cylinder and the surface. The velocity v
of this point is
made up of two components: the translational velocity v, which is common to
all elements of the cylinder, and the tangential velocity v
t
= −bω, due to the
cylinder’s rotational motion. Thus,
v
= v −v
t
= v −bω. (8.88)
Suppose that the cylinder rolls without slipping. In other words, suppose that
there is no frictional energy dissipation as the cylinder moves over the surface.
This is only possible if there is zero net motion between the surface and the
bottom of the cylinder, which implies v
= 0, or
v = bω. (8.89)
It follows that when a cylinder, or any other round object, rolls across a rough sur
face without slipping—i.e., without dissipating energy—then the cylinder’s trans
lational and rotational velocities are not independent, but satisfy a particular
relationship (see the above equation). Of course, if the cylinder slips as it rolls
across the surface then this relationship no longer holds.
Consider, now, what happens when the cylinder shown in Fig. 83 rolls, with
out slipping, down a rough slope whose angle of inclination, with respect to the
horizontal, is θ. If the cylinder starts from rest, and rolls down the slope a verti
cal distance h, then its gravitational potential energy decreases by −∆P = Mgh,
where M is the mass of the cylinder. This decrease in potential energy must be
offset by a corresponding increase in kinetic energy. (Recall that when a cylin
der rolls without slipping there is no frictional energy loss.) However, a rolling
cylinder can possesses two different types of kinetic energy. Firstly, translational
191
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
v
t
v
t
v
ω
centre of mass
surface
cylinder
b
Figure 83: A cylinder rolling over a rough surface.
kinetic energy: K
t
= (1/2) Mv
2
, where v is the cylinder’s translational velocity;
and, secondly, rotational kinetic energy: K
r
= (1/2) I ω
2
, where ω is the cylin
der’s angular velocity, and I is its moment of inertia. Hence, energy conservation
yields
Mgh =
1
2
Mv
2
+
1
2
I ω
2
. (8.90)
Now, when the cylinder rolls without slipping, its translational and rotational
velocities are related via Eq. (8.89). It follows from Eq. (8.90) that
v
2
=
2 gh
1 +I/Mb
2
. (8.91)
Making use of the fact that the moment of inertia of a uniform cylinder about
its axis of symmetry is I = (1/2) Mb
2
, we can write the above equation more
explicitly as
v
2
=
4
3
gh. (8.92)
Now, if the same cylinder were to slide down a frictionless slope, such that it fell
from rest through a vertical distance h, then its ﬁnal translational velocity would
satisfy
v
2
= 2 gh. (8.93)
A comparison of Eqs. (8.92) and (8.93) reveals that when a uniform cylinder rolls
down an incline without slipping, its ﬁnal translational velocity is less than that
obtained when the cylinder slides down the same incline without friction. The
reason for this is that, in the former case, some of the potential energy released
192
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
f
R
θ
slope
cylinder
centre of mass
M g
b
Figure 84: A cylinder rolling down a rough incline.
as the cylinder falls is converted into rotational kinetic energy, whereas, in the
latter case, all of the released potential energy is converted into translational
kinetic energy. Note that, in both cases, the cylinder’s total kinetic energy at the
bottom of the incline is equal to the released potential energy.
Let us examine the equations of motion of a cylinder, of mass M and radius
b, rolling down a rough slope without slipping. As shown in Fig. 84, there are
three forces acting on the cylinder. Firstly, we have the cylinder’s weight, Mg,
which acts vertically downwards. Secondly, we have the reaction, R, of the slope,
which acts normally outwards from the surface of the slope. Finally, we have the
frictional force, f, which acts up the slope, parallel to its surface.
As we have already discussed, we can most easily describe the translational
motion of an extended body by following the motion of its centre of mass. This
motion is equivalent to that of a point particle, whose mass equals that of the
body, which is subject to the same external forces as those that act on the body.
Thus, applying the three forces, Mg, R, and f, to the cylinder’s centre of mass,
and resolving in the direction normal to the surface of the slope, we obtain
R = Mg cos θ. (8.94)
Furthermore, Newton’s second law, applied to the motion of the centre of mass
193
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
parallel to the slope, yields
M˙v = Mg sinθ −f, (8.95)
where ˙v is the cylinder’s translational acceleration down the slope.
Let us, now, examine the cylinder’s rotational equation of motion. First, we
must evaluate the torques associated with the three forces acting on the cylin
der. Recall, that the torque associated with a given force is the product of the
magnitude of that force and the length of the level arm—i.e., the perpendicular
distance between the line of action of the force and the axis of rotation. Now, by
deﬁnition, the weight of an extended object acts at its centre of mass. However,
in this case, the axis of rotation passes through the centre of mass. Hence, the
length of the lever arm associated with the weight Mg is zero. It follows that
the associated torque is also zero. It is clear, from Fig. 84, that the line of action
of the reaction force, R, passes through the centre of mass of the cylinder, which
coincides with the axis of rotation. Thus, the length of the lever arm associated
with R is zero, and so is the associated torque. Finally, according to Fig. 84, the
perpendicular distance between the line of action of the friction force, f, and the
axis of rotation is just the radius of the cylinder, b—so the associated torque is
f b. We conclude that the net torque acting on the cylinder is simply
τ = f b. (8.96)
It follows that the rotational equation of motion of the cylinder takes the form,
I ˙ ω = τ = f b, (8.97)
where I is its moment of inertia, and ˙ ω is its rotational acceleration.
Now, if the cylinder rolls, without slipping, such that the constraint (8.89) is
satisﬁed at all times, then the time derivative of this constraint implies the follow
ing relationship between the cylinder’s translational and rotational accelerations:
˙v = b ˙ ω. (8.98)
It follows from Eqs. (8.95) and (8.97) that
˙v =
g sinθ
1 +I/Mb
2
, (8.99)
194
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
f =
Mg sinθ
1 +Mb
2
/I
. (8.100)
Since the moment of inertia of the cylinder is actually I = (1/2) Mb
2
, the above
expressions simplify to give
˙v =
2
3
g sinθ, (8.101)
and
f =
1
3
Mg sinθ. (8.102)
Note that the acceleration of a uniform cylinder as it rolls down a slope, without
slipping, is only twothirds of the value obtained when the cylinder slides down
the same slope without friction. It is clear from Eq. (8.95) that, in the former
case, the acceleration of the cylinder down the slope is retarded by friction. Note,
however, that the frictional force merely acts to convert translational kinetic en
ergy into rotational kinetic energy, and does not dissipate energy.
Now, in order for the slope to exert the frictional force speciﬁed in Eq. (8.102),
without any slippage between the slope and cylinder, this force must be less than
the maximum allowable static frictional force, µR(= µMg cos θ), where µ is the
coefﬁcient of static friction. In other words, the condition for the cylinder to roll
down the slope without slipping is f < µR, or
tanθ < 3 µ. (8.103)
This condition is easily satisﬁed for gentle slopes, but may well be violated for ex
tremely steep slopes (depending on the size of µ). Of course, the above condition
is always violated for frictionless slopes, for which µ = 0.
Suppose, ﬁnally, that we place two cylinders, side by side and at rest, at the top
of a frictional slope of inclination θ. Let the two cylinders possess the same mass,
M, and the same radius, b. However, suppose that the ﬁrst cylinder is uniform,
whereas the second is a hollow shell. Which cylinder reaches the bottom of
the slope ﬁrst, assuming that they are both released simultaneously, and both
roll without slipping? The acceleration of each cylinder down the slope is given
by Eq. (8.99). For the case of the solid cylinder, the moment of inertia is I =
195
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
(1/2) Mb
2
, and so
˙v
solid
=
2
3
g sinθ. (8.104)
For the case of the hollow cylinder, the moment of inertia is I = Mb
2
(i.e., the
same as that of a ring with a similar mass, radius, and axis of rotation), and so
˙v
hollow
=
1
2
g sinθ. (8.105)
It is clear that the solid cylinder reaches the bottom of the slope before the hollow
one (since it possesses the greater acceleration). Note that the accelerations of
the two cylinders are independent of their sizes or masses. This suggests that a
solid cylinder will always roll down a frictional incline faster than a hollow one,
irrespective of their relative dimensions (assuming that they both roll without
slipping). In fact, Eq. (8.99) suggests that whenever two different objects roll
(without slipping) down the same slope, then the most compact object—i.e., the
object with the smallest I/Mb
2
ratio—always wins the race.
Worked example 8.1: Balancing tires
Question: A tire placed on a balancing machine in a service station starts from
rest and turns through 5.3 revolutions in 2.3 s before reaching its ﬁnal angular
speed. What is the angular acceleration of the tire (assuming that this quantity
remains constant)? What is the ﬁnal angular speed of the tire?
Answer: The tire turns through φ = 5.3 × 2 π = 33.30 rad. in t = 2.3 s. The
relationship between φ and t for the case of rotational motion, starting from rest,
with uniform angular acceleration α is
φ =
1
2
αt
2
.
Hence,
α =
2 φ
t
2
=
2 ×33.30
2.3
2
= 12.59 rad./s
2
.
196
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
Given that the tire starts from rest, its angular velocity after t seconds takes
the form
ω = αt = 12.59 ×2.3 = 28.96 rad./s.
Worked example 8.2: Accelerating a wheel
Question: The net work done in accelerating a wheel from rest to an angular
speed of 30 rev./min. is W = 5500 J. What is the moment of inertia of the wheel?
Answer: The ﬁnal angular speed of the wheel is
ω = 30 ×2 π/60 = 3.142 rad./s.
Assuming that all of the work W performed on the wheel goes to increase its
rotational kinetic energy, we have
W =
1
2
I ω
2
,
where I is the wheel’s moment of inertia. It follows that
I =
2 W
ω
2
=
2 ×5500
3.142
2
= 1114.6 kg m
2
.
Worked example 8.3: Moment of inertia of a rod
Question: A rod of mass M = 3 kg and length L = 1.2 m pivots about an axis,
perpendicular to its length, which passes through one of its ends. What is the
moment of inertia of the rod? Given that the rod’s instantaneous angular velocity
is 60 deg./s, what is its rotational kinetic energy?
Answer: The moment of inertia of a rod of mass M and length L about an axis,
perpendicular to its length, which passes through its midpoint is I = (1/12) ML
2
.
This is a standard result. Using the parallel axis theorem, the moment of inertia
about a parallel axis passing through one of the ends of the rod is
I
= I +M
_
L
2
_
2
=
1
3
ML
2
,
197
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
so
I
=
3 ×1.2
2
3
= 1.44 kg m
2
.
The instantaneous angular velocity of the rod is
ω = 60 ×
π
180
= 1.047 rad./s.
Hence, the rod’s rotational kinetic energy is written
K =
1
2
I
ω
2
= 0.5 ×1.44 ×1.047
2
= 0.789 J.
Worked example 8.4: Weight and pulley
Question: A weight of mass m = 2.6 kg is suspended via a light inextensible
cable which is wound around a pulley of mass M = 6.4 kg and radius b = 0.4 m.
Treating the pulley as a uniform disk, ﬁnd the downward acceleration of the
weight and the tension in the cable. Assume that the cable does not slip with
respect to the pulley.
T
mg
ω
pulley
weight
b
Answer: Let v be the instantaneous downward velocity of the weight, ω the in
stantaneous angular velocity of the pulley, and T the tension in the cable. Apply
ing Newton’s second law to the vertical motion of the weight, we obtain
m˙v = mg −T.
198
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
The angular equation of motion of the pulley is written
I ˙ ω = τ,
where I is its moment of inertia, and τ is the torque acting on the pulley. Now, the
only force acting on the pulley (whose line of action does not pass through the
pulley’s axis of rotation) is the tension in the cable. The torque associated with
this force is the product of the tension, T, and the perpendicular distance from
the line of action of this force to the rotation axis, which is equal to the radius, b,
of the pulley. Hence,
τ = T b.
If the cable does not slip with respect to the pulley, then its downward velocity, v,
must match the tangential velocity of the outer surface of the pulley, bω. Thus,
v = bω.
It follows that
˙v = b ˙ ω.
The above equations can be combined to give
˙v =
g
1 +I/mb
2
,
T =
mg
1 +mb
2
/I
.
Now, the moment of inertia of the pulley is I = (1/2) Mb
2
. Hence, the above
expressions reduce to
˙v =
g
1 +M/2 m
=
9.81
1 +6.4/2 ×2.6
= 4.40 m/s
2
,
T =
mg
1 +2 m/M
=
2.6 ×9.81
1 +2 ×2.6/6.4
= 14.07 N.
Worked example 8.5: Hinged rod
Question: A uniform rod of mass m = 5.3 kg and length l = 1.3 m rotates about a
ﬁxed frictionless pivot located at one of its ends. The rod is released from rest at
199
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
an angle θ = 35
◦
beneath the horizontal. What is the angular acceleration of the
rod immediately after it is released?
m g
θ
l
l/2
x
pivot
rod
Answer: The moment of inertia of a rod of mass m and length l about an axis,
perpendicular to its length, which passes through one of its ends is I = (1/3) ml
2
(see question 8.3). Hence,
I =
5.3 ×1.3
2
3
= 2.986 kg m
2
.
The angular equation of motion of the rod is
I α = τ,
where α is the rod’s angular acceleration, and τ is the net torque exerted on the
rod. Now, the only force acting on the rod (whose line of action does not pass
through the pivot) is the rod’s weight, mg. This force acts at the centre of mass
of the rod, which is situated at the rod’s midpoint. The perpendicular distance x
between the line of action of the weight and the pivot point is simply
x =
l
2
cos θ =
1.3 ×cos 35
◦
2
= 0.532 m.
Thus, the torque acting on the rod is
τ = mgx.
It follows that the rod’s angular acceleration is written
α =
τ
I
=
mgx
I
=
5.3 ×9.81 ×0.532
2.986
= 9.26 rad./s
2
.
200
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
Worked example 8.6: Horsepower of engine
Question: A car engine develops a torque of τ = 500 Nmand rotates at 3000 rev./min..
What horsepower does the engine generate? (1 hp = 746 W).
Answer: The angular speed of the engine is
ω = 3000 ×2 π/60 = 314.12 rad./s.
Thus, the power output of the engine is
P = ωτ = 314.12 ×500 = 1.57 ×10
5
W.
In units of horsepower, this becomes
P =
1.57 ×10
5
746
= 210.5 hp.
Worked example 8.7: Rotating cylinder
Question: A uniform cylinder of radius b = 0.25 m is given an angular speed
of ω
0
= 35 rad./s about an axis, parallel to its length, which passes through its
centre. The cylinder is gently lowered onto a horizontal frictional surface, and
released. The coefﬁcient of friction of the surface is µ = 0.15. How long does it
take before the cylinder starts to roll without slipping? What distance does the
cylinder travel between its release point and the point at which it commences to
roll without slipping?
Answer: Let v be the velocity of the cylinder’s centre of mass, ω the cylinder’s
angular velocity, f the frictional force exerted by the surface on the cylinder, M
the cylinder’s mass, and I the cylinder’s moment of inertia. The cylinder’s trans
lational equation of motion is written
M˙v = f.
Note that the friction force acts to accelerate the cylinder’s translational motion.
Likewise, the cylinder’s rotational equation of motion takes the form
I ˙ ω = −f b,
201
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
ω
v
f
cylinder
surface
b
since the perpendicular distance between the line of action of f and the axis
of rotation is the radius, b, of the cylinder. Note that the friction force acts to
decelerate the cylinder’s rotational motion. If the cylinder is slipping with respect
to the surface, then the friction force, f, is equal to the coefﬁcient of friction, µ,
times the normal reaction, Mg, at the surface:
f = µMg.
Finally, the moment of inertia of the cylinder is
I =
1
2
Mb
2
.
The above equations can be solved to give
˙v = µg,
b ˙ ω = −2 µg.
Given that v = 0 (i.e., the cylinder is initially at rest) and ω = ω
0
at time t = 0,
the above expressions can be integrated to give
v = µgt,
bω = bω
0
−2 µgt,
which yields
v −bω = −(bω
0
−3 µgt).
Now, the cylinder stops slipping as soon as the “no slip” condition,
v = bω,
202
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion
is satisﬁed. This occurs when
t =
bω
0
3 µg
=
0.25 ×35
3 ×0.15 ×9.81
= 1.98 s.
Whilst it is slipping, the cylinder travels a distance
x =
1
2
µgt
2
= 0.5 ×0.15 ×9.81 ×1.98
2
= 2.88 m.
203
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM
9 Angular momentum
9.1 Introduction
Two physical quantities are noticeable by their absence in Table 3. Namely, mo
mentum, and its rotational concomitant angular momentum. It turns out that
angular momentum is a sufﬁciently important concept to merit a separate discus
sion.
9.2 Angular momentum of a point particle
Consider a particle of mass m, position vector r, and instantaneous velocity v,
which rotates about an axis passing through the origin of our coordinate system.
We know that the particle’s linear momentum is written
p = mv, (9.1)
and satisﬁes
dp
dt
= f, (9.2)
where f is the force acting on the particle. Let us search for the rotational equiv
alent of p.
Consider the quantity
l = r ×p. (9.3)
This quantity—which is known as angular momentum—is a vector of magnitude
l = r p sinθ, (9.4)
where θ is the angle subtended between the directions of r and p. The direction of
l is deﬁned to be mutually perpendicular to the directions of r and p, in the sense
given by the righthand grip rule. In other words, if vector r rotates onto vector
p (through an angle less than 180
◦
), and the ﬁngers of the righthand are aligned
with this rotation, then the thumb of the righthand indicates the direction of l.
See Fig. 85.
204
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.2 Angular momentum of a point particle
θ
r
p
l = r p sin θ
O
particle
origin
l
Figure 85: Angular momentum of a point particle about the origin.
Let us differentiate Eq. (9.3) with respect to time. We obtain
dl
dt
= ˙r ×p +r × ˙ p. (9.5)
Note that the derivative of a vector product is formed in much the same manner
as the derivative of an ordinary product, except that the order of the various
terms is preserved. Now, we know that ˙r = v = p/m and ˙ p = f. Hence, we obtain
dl
dt
=
p ×p
m
+r ×f. (9.6)
However, p×p = 0, since the vector product of two parallel vectors is zero. Also,
r ×f = τ, (9.7)
where τ is the torque acting on the particle about an axis passing through the
origin. We conclude that
dl
dt
= τ. (9.8)
Of course, this equation is analogous to Eq. (9.2), which suggests that angular
momentum, l, plays the role of linear momentum, p, in rotational dynamics.
For the special case of a particle of mass m executing a circular orbit of ra
dius r, with instantaneous velocity v and instantaneous angular velocity ω, the
magnitude of the particle’s angular momentum is simply
l = mv r = mωr
2
. (9.9)
205
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.3 Angular momentum of an extended object
9.3 Angular momentum of an extended object
Consider a rigid object rotating about some ﬁxed axis with angular velocity ω.
Let us model this object as a swarm of N particles. Suppose that the ith particle
has mass m
i
, position vector r
i
, and velocity v
i
. Incidentally, it is assumed that
the object’s axis of rotation passes through the origin of our coordinate system.
The total angular momentum of the object, L, is simply the vector sum of the
angular momenta of the N particles from which it is made up. Hence,
L =
i=1,N
m
i
r
i
×v
i
. (9.10)
Now, for a rigidly rotating object we can write (see Sect. 8.4)
v
i
= ω×r
i
. (9.11)
Let
ω= ωk, (9.12)
where k is a unit vector pointing along the object’s axis of rotation (in the sense
given by the righthand grip rule). It follows that
L = ω
i=1,N
m
i
r
i
×(k ×r
i
). (9.13)
Let us calculate the component of L along the object’s rotation axis—i.e., the
component along the k axis. We can write
L
k
= L · k = ω
i=1,N
m
i
k · r
i
×(k ×r
i
). (9.14)
However, since a · b ×c = a ×b · c, the above expression can be rewritten
L
k
= ω
i=1,N
m
i
(k ×r
i
) · (k ×r
i
) = ω
i=1,N
m
i
k ×r
i

2
. (9.15)
Now,
i=1,N
m
i
k ×r
i

2
= I
k
, (9.16)
206
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.3 Angular momentum of an extended object
where I
k
is the moment of inertia of the object about the k axis. (see Sect. 8.6).
Hence, it follows that
L
k
= I
k
ω. (9.17)
According to the above formula, the component of a rigid body’s angular mo
mentum vector along its axis of rotation is simply the product of the body’s mo
ment of inertia about this axis and the body’s angular velocity. Does this result
imply that we can automatically write
L = I ω? (9.18)
Unfortunately, in general, the answer to the above question is no! This conclusion
follows because the body may possess nonzero angular momentum components
about axes perpendicular to its axis of rotation. Thus, in general, the angular
momentum vector of a rotating body is not parallel to its angular velocity vector.
This is a major difference from translational motion, where linear momentum is
always found to be parallel to linear velocity.
For a rigid object rotating with angular velocity ω = (ω
x
, ω
y
, ω
z
), we can
write the object’s angular momentum L = (L
x
, L
y
, L
z
) in the form
L
x
= I
x
ω
x
, (9.19)
L
y
= I
y
ω
y
, (9.20)
L
z
= I
z
ω
z
, (9.21)
where I
x
is the moment of inertia of the object about the xaxis, etc. Here, it is
again assumed that the origin of our coordinate system lies on the object’s axis
of rotation. Note that the above equations are only valid when the x, y, and
zaxes are aligned in a certain very special manner—in fact, they must be aligned
along the socalled principal axes of the object (these axes invariably coincide
with the object’s main symmetry axes). Note that it is always possible to ﬁnd
three, mutually perpendicular, principal axes of rotation which pass through a
given point in a rigid body. Reconstructing L from its components, we obtain
L = I
x
ω
x
^ x +I
y
ω
y
^ y +I
z
ω
z
^z, (9.22)
207
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.3 Angular momentum of an extended object
where ^ x is a unit vector pointing along the xaxis, etc. It is clear, from the above
equation, that the reason L is not generally parallel to ωis because the moments
of inertia of a rigid object about its different possible axes of rotation are not
generally the same. In other words, if I
x
= I
y
= I
z
= I then L = I ω, and the
angular momentum and angular velocity vectors are always parallel. However, if
I
x
= I
y
= I
z
, which is usually the case, then L is not, in general, parallel to ω.
Although Eq. (9.22) suggests that the angular momentum of a rigid object is
not generally parallel to its angular velocity, this equation also implies that there
are, at least, three special axes of rotation for which this is the case. Suppose, for
instance, that the object rotates about the zaxis, so that ω = ω
z
^z. It follows
from Eq. (9.22) that
L = I
z
ω
z
^z = I
z
ω. (9.23)
Thus, in this case, the angular momentumvector is parallel to the angular velocity
vector. The same can be said for rotation about the x or y axes. We conclude
that when a rigid object rotates about one of its principal axes then its angular
momentum is parallel to its angular velocity, but not, in general, otherwise.
How can we identify a principal axis of a rigid object? At the simplest level,
a principal axis is one about which the object possesses axial symmetry. The
required type of symmetry is illustrated in Fig. 86. Assuming that the object
can be modeled as a swarm of particles—for every particle of mass m, located
a distance r from the origin, and subtending an angle θ with the rotation axis,
there must be an identical particle located on diagrammatically the opposite side
of the rotation axis. As shown in the diagram, the angular momentum vectors
of such a matched pair of particles can be added together to form a resultant
angular momentum vector which is parallel to the axis of rotation. Thus, if the
object is composed entirely of matched particle pairs then its angular momentum
vector must be parallel to its angular velocity vector. The generalization of this
argument to deal with continuous objects is fairly straightforward. For instance,
symmetry implies that any axis of rotation which passes through the centre of a
uniform sphere is a principal axis of that object. Likewise, a perpendicular axis
which passes through the centre of a uniform disk is a principal axis. Finally, a
perpendicular axis which passes through the centre of a uniform rod is a principal
axis.
208
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
l
1
l
2
l
1
l
2
ω
r r θ θ
m m
O
axis of rotation
v
1
v
2 l
Figure 86: A principal axis of rotation.
9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
Consider a system consisting of N mutually interacting point particles. Such
a system might represent a true multicomponent system, such as an asteroid
cloud, or it might represent an extended body. Let the ith particle, whose mass is
m
i
, be located at vector displacement r
i
. Suppose that this particle exerts a force
f
ji
on the jth particle. By Newton’s third law of motion, the force f
ij
exerted by
the jth particle on the ith is given by
f
ij
= −f
ji
. (9.24)
Let us assume that the internal forces acting within the system are central forces—
i.e., the force f
ij
, acting between particles i and j, is directed along the line of
centres of these particles. See Fig. 87. In other words,
f
ij
∝ (r
i
−r
j
). (9.25)
Incidentally, this is not a particularly restrictive assumption, since most forces
occurring in nature are central forces. For instance, gravity is a central force,
electrostatic forces are central, and the internal stresses acting within a rigid
body are approximately central. Suppose, ﬁnally, that the ith particle is subject
to an external force F
i
.
209
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
f
i j
f
j i
r
i
r
j
m
i
j
m
F
F
i
j
line of centres
Figure 87: A multicomponent system with central internal forces.
The equation of motion of the ith particle can be written
˙ p
i
=
j=i
j=1,N
f
ij
+F
i
. (9.26)
Taking the vector product of this equation with the position vector r
i
, we obtain
r
i
× ˙ p
i
=
j=i
j=1,N
r
i
×f
ij
+r
i
×F
i
. (9.27)
Now, we have already seen that
r
i
× ˙ p
i
=
d(r
i
×p
i
)
dt
. (9.28)
We also know that the total angular momentum, L, of the system (about the
origin) can be written in the form
L =
i=1,N
r
i
×p
i
. (9.29)
Hence, summing Eq. (9.27) over all particles, we obtain
dL
dt
=
i=j
i,j=1,N
r
i
×f
ij
+
i=1,N
r
i
×F
i
. (9.30)
210
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
Consider the ﬁrst expression on the righthand side of Eq. (9.30). A general
term, r
i
× f
ij
, in this sum can always be paired with a matching term, r
j
× f
ji
, in
which the indices have been swapped. Making use of Eq. (9.24), the sum of a
general matched pair can be written
r
i
×f
ij
+r
j
×f
ji
= (r
i
−r
j
) ×f
ij
. (9.31)
However, if the internal forces are central in nature then f
ij
is parallel to (r
i
−r
j
).
Hence, the vector product of these two vectors is zero. We conclude that
r
i
×f
ij
+r
j
×f
ji
= 0, (9.32)
for any values of i and j. Thus, the ﬁrst expression on the righthand side of
Eq. (9.30) sums to zero. We are left with
dL
dt
= τ, (9.33)
where
τ =
i=1,N
r
i
×F
i
(9.34)
is the net external torque acting on the system (about an axis passing through
the origin). Of course, Eq. (9.33) is simply the rotational equation of motion for
the system taken as a whole.
Suppose that the system is isolated, such that it is subject to zero net external
torque. It follows from Eq. (9.33) that, in this case, the total angular momentum
of the system is a conserved quantity. To be more exact, the components of the to
tal angular momentum taken about any three independent axes are individually
conserved quantities. Conservation of angular momentum is an extremely useful
concept which greatly simpliﬁes the analysis of a wide range of rotating systems.
Let us consider some examples.
Suppose that two identical weights of mass m are attached to a light rigid rod
which rotates without friction about a perpendicular axis passing through its mid
point. Imagine that the two weights are equipped with small motors which allow
them to travel along the rod: the motors are synchronized in such a manner that
the distance of the two weights from the axis of rotation is always the same. Let
211
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
ω
d d
axle
rod weight
m m
Figure 88: Two movable weights on a rotating rod.
us call this common distance d, and let ω be the angular velocity of the rod. See
Fig. 88. How does the angular velocity ω change as the distance d is varied?
Note that there are no external torques acting on the system. It follows that the
system’s angular momentum must remain constant as the weights move along the
rod. Neglecting the contribution of the rod, the moment of inertia of the system
is written
I = 2 md
2
. (9.35)
Since the system is rotating about a principal axis, its angular momentum takes
the form
L = I ω = 2 md
2
ω. (9.36)
If L is a constant of the motion then we obtain
ωd
2
= constant. (9.37)
In other words, the system spins faster as the weights move inwards towards the
axis of rotation, and vice versa. This effect is familiar from ﬁgure skating. When
a skater spins about a vertical axis, her angular momentum is approximately a
conserved quantity, since the ice exerts very little torque on her. Thus, if the
skater starts spinning with outstretched arms, and then draws her arms inwards,
then her rate of rotation will spontaneously increase in order to conserve angular
momentum. The skater can slow her rate of rotation by simply pushing her arms
outwards again.
212
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
v
d
m
M
rod
bullet
pivot
b
Figure 89: A bullet strikes a pivoted rod.
Suppose that a bullet of mass m and velocity v strikes, and becomes embedded
in, a stationary rod of mass M and length 2 b which pivots about a frictionless
perpendicular axle passing through its midpoint. Let the bullet strike the rod
normally a distance d from its axis of rotation. See Fig. 89. What is the instanta
neous angular velocity ω of the rod (and bullet) immediately after the collision?
Taking the bullet and the rod as a whole, this is again a system upon which
no external torque acts. Thus, we expect the system’s net angular momentum to
be the same before and after the collision. Before the collision, only the bullet
possesses angular momentum, since the rod is at rest. As is easily demonstrated,
the bullet’s angular momentum about the pivot point is
l = mv d : (9.38)
i.e., the product of its mass, its velocity, and its distance of closest approach to the
point about which the angular momentum is measured—this is a general result
(for a point particle). After the collision, the bullet lodges a distance d from the
pivot, and is forced to corotate with the rod. Hence, the angular momentum of
the bullet after the collision is given by
l
= md
2
ω, (9.39)
where ω is the angular velocity of the rod. The angular momentum of the rod
after the collision is
L = I ω, (9.40)
213
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
where I = (1/12) M(2 b)
2
= (1/3) Mb
2
is the rod’s moment of inertia (about
a perpendicular axis passing through its midpoint). Conservation of angular
momentum yields
l = l
+L, (9.41)
or
ω =
mv d
I +md
2
. (9.42)
Worked example 9.1: Angular momentum of a missile
Question: A missile of mass m = 2.3×10
4
kg ﬂies level to the ground at an altitude
of d = 10, 000 m with constant speed v = 210 m/s. What is the magnitude of the
missile’s angular momentum relative to a point on the ground directly below its
ﬂight path?
r
v
θ
d
r
ground O
Answer: The missile’s angular momentum about point O is
L = mv r sinθ,
where θ is the angle subtended between the missile’s velocity vector and its posi
tion vector relative to O. However,
r sinθ = d,
where d is the distance of closest approach of the missile to point O. Hence,
L = mv d = (2.3 ×10
4
) ×210 ×(1 ×10
4
) = 4.83 ×10
10
kg m
2
/s.
214
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
Worked example 9.2: Angular momentum of a sphere
Question: A uniform sphere of mass M = 5 kg and radius a = 0.2 m spins about
an axis passing through its centre with period T = 0.7 s. What is the angular
momentum of the sphere?
Answer: The angular velocity of the sphere is
ω =
2 π
T
=
2 π
0.7
= 8.98 rad./s.
The moment of inertia of the sphere is
I =
2
5
Ma
2
= 0.4 ×5 ×(0.2)
2
= 0.08 kg m
2
.
Hence, the angular momentum of the sphere is
L = I ω = 0.08 ×8.98 = 0.718 kg m
2
/s.
Worked example 9.3: Spinning skater
Question: A skater spins at an initial angular velocity of ω
1
= 11 rad./s with her
arms outstretched. The skater then lowers her arms, thereby decreasing her mo
ment of inertia by a factor 8. What is the skater’s ﬁnal angular velocity? Assume
that any friction between the skater’s skates and the ice is negligible.
Answer: Neglecting any friction between the skates and the ice, we expect the
skater to spin with constant angular momentum. The skater’s initial angular
momentum is
L
1
= I
1
ω
1
,
where I
1
is the skater’s initial moment of inertia. The skater’s ﬁnal angular mo
mentum is
L
2
= I
2
ω
2
,
where I
2
is the skater’s ﬁnal moment of inertia, and ω
2
is her ﬁnal angular veloc
ity. Conservation of angular momentum yields L
1
= L
2
, or
ω
2
=
I
1
I
2
ω
2
.
215
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
Now, we are told that I
1
/I
2
= 8. Hence,
ω
2
= 8 ×11 = 88 rad./s.
216
10 STATICS
10 Statics
10.1 Introduction
Probably the most useful application of the laws of mechanics is the study of situ
ations in which nothing moves—this discipline is known as statics. The principles
of statics are employed by engineers whenever they design stationary structures,
such as buildings, bridges, and tunnels, in order to ensure that these structures
do not collapse.
10.2 The principles of statics
Consider a general extended body which is subject to a number of external forces.
Let us model this body as a swarm of N point particles. In the limit that N →∞,
this model becomes a fully accurate representation of the body’s dynamics.
In Sect. 6.3 we determined that the overall translational equation of motion of
a general Ncomponent system can be written in the form
dP
dt
= F. (10.1)
Here, P is the total linear momentum of the system, and
F =
i=1,N
F
i
(10.2)
is the resultant of all the external forces acting on the system. Note that F
i
is the
external force acting on the ith component of the system.
Equation (10.1) effectively determines the translational motion of the system’s
centre of mass. Note, however, that in order to fully determine the motion of the
system we must also follow its rotational motion about its centre of mass (or any
other convenient reference point). In Sect. 9.4 we determined that the overall
rotational equation of motion of a general Ncomponent system (with central
217
10 STATICS 10.2 The principles of statics
internal forces) can be written in the form
dL
dt
= τ. (10.3)
Here, L is the total angular momentum of the system (about the origin of our
coordinate scheme), and
τ =
i=1,N
r
i
×F
i
(10.4)
is the resultant of all the external torques acting on the system (about the origin
of our coordinate scheme). In the above, r
i
is the vector displacement of the ith
component of the system.
What conditions must be satisﬁed by the various external forces and torques
acting on the system if it is to remain stationary in time? Well, if the system
does not evolve in time then its net linear momentum, P, and its net angular
momentum, L, must both remain constant. In other words, dP/dt = dL/dt = 0.
It follows from Eqs. (10.1) and (10.3) that
F = 0, (10.5)
τ = 0. (10.6)
In other words, the net external force acting on system must be zero, and the net
external torque acting on the system must be zero. To be more exact:
The components of the net external force acting along any three independent
directions must all be zero;
and
The magnitudes of the net external torques acting about any three indepen
dent axes (passing through the origin of the coordinate system) must all be
zero.
In a nutshell, these are the principles of statics.
218
10 STATICS 10.2 The principles of statics
It is clear that the above principles are necessary conditions for a general phys
ical system not to evolve in time. But, are they also sufﬁcient conditions? In other
words, is it necessarily true that a general system which satisﬁes these conditions
does not exhibit any time variation? The answer to this question is as follows: if
the system under investigation is a rigid body, such that the motion of any com
ponent of the body necessarily implies the motion of the whole body, then the
above principles are necessary and sufﬁcient conditions for the existence of an
equilibrium state. On the other hand, if the system is not a rigid body, so that
some components of the body can move independently of others, then the above
conditions only guarantee that the system remains static in an average sense.
Before we attempt to apply the principles of statics, there are a couple of
important points which need clariﬁcation. Firstly, does it matter about which
point we calculate the net torque acting on the system? To be more exact, if
we determine that the net torque acting about a given point is zero does this
necessarily imply that the net torque acting about any other point is also zero?
Well,
τ =
i=1,N
r
i
×F
i
(10.7)
is the net torque acting on the system about the origin of our coordinate scheme.
The net torque about some general point r
0
is simply
τ
=
i=1,N
(r
i
−r
0
) ×F
i
. (10.8)
However, we can rewrite the above expression as
τ
=
i=1,N
r
i
×F
i
−r
0
×
_
_
_
i=1,N
F
i
_
_
_ = τ +r
0
×F. (10.9)
Now, if the system is in equilibrium then F = τ = 0. Hence, it follows from the
above equation that
τ
= 0. (10.10)
In other words, for a system in equilibrium, the determination that the net torque
acting about a given point is zero necessarily implies that the net torque acting
about any other point is also zero. Hence, we can choose the point about which
219
10 STATICS 10.3 Equilibrium of a laminar object in a gravitational ﬁeld
we calculate the net torque at will—this choice is usually made so as to simplify
the calculation.
Another question which needs clariﬁcation is as follows. At which point should
we assume that the weight of the system acts in order to calculate the contribu
tion of the weight to the net torque acting about a given point? Actually, in
Sect. 8.11, we effectively answered this question by assuming that the weight
acts at the centre of mass of the system. Let us now justify this assumption. The
external force acting on the ith component of the system due to its weight is
F
i
= m
i
g, (10.11)
where g is the acceleration due to gravity (which is assumed to be uniform
throughout the system). Hence, the net gravitational torque acting on the system
about the origin of our coordinate scheme is
τ =
i=1,N
r
i
×m
i
g =
_
_
_
i=1,N
m
i
r
i
_
_
_ ×g = r
cm
×Mg, (10.12)
where M =
i=1,N
m
i
is the total mass of the system, and r
cm
=
i=1,N
m
i
r
i
/M
is the position vector of its centre of mass. It follows, from the above equation,
that the net gravitational torque acting on the system about a given point can be
calculated by assuming that the total mass of the system is concentrated at its
centre of mass.
10.3 Equilibrium of a laminar object in a gravitational ﬁeld
Consider a general laminar object which is free to pivot about a ﬁxed perpendic
ular axis. Assuming that the object is placed in a uniform gravitational ﬁeld (such
as that on the surface of the Earth), what is the object’s equilibrium conﬁguration
in this ﬁeld?
Let O represent the pivot point, and let C be the centre of mass of the ob
ject. See Fig. 90. Suppose that r represents the distance between points O and
C, whereas θ is the angle subtended between the line OC and the downward
220
10 STATICS 10.3 Equilibrium of a laminar object in a gravitational ﬁeld
d
h
θ
r
Mg
C
O
Figure 90: A laminar object pivoting about a ﬁxed point in a gravitational ﬁeld.
vertical. There are two external forces acting on the object. First, there is the
downward force, Mg, due to gravity, which acts at the centre of mass. Second,
there is the reaction, R, due to the pivot, which acts at the pivot point. Here, M
is the mass of the object, and g is the acceleration due to gravity.
Two conditions must be satisﬁed in order for a given conﬁguration of the object
shown in Fig. 90 to represent an equilibrium conﬁguration. First, there must be
zero net external force acting on the object. This implies that the reaction, R, is
equal and opposite to the gravitational force, Mg. In other words, the reaction
is of magnitude Mg and is directed vertically upwards. The second condition
is that there must be zero net torque acting about the pivot point. Now, the
reaction, R, does not generate a torque, since it acts at the pivot point. Moreover,
the torque associated with the gravitational force, Mg, is simply the magnitude
of this force times the length of the lever arm, d (see Fig. 90). Hence, the net
torque acting on the system about the pivot point is
τ = Mgd = Mgr sinθ. (10.13)
Setting this torque to zero, we obtain sinθ = 0, which implies that θ = 0
◦
. In
other words, the equilibrium conﬁguration of a general laminar object (which is
free to rotate about a ﬁxed perpendicular axis in a uniform gravitational ﬁeld) is
that in which the centre of mass of the object is aligned vertically below the pivot
point.
221
10 STATICS 10.3 Equilibrium of a laminar object in a gravitational ﬁeld
Incidentally, we can use the above result to experimentally determine the cen
tre of mass of a given laminar object. We would need to suspend the object from
two different pivot points, successively. In each equilibrium conﬁguration, we
would mark a line running vertically downward from the pivot point, using a
plumbline. The crossing point of these two lines would indicate the position of
the centre of mass.
Our discussion of the equilibrium conﬁguration of the laminar object shown in
Fig. 90 is not quite complete. We have determined that the condition which must
be satisﬁed by an equilibrium state is sinθ = 0. However, there are, in fact, two
physical roots of this equation. The ﬁrst, θ = 0
◦
, corresponds to the case where
the centre of mass of the object is aligned vertically below the pivot point. The
second, θ = 180
◦
, corresponds to the case where the centre of mass is aligned
vertically above the pivot point. Of course, the former root is far more important
than the latter, since the former root corresponds to a stable equilibrium, whereas
the latter corresponds to an unstable equilibrium. We recall, from Sect. 5.7, that
when a system is slightly disturbed from a stable equilibrium then the forces and
torques which act upon it tend to return it to this equilibrium, and vice versa for an
unstable equilibrium. The easiest way to distinguish between stable and unstable
equilibria, in the present case, is to evaluate the gravitational potential energy of
the system. The potential energy of the object shown in Fig. 90, calculated using
the height of the pivot as the reference height, is simply
U = −Mgh = −Mgr cos θ. (10.14)
(Note that the gravitational potential energy of an extended object can be calcu
lated by imagining that all of the mass of the object is concentrated at its centre
of mass.) It can be seen that θ = 0
◦
corresponds to a minimum of this poten
tial, whereas θ = 180
◦
corresponds to a maximum. This is in accordance with
Sect. 5.7, where it was demonstrated that whenever an object moves in a con
servative forceﬁeld (such as a gravitational ﬁeld), the stable equilibrium points
correspond to minima of the potential energy associated with this ﬁeld, whereas
the unstable equilibrium points correspond to maxima.
222
10 STATICS 10.4 Rods and cables
10.4 Rods and cables
Consider a uniform rod of mass M and length l which is suspended horizontally
via two vertical cables. Let the points of attachment of the two cables be located
distances x
1
and x
2
from one of the ends of the rod, labeled A. It is assumed that
x
2
> x
1
. See Fig. 91. What are the tensions, T
1
and T
2
, in the cables?
Let us ﬁrst locate the centre of mass of the rod, which is situated at the rod’s
midpoint, a distance l/2 from reference point A (see Fig. 91). There are three
forces acting on the rod: the gravitational force, Mg, and the two tension forces,
T
1
and T
2
. Each of these forces is directed vertically. Thus, the condition that zero
net force acts on the system reduces to the condition that the net vertical force is
zero, which yields
T
1
+T
2
−Mg = 0. (10.15)
Consider the torques exerted by the three abovementioned forces about point
A. Each of these torques attempts to twist the rod about an axis perpendicular
to the plane of the diagram. Hence, the condition that zero net torque acts on
the system reduces to the condition that the net torque at point A, about an
axis perpendicular to the plane of the diagram, is zero. The contribution of each
force to this torque is simply the product of the magnitude of the force and the
length of the associated lever arm. In each case, the length of the lever arm is
equivalent to the distance of the point of action of the force from A, measured
along the length of the rod. Hence, setting the net torque to zero, we obtain
x
1
T
1
+x
2
T
2
−
l
2
Mg = 0. (10.16)
Note that the torque associated with the gravitational force, Mg, has a minus sign
in front, because this torque obviously attempts to twist the rod in the opposite
direction to the torques associated with the tensions in the cables.
The previous two equations can be solved to give
T
1
=
_
_
x
2
−l/2
x
2
−x
1
_
_
Mg, (10.17)
223
10 STATICS 10.4 Rods and cables
x
2
T
1
T
2
l/2
1
x
M g
A
Figure 91: A horizontal rod suspended by two vertical cables.
T
2
=
_
_
l/2 −x
1
x
2
−x
1
_
_
Mg. (10.18)
Recall that tensions in ﬂexible cables can never be negative, since this would
imply that the cables in question were being compressed. Of course, when cables
are compressed they simply collapse. It is clear, from the above expressions, that
in order for the tensions T
1
and T
2
to remain positive (given that x
2
> x
1
), the
following conditions must be satisﬁed:
x
1
<
l
2
, (10.19)
x
2
>
l
2
. (10.20)
In other words, the attachment points of the two cables must straddle the centre
of mass of the rod.
Consider a uniform rod of mass M and length l which is free to rotate in the
vertical plane about a ﬁxed pivot attached to one of its ends. The other end of
the rod is attached to a ﬁxed cable. We can imagine that both the pivot and the
cable are anchored in the same vertical wall. See Fig. 92. Suppose that the rod is
level, and that the cable subtends an angle θ with the horizontal. Assuming that
the rod is in equilibrium, what is the magnitude of the tension, T, in the cable,
and what is the direction and magnitude of the reaction, R, at the pivot?
224
10 STATICS 10.4 Rods and cables
wall
M g
l
θ
rod
cable
T
pivot
φ
R
Figure 92: A rod suspended by a ﬁxed pivot and a cable.
As usual, the centre of mass of the rod lies at its midpoint. There are three
forces acting on the rod: the reaction, R; the weight, Mg; and the tension, T.
The reaction acts at the pivot. Let φ be the angle subtended by the reaction with
the horizontal, as shown in Fig. 92. The weight acts at the centre of mass of the
rod, and is directed vertically downwards. Finally, the tension acts at the end of
the rod, and is directed along the cable.
Resolving horizontally, and setting the net horizontal force acting on the rod
to zero, we obtain
R cos φ −T cos θ = 0. (10.21)
Likewise, resolving vertically, and setting the net vertical force acting on the rod
to zero, we obtain
R sinφ +T sinθ −Mg = 0. (10.22)
The above constraints are sufﬁcient to ensure that zero net force acts on the rod.
Let us evaluate the net torque acting at the pivot point (about an axis perpen
dicular to the plane of the diagram). The reaction, R, does not contribute to this
torque, since it acts at the pivot point. The length of the lever arm associated
with the weight, Mg, is l/2. Simple trigonometry reveals that the length of the
lever arm associated with the tension, T, is l sinθ. Hence, setting the net torque
225
10 STATICS 10.5 Ladders and walls
about the pivot point to zero, we obtain
Mg
l
2
−T l sinθ = 0. (10.23)
Note that there is a minus sign in front of the second torque, since this torque
clearly attempts to twist the rod in the opposite sense to the ﬁrst.
Equations (10.21) and (10.22) can be solved to give
T =
cos φ
sin(θ +φ)
Mg, (10.24)
R =
cos θ
sin(θ +φ)
Mg. (10.25)
Substituting Eq. (10.24) into Eq. (10.23), we obtain
sin(θ +φ) = 2 sinθ cos φ. (10.26)
The physical solution of this equation is φ = θ (recall that sin2 θ = 2 sinθ cos θ),
which determines the direction of the reaction at the pivot. Finally, Eqs. (10.24)
and (10.25) yield
T = R =
Mg
2 sinθ
, (10.27)
which determines both the magnitude of the tension in the cable and that of the
reaction at the pivot.
One important point to note about the above solution is that if φ = θ then the
lines of action of the three forces—R, Mg, and T—intersect at the same point,
as shown in Fig. 92. This is an illustration of a general rule. Namely, whenever a
rigid body is in equilibrium under the action of three forces, then these forces are
either mutually parallel, as shown in Fig. 91, or their lines of action pass through
the same point, as shown in Fig. 92.
10.5 Ladders and walls
Suppose that a ladder of length l and negligible mass is leaning against a vertical
wall, making an angle θ with the horizontal. A workman of mass M climbs
226
10 STATICS 10.5 Ladders and walls
x
l
M g
θ
S
R
wall
ladder
ground
f
workman
Figure 93: A ladder leaning against a vertical wall.
a distance x along the ladder, measured from the bottom. See Fig. 93. Suppose
that the wall is completely frictionless, but that the ground possesses a coefﬁcient
of static friction µ. How far up the ladder can the workman climb before it slips
along the ground? Is it possible for the workman to climb to the top of the ladder
without any slippage occurring?
There are four forces acting on the ladder: the weight, Mg, of the workman;
the reaction, S, at the wall; the reaction, R, at the ground; and the frictional
force, f, due to the ground. The weight acts at the position of the workman, and
is directed vertically downwards. The reaction, S, acts at the top of the ladder,
and is directed horizontally (i.e., normal to the surface of the wall). The reaction,
R, acts at the bottom of the ladder, and is directed vertically upwards (i.e., normal
to the ground). Finally, the frictional force, f, also acts at the bottom of the ladder,
and is directed horizontally.
Resolving horizontally, and setting the net horizontal force acting on the ladder
to zero, we obtain
S −f = 0. (10.28)
Resolving vertically, and setting the net vertically force acting on the ladder to
zero, we obtain
R −Mg = 0. (10.29)
Evaluating the torque acting about the point where the ladder touches the ground,
we note that only the forces Mg and S contribute. The lever arm associated with
the force Mg is x cos θ. The lever arm associated with the force S is l sinθ. Fur
227
10 STATICS 10.6 Jointed rods
thermore, the torques associated with these two forces act in opposite directions.
Hence, setting the net torque about the bottom of the ladder to zero, we obtain
Mgx cos θ −Sl sinθ = 0. (10.30)
The above three equations can be solved to give
R = Mg, (10.31)
and
f = S =
x
l tanθ
Mg. (10.32)
Now, the condition for the ladder not to slip with respect to the ground is
f < µR. (10.33)
This condition reduces to
x < l µ tanθ. (10.34)
Thus, the furthest distance that the workman can climb along the ladder before
it slips is
x
max
= l µ tanθ. (10.35)
Note that if tanθ > 1/µ then the workman can climb all the way along the ladder
without any slippage occurring. This result suggests that ladders leaning against
walls are less likely to slip when they are almost vertical (i.e., when θ →90
◦
).
10.6 Jointed rods
Suppose that three identical uniform rods of mass M and length l are joined
together to form an equilateral triangle, and are then suspended from a cable, as
shown in Fig. 94. What is the tension in the cable, and what are the reactions at
the joints?
Let X
1
, X
2
, and X
3
be the horizontal reactions at the three joints, and let Y
1
, Y
2
,
and Y
3
be the corresponding vertical reactions, as shown in Fig. 94. In drawing
this diagram, we have made use of the fact that the rods exert equal and opposite
228
10 STATICS 10.6 Jointed rods
M g
M g M g
X
X
Y
Y
X
X
Y
Y
X
Y
Y
X
1
1
1
1
2 2
2
2
3
3
3
3
θ θ
θ
T
cable
rod
l
A B
C
Figure 94: Three identical jointed rods.
reactions on one another, in accordance with Newton’s third law. Let T be the
tension in the cable.
Setting the horizontal and vertical forces acting on rod AB to zero, we obtain
X
1
−X
3
= 0, (10.36)
T +Y
1
+Y
3
−Mg = 0, (10.37)
respectively. Setting the horizontal and vertical forces acting on rod AC to zero,
we obtain
X
2
−X
1
= 0, (10.38)
Y
2
−Y
1
−Mg = 0, (10.39)
respectively. Finally, setting the horizontal and vertical forces acting on rod BC
to zero, we obtain
X
3
−X
2
= 0, (10.40)
−Y
2
−Y
3
−Mg = 0, (10.41)
respectively. Incidentally, it is clear, from symmetry, that X
1
= X
3
and Y
1
= Y
3
.
Thus, the above equations can be solved to give
T = 3 Mg, (10.42)
229
10 STATICS 10.6 Jointed rods
Y
2
= 0, (10.43)
X
1
= X
2
= X
3
= X, (10.44)
Y
1
= Y
3
= −Mg. (10.45)
There now remains only one unknown, X.
Now, it is clear, from symmetry, that there is zero net torque acting on rod AB.
Let us evaluate the torque acting on rod AC about point A. (By symmetry, this is
the same as the torque acting on rod BC about point B). The two forces which
contribute to this torque are the weight, Mg, and the reaction X
2
= X. (Recall
that the reaction Y
2
is zero). The lever arms associated with these two torques
(which act in the same direction) are (l/2) cos θ and l sinθ, respectively. Thus,
setting the net torque to zero, we obtain
Mg(l/2) cos θ +Xl sinθ = 0, (10.46)
which yields
X = −
Mg
2 tanθ
= −
Mg
2
√
3
, (10.47)
since θ = 60
◦
, and tan60
◦
=
√
3. We have now fully determined the tension in
the cable, and all the reactions at the joints.
Worked example 10.1: Equilibrium of two rods
Question: Suppose that two uniform rods (of negligible thickness) are welded
together at rightangles, as shown in the diagram below. Let the ﬁrst rod be
of mass m
1
= 5.2 kg and length l
1
= 1.3 m. Let the second rod be of mass
m
2
= 3.4 kg and length l
2
= 0.7 m. Suppose that the system is suspended from
a pivot point located at the free end of the ﬁrst rod, and then allowed to reach
a stable equilibrium state. What angle θ does the ﬁrst rod subtend with the
downward vertical in this state?
Answer: Let us adopt a coordinate system in which the xaxis runs parallel to the
second rod, whereas the yaxis runs parallel to the ﬁrst. Let the origin of our
230
10 STATICS 10.6 Jointed rods
l
2
1
l
pivot
y
x
coordinate system correspond to the pivot point. The centre of mass of the ﬁrst
rod is situated at its midpoint, whose coordinates are
(x
1
, y
1
) = (0, l
1
/2).
Likewise, the centre of mass of the second rod is situated at its midpoint, whose
coordinates are
(x
2
, y
2
) = (l
2
/2, l
1
).
It follows that the coordinates of the centre of mass of the whole system are given
by
x
cm
=
m
1
x
1
+m
2
x
2
m
1
+m
2
=
1
2
m
2
l
2
m
1
+m
2
=
3.4 ×0.7
2 ×8.6
= 0.138 m,
and
y
cm
=
m
1
y
1
+m
2
y
2
m
1
+m
2
=
m
1
l
1
/2 +m
2
l
1
m
1
+m
2
=
5.2 ×1.3/2 +3.4 ×1.3
8.6
= 0.907 m.
The angle θ subtended between the line joining the pivot point and the overall
centre of mass, and the ﬁrst rod is simply
θ = tan
−1
_
x
cm
y
cm
_
= tan
−1
0.152 = 8.65
◦
.
When the system reaches a stable equilibrium state then its centre of mass is
aligned directly below the pivot point. This implies that the ﬁrst rod subtends an
angle θ = 8.65
◦
with the downward vertical.
231
10 STATICS 10.6 Jointed rods
Worked example 10.2: Rod supported by a cable
Question: A uniform rod of mass m = 15 kg and length l = 3 m is supported in
a horizontal position by a pin and a cable, as shown in the ﬁgure below. Masses
m
1
= 36 kg and m
2
= 24 kg are suspended from the rod at positions l
1
= 0.5 m
and l
2
= 2.3 m. The angle θ is 40
◦
. What is the tension T in the cable?
θ
l
1
l
2
m
m
1
2
rod
cable
pin
l
Answer: Consider the torque acting on the rod about the pin. Note that the
reaction at the pin makes no contribution to this torque (since the length of the
associated lever arm is zero). The torque due to the weight of the rod is mgl/2
(i.e., the weight times the length of the lever arm). Note that the weight of the
rod acts at its centre of mass, which is located at the rod’s midpoint. The torque
due to the weight of the ﬁrst mass is m
1
gl
1
. The torque due to the weight of
the second mass is m
2
gl
2
. Finally, the torque due to the tension in the cable is
−T l sinθ (this torque is negative since it twists the rod in the opposite sense to
the other three torques). Hence, setting the net torque to zero, we obtain
mg
l
2
+m
1
gl
1
+m
2
gl
2
−T l sinθ = 0,
or
T =
[m/2 +m
1
(l
1
/l) +m
2
(l
2
/l)] g
sinθ
=
[0.5 ×15 +36 ×(0.5/3) +24 ×(2.3/3)] ×9.81
sin40
◦
= 486.84 N.
232
10 STATICS 10.6 Jointed rods
Worked example 10.3: Leaning ladder
Question: A uniform ladder of mass m = 40 kg and length l = 10 m is leaned
against a smooth vertical wall. A person of mass M = 80 kg stands on the ladder
a distance x = 7 m from the bottom, as measured along the ladder. The foot of
the ladder is d = 1.2 m from the bottom of the wall. What is the force exerted
by the wall on the ladder? What is the normal force exerted by the ﬂoor on the
ladder?
x
M g
θ
S
R
wall
ladder
ground
f
l
m g
d
person
Answer: The angle θ subtended by the ladder with the ground satisﬁes
θ = cos
−1
(d/l) = cos
−1
(1.2/10) = 83.11
◦
.
Let S be the normal reaction at the wall, let R be the normal reaction at the
ground, and let f be the frictional force exerted by the ground on the ladder,
as shown in the diagram. Consider the torque acting on the ladder about the
point where it meets the ground. Only three forces contribute to this torque:
the weight, mg, of the ladder, which acts halfway along the ladder; the weight,
Mg, of the person, which acts a distance x along the ladder; and the reaction, S,
at the wall, which acts at the top of the ladder. The lever arms associated with
these three forces are (l/2) cos θ, x cos θ, and l sinθ, respectively. Note that the
reaction force acts to twist the ladder in the opposite sense to the two weights.
Hence, setting the net torque to zero, we obtain
mg
l
2
cos θ +Mgx cos θ −Sl sinθ = 0,
233
10 STATICS 10.6 Jointed rods
which yields
S =
(mg/2 +Mgx/l)
tanθ
=
(0.5 ×40 ×9.81 +80 ×9.81 ×7/10)
tan83.11
◦
= 90.09 N.
The condition that zero net vertical force acts on the ladder yields
R −mg −Mg = 0.
Hence,
R = (m+M) g = (40 +80) ×9.81 = 1177.2 N.
Worked example 10.4: Truck crossing a bridge
Question: A truck of mass M = 5000 kg is crossing a uniform horizontal bridge
of mass m = 1000 kg and length l = 100 m. The bridge is supported at its two
endpoints. What are the reactions at these supports when the truck is one third
of the way across the bridge?
m g M g
S R
l
truck
bridge
l/3
Answer: Let R and S be the reactions at the bridge supports. Here, R is the
reaction at the support closest to the truck. Setting the net vertical force acting
on the bridge to zero, we obtain
R +S −Mg −mg = 0.
Setting the torque acting on the bridge about the leftmost support to zero, we
get
Mgl/3 +mgl/2 −Sl = 0.
234
10 STATICS 10.6 Jointed rods
Here, we have made use of the fact that centre of mass of the bridge lies at its
midpoint. It follows from the above two equations that
S = Mg/3 +mg/2 = 5000 ×9.81/3 +1000 ×9.81/2 = 2.13 ×10
4
N,
and
R = Mg +mg −S = (5000 +1000) ×9.81 −2.13 ×10
4
= 3.76 ×10
4
N.
Worked example 10.5: Rod supported by a strut
Question: A uniform horizontal rod of mass m = 15 kg is attached to a vertical
wall at one end, and is supported, from below, by a light rigid strut at the other.
The strut is attached to the rod at one end, and the wall at the other, and subtends
an angle of θ = 30
◦
with the rod. Find the horizontal and vertical reactions at the
point where the strut is attached to the rod, and the points where the rod and the
strut are attached to the wall.
X
1
θ
X
3 2
X
3
X
Y
1
Y
2
Y
3
Y
3
m g
rod
wall
strut
Answer: Let us call the vertical reactions at the joints X
1
, X
2
, and X
3
. Let the
corresponding horizontal reactions be Y
1
, Y
2
, and Y
3
. See the diagram. Here, we
have made use of the fact that the strut and the rod exert equal and opposite
reactions on one another, in accordance with Newton’s third law. Setting the net
vertical force on the rod to zero yields
X
1
+X
3
−mg = 0.
235
10 STATICS 10.6 Jointed rods
Setting the net horizontal force on the rod to zero gives
Y
1
+Y
3
= 0.
Setting the net vertical force on the strut to zero yields
X
2
−X
3
= 0.
Finally, setting the net horizontal force on the strut to zero yields
Y
2
−Y
3
= 0.
The above equations can be solved to give
−Y
1
= Y
2
= Y
3
= Y,
and
X
2
= X
3
= X,
with
X
1
= mg −X.
There now remain only two unknowns, X and Y.
Setting the net torque acting on the rod about the point where it is connected
to the wall to zero, we obtain
mgl/2 −X
3
l = 0,
where l is the length of the rod. Here, we have used the fact that the centre of
gravity of the rod lies at its midpoint. The above equation implies that
X
3
= X = mg/2 = 15 ×9.81/2 = 73.58 N.
We also have X
1
= mg − X = 73.58 N. Setting the net torque acting on the strut
about the point where it is connected to the wall to zero, we ﬁnd
Y
3
h sinθ −X
3
h cos θ = 0,
where h is the length of the strut. Thus,
Y
3
= Y =
X
tanθ
=
73.58
tan30
◦
= 127.44 N.
In summary, the vertical reactions are X
1
= X
2
= X
3
= 73.58 N, and the hori
zontal reactions are −Y
1
= Y
2
= Y
3
= 127.44 N.
236
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION
11 Oscillatory motion
11.1 Introduction
We have seen previously (for instance, in Sect. 10.3) that when systems are per
turbed from a stable equilibrium state they experience a restoring force which acts
to return them to that state. In many cases of interest, the magnitude of the
restoring force is directly proportional to the displacement from equilibrium. In
this section, we shall investigate the motion of systems subject to such a force.
11.2 Simple harmonic motion
Let us reexamine the problem of a mass on a spring (see Sect. 5.6). Consider
a mass m which slides over a horizontal frictionless surface. Suppose that the
mass is attached to a light horizontal spring whose other end is anchored to an
immovable object. See Fig. 42. Let x be the extension of the spring: i.e., the dif
ference between the spring’s actual length and its unstretched length. Obviously,
x can also be used as a coordinate to determine the horizontal displacement of
the mass.
The equilibrium state of the system corresponds to the situation where the
mass is at rest, and the spring is unextended (i.e., x = 0). In this state, zero net
force acts on the mass, so there is no reason for it to start to move. If the system
is perturbed from this equilibrium state (i.e., if the mass is moved, so that the
spring becomes extended) then the mass experiences a restoring force given by
Hooke’s law:
f = −k x. (11.1)
Here, k > 0 is the force constant of the spring. The negative sign indicates that
f is indeed a restoring force. Note that the magnitude of the restoring force
is directly proportional to the displacement of the system from equilibrium (i.e.,
f ∝ x). Of course, Hooke’s law only holds for small spring extensions. Hence,
the displacement from equilibrium cannot be made too large. The motion of this
237
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.2 Simple harmonic motion
system is representative of the motion of a wide range of systems when they are
slightly disturbed from a stable equilibrium state.
Newton’s second law gives following equation of motion for the system:
m¨ x = −k x. (11.2)
This differential equation is known as the simple harmonic equation, and its solu
tion has been known for centuries. In fact, the solution is
x = a cos(ωt −φ), (11.3)
where a, ω, and φ are constants. We can demonstrate that Eq. (11.3) is in
deed a solution of Eq. (11.2) by direct substitution. Substituting Eq. (11.3) into
Eq. (11.2), and recalling fromcalculus that d(cos θ)/dθ = −sinθ and d(sinθ)/dθ =
cos θ, we obtain
−mω
2
a cos(ωt −φ) = −k a cos(ωt −φ). (11.4)
It follows that Eq. (11.3) is the correct solution provided
ω =
¸
¸
¸
_
k
m
. (11.5)
Figure 95 shows a graph of x versus t obtained from Eq. (11.3). The type
of motion shown here is called simple harmonic motion. It can be seen that the
displacement x oscillates between x = −a and x = +a. Here, a is termed the
amplitude of the oscillation. Moreover, the motion is periodic in time (i.e., it
repeats exactly after a certain time period has elapsed). In fact, the period is
T =
2 π
ω
. (11.6)
This result is easily obtained from Eq. (11.3) by noting that cos θ is a periodic
function of θ with period 2 π. The frequency of the motion (i.e., the number of
oscillations completed per second) is
f =
1
T
=
ω
2 π
. (11.7)
238
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.2 Simple harmonic motion
ωt −φ 0
◦
90
◦
180
◦
270
◦
x +a 0 −a 0
˙ x 0 −ωa 0 +ωa
¨ x −ω
2
a 0 +ω
2
a 0
Table 4: Simple harmonic motion.
Figure 95: Simple harmonic motion.
It can be seen that ω is the motion’s angular frequency (i.e., the frequency f
converted into radians per second). Finally, the phase angle φ determines the
times at which the oscillation attains its maximum amplitude, x = a: in fact,
t
max
= T
_
n +
φ
2 π
_
. (11.8)
Here, n is an arbitrary integer.
Table 4 lists the displacement, velocity, and acceleration of the mass at various
phases of the simple harmonic cycle. The information contained in this table can
easily be derived from the simple harmonic equation, Eq. (11.3). Note that all
of the nonzero values shown in this table represent either the maximum or the
minimum value taken by the quantity in question during the oscillation cycle.
We have seen that when a mass on a spring is disturbed from equilibrium it
239
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.2 Simple harmonic motion
executes simple harmonic motion about its equilibrium state. In physical terms,
if the initial displacement is positive (x > 0) then the restoring force overcom
pensates, and sends the system past the equilibrium state (x = 0) to negative
displacement states (x < 0). The restoring force again overcompensates, and
sends the system back through x = 0 to positive displacement states. The motion
then repeats itself ad inﬁnitum. The frequency of the oscillation is determined by
the spring stiffness, k, and the system inertia, m, via Eq. (11.5). In contrast, the
amplitude and phase angle of the oscillation are determined by the initial condi
tions. Suppose that the instantaneous displacement and velocity of the mass at
t = 0 are x
0
and v
0
, respectively. It follows from Eq. (11.3) that
x
0
= x(t = 0) = a cos φ, (11.9)
v
0
= ˙ x(t = 0) = aω sinφ. (11.10)
Here, use has been made of the wellknown identities cos(−θ) = cos θ and
sin(−θ) = −sinθ. Hence, we obtain
a =
_
x
2
0
+ (v
0
/ω)
2
, (11.11)
and
φ = tan
−1
_
v
0
ωx
0
_
, (11.12)
since sin
2
θ + cos
2
θ = 1 and tanθ = sinθ/ cos θ.
The kinetic energy of the system is written
K =
1
2
m˙ x
2
=
ma
2
ω
2
sin
2
(ωt −φ)
2
. (11.13)
Recall, from Sect. 5.6, that the potential energy takes the form
U =
1
2
k x
2
=
k a
2
cos
2
(ωt −φ)
2
. (11.14)
Hence, the total energy can be written
E = K +U =
a
2
k
2
, (11.15)
240
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.3 The torsion pendulum
torsion wire
disk
fixed support
θ
Figure 96: A torsion pendulum.
since mω
2
= k and sin
2
θ +cos
2
θ = 1. Note that the total energy is a constant of
the motion, as expected for an isolated system. Moreover, the energy is propor
tional to the amplitude squared of the motion. It is clear, from the above expres
sions, that simple harmonic motion is characterized by a constant backward and
forward ﬂow of energy between kinetic and potential components. The kinetic
energy attains its maximum value, and the potential energy attains it minimum
value, when the displacement is zero (i.e., when x = 0). Likewise, the potential
energy attains its maximum value, and the kinetic energy attains its minimum
value, when the displacement is maximal (i.e., when x = ±a). Note that the
minimum value of K is zero, since the system is instantaneously at rest when the
displacement is maximal.
11.3 The torsion pendulum
Consider a disk suspended from a torsion wire attached to its centre. See Fig. 96.
This setup is known as a torsion pendulum. A torsion wire is essentially inexten
sible, but is free to twist about its axis. Of course, as the wire twists it also causes
the disk attached to it to rotate in the horizontal plane. Let θ be the angle of
rotation of the disk, and let θ = 0 correspond to the case in which the wire is
untwisted.
Any twisting of the wire is inevitably associated with mechanical deformation.
The wire resists such deformation by developing a restoring torque, τ, which acts
241
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.4 The simple pendulum
to restore the wire to its untwisted state. For relatively small angles of twist, the
magnitude of this torque is directly proportional to the twist angle. Hence, we
can write
τ = −k θ, (11.16)
where k > 0 is the torque constant of the wire. The above equation is essentially
a torsional equivalent to Hooke’s law. The rotational equation of motion of the
system is written
I
¨
θ = τ, (11.17)
where I is the moment of inertia of the disk (about a perpendicular axis through
its centre). The moment of inertia of the wire is assumed to be negligible. Com
bining the previous two equations, we obtain
I
¨
θ = −k θ. (11.18)
Equation (11.18) is clearly a simple harmonic equation [cf., Eq. (11.2)]. Hence,
we can immediately write the standard solution [cf., Eq. (11.3)]
θ = a cos(ωt −φ), (11.19)
where [cf., Eq. (11.5)]
ω =
¸
¸
¸
_
k
I
. (11.20)
We conclude that when a torsion pendulumis perturbed fromits equilibriumstate
(i.e., θ = 0), it executes torsional oscillations about this state at a ﬁxed frequency,
ω, which depends only on the torque constant of the wire and the moment of
inertia of the disk. Note, in particular, that the frequency is independent of the
amplitude of the oscillation [provided θ remains small enough that Eq. (11.16)
still applies]. Torsion pendulums are often used for timekeeping purposes. For
instance, the balance wheel in a mechanical wristwatch is a torsion pendulum in
which the restoring torque is provided by a coiled spring.
11.4 The simple pendulum
Consider a mass m suspended from a light inextensible string of length l, such
that the mass is free to swing from side to side in a vertical plane, as shown in
242
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.4 The simple pendulum
θ
l
fixed support
pivot point
m g
m
T
Figure 97: A simple pendulum.
Fig. 97. This setup is known as a simple pendulum. Let θ be the angle subtended
between the string and the downward vertical. Obviously, the equilibrium state of
the simple pendulum corresponds to the situation in which the mass is stationary
and hanging vertically down (i.e., θ = 0). The angular equation of motion of the
pendulum is simply
I
¨
θ = τ, (11.21)
where I is the moment of inertia of the mass, and τ is the torque acting on the
system. For the case in hand, given that the mass is essentially a point particle,
and is situated a distance l from the axis of rotation (i.e., the pivot point), it is
easily seen that I = ml
2
.
The two forces acting on the mass are the downward gravitational force, mg,
and the tension, T, in the string. Note, however, that the tension makes no con
tribution to the torque, since its line of action clearly passes through the pivot
point. From simple trigonometry, the line of action of the gravitational force
passes a distance l sinθ from the pivot point. Hence, the magnitude of the grav
itational torque is mgl sinθ. Moreover, the gravitational torque is a restoring
torque: i.e., if the mass is displaced slightly from its equilibrium state (i.e., θ = 0)
then the gravitational force clearly acts to push the mass back toward that state.
243
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.4 The simple pendulum
Thus, we can write
τ = −mgl sinθ. (11.22)
Combining the previous two equations, we obtain the following angular equation
of motion of the pendulum:
l
¨
θ = −g sinθ. (11.23)
Unfortunately, this is not the simple harmonic equation. Indeed, the above equa
tion possesses no closed solution which can be expressed in terms of simple func
tions.
Suppose that we restrict our attention to relatively small deviations from the
equilibrium state. In other words, suppose that the angle θ is constrained to take
fairly small values. We know, from trigonometry, that for θ less than about 6
◦
it
is a good approximation to write
sinθ θ. (11.24)
Hence, in the small angle limit, Eq. (11.23) reduces to
l
¨
θ = −gθ, (11.25)
which is in the familiar form of a simple harmonic equation. Comparing with
our original simple harmonic equation, Eq. (11.2), and its solution, we conclude
that the angular frequency of small amplitude oscillations of a simple pendulum
is given by
ω =
¸
g
l
. (11.26)
In this case, the pendulum frequency is dependent only on the length of the
pendulum and the local gravitational acceleration, and is independent of the
mass of the pendulum and the amplitude of the pendulum swings (provided that
sinθ θ remains a good approximation). Historically, the simple pendulum
was the basis of virtually all accurate timekeeping devices before the advent of
electronic clocks. Simple pendulums can also be used to measure local variations
in g.
244
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.5 The compound pendulum
θ
M g
R
Pivot point
Centre of mass
C
P
d
Figure 98: A compound pendulum.
11.5 The compound pendulum
Consider an extended body of mass M with a hole drilled though it. Suppose that
the body is suspended from a ﬁxed peg, which passes through the hole, such that
it is free to swing from side to side, as shown in Fig. 98. This setup is known as a
compound pendulum.
Let P be the pivot point, and let C be the body’s centre of mass, which is located
a distance d from the pivot. Let θ be the angle subtended between the downward
vertical (which passes through point P) and the line PC. The equilibrium state of
the compound pendulum corresponds to the case in which the centre of mass lies
vertically below the pivot point: i.e., θ = 0. See Sect. 10.3. The angular equation
of motion of the pendulum is simply
I
¨
θ = τ, (11.27)
where I is the moment of inertia of the body about the pivot point, and τ is the
torque. Using similar arguments to those employed for the case of the simple
pendulum (recalling that all the weight of the pendulum acts at its centre of
mass), we can write
τ = −Mgd sinθ. (11.28)
245
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.6 Uniform circular motion
Note that the reaction, R, at the peg does not contribute to the torque, since
its line of action passes through the pivot point. Combining the previous two
equations, we obtain the following angular equation of motion of the pendulum:
I
¨
θ = −Mgd sinθ. (11.29)
Finally, adopting the small angle approximation, sinθ θ, we arrive at the simple
harmonic equation:
I
¨
θ = −Mgdθ. (11.30)
It is clear, by analogy with our previous solutions of such equations, that the
angular frequency of small amplitude oscillations of a compound pendulum is
given by
ω =
¸
¸
¸
_
Mgd
I
. (11.31)
It is helpful to deﬁne the length
L =
I
Md
. (11.32)
Equation (11.31) reduces to
ω =
¸
g
L
, (11.33)
which is identical in form to the corresponding expression for a simple pendulum.
We conclude that a compound pendulum behaves like a simple pendulum with
effective length L.
11.6 Uniform circular motion
Consider an object executing uniform circular motion of radius a. Let us set up a
cartesian coordinate system whose origin coincides with the centre of the circle,
and which is such that the motion is conﬁned to the xy plane. As illustrated in
Fig. 99, the instantaneous position of the object can be conveniently parameter
ized in terms of an angle θ.
246
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.6 Uniform circular motion
θ
a
a cos θ
a sinθ
x
y
ω
Figure 99: Uniform circular motion.
Since the object is executing uniform circular motion, we expect the angle θ to
increase linearly with time. In other words, we can write
θ = ωt, (11.34)
where ω is the angular rotation frequency (i.e., the number of radians through
which the object rotates per second). Here, it is assumed that θ = 0 at t = 0, for
the sake of convenience.
From simple trigonometry, the x and ycoordinates of the object can be writ
ten
x = a cos θ, (11.35)
y = a sinθ, (11.36)
respectively. Hence, combining the previous equations, we obtain
x = a cos(ωt), (11.37)
y = a cos(ωt −π/2). (11.38)
Here, use has been made of the trigonometric identity sinθ = cos(θ − π/2). A
comparison of the above two equations with the standard equation of simple har
monic motion, Eq. (11.3), reveals that our object is executing simple harmonic
247
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.6 Uniform circular motion
motion simultaneously along both the x and the y axes. Note, however, that
these two motions are 90
◦
(i.e., π/2 radians) out of phase. Moreover, the am
plitude of the motion equals the radius of the circle. Clearly, there is a close
relationship between simple harmonic motion and circular motion.
Worked example 11.1: Piston in steam engine
Question: A piston in a stream engine executes simple harmonic motion. Given
that the maximum displacement of the piston from its centreline is ±7 cm, and
that the mass of the piston is 4 kg, ﬁnd the maximum velocity of the piston when
the steam engine is running at 4000rev./min. What is the maximum accelera
tion?
Answer: We are told that the amplitude of the oscillation is a = 0.07 m. Moreover,
when converted to cycles per second (i.e., hertz), the frequency of the oscillation
becomes
f =
4000
60
= 66.6666 Hz.
Hence, the angular frequency is
ω = 2 πf = 418.88 rad./sec.
Consulting Tab. 4, we note that the maximum velocity of an object executing
simple harmonic motion is v
max
= aω. Hence, the maximum velocity is
v
max
= aω = 0.07 ×418.88 = 29.32 m/s.
Likewise, according to Tab. 4, the maximum acceleration is given by
a
max
= aω
2
= 0.07 ×418.88 ×418.88 = 1.228 ×10
4
m/s
2
.
Worked example 11.2: Block and spring
Question: A block attached to a spring executes simple harmonic motion in a
horizontal plane with an amplitude of 0.25 m. At a point 0.15 m away from the
248
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.6 Uniform circular motion
equilibrium position, the velocity of the block is 0.75 m/s. What is the period of
oscillation of the block?
Answer: The equation of simple harmonic motion is
x = a cos(ωt −φ),
where x is the displacement, and a is the amplitude. We are told that a = 0.25 m.
The velocity of the block is obtained by taking the time derivative of the above
expression:
˙ x = −aω sin(ωt −φ).
We are told that at t = 0 (say), x = 0.15 m and ˙ x = 0.75 m/s. Hence,
0.15 = 0.25 cos(φ),
0.75 = 0.25 ω sin(φ).
The ﬁrst equation gives φ = cos
−1
(0.15/0.25) = 53.13
◦
. The second equation
yields
ω =
0.75
0.25 ×sin(53.13
◦
)
= 3.75 rad./s.
Hence, the period of the motion is
T =
2 π
ω
= 1.676 s.
Worked example 11.3: Block and two springs
Question: A block of mass m = 3 kg is attached to two springs, as shown below,
and slides over a horizontal frictionless surface. Given that the force constants
of the two springs are k
1
= 1200 N/m and k
2
= 400 N/m, ﬁnd the period of
oscillation of the system.
Answer: Let x
1
and x
2
represent the extensions of the ﬁrst and second springs,
respectively. The net displacement x of the mass from its equilibrium position is
then given by
x = x
1
+x
2
.
249
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.6 Uniform circular motion
m
k
1
k
2
Let f
1
= k
1
x
1
and f
2
= k
2
x
2
be the magnitudes of the forces exerted by the
ﬁrst and second springs, respectively. Since the springs (presumably) possess
negligible inertia, they must exert equal and opposite forces on one another. This
implies that f
1
= f
2
, or
k
1
x
1
= k
2
x
2
.
Finally, if f is the magnitude of the restoring force acting on the mass, then force
balance implies that f = f
1
= f
2
, or
f = k
eff
x = k
1
x
1
.
Here, k
eff
is the effective force constant of the two springs. The above equations
can be combined to give
k
eff
=
k
1
x
1
x
1
+x
2
=
k
1
1 +k
1
/k
2
=
k
1
k
2
k
1
+k
2
.
Thus, the problem reduces to that of a block of mass m = 3 kg attached to a
spring of effective force constant
k
eff
=
k
1
k
2
k
1
+k
2
=
1200 ×400
1200 +400
= 300 N/m.
The angular frequency of oscillation is immediately given by the standard formula
ω =
¸
¸
¸
_
k
eff
m
=
¸
¸
¸
_
300
3
= 10 rad./s.
Hence, the period of oscillation is
T =
2 π
ω
= 0.6283 s.
250
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.6 Uniform circular motion
Worked example 11.4: Energy in simple harmonic motion
Question: A block of mass m = 4 kg is attached to a spring, and undergoes simple
harmonic motion with a period of T = 0.35 s. The total energy of the system is
E = 2.5 J. What is the force constant of the spring? What is the amplitude of the
motion?
Answer: The angular frequency of the motion is
ω =
2 π
T
=
2 π
0.35
= 17.95 rad./s.
Now, ω =
_
k/m for a mass on a spring. Rearrangement of this formula yields
k = mω
2
= 4 ×17.95 ×17.95 = 1289.1 N/m.
The total energy of a system executing simple harmonic motion is E = a
2
k/2.
Rearrangement of this formula gives
a =
¸
¸
¸
_
2 E
k
=
¸
¸
¸
_
2 ×2.5
1289.1
= 0.06228 m.
Thus, the force constant is 1289.1 N/m and the amplitude is 0.06228 m.
Worked example 11.5: Gravity on a new planet
Question: Having landed on a newly discovered planet, an astronaut sets up a
simple pendulum of length 0.6 m, and ﬁnds that it makes 51 complete oscillations
in 1 minute. The amplitude of the oscillations is small compared to the length of
the pendulum. What is the surface gravitational acceleration on the planet?
Answer: The frequency of the oscillations is
f =
51
60
= 0.85 Hz.
Hence, the angular frequency is
ω = 2 πf = 2 ×π ×1.833 = 5.341 rad./s.
251
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.6 Uniform circular motion
Now, ω =
_
g/l for small amplitude oscillations of a simple pendulum. Rear
rangement off this formula gives
g = ω
2
l = 5.341 ×5.341 ×0.6 = 17.11 m/s
2
.
Hence, the surface gravitational acceleration is 17.11 m/s
2
.
Worked example 11.6: Oscillating disk
Question: A uniform disk of radius r = 0.8 m and mass M = 3 kg is freely sus
pended from a horizontal pivot located a radial distance d = 0.25 m from its
centre. Find the angular frequency of small amplitude oscillations of the disk.
Answer: The moment of inertia of the disk about a perpendicular axis passing
through its centre is I = (1/2) Mr
2
. From the parallel axis theorem, the moment
of inertia of the disk about the pivot point is
I
= I +Md
2
=
3 ×0.8 ×0.8
2
+3 ×0.25 ×0.25 = 1.1475 kg m
2
.
The angular frequency of small amplitude oscillations of a compound pendulum
is given by
ω =
¸
¸
¸
_
Mgd
I
=
¸
¸
¸
_
3 ×9.81 ×0.25
1.1475
= 2.532 rad./s.
Hence, the answer is 2.532 rad./s.
252
12 ORBITAL MOTION
12 Orbital motion
12.1 Introduction
We have spent this course exploring the theory of motion ﬁrst outlined by Sir
Isaac Newton in his Principia (1687). It is, therefore, interesting to discuss
the particular application of this theory which made Newton an international
celebrity, and which profoundly and permanently changed humankind’s outlook
on the Universe. This application is, of course, the motion of the Solar System.
12.2 Historical background
Humankind has always been fascinated by the night sky, and, in particular, by
the movements of the Sun, the Moon, and the objects which the ancient Greeks
called plantai (“wanderers”), and which we call planets. In ancient times, much
of this interest was of a practical nature. The Sun and the Moon were impor
tant for determining the calendar, and also for navigation. Moreover, the planets
were vital to astrology: i.e., the belief—almost universally prevalent in the an
cient world—that the positions of the planets in the sky could be used to foretell
important events.
Actually, there were only seven “wandering” heavenly bodies visible to ancient
peoples: the Sun, the Moon, and the ﬁve planets—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter,
and Saturn. The ancients believed that the stars were ﬁxed to a “celestial sphere”
which formed the outer boundary of the Universe. However, it was recognized
that the wandering bodies were located within this sphere: e.g., because the
Moon clearly passes in front of, and blocks the light from, stars in its path. It
was also recognized that some bodies were closer to the Earth than others. For
instance, ancient astronomers noted that the Moon occasionally passes in front
of the Sun and each of the planets. Moreover, Mercury and Venus can sometimes
be seen to transit in front of the Sun.
The ﬁrst scientiﬁc model of the Solar Systemwas outlined by the Greek philoso
253
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.2 Historical background
pher Eudoxas of Cnidus (409–356BC). According to this model, the Sun, the
Moon, and the planets all execute uniform circular orbits around the Earth—
which is ﬁxed, and nonrotating. The order of the orbits is as follows: Moon,
Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn—with the Moon closest to the Earth.
For obvious reasons, Eudoxas’ model became known as the geocentric model of
the Solar System. Note that orbits are circular in this model for philosophical
reasons. The ancients believed the heavens to be the realm of perfection. Since
a circle is the most “perfect” imaginable shape, it follows that heavenly objects
must execute circular orbits.
A second Greek philosopher, Aristarchus of Samos (310–230BC), proposed an
alternative model in which the Earth and the planets execute uniform circular
orbits around the Sun—which is ﬁxed. Moreover, the Moon orbits around the
Earth, and the Earth rotates daily about a NorthSouth axis. The order of the
planetary orbits is as follows: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn—with
Mercury closest to the Sun. This model became known as the heliocentric model
of the Solar System.
The heliocentric model was generally rejected by the ancient philosophers for
three main reasons:
1. If the Earth is rotating about its axis, and orbiting around the Sun, then the
Earth must be in motion. However, we cannot “feel” this motion. Nor does
this motion give rise to any obvious observational consequences. Hence, the
Earth must be stationary.
2. If the Earth is executing a circular orbit around the Sun then the positions of
the stars should be slightly different when the Earth is on opposite sides of
the Sun. This effect is known as parallax. Since no stellar parallax is observ
able (at least, with the naked eye), the Earth must be stationary. In order
to appreciate the force of this argument, it is important to realize that an
cient astronomers did not suppose the stars to be signiﬁcantly further away
from the Earth than the planets. The celestial sphere was assumed to lie just
beyond the orbit of Saturn.
3. The geocentric model is far more philosophically attractive than the helio
254
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.2 Historical background
+
deferant
Earth
equant
planet
epicycle
centre of deferant
E
P
C
Figure 100: The Ptolemaic system.
centric model, since in the former model the Earth occupies a privileged
position in the Universe.
The geocentric model was ﬁrst converted into a proper scientiﬁc theory, ca
pable of accurate predictions, by the Alexandrian philosopher Claudius Ptolemy
(85–165AD). The theory that Ptolemy proposed in his famous book, now known
as the Almagest, remained the dominant scientiﬁc picture of the Solar System for
over a millennium. Basically, Ptolemy acquired and extended the extensive set
of planetary observations of his predecessor Hipparchus, and then constructed a
geocentric model capable of accounting for them. However, in order to ﬁt the
observations, Ptolemy was forced to make some signiﬁcant modiﬁcations to the
original model of Eudoxas. Let us discuss these modiﬁcations.
First, we need to introduce some terminology. As shown in Fig. 100, deferants
are large circles centred on the Earth, and epicyles are small circles whose cen
tres move around the circumferences of the deferants. In the Ptolemaic system,
instead of traveling around deferants, the planets move around the circumfer
ence of epicycles, which, in turn, move around the circumference of deferants.
Ptolemy found, however, that this modiﬁcation was insufﬁcient to completely ac
count for all of his data. Ptolemy’s second modiﬁcation to Eudoxas’ model was
255
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.2 Historical background
to displace the Earth slightly from the common centre of the deferants. More
over, Ptolemy assumed that the Sun, Moon, and planets rotate uniformly about
an imaginary point, called the equant, which is displaced an equal distance in the
opposite direction to the Earth from the centre of the deferants. In other words,
Ptolemy assumed that the line EP, in Fig. 100, rotates uniformly, rather than the
line CP.
Figure 101 shows more details of the Ptolemaic model.
2
Note that this dia
gram is not drawn to scale, and the displacement of the Earth from the centre
of the deferants has been omitted for the sake of clarity. It can be seen that the
Moon and the Sun do not possess epicyles. Moreover, the motions of the inferior
planets (i.e., Mercury and Venus) are closely linked to the motion of the Sun. In
fact, the centres of the inferior planet epicycles move on an imaginary line con
necting the Earth and the Sun. Furthermore, the radius vectors connecting the
superior planets (i.e., Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) to the centres of their epicycles
are always parallel to the geometric line connecting the Earth and the Sun. Note
that, in addition to the motion indicated in the diagram, all of the heavenly bodies
(including the stars) rotate clockwise (assuming that we are looking down on the
Earth’s North pole in Fig. 101) with a period of 1 day. Finally, there are epicycles
within the epicycles shown in the diagram. In fact, some planets need as many
as 28 epicycles to account for all the details of their motion. These subsidiary
epicycles are not shown in the diagram, for the sake of clarity.
As is quite apparent, the Ptolemaic model of the Solar System is extremely
complicated. However, it successfully accounted for the relatively crude naked
eye observations made by the ancient Greeks. The Sunlinked epicyles of the
inferior planets are needed to explain why these objects always remain close to
the Sun in the sky. The epicycles of the superior planets are needed to account for
their occasional bouts of retrograde motion: i.e., motion in the opposite direction
to their apparent direction of rotation around the Earth. Finally, the displacement
of the Earth from the centre of the deferants, as well as the introduction of the
equant as the centre of uniform rotation, is needed to explain why the planets
speed up slightly when they are close to the Earth (and, hence, appear brighter
in the night sky), and slow down when they are further away.
2
R.A. Hatch, University of Florida, http://web.clas.ufl.edu/users/rhatch/
256
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.2 Historical background
Earth Sun
Jupiter
Saturn
Mars
1 y
1 y
1 y
27 1/3 d
Mercury
Venus
Moon
88 d
225 d
1 y
1 y
1 y
29.46 y
11.86 y
1.88 y
Stars
Figure 101: The Ptolemaic model of the Solar System.
257
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.2 Historical background
Ptolemy’s model of the Solar System was rescued from the wreck of ancient
European civilization by the Roman Catholic Church, which, unfortunately, con
verted it into a minor article of faith, on the basis of a few references in the Bible
which seemed to imply that the Earth is stationary and the Sun is moving (e.g.,
Joshua 10:1213, Habakkuk 3:11). Consequently, this model was not subject to
proper scientiﬁc criticism for over a millennium. Having said this, few medieval
or renaissance philosophers were entirely satisﬁed with Ptolemy’s model. Their
dissatisfaction focused, not on the many epicycles (which to the modern eye seem
rather absurd), but on the displacement of the Earth from the centre of the defer
ants, and the introduction of the equant as the centre of uniform rotation. Recall,
that the only reason planetary orbits are constructed from circles in Ptolemy’s
model is to preserve the assumed ideal symmetry of the heavens. Unfortunately,
this symmetry is severely compromised when the Earth is displaced from the
apparent centre of the Universe. This problem so perplexed the Polish priest
astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) that he eventually decided to re
ject the geocentric model, and revive the heliocentric model of Aristarchus. After
many years of mathematical calculations, Copernicus published a book entitled
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the revolutions of the celestial spheres)
in 1543 which outlined his new heliocentric theory.
Copernicus’ model is illustrated in Fig. 102. Again, this diagram is not to scale.
The planets execute uniform circular orbits about the Sun, and the Moon orbits
about the Earth. Finally, the Earth revolves about its axis daily. Note that there is
no displacement of the Sun from the centres of the planetary orbits, and there is
no equant. Moreover, in this model, the inferior planets remain close to the Sun
in the sky without any special synchronization of their orbits. Furthermore, the
occasional retrograde motion of the superior planets has a more natural explana
tion than in Ptolemy’s model. Since the Earth orbits more rapidly than the supe
rior planets, it occasionally “overtakes” them, and they appear to move backward
in the night sky, in much the same manner that slow moving cars on a freeway
appears to move backward to a driver overtaking them. Copernicus accounted
for the lack of stellar parallax, due to the Earth’s motion, by postulating that the
stars were a lot further away than had previously been supposed, rendering any
parallax undetectably small. Unfortunately, Copernicus insisted on retaining uni
258
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.2 Historical background
29.46 y
11.86 y
1.88 y
Jupiter
Mars
Saturn
Earth
Sun
Venus
Mercury
Moon
225 d
1 y
88 d
Stars
27 1/3 d
Figure 102: The Copernican model of the Solar System.
259
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.2 Historical background
form circular motion in his model (after all, he was trying to construct a more
symmetric model than that of Ptolemy). Consequently, Copernicus also had to
resort to epicycles to ﬁt the data. In fact, Copernicus’ model ended up with more
epicycles than Ptolemy’s!
The real breakthrough in the understanding of planetary motion occurred—as
most breakthroughs in physics occur—when better data became available. The
data in question was produced by the Dane Tycho Brahe (1546–1601), who de
voted his life to making naked eye astronomical observations of unprecedented
accuracy and detail. This data was eventually inherited by Brahe’s pupil and assis
tant, the German scientist Johannes Kepler (1571–1630). Kepler fully accepted
Copernicus’ heliocentric theory of the Solar System. Moreover, he was just as
ﬁrm a believer as Copernicus in the perfection of the heavens, and the conse
quent need for circular motion of planetary bodies. The main difference was that
Kepler’s observational data was considerably better than Copernicus’. After years
of fruitless effort, Kepler eventually concluded that no combination of circular
deferants and epicycles could completely account for his data. At this stage, he
started to think the unthinkable. Maybe, planetary motion was not circular after
all? After more calculations, Kepler was eventually able to formulate three ex
traordinarily simple laws which completely accounted for Brahe’s observations.
These laws are as follows:
1. The planets move in elliptical orbits with the Sun at one focus.
2. A line from the Sun to any given planet sweeps out equal areas in equal time
intervals.
3. The square of a planet’s period is proportional to the cube of the planet’s
mean distance from the Sun.
Note that there are no epicyles or equants in Kepler’s model of the Solar System.
Figure 103 illustrates Kepler’s second law. Here, the ellipse represents a plan
etary orbit, and S represents the Sun, which is located at one of the focii of the
ellipse. Suppose that the planet moves from point A to point B in the same time
it takes to move from point C to point D. According the Kepler’s second law,
260
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.2 Historical background
A
B
C
D
S
Figure 103: Kepler’s second law.
Planet a(AU) T(yr) a
3
/T
2
Mercury 0.387 0.241 0.998
Venus 0.723 0.615 0.999
Earth 1.000 1.000 1.000
Mars 1.524 1.881 1.000
Jupiter 5.203 11.862 1.001
Saturn 9.516 29.458 0.993
Table 5: Kepler’s third law. Here, a is the mean distance from the Sun, measured in Astronomical
Units (1 AU is the mean EarthSun distance), and T is the orbital period, measured in years.
the areas of the elliptic segments ASB and CSD are equal. Note that this law
basically mandates that planets speed up when they move closer to the Sun.
Table 5 illustrates Kepler’s third law. The mean distance, a, and orbital period,
T, as well as the ratio a
3
/T
2
, are listed for each of the ﬁrst six planets in the Solar
System. It can be seen that the ratio a
3
/T
2
is indeed constant from planet to
planet.
Since we have now deﬁnitely adopted a heliocentric model of the Solar Sys
tem, let us discuss the ancient Greek objections to such a model, listed earlier.
We have already dealt with the second objection (the absence of stellar parallax)
by stating that the stars are a lot further away from the Earth than the ancient
Greeks supposed. The third objection (that it is philosophically more attractive
to have the Earth at the centre of the Universe) is not a valid scientiﬁc criticism.
What about the ﬁrst objection? If the Earth is rotating about its axis, and also
261
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.3 Gravity
orbiting the Sun, why do we not “feel” this motion? At ﬁrst sight, this objec
tion appears to have some force. After all, the rotation velocity of the Earth’s
surface is about 460 m/s. Moreover, the Earth’s orbital velocity is approximately
30 km/s. Surely, we would notice if we were moving this rapidly? Of course, this
reasoning is faulty because we know, from Newton’s laws of motion, that we only
“feel” the acceleration associated with motion, not the motion itself. It turns out
that the acceleration at the Earth’s surface due to its axial rotation is only about
0.034 m/s
2
. Moreover, the Earth’s acceleration due to its orbital motion is only
0.0059 m/s
2
. Nowadays, we can detect such small accelerations, but the ancient
Greeks certainly could not.
Kepler correctly formulated the three laws of planetary motion in 1619. Al
most seventy years later, in 1687, Isaac Newton published his Principia, in which
he presented, for the ﬁrst time, a universal theory of motion. Newton then went
on to illustrate his theory by using it to deriving Kepler’s laws from ﬁrst principles.
Let us now discuss Newton’s monumental achievement in more detail.
12.3 Gravity
There is one important question which we have avoided discussing until now.
Why do objects fall towards the surface of the Earth? The ancient Greeks had
a very simple answer to this question. According to Aristotle, all objects have
a natural tendency to fall towards the centre of the Universe. Since the centre
of the Earth coincides with the centre of the Universe, all objects also tend to
fall towards the Earth’s surface. So, an ancient Greek might ask, why do the
planets not fall towards the Earth? Well, according to Aristotle, the planets are
embedded in crystal spheres which rotate with them whilst holding them in place
in the ﬁrmament. Unfortunately, Ptolemy seriously undermined this explanation
by shifting the Earth slightly from the centre of the Universe. However, the coup
de grace was delivered by Copernicus, who converted the Earth into just another
planet orbiting the Sun.
So, why do objects fall towards the surface of the Earth? The ﬁrst person,
after Aristotle, to seriously consider this question was Sir Isaac Newton. Since
262
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.3 Gravity
1
m
−f
m
2
f
r
f = G m m / r
1 2
2
Figure 104: Newton’s law of gravity.
the Earth is not located in a special place in the Universe, Newton reasoned,
objects must be attracted toward the Earth itself. Moreover, since the Earth is just
another planet, objects must be attracted towards other planets as well. In fact,
all objects must exert a force of attraction on all other objects in the Universe.
What intrinsic property of objects causes them to exert this attractive force—
which Newton termed gravity—on other objects? Newton decided that the crucial
property was mass. After much thought, he was eventually able to formulate his
famous law of universal gravitation:
Every particle in the Universe attracts every other particle with a force directly
proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the
square of the distance between them. The direction of the force is along the
line joining the particles.
Incidentally, Newton adopted an inverse square law because he knew that this
was the only type of force law which was consistent with Kepler’s third law of
planetary motion.
Consider two point objects of masses m
1
and m
2
, separated by a distance r.
As illustrated in Fig. 104, the magnitude of the force of attraction between these
objects is
f = G
m
1
m
2
r
2
. (12.1)
The direction of the force is along the line joining the two objects.
263
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.3 Gravity
Let r
1
and r
2
be the vector positions of the two objects, respectively. The vector
gravitational force exerted by object 2 on object 1 can be written
f
12
= G
r
2
−r
1
r
2
−r
1

3
. (12.2)
Likewise, the vector gravitational force exerted by object 1 on object 2 takes the
form
f
21
= G
r
1
−r
2
r
1
−r
2

3
= −f
21
. (12.3)
The constant of proportionality, G, appearing in the above formulae is called
the gravitational constant. Newton could only estimate the value of this quantity,
which was ﬁrst directly measured by Henry Cavendish in 1798. The modern
value of G is
G = 6.6726 ×10
−11
Nm
2
/kg
2
. (12.4)
Note that the gravitational constant is numerically extremely small. This implies
that gravity is an intrinsically weak force. In fact, gravity usually only becomes
signiﬁcant if at least one of the masses involved is of astronomical dimensions
(e.g., it is a planet, or a star).
Let us use Newton’s law of gravity to account for the Earth’s surface gravity.
Consider an object of mass m close to the surface of the Earth, whose mass and
radius are M
⊕
= 5.97 × 10
24
kg and R
⊕
= 6.378 × 10
6
m, respectively. Newton
proved, after considerable effort, that the gravitational force exerted by a spher
ical body (outside that body) is the same as that exerted by an equivalent point
mass located at the body’s centre. Hence, the gravitational force exerted by the
Earth on the object in question is of magnitude
f = G
mM
⊕
R
2
⊕
, (12.5)
and is directed towards the centre of the Earth. It follows that the equation of
motion of the object can be written
m¨r = −G
mM
⊕
R
2
⊕
^z, (12.6)
264
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.4 Gravitational potential energy
where ^z is a unit vector pointing straight upwards (i.e., away from the Earth’s
centre). Canceling the factor m on either side of the above equation, we obtain
¨r = −g
⊕
^z, (12.7)
where
g
⊕
=
GM
⊕
R
2
⊕
=
(6.673 ×10
−11
) ×(5.97 ×10
24
)
(6.378 ×10
6
)
2
= 9.79 m/s
2
. (12.8)
Thus, we conclude that all objects on the Earth’s surface, irrespective of their
mass, accelerate straight down (i.e., towards the Earth’s centre) with a constant
acceleration of 9.79 m/s
2
. This estimate for the acceleration due to gravity is
slightly off the conventional value of 9.81 m/s
2
because the Earth is actually not
quite spherical.
Since Newton’s law of gravitation is universal, we immediately conclude that
any spherical body of mass M and radius R possesses a surface gravity g given by
the following formula:
g
g
⊕
=
M/M
⊕
(R/R
⊕
)
2
. (12.9)
Table 6 shows the surface gravity of various bodies in the Solar System, estimated
using the above expression. It can be seen that the surface gravity of the Moon is
only about one ﬁfth of that of the Earth. No wonder Apollo astronauts were able
to jump so far on the Moon’s surface! Prospective Mars colonists should note that
they will only weigh about a third of their terrestrial weight on Mars.
12.4 Gravitational potential energy
We saw earlier, in Sect. 5.5, that gravity is a conservative force, and, therefore,
has an associated potential energy. Let us obtain a general formula for this energy.
Consider a point object of mass m, which is a radial distance r from another point
object of mass M. The gravitational force acting on the ﬁrst mass is of magnitude
f = GM/r
2
, and is directed towards the second mass. Imagine that the ﬁrst
mass moves radially away from the second mass, until it reaches inﬁnity. What
265
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.4 Gravitational potential energy
Body M/M
⊕
R/R
⊕
g/g
⊕
Sun 3.33 ×10
5
109.0 28.1
Moon 0.0123 0.273 0.17
Mercury 0.0553 0.383 0.38
Venus 0.816 0.949 0.91
Earth 1.000 1.000 1.000
Mars 0.108 0.533 0.38
Jupiter 318.3 11.21 2.5
Saturn 95.14 9.45 1.07
Table 6: The mass, M, radius, R, and surface gravity, g, of various bodies in the Solar System. All
quantities are expressed as fractions of the corresponding terrestrial quantity.
is the change in the potential energy of the ﬁrst mass associated with this shift?
According to Eq. (5.33),
U(∞) −U(r) = −
∞
r
[−f(r)] dr. (12.10)
There is a minus sign in front of f because this force is oppositely directed to the
motion. The above expression can be integrated to give
U(r) = −
GMm
r
. (12.11)
Here, we have adopted the convenient normalization that the potential energy
at inﬁnity is zero. According to the above formula, the gravitational potential
energy of a mass m located a distance r from a mass M is simply −GMm/r.
Consider an object of mass mmoving close to the Earth’s surface. The potential
energy of such an object can be written
U = −
GM
⊕
m
R
⊕
+z
, (12.12)
where M
⊕
and R
⊕
are the mass and radius of the Earth, respectively, and z is the
vertical height of the object above the Earth’s surface. In the limit that z R
⊕
,
the above expression can be expanded using the binomial theorem to give
U −
GM
⊕
m
R
⊕
+
GM
⊕
m
R
2
⊕
z, (12.13)
266
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.4 Gravitational potential energy
Since potential energy is undetermined to an arbitrary additive constant, we
could just as well write
U mgz, (12.14)
where g = GM
⊕
/R
2
⊕
is the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth’s surface
[see Eq. (12.8)]. Of course, the above formula is equivalent to the formula (5.3)
derived earlier on in this course.
For an object of mass m and speed v, moving in the gravitational ﬁeld of a
ﬁxed object of mass M, we expect the total energy,
E = K +U, (12.15)
to be a constant of the motion. Here, the kinetic energy is written K = (1/2) mv
2
,
whereas the potential energy takes the form U = −GMm/r. Of course, r is the
distance between the two objects. Suppose that the ﬁxed object is a sphere of
radius R. Suppose, further, that the second object is launched from the surface
of this sphere with some velocity v
esc
which is such that it only just escapes the
sphere’s gravitational inﬂuence. After the object has escaped, it is a long way
away from the sphere, and hence U = 0. Moreover, if the object only just escaped,
then we also expect K = 0, since the object will have expended all of its initial
kinetic energy escaping from the sphere’s gravitational well. We conclude that
our object possesses zero net energy: i.e., E = K+U = 0. Since E is a constant of
the motion, it follows that at the launch point
E =
1
2
mv
2
esc
−
GMm
R
= 0. (12.16)
This expression can be rearranged to give
v
esc
=
¸
¸
¸
_
2 GM
R
. (12.17)
The quantity v
esc
is known as the escape velocity. Objects launched from the sur
face of the sphere with velocities exceeding this value will eventually escape from
the sphere’s gravitational inﬂuence. Otherwise, the objects will remain in orbit
around the sphere, and may eventually strike its surface. Note that the escape
velocity is independent of the object’s mass and launch direction (assuming that
it is not straight into the sphere).
267
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.5 Satellite orbits
The escape velocity for the Earth is
v
esc
=
¸
¸
¸
_
2 GM
⊕
R
⊕
=
¸
¸
¸
_
2 ×(6.673 ×10
−11
) ×(5.97 ×10
24
)
6.378 ×10
6
= 11.2 km/s. (12.18)
Clearly, NASA must launch deep space probes from the surface of the Earth with
velocities which exceed this value if they are to have any hope of eventually
reaching their targets.
12.5 Satellite orbits
Consider an artiﬁcial satellite executing a circular orbit of radius r around the
Earth. Let ω be the satellite’s orbital angular velocity. The satellite experiences
an acceleration towards the Earth’s centre of magnitude ω
2
r. Of course, this
acceleration is provided by the gravitational attraction between the satellite and
the Earth, which yields an acceleration of magnitude GM
⊕
/r
2
. It follows that
ω
2
r =
GM
⊕
r
2
. (12.19)
Suppose that the satellite’s orbit lies in the Earth’s equatorial plane. Moreover,
suppose that the satellite’s orbital angular velocity just matches the Earth’s angu
lar velocity of rotation. In this case, the satellite will appear to hover in the same
place in the sky to a stationary observer on the Earth’s surface. A satellite with
this singular property is known as a geostationary satellite.
Virtually all of the satellites used to monitor the Earth’s weather patterns are
geostationary in nature. Communications satellites also tend to be geostationary.
Of course, the satellites which beam satelliteTV to homes across the world must
be geostationary—otherwise, you would need to install an expensive tracking
antenna on top of your house in order to pick up the transmissions. Incidentally,
the person who ﬁrst envisaged rapid global telecommunication via a network of
geostationary satellites was the science ﬁction writer Arthur C. Clarke in 1945.
Let us calculate the orbital radius of a geostationary satellite. The angular
268
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.6 Planetary orbits
velocity of the Earth’s rotation is
ω =
2 π
24 ×60 ×60
= 7.27 ×10
−5
rad./s. (12.20)
It follows from Eq. (12.19) that
r
geo
=
_
GM
⊕
ω
2
_
1/3
=
_
_
(6.673 ×10
−11
) ×(5.97 ×10
24
)
(7.27 ×10
−5
)
2
_
_
1/3
= 4.22 ×10
7
m = 6.62 R
⊕
. (12.21)
Thus, a geostationary satellite must be placed in a circular orbit whose radius is
exactly 6.62 times the Earth’s radius.
12.6 Planetary orbits
Let us now see whether we can use Newton’s universal laws of motion to derive
Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. Consider a planet orbiting around the Sun. It
is convenient to specify the planet’s instantaneous position, with respect to the
Sun, in terms of the polar coordinates r and θ. As illustrated in Fig. 105, r is the
radial distance between the planet and the Sun, whereas θ is the angular bearing
of the planet, from the Sun, measured with respect to some arbitrarily chosen
direction.
Let us deﬁne two unit vectors, e
r
and e
θ
. (A unit vector is simply a vector
whose length is unity.) As shown in Fig. 105, the radial unit vector e
r
always
points from the Sun towards the instantaneous position of the planet. Moreover,
the tangential unit vector e
θ
is always normal to e
r
, in the direction of increasing
θ. In Sect. 7.5, we demonstrated that when acceleration is written in terms of
polar coordinates, it takes the form
a = a
r
e
r
+a
θ
e
θ
, (12.22)
where
a
r
= ¨r −r
˙
θ
2
, (12.23)
a
θ
= r
¨
θ +2˙r
˙
θ. (12.24)
269
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.6 Planetary orbits
Sun
e
r
θ
e
θ
Planet
r
Figure 105: A planetary orbit.
These expressions are more complicated that the corresponding cartesian expres
sions because the unit vectors e
r
and e
θ
change direction as the planet changes
position.
Now, the planet is subject to a single force: i.e., the force of gravitational
attraction exerted by the Sun. In polar coordinates, this force takes a particularly
simple form (which is why we are using polar coordinates):
f = −
GM
m
r
2
e
r
. (12.25)
The minus sign indicates that the force is directed towards, rather than away
from, the Sun.
According to Newton’s second law, the planet’s equation of motion is written
ma = f. (12.26)
The above four equations yield
¨r −r
˙
θ
2
= −
GM
r
2
, (12.27)
r
¨
θ +2˙r
˙
θ = 0. (12.28)
270
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.6 Planetary orbits
S
P
P’
δθ
r
Figure 106: The origin of Kepler’s second law.
Equation (12.28) reduces to
d
dt
(r
2
˙
θ) = 0, (12.29)
or
r
2
˙
θ = h, (12.30)
where h is a constant of the motion. What is the physical interpretation of h?
Recall, from Sect. 9.2, that the angular momentum vector of a point particle can
be written
l = mr ×v. (12.31)
For the case in hand, r = r e
r
and v = ˙r e
r
+r
˙
θe
θ
[see Sect. 7.5]. Hence,
l = mr v
θ
= mr
2
˙
θ, (12.32)
yielding
h =
l
m
. (12.33)
Clearly, h represents the angular momentum (per unit mass) of our planet around
the Sun. Angular momentum is conserved (i.e., h is constant) because the force
of gravitational attraction between the planet and the Sun exerts zero torque on
the planet. (Recall, from Sect. 9, that torque is the rate of change of angular mo
mentum.) The torque is zero because the gravitational force is radial in nature:
i.e., its line of action passes through the Sun, and so its associated lever arm is of
length zero.
The quantity h has another physical interpretation. Consider Fig. 106. Sup
pose that our planet moves from P to P
in the short time interval δt. Here, S
271
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.6 Planetary orbits
represents the position of the Sun. The lines SP and SP
are both approximately
of length r. Moreover, using simple trigonometry, the line PP
is of length r δθ,
where δθ is the small angle through which the line joining the Sun and the planet
rotates in the time interval δt. The area of the triangle PSP
is approximately
δA =
1
2
×r δθ ×r : (12.34)
i.e., half its base times its height. Of course, this area represents the area swept
out by the line joining the Sun and the planet in the time interval δt. Hence, the
rate at which this area is swept is given by
lim
δt→0
δA
δt
=
1
2
r
2
lim
δt→0
δθ
δt
=
r
2
˙
θ
2
=
h
2
. (12.35)
Clearly, the fact that h is a constant of the motion implies that the line joining the
planet and the Sun sweeps out area at a constant rate: i.e., the line sweeps equal
areas in equal time intervals. But, this is just Kepler’s second law. We conclude
that Kepler’s second law of planetary motion is a direct manifestation of angular
momentum conservation.
Let
r =
1
u
, (12.36)
where u(t) ≡ u(θ) is a new radial variable. Differentiating with respect to t, we
obtain
˙r = −
˙ u
u
2
= −
˙
θ
u
2
du
dθ
= −h
du
dθ
. (12.37)
The last step follows from the fact that
˙
θ = hu
2
. Differentiating a second time
with respect to t, we obtain
¨r = −h
d
dt
_
du
dθ
_
= −h
˙
θ
d
2
u
dθ
2
= −h
2
u
2
d
2
u
dθ
2
. (12.38)
Equations (12.27) and (12.38) can be combined to give
d
2
u
dθ
2
+u =
GM
h
2
. (12.39)
272
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.6 Planetary orbits
This equation possesses the fairly obvious general solution
u = A cos(θ −θ
0
) +
GM
h
2
, (12.40)
where A and θ
0
are arbitrary constants.
The above formula can be inverted to give the following simple orbit equation
for our planet:
r =
1
A cos(θ −θ
0
) +GM
/h
2
. (12.41)
The constant θ
0
merely determines the orientation of the orbit. Since we are only
interested in the orbit’s shape, we can set this quantity to zero without loss of
generality. Hence, our orbit equation reduces to
r = r
0
1 +e
1 +e cos θ
, (12.42)
where
e =
Ah
2
GM
, (12.43)
and
r
0
=
h
2
GM
(1 +e)
. (12.44)
Formula (12.42) is the standard equation of an ellipse (assuming e < 1), with
the origin at a focus. Hence, we have now proved Kepler’s ﬁrst law of planetary
motion. It is clear that r
0
is the radial distance at θ = 0. The radial distance at
θ = π is written
r
1
= r
0
1 +e
1 −e
. (12.45)
Here, r
0
is termed the perihelion distance (i.e., the closest distance to the Sun)
and r
1
is termed the aphelion distance (i.e., the furthest distance from the Sun).
The quantity
e =
r
1
−r
0
r
1
+r
0
(12.46)
is termed the eccentricity of the orbit, and is a measure of its departure from
circularity. Thus, e = 0 corresponds to a purely circular orbit, whereas e →
273
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.6 Planetary orbits
Planet e
Mercury 0.206
Venus 0.007
Earth 0.017
Mars 0.093
Jupiter 0.048
Saturn 0.056
Table 7: The orbital eccentricities of various planets in the Solar System.
1 corresponds to a highly elongated orbit. As speciﬁed in Tab. 7, the orbital
eccentricities of all of the planets (except Mercury) are fairly small.
According to Eq. (12.35), a line joining the Sun and an orbiting planet sweeps
area at the constant rate h/2. Let T be the planet’s orbital period. We expect the
line to sweep out the whole area of the ellipse enclosed by the planet’s orbit in
the time interval T. Since the area of an ellipse is πab, where a and b are the
semimajor and semiminor axes, we can write
T =
πab
h/2
. (12.47)
Incidentally, Fig. 107 illustrates the relationship between the aphelion distance,
the perihelion distance, and the semimajor and semiminor axes of a planetary
orbit. It is clear, from the ﬁgure, that the semimajor axis is just the mean of the
aphelion and perihelion distances: i.e.,
a =
r
0
+r
1
2
. (12.48)
Thus, a is essentially the planet’s mean distance from the Sun. Finally, the rela
tionship between a, b, and the eccentricity, e, is given by the wellknown formula
b
a
=
_
1 −e
2
. (12.49)
This formula can easily be obtained from Eq. (12.42).
Equations (12.44), (12.45), and (12.48) can be combined to give
a =
h
2
2 GM
_
1
1 +e
+
1
1 −e
_
=
h
2
GM
(1 −e
2
)
. (12.50)
274
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.6 Planetary orbits
a
r
r
0
1
b
focus
Figure 107: Anatomy of a planetary orbit.
It follows, from Eqs. (12.47), (12.49), and (12.50), that the orbital period can be
written
T =
2π
√
GM
a
3/2
. (12.51)
Thus, the orbital period of a planet is proportional to its mean distance from
the Sun to the power 3/2—the constant of proportionality being the same for all
planets. Of course, this is just Kepler’s third law of planetary motion.
Worked example 12.1: Gravity on Callisto
Question: Callisto is the eighth of Jupiter’s moons: its mass and radius are
M = 1.08 × 10
23
kg and R = 2403 km, respectively. What is the gravitational
acceleration on the surface of this moon?
Answer: The surface gravitational acceleration on a spherical body of mass M
and radius R is simply
g =
GM
R
2
.
Hence,
g =
(6.673 ×10
−11
) ×(1.08 ×10
23
)
(2.403 ×10
6
)
2
= 1.25 m/s
2
.
275
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.6 Planetary orbits
Worked example 12.2: Acceleration of a rocket
Question: A rocket is located a distance 3.5 times the radius of the Earth above
the Earth’s surface. What is the rocket’s freefall acceleration?
Answer: Let R
⊕
be the Earth’s radius. The distance of the rocket from the centre
of the Earth is r
1
= (3.5 +1) R
⊕
= 4.5 R
⊕
. We know that the freefall acceleration
of the rocket when its distance from the Earth’s centre is r
0
= R
⊕
(i.e., when it is
at the Earth’s surface) is g
0
= 9.81 m/s
2
. Moreover, we know that gravity is an
inversesquare law (i.e., g ∝ 1/r
2
). Hence, the rocket’s acceleration is
g
1
= g
0
_
r
0
r
1
_
2
=
9.81 ×1
(4.5)
2
= 0.484 m/s
2
.
Worked example 12.3: Circular Earth orbit
Question: A satellite moves in a circular orbit around the Earth with speed v =
6000 m/s. Determine the satellite’s altitude above the Earth’s surface. Determine
the period of the satellite’s orbit. The Earth’s mass and radius are M
⊕
= 5.97 ×
10
24
kg and R
⊕
= 6.378 ×10
6
m, respectively.
Answer: The acceleration of the satellite towards the centre of the Earth is v
2
/r,
where r is its orbital radius. This acceleration must be provided by the accelera
tion GM
⊕
/r
2
due to the Earth’s gravitational attraction. Hence,
v
2
r
=
GM
⊕
r
2
.
The above expression can be rearranged to give
r =
GM
⊕
v
2
=
(6.673 ×10
−11
) ×(5.97 ×10
24
)
(6000)
2
= 1.107 ×10
7
m.
Thus, the satellite’s altitude above the Earth’s surface is
h = r −R
⊕
= 1.107 ×10
7
−6.378 ×10
6
= 4.69 ×10
6
m.
276
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.6 Planetary orbits
The satellite’s orbital period is simply
T =
2 πr
v
=
2 ×π ×(1.107 ×10
7
)
6000
= 3.22 hours.
Worked example 12.4: Halley’s comet
Question: The distance of closest approach of Halley’s comet to the Sun is 0.57 AU.
(1 AU is the mean EarthSun distance.) The greatest distance of the comet from
the Sun is 35AU. The comet’s speed at closest approach is 54 km/s. What is its
speed when it is furthest from the Sun?
Answer: At perihelion and aphelion, the comet’s velocity is perpendicular to its
position vector from the Sun. Hence, at these two special points, the comet’s
angular momentum (around the Sun) takes the particularly simple form
l = mr u.
Here, m is the comet’s mass, r is its distance from the Sun, and u is its speed.
According to Kepler’s second law, the comet orbits the Sun with constant angular
momentum. Hence, we can write
r
0
u
0
= r
1
u
1
,
where r
0
and u
0
are the perihelion distance and speed, respectively, and r
1
and
u
1
are the corresponding quantities at aphelion. We are told that r
0
= 0.57 AU,
r
1
= 35 AU, and u
0
= 54 km/s. It follows that
u
1
=
u
0
r
0
r
1
=
54 ×0.57
35
= 0.879 km/s.
Worked example 12.5: Mass of star
Question: A planet is in circular orbit around a star. The period and radius of the
orbit are T = 4.3 × 10
7
s and r = 2.34 × 10
11
m, respectively. Calculate the mass
of the star.
277
12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.6 Planetary orbits
Answer: Let ω be the planet’s orbital angular velocity. The planet accelerates
towards the star with acceleration ω
2
r. The acceleration due to the star’s gravi
tational attraction is GM
∗
/r
2
, where M
∗
is the mass of the star. Equating these
accelerations, we obtain
ω
2
r =
GM
∗
r
2
.
Now,
T =
2 π
ω
.
Hence, combining the previous two expressions, we get
M
∗
=
4 π
2
r
3
GT
2
.
Thus, the mass of the star is
M
∗
=
4 ×π
2
×(2.34 ×10
11
)
3
(6.673 ×10
−11
) ×(4.3 ×10
7
)
2
= 4.01 ×10
30
kg.
Worked example 12.6: Launch energy
Question: What is the minimum energy required to launch a probe of mass m =
120 kg into outer space? The Earth’s mass and radius are M
⊕
= 5.97 × 10
24
kg
and R
⊕
= 6.378 ×10
6
m, respectively.
Answer: The energy which must be given to the probe should just match the
probe’s gain in potential energy as it travels from the Earth’s surface to outer
space. By deﬁnition, the probe’s potential energy in outer space is zero. The
potential energy of the probe at the Earth’s surface is
U = −
GM
⊕
m
R
⊕
=
(6.673 ×10
−11
) ×(5.97 ×10
24
) ×120
(6.378 ×10
6
)
= −7.495 ×10
9
J.
Thus, the gain in potential energy, which is the same as the minimum launch
energy, is 7.495 ×10
9
J.
278
13 WAVE MOTION
13 Wave motion
13.1 Introduction
Waves are small amplitude perturbations which propagate through continuous
media: e.g., gases, liquids, solids, or—in the special case of electromagnetic
waves—a vacuum. Wave motion is a combination of oscillatory and translational
motion. Waves are important because they are the means through which virtually
all information regarding the outside world is transmitted to us. For instance, we
hear things via sound waves propagating through the air, and we see things via
light waves. Now, the physical mechanisms which underlie sound and light wave
propagation are completely different. Nevertheless, sound and light waves pos
sesses a number of common properties which are intrinsic to wave motion itself.
In this section, we shall concentrate on the common properties of waves, rather
than those properties which are peculiar to particular wave types.
13.2 Waves on a stretched string
Probably the simplest type of wave is that which propagates down a stretched
string. Consider a straight string which is stretched such that it is under uniform
tension T. Let the string run along the xaxis. Suppose that the string is subject
to a small amplitude displacement, in the ydirection, which can vary along its
length. Let y(x, t) be the string’s displacement at position x and time t. What is
the equation of motion for y(x, t)?
Consider an inﬁnitesimal segment of the string which extends from x − δx/2
to x + δx/2. As shown in Fig. 108, this segment is subject to opposing tension
forces, T, at its two ends, which act along the local tangent line to the string.
Here, we are assuming that the string displacement remains sufﬁciently small
that the tension does not vary in magnitude along the string. Suppose that the
local tangent line to the string subtends angles δθ
1
and δθ
2
with the xaxis at
x − δx/2 and x + δx/2, respectively—as shown in Fig. 108. Note that these
angles are written as inﬁnitesimal quantities because the string displacement is
279
13 WAVE MOTION 13.2 Waves on a stretched string
y
−
>
x −> δ
δ
δθ
2
1
δθ
T
x − x/2 x + x/2
T
Figure 108: Forces acting on a segment of a stretched string.
assumed to be inﬁnitesimally small, which implies that the string is everywhere
almost parallel with the xaxis (the string displacement is greatly exaggerated in
Fig. 108, for the sake of clarity).
Consider the ycomponent of the string segment’s equation of motion. The net
force acting on the segment in the ydirection takes the form
f
y
(x, t) = T sinδθ
2
−T sinδθ
1
T (δθ
2
−δθ
1
), (13.1)
since sinθ θ when θ is small. Now, from calculus,
∂y(x −δx/2, t)
∂x
= tanδθ
1
δθ
1
, (13.2)
∂y(x +δx/2, t)
∂x
= tanδθ
2
δθ
2
, (13.3)
since the gradient, dy(x)/dx, of the curve y(x) is equal to the tangent of the angle
subtended by this curve with the xaxis. Note that tanθ θ when θ is small. The
quantity ∂y(x, t)/∂x refers to the derivative of y(x, t) with respect to x, keeping
t constant—such a derivative is known as a partial derivative. Equations (13.1)–
(13.3) can be combined to give
f
y
(x, t) = T
_
_
∂y(x +δx/2, t)
∂x
−
∂y(x −δx/2, t)
∂x
_
_
= T δx
∂
2
y(x, t)
∂x
2
. (13.4)
280
13 WAVE MOTION 13.2 Waves on a stretched string
Here, ∂
2
y(x, t)/∂x
2
is the second derivative of y(x, t) with respect to x, keeping t
constant.
Suppose that the string has a mass per unit length µ. It follows that the y
equation of motion of our string segment takes the form
µδx
∂
2
y(x, t)
∂t
2
= f
y
(x, t), (13.5)
Here, ∂
2
y(x, t)/∂t
2
—the second derivative of y(x, t) with respect to t, keeping
x constant—is the yacceleration of the string segment at position x and time t.
Equations (13.4) and (13.5) yield the ﬁnal expression for the string’s equation of
motion:
∂
2
y
∂t
2
=
T
µ
∂
2
y
∂x
2
. (13.6)
Equation (13.6) is an example of a wave equation. In fact, all small amplitude
waves satisfy an equation of motion of this basic form. A particular solution of
this type of equation has been known for centuries: i.e.,
y(x, t) = y
0
cos (k x −ωt), (13.7)
where y
0
, k, and ω are constants. We can demonstrate that (13.7) satisﬁes (13.6)
by direct substitution. Thus,
∂y
∂t
= y
0
ω sin(k x −ωt), (13.8)
∂
2
y
∂t
2
= −y
0
ω
2
cos (k x −ωt), (13.9)
and
∂y
∂x
= −y
0
k sin(k x −ωt), (13.10)
∂
2
y
∂x
2
= −y
0
k
2
cos (k x −ωt). (13.11)
Substituting Eqs. (13.9) and (13.11) into Eq. (13.6), we ﬁnd that the latter equa
tion is satisﬁed provided
ω
2
k
2
=
T
µ
. (13.12)
281
13 WAVE MOTION 13.2 Waves on a stretched string
Equation (13.7) describes a pattern of motion which is periodic in both space
and time. This periodicity follows from the wellknown periodicity property of the
cosine function: namely, cos(θ + 2 π) = cos θ. Thus, the wave pattern is periodic
in space,
y(x +λ, t) = y(x, t), (13.13)
with periodicity length
λ =
2 π
k
. (13.14)
Here, λ is known as the wavelength, whereas k is known as the wavenumber. The
wavelength is the distance between successive wave peaks. The wave pattern is
periodic in time,
y(x, t +T) = y(x, t), (13.15)
with period
T =
2 π
ω
. (13.16)
The wave period is the oscillation period of the wave disturbance at a given point
in space. The wave frequency (i.e., the number of cycles per second the wave
pattern executes at a given point in space) is written
f =
1
T
=
ω
2 π
. (13.17)
The quantity ω is termed the angular frequency of the wave. Finally, at any given
point in space, the displacement y oscillates between +y
0
and −y
0
(since the
maximal values of cos θ are ±1). Hence, y
0
corresponds to the wave amplitude.
Equation (13.7) also describes a sinusoidal pattern which propagates along the
xaxis without changing shape. We can see this by examining the motion of the
wave peaks, y = +y
0
, which correspond to
k x −ωt = n2 π, (13.18)
where n is an integer. Differentiating the above expression with respect to time,
we obtain
dx
dt
=
ω
k
. (13.19)
282
13 WAVE MOTION 13.2 Waves on a stretched string
v
Figure 109: A sinusoidal wave propagating down the xaxis. The solid, dotted, dashed, and dot
dashed curves show the wave displacement at four successive and equally spaced times.
In other words, the wave peaks all propagate along the xaxis with uniform speed
v =
ω
k
. (13.20)
It is easily demonstrated that the wave troughs, y = −y
0
, propagate with the
same speed. Thus, it is fairly clear that the whole wave pattern moves with speed
v—see Fig. 109. Equations (13.14), (13.17), and (13.20) yield
v = f λ : (13.21)
i.e., a wave’s speed is the product of its frequency and its wavelength. This is true
for all types of (sinusoidal) wave.
Equations (13.12) and (13.20) imply that
v =
¸
¸
¸
_
T
µ
. (13.22)
In other words, all waves that propagate down a stretched string do so with the
same speed. This common speed is determined by the properties of the string: i.e.,
its tension and mass per unit length. Note, from Eq. (13.7), that the wavelength
283
13 WAVE MOTION 13.3 General waves
λ is arbitrary. However, once the wavelength is speciﬁed, the wave frequency
f is ﬁxed via Eqs. (13.21) and (13.22). It follows that short wavelength waves
possess high frequencies, and vice versa.
13.3 General waves
By analogy with the previous discussion, a general wave disturbance propagating
along the xaxis satisﬁes
∂
2
y
∂t
2
= v
2
∂
2
y
∂x
2
, (13.23)
where v is the common wave speed. In general, v is determined by the properties
of the medium through which the wave propagates. Thus, for waves propagating
along a string, the wave speed is determined by the string tension and mass
per unit length; for sound waves propagating through a gas, the wave speed
is determined by the gas pressure and density; and for electromagnetic waves
propagating through a vacuum, the wave speed is a constant of nature: i.e.,
c = 3 ×10
8
m/s
2
.
One solution of Eq. (13.23) is
y(x, t) = y
0
cos [k (x −v t)]. (13.24)
This is interpreted as a (sinusoidal) wave of amplitude y
0
and wavelength λ =
2 π/k which propagates in the +x direction with speed v. It is easily demonstrated
that another equally good solution of Eq. (13.23) is
y(x, t) = y
0
cos [k (x +v t)]. (13.25)
This is interpreted as a (sinusoidal) wave of amplitude y
0
and wavelength λ =
2 π/k which propagates in the −x direction with speed v.
Equation (13.23) is a linear partial differential equation (PDE): i.e., it is in
variant under the transformation y → ay + b, where a and b are arbitrary
constants. One important mathematical property of linear PDEs is that their so
lutions are superposable: i.e., they can be added together and still remain solu
tions. Thus, if y
1
(x, t) and y
2
(x, t) are two distinct solutions of Eq. (13.23) then
284
13 WAVE MOTION 13.4 Wavepulses
x −>
v
Figure 110: A wavepulse propagating down the xaxis. The solid, dotted, and dashed curves show
the wave displacement at three successive and equally spaced times.
ay
1
(x, t) +by
2
(x, t) (where a and b are arbitrary constants) is also a solution—
this can be seen from inspection of Eq. (13.23). To be more exact, if
y
1
(x, t) = a
1
cos [k
1
(x −v t)] (13.26)
represents a wave of amplitude a
1
and wavenumber k
1
which propagates in the
+x direction, and
y
2
(x, t) = a
2
cos [k
2
(x +v t)] (13.27)
represents a wave of amplitude a
2
and wavenumber k
2
which propagates in the
−x direction, then
y(x, t) = y
1
(x, t) +y
2
(x, t) (13.28)
is a valid solution of the wave equation, and represents the two aforementioned
waves propagating in the same region without affecting one another.
13.4 Wavepulses
As is easily demonstrated, the most general solution of the wave equation (13.23)
is written
F(x −v t), (13.29)
285
13 WAVE MOTION 13.4 Wavepulses
where F(p) is an arbitrary function. The above solution is interpreted as a pulse
of arbitrary shape which propagates in the +x direction with speed v, without
changing shape—see Fig. 110. Likewise,
G(x +v t) (13.30)
represents another arbitrary pulse which propagates in the −x direction with
speed v, without changing shape. Note that, unlike our previous sinusoidal wave
solutions, a general wavepulse possesses a deﬁnite propagation speed but does
not possess a deﬁnite wavelength or frequency.
What is the relationship between these new wavepulse solutions and our pre
vious sinusoidal wave solutions? It turns out that any wavepulse can be built up
from a suitable linear superposition of sinusoidal waves. For instance, if F(x −v t)
represents a wavepulse propagating down the xaxis, then we can write
F(x −v t) =
∞
0
¯
F(k) cos [k (x −v t)] dk, (13.31)
where we have assumed that F(−p) = F(p), for the sake of simplicity. The above
formula is basically a recipe for generating the propagating wavepulse F(x −v t)
from a suitable admixture of sinusoidal waves of deﬁnite wavelength and fre
quency:
¯
F(k) speciﬁes the required amplitude of the wavelength λ = 2 π/k com
ponent. How do we determine
¯
F(k) for a given wavepulse? Well, a mathematical
result known as Fourier’s theorem yields
¯
F(k) =
2
π
∞
0
F(p) cos (k p) dp, (13.32)
The above expression essentially tells us the strength of the wavenumber k com
ponent of the wavepulse F(x − v t). Note that the function
¯
F(k) is known as the
Fourier spectrum of the wavepulse F(x −v t).
Figures 111 and 112 show two different wavepulses and their associated
Fourier spectra. Note how, by combining sinusoidal waves of varying wavenum
ber in different proportions, it is possible to build up wavepulses of completely
different shape.
286
13 WAVE MOTION 13.4 Wavepulses
Figure 111: A propagating wavepulse, F(x −v t), and its associated Fourier spectrum,
¯
F(k).
287
13 WAVE MOTION 13.4 Wavepulses
Figure 112: A propagating wavepulse, F(x −v t), and its associated Fourier spectrum,
¯
F(k).
288
13 WAVE MOTION 13.5 Standing waves
13.5 Standing waves
Up to now, all of the wave solutions that we have investigated have been propa
gating solutions. Is it possible to construct a wave solution which does not prop
agate? Suppose we combine a sinusoidal wave of amplitude y
0
and wavenumber
k which propagates in the +x direction,
y
1
(x, t) = y
0
cos (k x −ωt), (13.33)
with a second sinusoidal wave of amplitude y
0
and wavenumber k which propa
gates in the −x direction,
y
2
(x, t) = y
0
cos (k x +ωt). (13.34)
The net result is
y(x, t) = y
1
(x, t) +y
2
(x, t) = y
0
[cos (k x −ωt) + cos (k x +ωt)] . (13.35)
Making use of the standard trigonometric identity
cos x + cos y = 2 cos
_
x +y
2
_
cos
_
x −y
2
_
, (13.36)
we obtain
y(x, t) = 2 y
0
cos (k x) cos (ωt). (13.37)
The pattern of motion speciﬁed by the above expression is illustrated in Fig. 113.
It can be seen that the wave pattern does not propagate along the xaxis. Note,
however, that the amplitude of the wave now varies with position. At certain
points, called nodes, the amplitude is zero. At other points, called antinodes,
the amplitude is maximal. The nodes are halfway between successive antinodes,
and both nodes and antinodes are evenly spaced half a wavelength apart.
The standing wave shown in Fig. 113 can be thought of as the interference
pattern generated by combining the two traveling wave solutions y
1
(x, t) and
y
2
(x, t). At the antinodes, the waves reinforce one another, so that the oscillation
amplitude becomes double that associated with each wave individually—this is
termed constructive interference. At the nodes, the waves completely cancel one
another out—this is termed destructive interference.
289
13 WAVE MOTION 13.5 Standing waves
node
anti−node
Figure 113: A standing wave. The various curves show the wave displacement at different times.
Most musical instruments work by exciting standing waves. For instance,
stringed instruments excite standing waves on strings, whereas wind instruments
excite standing waves in columns of air. Consider a guitar string of length L.
Suppose that the string runs along the xaxis, and extends from x = 0 to x = L.
Since the ends of the string are ﬁxed, any wave excited on the string must satisfy
the constraints
y(0, t) = y(L, t) = 0. (13.38)
It is fairly clear that no propagating wave solution of the form y
0
cos [k (x ±
v t)] can satisfy these constraints. However, a standing wave can easily satisfy
the constraints, provided two of its nodes coincide with the ends of the string.
Since the nodes in a standing wave pattern are spaced half a wavelength apart,
it follows that the wave frequency must be adjusted such that an integer number
of halfwavelengths ﬁt on the string. In other words,
L = n
λ
2
, (13.39)
where n = 1, 2, 3, . . .. Now, from Eqs. (13.21) and (13.22),
f λ =
¸
¸
¸
_
T
µ
, (13.40)
290
13 WAVE MOTION 13.6 The Doppler effect
where T and µ are the tension and mass per unit length of the string, respectively.
The above two equations can be combined to give
f =
n
2 L
¸
¸
¸
_
T
µ
. (13.41)
Thus, the standing waves that can be excited on a guitar string have frequencies
f
0
, 2 f
0
, 3 f
0
, etc., which are integer multiples of
f
0
=
1
2 L
¸
¸
¸
_
T
µ
. (13.42)
These frequencies are transmitted to our ear, via sound waves which oscillate in
sympathy with the guitar string, and are interpreted as musical notes. To be more
exact, the frequencies correspond to notes spaced an octave apart. The frequency
f
0
is termed the fundamental frequency, whereas the frequencies 2 f
0
, 3 f
0
, etc. are
termed the overtone harmonic frequencies. When a guitar string is plucked an
admixture of standing waves, consisting predominantly of the fundamental har
monic wave, is excited on the string. The fundamental harmonic determines the
musical note which the guitar string plays. However, it is the overtone harmonics
which give the note its peculiar timbre. Thus, a trumpet sounds different to a
guitar, even when they are both playing the same note, because a trumpet excites
a different mix of overtone harmonics than a guitar.
13.6 The Doppler effect
Consider a sinusoidal wave of wavenumber k and angular frequency ω propagat
ing in the +x direction:
y(x, t) = y
0
cos (k x −ωt). (13.43)
The wavelength and frequency of the wave, as seen by a stationary observer, are
λ = 2 π/k and f = ω/2 π, respectively. Consider a second observer moving with
uniform speed v
o
in the +x direction. What are the wavelength and frequency of
the wave, as seen by the second observer? Well, the xcoordinate in the moving
observer’s frame of reference is x
= x − v
0
t (see Sect. 4.9). Of course, both
291
13 WAVE MOTION 13.6 The Doppler effect
observers measure the same time. Hence, in the second observer’s frame of ref
erence the wave takes the form
y(x
, t) = y
0
cos (k x
−ω
t), (13.44)
where
ω
= ω−k v
o
. (13.45)
Here, we have simply replaced x by x
+ v
o
t in Eq. (13.43). Clearly, the moving
observer sees a wave possessing the same wavelength (i.e., the same k) but a
different frequency (i.e., a different ω) to that seen by the stationary observer.
This phenomenon is called the Doppler effect. Since v = ω/k, it follows that the
wave speed is also shifted in the moving observer’s frame of reference. In fact,
v
= v −v
o
, (13.46)
where v
is the wave speed seen by the moving observer. Finally, since v = f λ,
and the wavelength is the same in both the moving and stationary observers’
frames of reference, the wave frequency experienced by the moving observer is
f
=
_
1 −
v
o
v
_
f. (13.47)
Thus, the moving observer sees a lower frequency wave than the stationary ob
server. This occurs because the moving observer is traveling in the same direction
as the wave, and is therefore effectively trying to catch it up. It is easily demon
strated that an observer moving in the opposite direction to a wave sees a higher
frequency than a stationary observer. Hence, the general Doppler shift formula
(for a moving observer and a stationary wave source) is
f
=
_
1 ∓
v
o
v
_
f, (13.48)
where the upper/lower signs correspond to the observer moving in the same/opposite
direction to the wave.
Consider a stationary observer measuring a wave emitted by a source which is
moving towards the observer with speed v
s
. Let v be the propagation speed of the
wave. Consider two neighbouring wave crests emitted by the source. Suppose
292
13 WAVE MOTION 13.6 The Doppler effect
that the ﬁrst is emitted at time t = 0, and the second at time t = T, where
T = 1/f is the wave period in the frame of reference of the source. At time t, the
ﬁrst wave crest has traveled a distance d
1
= v t towards the observer, whereas
the second wave crest has traveled a distance d
2
= v (t − T) + v
s
T (measured
from the position of the source at t = 0). Here, we have taken into account the
fact that the source is a distance v
s
T closer to the observer when the second wave
crest is emitted. The effective wavelength, λ
, seen by the observer is the distance
between neighbouring wave crests. Hence,
λ
= d
1
−d
2
= (v −v
s
) T. (13.49)
Since v = f
λ
, the effective frequency f
seen by the observer is
f
=
f
1 −v
s
/v
, (13.50)
where f is the wave frequency in the frame of reference of the source. We con
clude that if the source is moving towards the observer then the wave frequency
is shifted upwards. Likewise, if the source is moving away from the observer
then the frequency is shifted downwards. This manifestation of the Doppler effect
should be familiar to everyone. When an ambulance passes us on the street, its
siren has a higher pitch (i.e., a high frequency) when it is coming towards us than
when it is moving away from us. Of course, the oscillation frequency of the siren
never changes. It is the Doppler shift induced by the motion of the siren with
respect to a stationary listener which causes the frequency change.
The general formula for the shift in a wave’s frequency induced by relative
motion of the observer and the source is
f
=
_
_
1 ∓v
o
/v
1 ±v
s
/v
_
_
f, (13.51)
where v
o
is the speed of the observer, and v
s
is the speed of the source. The
upper/lower signs correspond to relative motion by which the observer and the
source move apart/together.
Probably the most notorious use of the Doppler effect in everyday life is in
police speed traps. In a speed trap, a policeman ﬁres radar waves (i.e., electro
magnetic waves of centimeter wavelength) of ﬁxed frequency at an oncoming
293
13 WAVE MOTION 13.6 The Doppler effect
car. These waves reﬂect off the car, which effectively becomes a moving source.
Hence, by measuring the frequency increase of the reﬂected waves, the policeman
can determine the car’s speed.
Worked example 13.1: Piano range
Question: A piano emits sound waves whose frequencies range from f
l
= 28 Hz to
f
h
= 4200 Hz. What range of wavelengths is spanned by these waves? The speed
of sound in air is v = 343 m/s.
Answer: The relationship between a wave’s frequency, f, wavelength, λ, and
speed, v, is
v = f λ.
Hence, λ = v/f. The shortest wavelength (which corresponds to the highest
frequency) is
λ
l
=
v
f
h
=
343
4200
= 8.1667 ×10
−2
m.
The longest wavelength (which corresponds to the lowest frequency) is
λ
h
=
v
f
l
=
343
28
= 12.250 m.
Worked example 13.2: Middle C
Question: A steel wire in a piano has a length of L = 0.9 m and a mass of m =
5.4 g. To what tension T must this wire be stretched so that its fundamental
vibration corresponds to middle C: i.e., the vibration possess a frequency f =
261.6 Hz.
Answer: The fundamental standing wave on a stretched wire is such that the
length L of the wire corresponds to half the wavelength λ of the wave. Hence,
λ = 2 L = 1.80 m.
294
13 WAVE MOTION 13.6 The Doppler effect
The propagation speed of waves on the wire is given by
v = f λ = 261.6 ×1.80 = 470.88 m/s.
Furthermore, the string’s mass per unit length is
µ =
m
L
=
5.4 ×10
−3
0.9
= 6.00 ×10
−3
kg/m.
Now, the relationship between the wave propagation speed, v, the mass per unit
length, µ, and the tension, T, of a stretched wire is
v =
¸
¸
¸
_
T
µ
.
Thus,
T = v
2
µ = (470.88)
2
×6.00 ×10
−3
= 1.330 ×10
3
N.
Worked example 13.3: Sinusoidal wave
Question: A wave is described by
y = A sin(k x −ωt),
where A = 4 cm, k = 2.65 rad./m, and ω = 4.78 rad./s. Moreover, x is in meters
and t is in seconds. What are the wavelength, frequency, and propagation speed
of the wave?
Answer: We identify A as the wave amplitude, k as the wavenumber, and ω as
the angular frequency. Now, k = 2 π/λ, where λ is the wavelength. Hence,
λ =
2 π
k
=
2 ×π
2.65
= 2.371 m.
Furthermore, ω = 2 πf, where f is the frequency. Hence,
f =
ω
2 π
=
4.78
2 ×π
= 0.7608 Hz.
Finally, v = f λ, where v is the propagation speed. Thus,
v = 0.7608 ×2.371 = 1.804 m/s.
295
13 WAVE MOTION 13.6 The Doppler effect
Worked example 13.4: Truck passing stationary siren
Question: A truck, moving at v
o
= 80 km/hr, passes a stationary police car whose
siren has a frequency of f = 500 Hz. What is the frequency change heard by the
truck driver as the truck passes the police car? The speed of sound is v = 343 m/s.
Answer: The truck’s speed is
v
o
=
80 ×1000
3600
= 22.22 m/s.
When the truck is moving towards the police car, the siren’s apparent frequency
is
f
1
=
_
1 +
v
o
v
_
f =
_
1 +
22.22
343
_
×500 = 532.39 Hz.
When the truck is moving away from the police car, the siren’s apparent frequency
is
f
2
=
_
1 −
v
o
v
_
f =
_
1 −
22.22
343
_
×500 = 467.61 Hz.
Hence, the frequency shift is
∆f = f
1
−f
2
= 532.39 −467.61 = 64.79 Hz.
Worked example 13.5: Ambulance and car
Question: An ambulance is traveling down a straight road at speed v
s
= 42 m/s.
The ambulance approaches a car which is traveling on the same road, in the same
direction, at speed v
o
= 33 m/s. The ambulance driver hears his/her siren at a
frequency of f = 500 Hz. At what frequency does the driver of the car hear the
siren? The speed of sound is v = 343 m/s.
Answer: The apparent frequency f
of a sound wave is given by
f
=
_
_
1 −v
o
/v
1 −v
s
/v
_
_
f,
where v
o
is the speed of the observer (i.e., the car driver), v
s
is the speed of the
source (i.e., the ambulance), v is the speed of sound, and f is the wave frequency
296
13 WAVE MOTION 13.6 The Doppler effect
in the frame of reference of the source. We have chosen a minus sign in the
numerator of the above formula because the observer is moving away from the
source, leading to a downward Doppler shift. We have chosen a minus sign in
the denominator of the above formula because the source is moving towards the
observer, leading to a upward Doppler shift. Hence,
f
=
_
_
1 −33/343
1 −42/343
_
_
×500 = 514.95 Hz.
297
Contents
1 Introduction 1.1 Major sources: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2 What is classical mechanics? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.3 mks units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 7 7 9
1.4 Standard preﬁxes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 1.5 Other units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 1.6 Precision and signiﬁcant ﬁgures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 1.7 Dimensional analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 2 Motion in 1 dimension 18
2.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 2.2 Displacement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 2.3 Velocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 2.4 Acceleration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 2.5 Motion with constant velocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 2.6 Motion with constant acceleration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
2.7 Freefall under gravity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 3 Motion in 3 dimensions 32
3.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 3.2 Cartesian coordinates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
3.3 Vector displacement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 3.4 Vector addition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 3.5 Vector magnitude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 2
3.6 Scalar multiplication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 3.7 Diagonals of a parallelogram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
3.8 Vector velocity and vector acceleration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 3.9 Motion with constant velocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 3.10 Motion with constant acceleration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
3.11 Projectile motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 3.12 Relative velocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 53
4 Newton’s laws of motion
4.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 4.2 Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 4.3 Newton’s second law of motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 4.4 Hooke’s law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 4.5 Newton’s third law of motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 4.6 Mass and weight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 4.7 Strings, pulleys, and inclines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 4.8 Friction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 4.9 Frames of reference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 5 Conservation of energy 78
5.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 5.2 Energy conservation during freefall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 5.3 Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 5.4 Conservative and nonconservative forceﬁelds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 5.5 Potential energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
3
5.6 Hooke’s law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 5.7 Motion in a general 1dimensional potential . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 5.8 Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 6 Conservation of momentum 107
6.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 6.2 Twocomponent systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 6.3 Multicomponent systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 6.4 Rocket science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
6.5 Impulses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 6.6 Collisions in 1dimension . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127 7 Circular motion 136
7.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 7.2 Uniform circular motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 7.3 Centripetal acceleration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138 7.4 The conical pendulum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 7.5 Nonuniform circular motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142 7.6 The vertical pendulum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 7.7 Motion on curved surfaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 8 Rotational motion 160
8.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160 8.2 Rigid body rotation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160 8.3 Is rotation a vector? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 4
8.4 The vector product . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166 8.5 Centre of mass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168 8.6 Moment of inertia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172
8.7 Torque . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179 8.8 Power and work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
8.9 Translational motion versus rotational motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186 8.10 The physics of baseball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186 8.11 Combined translational and rotational motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190 9 Angular momentum 204
9.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204 9.2 Angular momentum of a point particle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204 9.3 Angular momentum of an extended object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206 9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209 10 Statics 217
10.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217 10.2 The principles of statics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217 10.3 Equilibrium of a laminar object in a gravitational ﬁeld . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220 10.4 Rods and cables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223 10.5 Ladders and walls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 226 10.6 Jointed rods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228 11 Oscillatory motion 237
11.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237 11.2 Simple harmonic motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237 5
. . . . . . . 253 12. . . . . . . . . . .4 Wavepulses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 279 13. .3 The torsion pendulum . . . . . . . . . 289 13. . . . .4 The simple pendulum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 284 13. . . . . .2 Waves on a stretched string . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Uniform circular motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265 12. . . . . . . . . . . . . .11. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Planetary orbits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 General waves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269 13 Wave motion 279 13. . . . . . . . . . . 253 12.5 Standing waves . . . . . . . . .2 Historical background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 268 12. . . . . . . . . . 245 11. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 285 13. . . 279 13. . 246 12 Orbital motion 253 12. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241 11.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Satellite orbits . . . . .3 Gravity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262 12. . . . . . . . . . . . 242 11. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 291 6 . . . . . . .5 The compound pendulum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 The Doppler effect . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Gravitational potential energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
& Winston. and Descartes. and culminating in the monumental achievements 7 . Classical mechanics is also of great signiﬁcance outside the realm of science. Serway.. Vol. 2000). 1. Resnick. such as Astronomy (e. Moreover. 1 (John Wiley & Sons.1 Major sources: The sources which I consulted most frequently whilst developing this course are: Analytical Mechanics: G. 1 (Saunders College Publishing.1 INTRODUCTION 1 Introduction 1. Fifth edition. Rinehart. and K. Chemistry (e. the equilibrium and stability of structures). New York NY. Vol.A. 1992). D. Chicago IL. Geology (e.J. and Engineering (e.g. through the Earth’s crust). classical mechanics has many important applications in other areas of science. and is the foundation upon which all other branches of Physics are built. Fourth edition. New York NY.S. Fowles.g. Physics for scientists and engineers: R. Encyclopædia Brittanica: Fifteenth edition (Encyclopædia Brittanica. Krane. the sequence of events leading to the discovery of classical mechanics—starting with the groundbreaking work of Copernicus. Physics: R. 1977). celestial mechanics).g. commonly known as the Principia.. and R. Beichner..2 What is classical mechanics? Classical mechanics is the study of the motion of bodies (including the special case in which bodies remain at rest) in accordance with the general principles ﬁrst enunciated by Sir Isaac Newton in his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687). Classical mechanics was the ﬁrst branch of Physics to be discovered. 1994).g.. the dynamics of molecular collisions). generated by earthquakes. Orlando FL.R. the propagation of seismic waves. continuing with the researches of Galileo. Kepler. After all. Halliday. Third edition (Holt.
. circular motion contains elements of both rotational and oscillatory motion. the motion of a properly bowled bowling ball consists of a combination of translational and rotational motion.. the subdivision of mechanics which is concerned with the forces that act on bodies at rest and in equilibrium. these different types of motion can be combined: for instance. We shall also study statics: i. the above mentioned types of motion are not entirely distinct: e..g.2 What is classical mechanics? of Newton—involved the complete overthrow of the Aristotelian picture of the Universe. and its replacement by a recognizably modern picture in which humankind no longer played a privileged role. the motion of a pendulum in a grandfather clock). Rotational motion—motion by which an extended body changes orientation.. whereas wave propagation is a combination of translational and oscillatory motion.e. so as to ensure that it does not collapse. Statics is obviously of great importance in civil engineering: for instance.. without changing position (e. the motion of a spinning top). the (approximate) motion of the Earth about the Sun]. the principles of statics were used to design the building in which this lecture is taking place.g. including: Translational motion—motion by which a body shifts from one point in space to another (e. Furthermore.g. 8 . Oscillatory motion—motion which continually repeats in time with a ﬁxed period (e.. the motion of a bullet ﬁred from a gun). which had previously prevailed for more than a millennium.1 INTRODUCTION 1. with respect to other bodies in space. Circular motion—motion by which a body executes a circular orbit about another ﬁxed body [e. In our investigation of classical mechanics we shall study many different types of motion. Of course.g.g.
In mechanics there are three fundamental quantities which are subject to measurement: 1. France. 763. in this system: i. The mks unit of length is the meter (symbol m). which was formerly deﬁned in terms of the Earth’s rotation. The mks unit of mass is the kilogram (symbol kg). the meter.e.. Quantities of inertia. is called the mks system—after the ﬁrst initials of the names of the units of length. acceleration.3 mks units 1.1 INTRODUCTION 1. 3. 770 oscillations associated with the transition between the two hyperﬁne levels of the ground state of the isotope Cesium 133. or mass.. The system of units currently used by all scientists.e. such as velocity. 650. 2. In addition to the three fundamental quantities. possessed by various bodies. Intervals in space: i. but is now deﬁned as the time for 9. Each of the three fundamental quantities—length. France. lengths. Any other type of measurement in mechanics can be reduced to some combination of measurements of these three quantities. and the second. mass.3 mks units The ﬁrst principle of any exact science is measurement. and most engineers. which is deﬁned as the mass of a platinumiridium alloy cylinder kept at the International Bureau of Metric Standard in S`vres. classical mechanics also deals with derived quantities.73 wavelengths of light of the orangered spectral line of the isotope Krypton 86 in vacuum. the kilogram. which was formerly the distance between two scratches on a platinumiridium alloy bar kept at the International Bureau of Metric Standard in S`vres. e The mks unit of time is the second (symbol s). and time—is measured with respect to some convenient standard. Intervals in time. momentum. 631. and time. angular mo9 . but is now deﬁned as the e distance occupied by 1. 192. mass. respectively.
the mks units of all derived quantities appearing in classical dynamics can easily be obtained. L for a length. 1. mass. v stands for a velocity. Each of these derived quantities can be reduced to some particular combination of length. a nanometer (nm) represents 10−9 m. mks units tend to become rather unwieldy when dealing with motions on very small scales (e. a velocity can be reduced to a length divided by a time.. a set of standard preﬁxes has been devised. or dimensions. and time to be modiﬁed so as to deal more easily with very small and very large quantities: these preﬁxes are speciﬁed in Tab. and T for a time. 1. the mks units of velocity are meters per second: [v] = [L] = m s−1 .1 INTRODUCTION 1. the corresponding combinations of the mks units of length. In this manner.4 Standard preﬁxes mks units are speciﬁcally designed to conveniently describe those motions which occur in everyday life. Momentum can be reduced to a mass times a velocity. mass. Thus. and a femtosecond (fs) represents 10−15 s. and M for a mass.g. the motion of stars in the Galaxy).1) Here.2) Here. of the quantity contained within the brackets. whereas the operator [· · ·] represents the units.. The standard preﬁxes can also be used to modify the units of derived quantities. mass.g. [T ] (1. [T ] (1. which allow the mks units of length. and time. Hence. and time. p stands for a momentum. the motions of molecules) or very large scales (e. For instance. In order to help cope with this problem. therefore. a kilometer (km) represents 103 m.4 Standard preﬁxes mentum. etc. the mks units of momentum are kilogrammeters per second: [p] = [M][v] = [M][L] = kg m s−1 . Unfortunately. Hence. 10 . The mks units of these derived quantities are.
Finally. and fps units. the day (1 da = 86.M kilok 10−12 10−15 hecto. perfectly straightforward. additional nonstandard units of time include the minute (1 min = 60 s). Additional nonstandard units of length include the inch (1 ft = 12 in). 11 . cgs. Conversion between different systems of units is. the hour (1 hr = 3. the obsolete cgs (centimetergramsecond) system and the even more obsolete fps (footpoundsecond) system are still in use today. 000 kg). the recent loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter because the engineers who designed its rocket engine used fps units whereas the NASA mission controllers employed mks units. 464 s). and the mile (1 mi = 5. 558. but. a pound is a unit of force.26 da = 31. although their continued employment is now strongly discouraged in science and engineering (except in the US!). Additional nonstandard units of mass include the ton (in the US. 600 s). in the UK. 400 s). Table 2 speciﬁes the various conversion factors between mks. 280 ft). a frequent source of error.da 10−18 Preﬁx decicentimillimicronanopicofemtoattoSymbol d c m µ n p f a 1.5 Other units Table 1: Standard preﬁxes 1. the yard (1 ya = 3 ft). for example.1 INTRODUCTION Factor 1018 1015 1012 109 106 103 102 101 Preﬁx Symbol Factor exaE 10−1 peta. in practice. Witness.P 10−2 10−3 teraT gigaG 10−6 10−9 mega. in principle. and the metric ton (1 tonne = 1.h deka. 000 lb. 240 lb). Note that.5 Other units The mks system is not the only system of units in existence. 1 ton = 2. Unfortunately. 1 ton = 2. and the year (1 yr = 365. rather than mass. rather confusingly (unless you are an engineer in the US!).
therefore. and time are three fundamentally different quantities which are measured in three completely independent units. you are strongly urged to use scientiﬁc notation in all of your calculations: the use of nonscientiﬁc notation is generally a major source of error in this course.6 Precision and signiﬁcant ﬁgures Table 2: Conversion factors 1. Since rounding errors tend to accumulate during lengthy calculations. is to note that this equation is dependent on the adopted system of units: i. Incidentally..6 Precision and signiﬁcant ﬁgures In this course. then you may need to keep more than four signiﬁcant ﬁgures.59 kg 1. makes no sense for a prospective law of physics to express an equality between (say) a length and a mass.448 N 14. If one of the quantities in your calculation turns out to the the small difference between two much larger numbers.e. 1. mass. you are expected to perform calculations to a relative accuracy of 1%: i. (1. then m = l 12 .3) where m is a mass and l is a length.e. if m = l in mks units. the easiest way in which to achieve this accuracy is to perform all intermediate calculations to four signiﬁcant ﬁgures. In other words. One easy way of seeing that Eq.3) is invalid (as a law of physics). If your calculators are capable of operating in a mode in which all numbers (not just very small or very large numbers) are displayed in scientiﬁc form then you are advised to perform your calculations in this mode. cannot possibly be correct. It.3048 m 4. the example law m = l. (1. length..7 Dimensional analysis As we have already mentioned. to three signiﬁcant ﬁgures. and then to round the ﬁnal result down to three signiﬁcant ﬁgures.1 INTRODUCTION 1 cm 1g 1 ft 1 lb 1 slug = = = = = 10−2 m 10−3 kg 0.
A dimensionally consistent equation naturally takes the same form in all possible systems of units.and righthand sides of the equality sign in any given law of physics must have the same dimensions (i. As an example. because the conversion factors which must be applied to the left. mass.e. the dimensions of the lefthand side are [M][L 2 ]/[T 2 ]. and c is the velocity of light in vacuum. Had Einstein proposed E = m c. Suppose that a special effects studio wants to ﬁlm a scene in which the Leaning Tower of Pisa topples to the ground. (1.e. the same combinations of length.4) Here.7 Dimensional analysis in fps units. dimensionally consistent way of combining an energy. the use of the idea of dimensional consistency to guess the forms of simple laws of physics. it is occasionally useful. the quantities on the left. (1. a mass. in cgs units.4) is indeed dimensionally consistent. and is a poor substitute for analysis employing the actual laws of physics. E = m c2 holds good in mks units. nevertheless. and the dimensions of velocity are [L]/[T ]. then his error would have been immediately apparent to other physicists. the studio might make a scale model of the tower. and the velocity of light in a law of physics. In order to achieve this. E is the energy of a body. since these prospective laws are not dimensionally consistent. m is its mass. and time).. Hence. Physicists hold very strongly to the assumption that the laws of physics possess objective reality: in other words. Thus.and righthand sides differ. One immediate consequence of this assumption is that a law of physics must take the same form in all possible systems of units that a prospective observer might choose to employ.. let us consider what is probably the most famous equation in physics: E = m c2 . It should be noted that dimensional analysis is of fairly limited applicability. It follows that Eq. or E = m c3 . The dimensions of energy are [M][L2 ]/[T 2 ]. E = m c2 represents the only simple.e. since the same conversion factors are applied to both sides of the equation when transforming from one system to another. the laws of physics are the same for all observers. whereas the dimensions of the righthand side are [M] ([L]/[T ]) 2 = [M][L2 ]/[T 2 ].1 INTRODUCTION 1. The only way in which this can be the case is if all laws of physics are dimensionally consistent: i. in fps units. The last comment leads naturally to the subject of dimensional analysis: i. which 13 .. In fact. and in any other sensible set of units.
and x. In other words. See Fig. and z are unknown exponents. The exponents x. (1. the height of the tower.1 INTRODUCTION 1.5) where C is a dimensionless constant. because the model tower would fall over too quickly.5).6) [T ] 14 . and z can be determined by the requirement that the above equation be dimensionally consistent. The only problem is that the resulting footage would look completely unrealistic. (1. h. Incidentally. 1. m. (1. make some educated guesses as to what factors the time tf required for this process to occur depends on. g. The studio could easily ﬁx this problem by slowing the ﬁlm down. The question is by what factor should the ﬁlm be slowed down in order to make it look realistic? Although. at this stage. t f = C m x h y gz . y. we do not know how to apply the laws of physics to the problem of a tower falling over. Hence. equating the dimensions of both sides of Eq. at least. it seems reasonable to suppose that tf depends principally on the mass of the tower. we can. In fact. the dimensions of an acceleration are [L]/[T 2 ]. we obtain z [L] [T ] = [M]x [L]y 2 . y. and then ﬁlm the model falling over. and the acceleration due to gravity.7 Dimensional analysis h g m Figure 1: The Leaning Tower of Pisa is (say) 1 m tall.
0 = y + z.5) to be dimensionally consistent.3048 m (see Tab.8) (1. the area of the ﬁeld in mks units is A = 40 × 4.047 × 103 m2 . tf = C h .7 Dimensional analysis We can now compare the exponents of [L].1 INTRODUCTION 1.609 × 103 m.560 ft2 and 1 ft equals 0. Hence.560 square feet. It immediately follows that x = 0. Given that the ﬁeld is square. (1. [M]. and z = −1/2. Worked example 1. Now. It follows that the length of the fence is D = 4 × 1. 2) then 1 acre = 43560 × (0. 1 acre equals 43. a square ﬁeld with sides of length l has an area A = l2 and a circumference √ D = 4l. D = 4 A. g (1. It follows that since the tf ∝ h (g is the same for both the real and the model tower) then the 1 m high model tower falls over a factor of 100/1 = 10 times faster than the real tower. Hence. what length of fencing (in meters) should Farmer Jones purchase? Incidentally.9) Now. 1 = −2 z. y = 1/2. √ actual tower of Pisa is approximately 100 m tall.3048)2 = 4.619 × 105 m2 .619 × 105 = 1.1: Conversion of units Question: Farmer Jones has recently brought a 40 acre ﬁeld and wishes to replace the fence surrounding it.047 × 103 = 1. Thus. Answer: If 1 acre equals 43.7) (1.10) (1. the ﬁlm must be slowed down by a factor 10 in order to make it look realistic. 0 = x. 15 . and [T ] on either side of the above expression: these exponents must all match in order for Eq. Thus. Thus.
= [T ] [T 2 ][L] [L3 ] A comparison of the exponents of [L]. [M]. 0 = x + y.93 × 105 Nm−2 . Use dimensional analysis to determine the exponents x. −1 = −2x. and z in the formula v = C p x ρy V z . What is this pressure in atmospheres (1 atmosphere is 105 N m−2 )? Answer: First.2: Tire pressure Question: The recommended tire pressure in a Honda Civic is 28 psi (pounds per square inch). the mks units of pressure are kilograms per meter per second squared. Incidentally. 16 .3048)2 = 1.3048 m (see Tab. and the volume V of the gas.93 atmospheres. where C is a dimensionless constant.7 Dimensional analysis Worked example 1. Answer: Equating the dimensions of both sides of the above equation. Worked example 1.3: Dimensional analysis Question: The speed of sound v in a gas might plausibly depend on the pressure p. P = 4032 × (4. Hence. 28 pounds per square inch is the same as 28 × (12)2 = 4032 pounds per square foot (the standard fps unit of pressure). and [T ] on either side of the above expression yields 1 = −x − 3y + 3z.1 INTRODUCTION 1. the density ρ.448 Newtons (the standard SI unit of force). 2). we obtain x y [L] [M] [M] 3 z [L ] . Now. y.448)/(0. It follows that 28 psi is equivalent to 1. 1 pound equals 4. and 1 foot equals 0.
ﬁnally. the ﬁrst equation gives z = 0.7 Dimensional analysis The third equation immediately gives x = 1/2. ρ 17 . Hence. the second equation then yields y = −1/2. v=C p .1 INTRODUCTION 1.
1 Introduction The purpose of this section is to introduce the concepts of displacement. Indeed. (2. Here.2 Displacement Consider a body moving in 1 dimension: e. velocity. Our information regarding the body’s motion consists of a set of data points. It is usually illuminating to graph these points. Suppose that we have a team of observers who continually report the location of this body to us as time progresses. and acceleration. or a truck driving down an interstate in Kansas. Of course. 2. A positive x value implies that the body is located x meters to the right of the origin. Figure 3 shows an example of such a graph. See Fig. each specifying the displacement x of the body at some time t. its centre of mass) from the origin..1) 2 4 18 . For the sake of simplicity. To be more exact.2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2 Motion in 1 dimension 2.. our observers report the distance x of the body from some arbitrarily chosen reference point located on the track on which it is constrained to move. if the body is extended then our observers will have to report the displacement x of some conveniently chosen reference point on the body (e. a train traveling down a straight railroad track. the curve associated with Fig.g. we shall restrict our attention to 1dimensional motion. x is termed the displacement of the body from the origin. 2. As is often the case. it is possible to ﬁt the data points appearing in this graph using a relatively simple analytic curve. whereas a negative x value implies that the body is located x meters to the left of the origin. This point is known as the origin of our coordinate system.g. 3 is t2 t4 x=1+t+ − .
(2. We can achieve this goal by taking the limit of Eq. If ∆t is made too large then formula (2. The conventional deﬁnition of velocity is as follows: Velocity is the rate of change of displacement with time. In this situation. Suppose.1) effectively specify the location of the body whose motion we are studying as time progresses. the velocity of the track origin displacement x body x=0 Figure 2: Motion in 1 dimension 19 . Let us now consider how we can use this information to determine the body’s instantaneous velocity as a function of time.3 Velocity 2. however.2) becomes invalid.2) as ∆t approaches zero. and ∆x is the change in displacement of the body between times t and t + ∆t. (2. This ensures that no matter how rapidly v varies with time. Suppose that we require a general expression for instantaneous velocity which is valid irrespective of how rapidly or slowly the body’s velocity changes in time. v= How should we choose the time interval ∆t appearing in Eq. ∆t must be kept sufﬁciently small that the body’s velocity does not change appreciably between times t and t + ∆t. (2.2) ∆t where v is the body’s velocity at time t. This deﬁnition implies that ∆x . 3 and formula (2. that v is constantly changing in time. as is generally the case.3 Velocity Both Fig.2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.2)? Obviously. and it will not affect the value of v. we can make ∆t as large or small as we like. in the simple case in which the body is moving with constant velocity.
if x(t) is given by formula (2.4) dt Figure 4 shows the graph of v versus t obtained from the above expression. A velocity can be either positive or negative. ∆t→0 ∆t dt (2. depending on the direction of motion. when v = 0 the body is instantaneously at rest... when v is negative the body is moving to the left (i.3 Velocity Figure 3: Graph of displacement versus time body is always approximately constant in the interval t to t + ∆t.. The conventional deﬁnition of speed is that it is the magnitude of velocity (i.e. Finally. Note that when v is positive the body is moving to the right (i. v= The terms velocity and speed are often confused with one another. v = lim ∆x dx = . it is v with the sign stripped off). 20 .1) then dx = 1 + t − t3 . Thus.3) where dx/dt represents the derivative of x with respect to t. Thus. (2. It follows that a body can never possess a negative speed. Likewise.e.e. because it allows us to immediately evaluate the instantaneous velocity v(t) via the rules of calculus.2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2. The above deﬁnition is particularly useful if we can represent x(t) as an analytic function. x is increasing in time). x is decreasing in time).
in the simple case in which the body is moving with constant acceleration. (2. a= How should we choose the time interval ∆t appearing in Eq. however. 3 2.5)? Again. A general expression for instantaneous acceleration. This deﬁnition implies that ∆v .4 Acceleration Figure 4: Graph of instantaneous velocity versus time associated with the motion speciﬁed in Fig. In this situation. that a is constantly changing in time. as is generally the case. and ∆v is the change in velocity of the body between times t and t + ∆t. and it will not affect the value of a. Suppose. which is valid irrespective of how rapidly or slowly the body’s acceleration changes in time. can be obtained 21 .4 Acceleration The conventional deﬁnition of acceleration is as follows: Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with time.5) ∆t where a is the body’s acceleration at time t. we can make ∆t as large or small as we like. ∆t must be kept sufﬁciently small that the body’s acceleration does not change appreciably between times t and t + ∆t.2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2. (2.
Note that when a is positive the body is accelerating to the right (i.2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.6) The above deﬁnition is particularly useful if we can represent x(t) as an analytic function. 3 by taking the limit of Eq. (2. Thus. 22 . when a is negative the body is decelerating (i. if x(t) is given by formula (2. dt (2. Fortunately. Likewise. v is decreasing in time). ∆t→0 ∆t dt dt (2.1) then d2 x a = 2 = 1 − 3t2 .7) Figure 5 shows the graph of a versus time obtained from the above expression..e. since this quantity does not appear in Newton’s laws of motion. it is generally not necessary to evaluate the rate of change of acceleration with time.4 Acceleration Figure 5: Graph of instantaneous acceleration versus time associated with the motion speciﬁed in Fig..5) as ∆t approaches zero: a = lim ∆v dv d2 x = = 2. v is increasing in time).e. because it allows us to immediately evaluate the instantaneous acceleration a(t) via the rules of calculus.
8) Here.g. Note that a = d2 x/dt2 = 0. Fig.5 Motion with constant velocity x x0 ∆t ∆x 0 0 t Figure 6: Graph of displacement versus time for a body moving with constant velocity 2.. the ratio ∆x/∆t. The body in question moves to the right 23 ..2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2. 6 shows the graph of displacement versus time for a body moving with constant velocity. v = dx/dt is the constant velocity of the body: this quantity can be determined from the graph as the gradient of the straightline (i. a puck sliding across a hockey rink. as shown).5 Motion with constant velocity The simplest type of motion (excluding the trivial case in which the body under investigation remains at rest) consists of motion with constant velocity. low friction surface: e. Fig. This line can be represented algebraically as x = x0 + v t. (2.e. 7 shows a displacement versus time graph for a slightly more complicated case of motion with constant velocity. x0 is the displacement at time t = 0: this quantity can be determined from the graph as the intercept of the straightline with the xaxis. Likewise. It can be seen that the graph consists of a straightline. as expected. This type of motion occurs in everyday life whenever an object slides over a horizontal.
but possesses a larger gradient than before) between times B and C. The body remains at rest (since the graph is horizontal) between times C and D. 24 .81 m s −2 . 2. under the inﬂuence of gravity. 8 shows the graphs of displacement versus time and velocity versus time for a body moving with constant acceleration. Fig. the body moves to the left (since x is decreasing with t) with a constant velocity (since the graph is a straightline) between times D and E.6 Motion with constant acceleration x 0 A B C t D E Figure 7: Graph of displacement versus time (since x is clearly increasing with t) with a constant velocity (since the graph is a straightline) between times A and B.6 Motion with constant acceleration Motion with constant acceleration occurs in everyday life whenever an object is dropped: the object moves downward with the constant acceleration 9.2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2. It can be seen that the displacementtime graph consists of a curvedline whose gradient (slope) is increasing in time. The body then moves to the right (since x is still increasing in time) with a somewhat larger constant velocity (since the graph is again a straight line. Finally.
2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2. Likewise. x0 is the displacement at time t = 0: this quantity can be determined from the graph as the intercept of the curvedline with the xaxis.9) Here. v 0 is the body’s instantaneous velocity at time t = 0. 2 (2.6 Motion with constant acceleration x x0 0 0 t v v0 ∆t ∆v 0 0 t Figure 8: Graphs of displacement versus time and velocity versus time for a body moving with constant acceleration This line can be represented algebraically as x = x0 + v0 t + 1 2 at . The velocitytime graph consists of a straightline which can be represented algebraically as dx v= = v0 + a t.10) dt 25 . (2.
s = x − x0 is the net distance traveled after t seconds. but becomes a poor approximation for small objects which travel relatively rapidly (e. The average acceleration is 9.. Actually.9) and (2. 1 26 . neglecting the effect of air resistance. all bodies in freefall close to the Earth’s surface accelerate vertically downwards with the same acceleration: namely.2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2.81 m s−2 .g. or a basketball). s = v0 t + Here. g = 9. the body decelerates [since the gradient (slope) of the graph is decreasing in time] between times C and D..g. the acceleration due to gravity varies slightly over the Earth’s surface because of the combined effects of the Earth’s rotation and the Earth’s slightly ﬂattened shape.e.11) (2. Equations (2. a shotputt. 2 v2 = v0 + 2 a s. a golfball. Finally. whereas the acceleration at the equator is only 9. Note that dv/dt = a..12) (2. The body then moves to the right (since x is increasing in time) with a constant velocity (since the graph is a straight line) between times B and C. Fig. The body in question accelerates to the right [since the gradient (slope) of the graph is increasing in time] between times A and B.10) can be rearranged to give the following set of three useful formulae which characterize motion with constant acceleration: 1 2 at .13) 2.834 m s −2 .780 m s−2 .7 Freefall under gravity The quantity v0 is determined from the graph as the intercept of the straightline with the xaxis. The quantity a is the constant acceleration: this can be determined graphically as the gradient of the straightline (i.81 m s−2 . or a bullet ﬁred from a pistol). (2. 2 v = v0 + a t. as expected.1 The neglect of air resistance is a fairly good approximation for large objects which travel relatively slowly (e. 9 shows a displacement versus time graph for a slightly more complicated case of accelerated motion. as shown). the ratio ∆v/∆t.7 Freefall under gravity Galileo Galilei was the ﬁrst scientist to appreciate that. The acceleration at the poles is about 9.
81 m s−2 is the downward acceleration due to gravity.14) (2.15) (2. g = 9. v is the object’s instantaneous velocity at time t. and s = −h (since we wish the ball to fall h meters)].16). so the time of fall is t= 2h . g 27 (2.14) [with v0 = 0 (since the ball is released from rest). else if s < 0 then the object has fallen s meters).14)–(2. Finally.11)–(2. Let us illustrate the use of Eqs.7 Freefall under gravity x 0 A B C t D Figure 9: Graph of displacement versus time Equations (2. and v0 is the object’s instantaneous velocity at t = 0. Suppose that a ball is released from rest and allowed to fall under the inﬂuence of gravity. (2. h = g t2 /2. 2 v = v0 − g t. 2 v2 = v0 − 2 g s.16) Here.2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2. s is the distance the object has moved vertically between times t = 0 and t (if s > 0 then the object has risen s meters.13) can easily be modiﬁed to deal with the special case of an object freefalling under gravity: 1 2 gt .17) . How long does it take the ball to fall h meters? Well. (2. according to Eq. s = v0 t − (2.
18) When the ball strikes the ground it has traveled zero net meters vertically.16) (with v0 = u and t > 0) that v = −u. the ball’s time of ﬂight is simply twice the time required for the ball to attain its maximum height: i.e.15) and (2. It follows from Eq.15) (with v0 = u).7 Freefall under gravity Suppose that a ball is thrown vertically upwards from ground level with velocity u. (2.. and with what velocity does it strike the ground? The ball attains its maximum height when it is momentarily at rest (i. It follows from Eqs. (2. and t = u/g) that the maximum height of the ball is given by h= u2 . 2g (2. the ball hits the ground with an equal and opposite velocity to that with which it was thrown into the air. so s = 0.e. According to Eq.1: Velocitytime graph 8 v (m/s) 4 0 0 4 t (s) 28 8 12 16 . g (2. In other words. To what height does the ball rise.. (2.14) (with v0 = u. when v = 0). t= 2u . Since the ascent and decent phases of the ball’s trajectory are clearly symmetric.19) Worked example 2. this occurs at time t = u/g.2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2. how long does it remain in the air.
What is the net displacement of the object between times t = 0 and t = 16? Answer: 1. 3.7 Freefall under gravity Question: Consider the motion of the object whose velocitytime graph is given in the diagram. indicating constant acceleration during this time period. so 16 x(16) − x(0) = 0 v(t) dt. What is the acceleration of the object between times t = 0 and t = 2? 2. The vt graph is a straightline between t = 0 and t = 2. v = dx/dt. 1. evaluated between these two times. the net displacement between times t = 0 and t = 16 equals the area under the vt curve. ∆t 12 − 10 2 The negative sign indicates that the object is decelerating. a= ∆v v(t = 2) − v(t = 0) 8 − 0 = = = 4 m s−2 . Now. indicating constant acceleration during this time period. What is the acceleration of the object between times t = 10 and t = 12? 3. Hence. Hence. 29 . Hence.2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2. a= ∆v v(t = 12) − v(t = 10) 4 − 8 = = = −2 m s−2 . The vt graph is a straightline between t = 10 and t = 12. In other words. x(16) − x(0) = 4 × 25 = 100 m. ∆t 2−0 2 2. Recalling that the area of a triangle is half its width times its height. The area of each gridsquare is 2×2 = 4 m. the number of gridsquares under the vt curve is 25.
082) = = −2. two pressureactivated strips are placed 120 m apart on a highway on which the speed limit is 85 km/h. What deceleration is needed so that the car’s average speed is within the speed limit when the car crosses the second strip? Answer: Let v1 = 110 km/h be the speed of the car at the ﬁrst strip. Hence. Let ∆x = 120 m be the distance between the two strips. we have ∆x = v1 ∆t + which can be rearranged to give a= 2 (∆x − v1 ∆t) 2 (120 − 110 × (1000/3600) × 5.3: The Brooklyn bridge Question: In 1886. we require ∆t = ∆x 120 = = 5. A driver going 110 km/h notices a police car just as he/she activates the ﬁrst strip.082) 1 a (∆t)2 . for a bet. Steve Brodie achieved notoriety by allegedly jumping off the recently completed Brooklyn bridge. ∆t We need this velocity to be 85 km/h. 2 2 (∆t) (5.73 m s−2 . and surviving.2: Speed trap Question: In a speed trap. ¯ v 85 × (1000/3600) Here. 2 Hence.73 m s−2 .2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2. Now. Worked example 2. and let ∆t be the time taken by the car to travel from one strip to the other. and immediately slows down. Given that the 30 . The average velocity of the car is ¯= v ∆x .7 Freefall under gravity Worked example 2. assuming that the acceleration a of the car is uniform.082 s. the required deceleration is 2. we have changed units from km/h to m/s.
Answer: Mr.896 = −28.41 m s−1 . Hence. You may neglect air resistance. or 63.6 mi/h ! Clearly. t= His ﬁnal velocity was v = −g t = −9.7 Freefall under gravity bridge rises 135 ft over the East River. the speed with which he plunged into the East River was 28.15 m. −2 h = g 2 × 41.896 s.3048 = −41.41 m s−1 .81 31 . 9. Mr. Assuming that his initial velocity was zero.81 × 2. Thus.15 = 2. 1 h = − g t2 . Brodie’s net vertical displacement was h = −135×0.2 MOTION IN 1 DIMENSION 2. Brodie’s story should be taken with a pinch of salt. and with what speed would he have struck the water? Give all answers in mks units. Brodie have been in the air. how long would Mr. 2 where t was his time of ﬂight.
is to set up a suitable coordinate system. The point of intersection of the three coordinate axes is termed the origin of the coordinate system. the middle ﬁnger. and zaxes. after Ren´ Descartes. and acceleration in order to deal with motion in 3 dimensions.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3 Motion in 3 dimensions 3. A Cartesian coordinate system consists e of three mutually perpendicular axes. The most straightforward type of coordinate system is called a Cartesian system. y. See Fig. respectively. Such a coordinate system is termed righthanded. 3. (thumb) z (middle finger) y x (index finger) Figure 10: A righthanded Cartesian coordinate system 32 . 10. the x. By convention. when dealing with 3dimensional motion. and the thumb of the righthand are conﬁgured so as to be mutually perpendicular. the orientation of these axes is such that when the index ﬁnger. y. velocity.1 Introduction The purpose of this section is to generalize the previously introduced concepts of displacement. the middle ﬁnger. and zaxes (say). and the thumb can be aligned along the x. the index ﬁnger.2 Cartesian coordinates Our ﬁrst task.
and 33 .3 Vector displacement Consider the motion of a body moving in 3 dimensions. that in 3 dimensions such a displacement possesses both magnitude and direction. However.g. Note.3 Vector displacement r y O x Figure 11: A vector displacement 3. we also have to specify in which direction it lies. The body’s instantaneous position is most conveniently speciﬁed by giving its displacement from the origin of our coordinate system.. however. y. The vector displacement r of some point R from the origin O can be visualized as an arrow running from point O to point R. Mass and time are scalar quantities. then move y meters along the yaxis (perpendicular to both the x.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS R z 3. displacement is a vector. By contrast. The vector displacement r can also be speciﬁed in terms of its coordinates: r = (x.g. z).. vectors are usually underlined (e. a quantity which possesses only magnitude is termed a scalar. A quantity which possesses both magnitude and direction is termed a vector. In other words. In freehand notation. r) to distinguish them from scalar quantities. Note that in typeset documents vector quantities are conventionally written in a boldfaced font (e. (3. in general. ﬁrst move x meters along the xaxis (perpendicular to both the y.1) The above expression is interpreted as follows: in order to get from point O to point R. 11. r). we not only have to specify how far the body is situated from the origin. See Fig.and zaxes).
ﬁnally move z meters along the zaxis (perpendicular to both the x. Note that a positive x value is interpreted as an instruction to move x meters along the xaxis in the direction of increasing x.and yaxes). (3. In other words. Vector r is termed the resultant of adding vectors r1 and r2 . 34 . The expression r − r2 is interpreted as follows: starting at the origin. whereas a negative x value is interpreted as an instruction to move x meters along the xaxis in the opposite direction.4 Vector addition Suppose that the vector displacement r of some point R from the origin O is speciﬁed as follows: r = r 1 + r2 . and we then move from point S to point R along vector r2 . we ﬁrst move from point O to point S along vector r1 .2) Figure 12 illustrates how this expression is interpreted diagrammatically: in order to get from point O to point R. a minus sign in front of a vector indicates that we should move along that vector in the opposite direction to its arrow. then move along vector r2 in the opposite direction to the arrow. The net result is the same as if we had moved from point O directly to point R along vector r. and so on.4 Vector addition O Figure 12: Vector addition zaxes). 3. Note that we have two ways of specifying the vector displacement of point S from the origin: we can either write r1 or r − r2 . move along vector r in the direction of the arrow.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS S r 2 R r 1 r 3.
5 Vector magnitude If r = (x. y. what is the distance between these two points? In other words. According to inequality (3. our net distance from the starting point is less than 2 m—of course.7). It follows from a 3dimensional generalization of Pythagoras’ theorem that (3.6 Scalar multiplication Suppose that s = λ r. r = r. z) represents the vector displacement of point R from the origin. if we move 1 m to the North (say) and next move 1 m to the West (say) then. (3. The only exception to this rule (represented by the equality sign in the above expression) occurs when the vectors in question all point in the same direction. z = z 1 + z2 .5 Vector magnitude Suppose that the components of vectors r1 and r2 are (x1 . the components of the sum of two vectors are simply the algebraic sums of the components of the individual vectors. the magnitudes of vectors cannot. Note that if r = r1 + r2 then In other words. z) of the resultant vector r = r1 + r2 are x = x1 + x2 .3) (3. the components (x. this is just common sense.4) (3. respectively. y2 .3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3. y1 . but the length of the former vector is λ times 35 . This expression is interpreted as follows: vector s points in the same direction as vector r. what is the length. y = y1 + y2 . (3. r ≤ r1  + r2 . As is easily demonstrated. be added algebraically.7) 3. of vector r. although we have moved a total distance of 2 m. 3.6) r = x2 + y 2 + z 2 .5) In other words. or magnitude. z1 ) and (x2 . y. in general. z2 ).
despite the fact that they are in different places on the diagram. λ y. 3.8) In other words. 13 can be represented vectorially as d = b − a.e. the diagonal AC can be written c = a + b. Note that Fig. a and b: this merely indicates that these sides are of equal length and are parallel (i. z) = (λ x. they possess no intrinsic position information.7 Diagonals of a parallelogram C a a D Figure 13: A parallelogram that of the latter. when we multiply a vector by a scalar then the components of the resultant vector are obtained by multiplying all the components of the original vector by the scalar. The diagonal BD in Fig. Note that if λ is negative then vector s points in the opposite direction to vector r. In terms of components: s = λ (x. It follows that the opposite sides of ABCD can be represented by the same vectors. 13 is a parallelogram. Thus.7 Diagonals of a parallelogram The use of vectors is very well illustrated by the following rather famous proof that the diagonals of a parallelogram mutually bisect one another. they can be represented by the same vector a. The displacement x (say) of the 36 . and the length of the former vector is λ times that of the latter. since sides AB and DC are parallel and of equal length. they point in the same direction). λ z). (3.. Although vectors possess both a magnitude (length) and a direction. y. 13 illustrates an important point regarding vectors. Suppose that the quadrilateral ABCD in Fig. Likewise.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS B X b c d A b 3.
then move along diagonal BD (along vector d) for an unknown fraction λ of its length. λ = 1 − µ. t. the diagonals mutually bisect one another. we can equate these two expressions to give a + λ (b − a) = b + a − µ (a + b). then move to point C (along vector a). Thus. so the only way in which the above expression can be satisﬁed.9) and (3.10) is interpreted as follows: in order to get from point A to point X. ﬁnally move along diagonal CA (along vector −c) for an unknown fraction µ of its length. progresses. (3. The vector displacement of the body is given by r(t) = [x(t).8 Vector velocity and vector acceleration Consider a body moving in 3 dimensions. of this body as time. x.9) is interpreted as follows: in order to get from point A to point X.10) Equation (3. we obtain 1 − λ = 1 − µ. 3. Suppose that we know the Cartesian coordinates. ﬁrst move to point D (along vector b). (3. y. Equation (3..8 Vector velocity and vector acceleration centroid X from point A can be written in one of two different ways: x = a + λ d. (3. (3. z(t)].9) (3.11) Now vectors a and b point in different directions. and z. x = b + a − µ c. the centroid X is located at the halfway points of diagonals BD and AC: i. is if the coefﬁcients of a and b match on either side of the equality sign.12) (3.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3. ﬁrst move to point B (along vector a).10). Let us consider how we can use this information to determine the body’s instantaneous velocity and acceleration as functions of time.e. 37 (3. Since X represents the same point in Eqs. y(t). in general.13) It follows that λ = µ = 1/2. In other words.14) . equating coefﬁcients of a and b.
20) (3. (3.3). ax = dt dt dvy d2 y ay = = 2. the body’s vector acceleration a = (ax . vz ) is simply the derivative of r with respect to t.22) the x (3.25) .23) (3. and so on. dt dt dvz d2 z az = = 2. v(t + ∆t) − v(t) dv d2 r a(t) = lim = = 2. dt dt Thus.6). az ) is simply the derivative of v with respect to t. ay . y = cos t.8 Vector velocity and vector acceleration By analogy with the 1dimensional equation (2. r(t + ∆t) − r(t) dr = .15) dx . In other words. z = 3 t. (3. As an example. the xcomponent of acceleration is simply the time derivative of component of velocity. the above deﬁnition yields v(t) = lim vx = (3. By analogy with the 1dimensional equation (2.19) ∆t→0 ∆t dt dt When written in component form. the body’s vector velocity v = (vx .24) (3. ∆t→0 ∆t dt When written in component form.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.21) (3. vy .18) vz = dt Thus. and so on. 38 (3. In other words. the above deﬁnition yields d2 x dvx = 2. (3. (3. the xcomponent of velocity is simply the time derivative of the xcoordinate. suppose that the coordinates of the body are given by x = sin t.16) dt dy .17) vy = dt dz .
As illustrated in Fig.26) (3.9 Motion with constant velocity The corresponding components of the body’s velocity are then simply vx = vy vz dx = cos t.9 Motion with constant velocity An object moving in 3 dimensions with constant velocity v possesses a vector displacement of the form r(t) = r0 + v t.31) 3.28) whilst the components of the body’s acceleration are given by ax = ay az dvx = − sin t.32) where the constant vector r0 is the displacement at time t = 0. 14.10 Motion with constant acceleration An object moving in 3 dimensions with constant acceleration a possesses a vector displacement of the form r(t) = r0 + v0 t + 39 1 2 at . dt dy = = − sin t.33) . Note that dr/dt = v and d2 r/dt2 = 0. = dt dvz = = 0. 3. dt (3. dt dvy = − cos t.30) (3. the object’s trajectory is a straightline which passes through point r0 at time t = 0 and runs parallel to vector v. (3.27) (3.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3. dt dz = 3.29) (3. 2 (3. = dt (3. as expected.
s = r − r0 is the net displacement of the object between times t = 0 and t. 2 v2 = v0 + 2 a·s. The quantity a·s. the object’s velocity is given by v(t) = dr = v0 + a t. (3.13) are: 1 2 at . (3.34) Note that dv/dt = a.38) The above formula has a simple geometric interpretation. is termed the scalar product of vectors a and s.37). and is deﬁned a·s = ax sx + ay sy + az sz .10 Motion with constant acceleration v t=t trajectory t=0 r r 0 Figure 14: Motion with constant velocity Hence. s = v0 t + (3.35) (3.11)–(2. as expected. If a is the magnitude (or length) of vector a. As is easily demonstrated. which is illustrated in Fig. respectively.37) These equation fully characterize 3dimensional motion with constant acceleration. dt (3. the vector equivalents of Eqs. (2. 15. Here. the constant vectors r 0 and v0 are the object’s displacement and velocity at time t = 0.36) (3.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3. s is the magnitude of 40 . 2 v = v0 + a t. appearing in Eq. In the above.
the scalar product of vectors a and s equals the product of the length of vector a times the length of that component of vector s which lies in the same direction as vector a. (3. making an angle θ with the horizontal. θ = 90◦ ) then their scalar product is zero. and a·(λs) = λ(a· s). Suppose that a projectile is launched upward from ground level. and θ is the angle subtended between these two vectors..11 Projectile motion a . s = a s cos θ θ a s cos θ a Figure 15: The scalar product vector s.38)]: a·a = a2 = a2 . taking the scalar product of Eq.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS s s 3.35) with a. (3. (3. (3. 3. It immediately follows that if two vectors are mutually perpendicular (i. what is the subsequent trajectory of the projectile? 41 .e.38) that a· s = s· a. Incidentally. and a·(b + c) = a·b + a·c. Eq.11 Projectile motion As a simple illustration of the concepts introduced in the previous subsections.39) In other words. (3. (3. and then eliminating t. then a·s = a s cos θ. let us examine the following problem. (3.37) is obtained by taking the scalar product of Eq.36) with itself. with speed v0 . the scalar product of a vector with itself is simply the magnitude squared of that vector [this is immediately apparent from Eq. Furthermore.40) It is also apparent from Eq. Neglecting the effect of air resistance.
upwards). Thus. z = 0 corresponds to ground level. 16. What is the initial vector velocity v0 with which the projectile is launched into the air at (say) t = 0? As illustrated in Fig. Thus.42) Note that v0 has zero component along the yaxis. A convenient system is illustrated in Fig. as opposed to the plus zdirection (i. downwards). (3. the minus sign indicates that the acceleration is in the minus zdirection (i. the projectile’s vector acceleration is written a = (0. Neglecting air resistance.. and its direction subtends an angle θ with this axis. the projectile is subject to a constant acceleration g = 9. 0. given that the magnitude of this velocity is v0 . v0 sin θ). the origin of our coordinate system corresponds to the launch point. (3.81 m s−1 . its vector displacement 42 .11 Projectile motion z v0 sin θ v0 θ v0 cos θ v0 x Figure 16: Coordinates for the projectile problem Our ﬁrst task is to set up a suitable Cartesian coordinate system. which is directed vertically downwards. which points into the paper in Fig.. its horizontal component is directed along the xaxis. −g). The zaxis points vertically upwards (this is a standard convention).e.41) Here.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3. 16.e. the components of v0 take the form v0 = (v0 cos θ. 0. Since the projectile moves with constant acceleration. due to gravity. Furthermore. 16. whereas the xaxis points along the projectile’s initial direction of horizontal motion.
44) and (3. with the initial velocity v 0 sin θ (i. z) from its launch point satisﬁes [see Eq.e. in the xdirection (i.48) 43 .47) As was ﬁrst pointed out by Galileo.44) (3. 2 v0 (3.42). v x = dx/dt = v0 cos θ.45) 1 2 gt . the projectile never moves in the ydirection. and will subsequently strike the ground simultaneously. at t = 0.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.. This is hardly surprising. and zcomponents of the above equation are written s = v0 t + x = v0 cos θ t. the projectile’s vertical motion is identical to that of a second projectile launched vertically upwards. since there is zero component of the projectile’s acceleration along the xaxis. that the projectile’s vertical motion is entirely decoupled from its horizontal motion.e. the initial vertical velocity component of the ﬁrst projectile)—both projectiles will reach the same maximum altitude at the same time. 17. z = v0 sin θ t − (3.e. (3. Note. ﬁnally. the x. lying entirely within the xz plane. Note that the projectile moves with constant velocity. In other words. and is illustrated in Fig. that since there is zero component of the projectile’s acceleration along the yaxis. R= g g (3. In other words.11 Projectile motion s = (x. (3..41) and (3. Equations (3. this is the equation of a parabola.35)] 1 2 at ..46) 2 respectively. The horizontal range R of the projectile corresponds to its xcoordinate when it strikes the ground (i. y. when z = 0). y. and the projectile’s initial velocity also has zero component along this axis.46) can be rearranged to give 1 g x2 2 z = x tan θ − 2 sec θ.43) 2 Making use of Eqs. y = 0. the projectile’s trajectory is 2dimensional. Note. (3. further. horizontally). (3. It follows from the above expression (neglecting the trivial result x = 0) that 2 2 v0 2 v0 sin θ cos θ = sin 2θ.
e. g (3. In other words. 3. (3. when the projectile has just stopped rising and is about to start falling).. (3.12 Relative velocity Suppose that. = 2g (3. θ = 90 ◦ ).50) h = z(t0 ) = 2g Obviously.49) when θ = 45◦ . 2 v0 sin2 θ.51) is obtained when the projectile is launched vertically upwards (i. the largest value of h. and that the air moves with constant velocity u with respect 44 . hmax 2 v0 . Rmax = 2 v0 .3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3. The maximum altitude h of the projectile is attained when vz = dz/dt = 0 (i. Hence. It follows from Eq. neglecting air resistance.46) that the maximum altitude occurs at time t0 = v0 sin θ/g. a projectile travels furthest when it is launched into the air at 45◦ to the horizontal.12 Relative velocity h z x θ R Figure 17: The parabolic trajectory of a projectile Note that the range attains its maximum value.. an airplane moves with constant velocity v a with respect to the air. on a windy day.e.
What is the vector velocity vg of the plane with respect to the ground? In principle. (3. 20 only justiﬁes the above expression for φ in the range 0◦ to 90◦ .. Fig. 20. In this coordinate system.e. (3. it is valid for φ in the full range 0◦ to 360◦ . r. respectively. 19. φ. y) = (r cos φ. and its compass bearing. 90◦ .53) Note that we have suppressed the zcomponent of r (which is zero). A convenient system for dealing with 2dimensional motion parallel to the Earth’s surface is illustrated in Fig. whose magnitude is r and whose compass bearing is φ. for ease of notation. See Fig. the xdirection.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3. As illustrated in Fig. whereas the yaxis points eastward. the components of a general vector r. The xaxis points northward. compass bearings run from 0◦ to 360◦ . and West are 0◦ . Furthermore. and 270◦ . 20. it is conventional to specify a vector r in term of its magnitude.52) in practice. the velocity of the plane with respect to the ground is the vector sum of the plane’s velocity relative to the air and the air’s velocity relative to the ground. a compass bearing is the angle subtended between the direction of a vector and the direction to the North pole: i.. Although. r sin φ). 180◦ . By convention.52) In other words. strictly speaking. vg is parallel to neither va nor u. Let us now consider how we might implement Eq. the answer to this question is very simple: vg = va + u. are simply r = (x. Note that. it turns out that this expression is generally valid: i. (3. South. in general. 45 . the compass bearings of North.12 Relative velocity vg va u Figure 18: Relative velocity to the ground.e. our ﬁrst task is to set up a suitable Cartesian coordinate system. According to Fig. As always. East. 18.
12 Relative velocity N x W y E S Figure 19: Coordinates for relative velocity problem N r x r cos φ φ r y r sinφ E Figure 20: A compass bearing 46 .3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.
1. (3. or vg y . Hence. 2.58) This follows because vg x = vg cos φ and vg y = vg sin φ [see Eq.010 × 101 ) = (−2.010 × 101 . It follows that the components of va and u (measured in units of km/h) are va = (300 cos 120◦ .6)]: vg = = (vg x )2 + (vg y )2 (−2. given its components (vg x . φ = tan−1 vg x (3. An unambiguous pair of expressions for φ is given below: vg y φ = tan−1 .598 × 102 − 6. at a compass bearing of 120◦ . 85 sin 225◦ ) = (−6. φ = 180◦ − tan−1 vg x  47 (3.101 × 102 . vg x if vg x ≥ 0. (3.997 × 102 )2 = 289. vg y . The magnitude of vg follows from Pythagoras’ theorem [see Eq.598 × 102 ).9 km/h.57) In principle.12 Relative velocity As an illustration. 300 sin 120◦ ) = (−1. the components of the plane’s velocity vg relative to the ground are simply the algebraic sums of the corresponding components of va and u.500 × 102 − 6. Unfortunately.500 × 102 . 2.60) .59) (3.997 × 102 ).010 × 101 . vg y ).3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3. the compass bearing of vg is given by the following formula: (3. and the air’s velocity relative to the ground is 85 km/h. −6.52). (3.101 × 102 )2 + (1.54) u = (85 cos 225◦ .53)]. (3. (3. suppose that the plane’s velocity relative to the air is 300 km/h. at a compass bearing of 225◦ .56) Our ﬁnal task is to reconstruct the magnitude and compass bearing of vector vg .010 × 101 ). (3. the above expression becomes a little difﬁcult to interpret if v g x is negative.55) According to Eq. vg = (−1.
but is then ﬂushed out of the pocket by a blitzing linebacker.12 Relative velocity if vg x < 0. What is the magnitude of the football’s resultant displacement (in yards)? Answer: As illustrated in the diagram. hence 1. (3.9 km/h at a compass bearing of 136..1: Broken play Question: Major Applewhite receives the snap at the line of scrimmage. Worked example 3. 36 yards straight downﬁeld. φ = 180◦ − tan−1 2 2. Using upfield x r c y 9 yd a b 12 yd 36 yd line of scrimmage the coordinate system indicated in the diagram.61) Thus. b. the run parallel to the line of scrimmage. 48 .3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3. These expressions can be derived from simple trigonometry. to Roy Williams.5◦ . and c (measured in yards) are a = (−9. which correspond to the seven step drop. For the case in hand. takes a seven step drop (i.5◦ . and the forward pass. Eq. respectively. b.e. the plane’s velocity relative to the ground is 289. 0). the components of vectors a.997 × 102 = 136. just prior to being creamed by the linebacker. Major subsequently runs parallel to the line of scrimmage for 12 yards and then gets off a forward pass. the resultant displacement r of the football is the sum of vectors a.60) is the relevant expression.101 × 10 (3. and c. runs backwards 9 yards).
Suppose. after it was thrown.58 m.12 Relative velocity b = (0. (No wonder he eventually got into trouble with the authorities!) Suppose that. Gallileo simultaneously threw two equal weights off the tower from a height of 100 m above the ground. zero). From Eq. that he dropped the ﬁrst weight straight down. Which weight struck the ground ﬁrst? How long. respectively.515 s. did it take to do this? Finally. It follows that the magnitude of the football’s resultant displacement is r = x2 + y2 = 272 + 122 = 29.515 = 22. y) = (−9 + 0 + 36. Hence the components of r are given by r = (x. it follows that both weights strike the ground simultaneously. (2. t= R = u t = 5 × 4.2: Gallileo’s experiment Question: Legend has it that Gallileo tested out his newly developed theory of projectile motion by throwing weights from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.55 yd. 0). 12). this time is given by 2h 2 × 100 = = 4. 0 + 12 + 0) = (27.17). under the inﬂuence of gravity. g 9. further. Worked example 3. Thus.e. 12). 49 . Answer: Since both weights start off traveling with the same initial velocities in the vertical direction (i.81 The horizontal distance R traveled by the second weight is simply the distance traveled by a body moving at a constant velocity u = 5 m/s (recall that gravitational acceleration does not affect horizontal motion) during the time taken by the weight to drop 100 m.. c = (36.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3. whereas he threw the second weight horizontally with a velocity of 5 m/s. starting from rest. one day. The time of ﬂight of each weight is simply the time taken to fall h = 100 m. what horizontal distance was traveled by the second weight before it hit the ground? Neglect the effect of air resistance. and both accelerate vertically downwards at the same rate.
Johnson is waiting to make the catch. Suppose that Chris throws the ball at 55 miles per hour.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.88 s.. In other words.J. How long is the cannonball in the air? Neglect air resistance.12 Relative velocity Worked example 3. Moreover. the time of ﬁring) the cannonball’s height off the ground is z0 = 50 m and its velocity component in the vertical direction is v0 = v sin θ = 200 × sin 30◦ = 100 m/s. where B. 2 Worked example 3.e.3: Cannon shot Question: A cannon placed on a 50 m high cliff ﬁres a cannonball over the edge of the cliff at v = 200 m/s making an angle of θ = 30◦ to the horizontal. Answer: In order to answer this question we need only consider the cannonball’s vertical motion. At t = 0 (i. the time of ﬂight is the solution of the quadratic equation 0 = z0 + v0 t − Hence. The time of ﬂight of the cannonball corresponds to the time t at which z = 0.4: Hail Mary pass Question: The Longhorns are down by 4 points with 5 s left in the fourth quarter. Chris Simms launches a Hail Mary pass into the endzone. we have neglected the unphysical negative root of our quadratic equation. 2 where z is the cannonball’s height off the ground at time t. 1 2 gt . g Here.91 m/s2 . The equation of vertical motion of the cannonball is written 1 z = z 0 + v 0 t − g t2 . 60 yards away. 50 . the cannonball is accelerating vertically downwards at g = 9. At what angle to the horizontal must the ball be launched in order for it to hit the receiver? Neglect the effect of air resistance. 2 v0 + v0 + 2 g z 0 t= = 20.
56◦ would work just as well. and the velocity u of the wind relative to the ground.59) Thus. Towards which compass bearing must the plane steer in order to land at the airport? Answer: The problem in hand is illustrated in the diagram.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.86 × 9. R= g In this case.81 θ = sin−1 2 = sin−1 = 31. Hence. 58. further.86 m and v0 = 55 × 5280 × 0.3048 = 54. (Actually. (3. 2 2 v0 2 (24. We also know that 51 . 1 1 Rg 54. Suppose that the plane is ﬂying at 200 mi/h relative to the air. and we require vg to be directed due South. the ball must be launched at 31. Suppose.59 m/s.12 Relative velocity Answer: The formula for the horizontal range R of a projectile thrown with initial velocity v0 at an angle θ to the horizontal is [see Eq. We know that u is directed due East. that there is a wind blowing due East at 60 mi/h.45◦ . R = 60 × 3 × 0.48)]: 2 v0 sin 2θ.5: Flight UA 589 Question: United Airlines ﬂight UA 589 from Chicago is 20 miles due North of Austin’s Bergstrom airport.45◦ to the horizontal. The plane’s veloc N vg E u α va φ ity vg relative to the ground is the vector sum of its velocity va relative to the air.3048/3600 = 24. Why is this?) Worked example 3.
Thus. va  200 52 .54◦ . from simple trigonometry. α = 72. 60 u = = 0. in order to land at Bergstrom airport the plane must ﬂy towards compass bearing 197.3 MOTION IN 3 DIMENSIONS 3.46◦ . Now. cos α = Hence. However. it is clear from the diagram that the compass bearing φ of the plane is given by φ = 270◦ − α = 270◦ − 72.12 Relative velocity va  = 200 mi/h and u = 60 mi/h.54◦ = 197.46◦ .3.
Newton’s second law of motion. This law states that if the motion of a given body is not disturbed by external inﬂuences then that body moves with constant velocity. or uniform motion in a straight line. or.1) where r0 and v are constant vectors. Every body continues in its state of rest. The change of motion of an object is proportional to the force impressed upon it. To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction. (4. In the special case in which v = 0 the body simply remains at rest. unless compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it. 4. As illustrated in Fig. These laws are known as Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion. 2. respectively. and is made in the direction of the straight line in which the force is impressed. Newton reduced the basic principles of mechanics to three laws: 1. 14. In this section. the body’s trajectory is a straightline which passes through point r0 at time t = 0 and runs parallel to v. the displacement r of the body as a function of time t can be written r = r0 + v t. and Newton’s third law of motion. In other words.1 Introduction In his Principia. and then give some simple illustrations of their use. we shall examine each of these laws in detail. 3. the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal and directed to contrary parts. 53 .4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4 Newton’s laws of motion 4.2 Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion Newton’s ﬁrst law was actually discovered by Galileo and perfected by Descartes (who added the crucial proviso “in a straight line”).
they reasoned. or force. Hence.3 Newton’s second law of motion Newton used the word “motion” to mean what we nowadays call momentum. (4. p = m v. It took the genius of Galileo to realize that an object set into motion on the Earth’s surface eventually comes to rest under the inﬂuence of frictional forces. The momentum p of a body is simply deﬁned as the product of its mass m and its velocity v: i. the above law reduces to its more conventional form f = m a. For the case of a object with constant mass.3) where the vector f represents the net inﬂuence.e. However. or force.. exerted on the object. Of course. this law is entirely devoid of content unless we have some independent means of quantifying the forces exerted between different objects. (4. and that if these forces could somehow be abstracted from the motion then it would continue forever.4) In other words. From the time of the ancient Greeks. 4.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. any object which moves does so under the inﬂuence of an external inﬂuence. dt (4. 54 . by other objects.2) Newton’s second law of motion is summed up in the equation dp = f. exerted on it by some other object. philosophers—observing that objects set into motion on the Earth’s surface eventually come to rest—had concluded that the natural state of motion of objects was that they should remain at rest. whose motion is under investigation. the net force exerted on a given object by other objects equals the product of that object’s mass and its acceleration.3 Newton’s second law of motion Nowadays. in Galileo’s time this was far from being the case. Newton’s ﬁrst law strikes us as almost a statement of the obvious.
parallel to its axis (assuming that the extension is positive). (4. and is the mks unit of force. a newton (symbol N) is equivalent to a kilogrammeter per secondsquared. If the extension becomes too large then the spring deforms permanently. The magnitude f of the force is proportional to the extension of the spring: twice the extension means twice the force.. Thus. According to Eq. Figure 21 illustrates how we might use Hooke’s law to quantify the force we exert on a body of mass m when we pull on the handle of a spring attached to it. if the critical extension corresponds to a force of 1 N then half the critical extension corresponds to a force of 0.e. This law—discovered by the English scientist Robert Hooke in 1660—states that the force f exerted by a coiled spring is directly proportional to its extension ∆x.e. The magnitude of the force can be quantiﬁed in terms of the critical extension required to impart a unit acceleration (i. In this manner.e.4). Hooke’s law only holds if the extension of the spring is sufﬁciently small. 55 . The force acts parallel to the axis of the spring.5 N.. the force corresponding to this extension is 1 newton. by means of a spring. its length when it is exerting no force). 1 m/s2 ) to a body of unit mass (i. Here. we can quantify both the direction and magnitude of the force we exert. on a given body. Such behaviour lies beyond the scope of Hooke’s law. The extension of the spring is the difference between its actual length and its natural length (i. and so on.4 Hooke’s law One method of quantifying the force exerted on an object is via Hooke’s law. Obviously.. As shown. or even breaks.4 Hooke’s law m f handle ∆x Figure 21: Hooke’s law 4. 1 kg). the direction of the force is towards the spring.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.
In other words.e. is the resultant of all the external forces to which the body whose motion is under investigation is subject.5 Newton’s third law of motion 2 f f 2 f1 m Figure 22: Addition of forces Suppose that we apply two forces. Suppose that body b exerts a force fab on body a. if we label fab the “action” 56 . It follows that Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion applies not only to bodies which have no forces acting upon them but also to bodies acted upon by exactly balanced forces. According to Newton’s second law of motion. Eq. the body does not accelerate: i.4). that there are only two bodies in the Universe. (4. Suppose that the resultant of all the forces acting on a given body is zero. Thus. Eq. the body accelerates as if it were subject to a single force f which is the vector sum of the individual forces f1 and f2 .. 4. body a must exert an equal and opposite force fba = −fab on body b.4). 22. It follows that the force f appearing in Newton’s second law of motion. As illustrated in Fig. for the sake of argument. acting in different directions. 22. According to to Newton’s third law of motion. suppose that the forces acting on the body exactly balance one another. (4. f1 and f2 (say). Let us label these bodies a and b.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION f f 1 4. See Fig. it either remains at rest or moves with uniform velocity in a straight line. to a body of mass m by means of two springs.5 Newton’s third law of motion Suppose.
It follows that all of the forces acting in the Universe can ultimately be grouped into equal and opposite actionreaction pairs. if two objects of differing masses are acted upon 57 .6 Mass and weight The terms mass and weight are often confused with one another. We know. incidentally. 4. If fba = −fab then this system exerts a nonzero net force f = fab + fba on itself. A body’s mass is a measure of its inertia: i. Thus. However. It will. therefore. accelerate forever under its own steam. Why do we need Newton’s third law? Actually. In other words. Suppose. (4. its reluctance to deviate from uniform straightline motion under the inﬂuence of external forces. pick myself up off the ground. without the aid of any external agency. in Newton’s language. the case). from experience. now. According to Newton’s third law.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. if object j exerts a force fij on object i then object i must exert an equal and opposite force fji = −fij on object j. For instance. Eq.4).e. Suppose that bodies a and b constitute an isolated system. in physics their meanings are quite distinct. that an action and its associated reaction always act on different bodies. indeed. According to Newton’s second law. it is almost a matter of common sense. Note.6 Mass and weight a fab b f ba Figure 23: Newton’s third law then. fba is the equal and opposed “reaction”. I cannot selfgenerate a force which will spontaneously lift me into the air: I need to exert forces on other objects around me in order to achieve this. that this sort of behaviour does not occur in real life.. I cannot grab hold of my shoelaces and. Newton’s third law essentially acts as a guarantee against the absurdity of selfgenerated forces. that there are many objects in the Universe (as is. thereby.
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION block m f R 4. and the block of granite attracts the Earth by an equal amount. See Fig. the block exerts a downward force fW . The block experiences a downward force fg due to the gravitational attraction of the Earth. it is more difﬁcult to force the larger mass to deviate from its preferred state of uniform motion in a straight line. preventing it from accelerating downwards. which is supporting it. thereby. Incidentally. Thus. does not change if the body is moved to a different place.6 Mass and weight fg Earth f W Figure 24: Weight by forces of the same magnitude then the resulting acceleration of the larger mass is less than that of the smaller mass. In other words. since the Earth is far more massive than the block. the Earth attracts the block of granite. However. 24. This force is also of magnitude m g. you might ask. which accounts for the fact that the block remains stationary. Imagine a block of granite resting on the surface of the Earth. 58 . therefore. is the equal and opposite reaction to the force of gravitational attraction fg exerted by the Earth on the block of granite? It turns out that this reaction is exerted at the centre of the Earth. We usually refer to this force (or the magnitude of this force) as the weight of the block. and. and. the force exerted by the granite block at the centre of the Earth has no observable consequence. In other words. on the ground immediately beneath it. where m is the mass of the block and g is the acceleration due to gravity at the surface of the Earth. This force is of magnitude m g. the ground below the block exerts an upward reaction force fR on the block. the mass of a body is an intrinsic property of that body. In other words. The block transmits this force to the ground below it. the net force acting on the block is fg + fR = 0. of magnitude m g. According to Newton’s third law. Where.
an intrinsic property of that body. Let W be the weight of the block: by deﬁnition. From Newton’s third law. to the motion of the block. A body’s weight is location dependent. the block is subject to two forces: a downward force m g due to gravity. Furthermore. Suppose that the elevator is accelerating upwards with acceleration a.6 Mass and weight a W mg W Figure 25: Weight in an elevator So far. Thus. How does this acceleration affect the weight of the block? Of course. the block experiences a downward force m g due to gravity. we have established that the weight W of a body is the magnitude of the downward force it exerts on any object which supports it. therefore. it is measured in newtons. The mass of the block is m. as shown in Fig. due to the weaker surface gravity of Mars relative to the Earth. Since weight is a force. a body weighing 10 N on the surface of the Earth will only weigh about 3. the ﬂoor of the elevator exerts an upward reaction force of magnitude W on the block. Let us apply Newton’s second law. where m is the mass of the body and g is the local acceleration due to gravity. For instance. 59 .8 N on the surface of Mars. this is the size of the downward force exerted by the block on the ﬂoor of the elevator. 25.4). W = m g. and an upward reaction force W. (4. and its upward acceleration is a. Eq.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. and is not. Consider a block of mass m resting on the ﬂoor of an elevator.
e.7 Strings.. Suppose.. the block exerts an upward force (negative weight) W on the ceiling of the elevator.e. drops like a stone) for about 20 s. if the elevator accelerates upwards at g = 9.. a = −g.e. Incidentally. the block acquires a negative weight! What actually happens is that the block ﬂies off the ﬂoor of the elevator and slams into the ceiling: when things have settled down. the upward acceleration of the elevator has the effect of increasing the weight W of the block: for instance.81 m/s2 then the weight of the block is doubled. pulleys. In this case. if the elevator accelerates downward (i. The string is assumed to be light (i. as shown in Fig. The plane typically ascends to 30. if the elevator accelerates downward at g/2 then the weight of the block is halved. these weight changes could easily be measured by placing some scales between the block and the ﬂoor of the elevator. All of the weightless scenes in the ﬁlm Apollo 11 were shot in this manner. if a becomes negative) then the weight of the block is reduced: for instance. Conversely.5) Clearly..7 Strings. The “Vomit Comet” is actually a KC135 (a predecessor of the Boeing 707 which is typically used for refueling military aircraft). and inclines Consider a block of mass m which is suspended from a ﬁxed beam by means of a string.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.. Suppose that the downward acceleration of the elevator matches the acceleration due to gravity: i. In this case. pulleys.6) (4. a < −g. W = 0. This equation can be rearranged to give W = m (g + a). its mass 60 . In other words.000 ft and then accelerates downwards at g (i. 26. ﬁnally. (4. 4.e.e. and inclines Hence. the block becomes weightless! This is the principle behind the socalled “Vomit Comet” used by NASA’s Johnson Space Centre to train prospective astronauts in the effects of weightlessness. W − m g = m a. allowing its passengers to feel the effects of weightlessness during this period. that the downward acceleration of the elevator exceeds the acceleration due to gravity: i.
and its acceleration is zero. Since T is a force. rather than pull them together. on both the block and the beam. and 61 . The string is clearly being stretched. Let us apply Newton’s second law to the block.e. since this would imply that the string is trying to push its supports apart. It follows that T − m g = 0. The question is what are the tensions. Furthermore. its length increases by a negligible amount because of the weight of the block).e. T (say). T 1 . Note that. Figure 27 shows a slightly more complicated example in which a block of mass m is suspended by three strings. otherwise it would accelerate greatly (given that it has negligible inertia). (4. These forces act so as to oppose the stretching of the string: i. T is termed the tension of the string. T .4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION beam string m mg 4. The block is subject to two forces.. whereas the block experiences an upward force of magnitude T . Here. it is measured in newtons. a downward force m g due to gravity.7) In other words. pulleys.. since the block is assumed to be in equilibrium. in equilibrium. the string exerts oppositely directed forces of equal magnitude. the string must be being pulled by oppositely directed forces of the same magnitude.7 Strings. the tension T of the string equals the weight m g of the block. since it is being pulled at both ends by the block and the beam. and an upward force T due to the tension of the string. the beam experiences a downward force of magnitude T . By Newton’s third law. The mass of the block is m. unlike a coiled spring. and inclines T block Figure 26: Block suspended by a string is negligible compared to that of the block) and inextensible (i. a string can never possess a negative tension.
7 Strings. the horizontal component √ of tension T2 is −T2 cos 30◦ = − 3 T2 /2. Since the knot is in equilibrium. and the forces T1 and T2 due to the tensions in the upper strings. 28. Consider the horizontal components of the forces acting on the knot.8) 2 2 Consider the vertical components of the forces acting on the knot. pulleys. There are three forces acting on the knot: the downward force T due to the tension in the lower string. since this tension acts straight down. Since the knot does not accelerate in the horizontal direction. the vector sum of all the forces acting on it must be zero. 16). since this force subtends an angle of 60◦ with respect to the horizontal (see Fig. we can easily demonstrate that the tension T in the lowermost string is m g. and vice versa. we can equate the sum of these components to zero: √ T1 3 T2 − = 0. assuming that the block is in equilibrium? Using analogous arguments to the previous case. Let components acting to the right be positive. The horizontal component of tension T is zero. The tensions in the two uppermost strings are obtained by applying Newton’s second law of motion to the knot where all three strings meet.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. The latter two forces act along their respective strings. Let components acting upward be positive. (4. as indicate in the diagram. and inclines 30 o 60 o T 2 T m T 1 mg Figure 27: Block suspended by three strings T2 . in these strings. The vertical component of 62 . The horizontal component of tension T1 is T1 cos 60◦ = T1 /2. and vice versa. Likewise. See Fig.
since this tension acts straight down. and matches the normal 63 .10) (4.. Likewise. Since the knot does not accelerate in the vertical direction. The weight m g of the block is directed vertically downwards. acting parallel to the incline. 16). and only matches the normal component of the weight: i. it is of magnitude m g cos θ. = 2 mg = .4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. 2 (4. However.e. Eqs. acting perpendicular (or normal) to the incline.7 Strings. and inclines T 2 30 o T 1 60 o T Figure 28: Detail of Fig. since this force subtends an angle of 60◦ with respect to the horizontal (see Fig. we can equate the sum of these components to zero: √ 3 T 1 T2 − mg + + = 0. 27 tension T is −T = −m g. as shown in Fig 29. this force can be resolved into components m g cos θ. This is a general result: the reaction of any unyielding surface is always locally normal to that surface. (4. the vertical component of tension T2 is T2 sin 30◦ = T2 /2.8) and (4. directed outwards (away from the surface).9) yield T1 T2 √ 3mg . and m g sin θ.11) Consider a block of mass m sliding down a smooth frictionless incline which subtends an angle θ to the horizontal. pulleys. The vertical com√ ponent of tension T1 is T1 sin 60◦ = 3 T1 /2. (4. Note that the reaction of the incline to the weight of the block acts normal to the incline.9) 2 2 Finally.
g. connected by a light inextensible string. and. using inclined planes. if θ is small) then the acceleration of the block can be made much less than g.7 Strings. 2 (4. Applying Newton’s second law to this problem (with the coordinates shown in the ﬁgure). In fact. 64 . m1 and m2 .13) (4.. the block is subject to the unbalanced force m g sin θ in the direction parallel to the incline. This was the technique used by Galileo in his pioneering studies of motion under gravity—by diluting the acceleration due to gravity. we obtain d2 x m 2 = m g sin θ.e. he was able to obtain motion sufﬁciently slow for him to make accurate measurements using the crude timekeeping devices available in the 17th Century. pulleys.12) In other words. Suppose that the ﬁrst mass slides over a smooth. the block accelerates down the slope with acceleration g sin θ. The block is clearly in equilibrium in the direction normal to the incline. and inclines mg θ Figure 29: Block sliding down an incline component of any inward force applied to the surface. dt which can be solved to give x = x0 + v0 t + 1 g sin θ t2 . Consider two masses. However. accelerates down the slope. Note that this acceleration is less than the full acceleration due to gravity. horizontal table. therefore. if the incline is fairly gentle (i.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION y mg cos θ x m mg sin θ mg cos θ 4. frictionless. since the normal component of the block’s weight is balanced by the reaction of the incline.
due to gravity. m1 (4. we obtain m1 m2 T = g. 30. due to the tension in the string. g. m1 and m2 . Moreover. equating the previous two expressions. (4. so we can assume that the tension T of the string is the same on either side of the pulley.16) m1 + m 2 m2 a = g. See Fig. due to gravity. Since the pulley is light. (4. as shown in Fig. this force is completely canceled out by the upward reaction force due to the table.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. plus an upward force T due to the tension in the string. Consider two masses.14) The second mass is subject to a downward force m2 g. Thus. since the ﬁrst mass contributes to the inertia of the system. Let us again apply Newton’s second law to each mass in turn. However.17) m1 + m 2 Note that the acceleration of the two coupled masses is less than the full acceleration due to gravity. since the string which connects them is inextensible. pulleys. we can neglect its rotational inertia in our analysis. connected by a light inextensible string which is suspended from a light frictionless pulley. the rightward acceleration of the ﬁrst mass must match the downward acceleration of the second. Let us apply Newton’s second law of motion to each mass in turn. The ﬁrst mass is subject to a downward force m1 g. 31. we cannot determine beforehand which mass is going to move upwards. These forces cause the mass to move downwards with acceleration T .15) a=g− m2 Now. Without being given the values of m1 and m2 . no force is required to turn a frictionless pulley. which causes it to move rightwards with acceleration a= T . and inclines whilst the second is suspended over the edge of the table by means of a light frictionless pulley. but does not contribute to the downward gravitational force which sets the system in motion. Let us assume that mass m1 is going to move upwards: if we are 65 .7 Strings. The mass m1 is also subject to a horizontal force T . (4.
the ﬁrst mass accelerates upward (i.20) (4.e. due to the tension in the string. g. due to gravity. a > 0) if m2 > m1 . due to gravity. since they are connected by an inextensible string.18) The second mass is subject to a downward force m2 g. equating the previous two expressions. m1 (4. pulleys.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION m1 T 4. m2 (4.21) As expected.19) Now. and an upward force T . m1 + m 2 m2 − m 1 g. and a downward force m1 g. Hence. a = m1 + m 2 T = (4. due to the tension in the string. Note that the acceleration of the system is less than the full acceleration due to gravity. These forces cause the mass to move downward with acceleration a=g− T . we obtain 2 m 1 m2 g. pulled by a second block wrong in this assumption then we will simply obtain a negative acceleration for this mass. but 66 . since both masses contribute to the inertia of the system. These forces cause the mass to move upwards with acceleration a= T − g. and inclines T m 2 m2 g Figure 30: Block sliding over a smooth table.7 Strings. The ﬁrst mass is subject to an upward force T . and vice versa.. the upward acceleration of the ﬁrst mass must match the downward acceleration of the second.
Friction. physicists and engineers have managed to develop a relatively simple empirical law of force which allows the effects of friction to be incorporated into their calculations.8 Friction T T m2 . This law of force was ﬁrst proposed by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519). is actually a very complicated phenomenon. who used it to “slow down” freefall sufﬁciently to make accurate observations of this phenomena using the primitive timekeeping devices available in his day. 31 is called an Atwood machine. if the two masses are almost equal then the acceleration of the system becomes very much less than g. . the device pictured in Fig. after the eighteenth Century English scientist George Atwood. 4. when viewed at the microscopic level.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. Incidentally. m1 m g 2 m1 g Figure 31: An Atwood machine their weights partially cancel one another out. Nevertheless.8 Friction When a body slides over a rough surface a frictional force generally develops which acts to impede the motion. and later extended by Charles Augustin de Coulomb (1736–1806) (who is more famous for discov67 . In particular.
by a horizontal force F. 32. 68 . The reaction of the incline to the weight of the block acts normally outwards from the incline. m m (4. and is of magnitude m g cos θ. (4. a= F F−f = − µ g. The acceleration of the block is. What happens if F < f: i.23) assuming that F > f. and the upward frictional force f (which acts to prevent the block sliding down the incline). Parallel to the incline. the magnitude of the former force must exceed the maximum value of the latter. In other words. For ordinary surfaces. Hence. acting normal to the incline. Only if the applied force exceeds the maximum frictional force does the block start to move. common sense suggests that the block simply remains at rest (it certainly does not accelerate backwards!).e. µ is generally of order unity. the block is subject to the downward gravitational force m g sin θ. Hence.22) where µ is termed the coefﬁcient of (dynamical) friction.8 Friction ering the law of electrostatic attraction). The magnitude of the frictional force f. The frictional force exerted on a body sliding over a rough surface is proportional to the normal reaction R n at that surface. In order for the block to move. Consider a block of mass m sliding down a rough incline (coefﬁcient of friction µ) which subtends an angle θ to the horizontal. giving rise to a reaction R = m g acting vertically upwards. which impedes the motion of the block.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. f = µ Rn . The weight m g of the block can be resolved into components m g cos θ. if the applied force F is less than the frictional force f? In this case. therefore. See Fig. is simply µ times the normal reaction R = m g. f = µ m g. The weight W = m g of the block acts vertically downwards. f = µ m g is actually the maximum force which friction can generate in order to impede the motion of the block. whose coefﬁcient of friction is µ. the constant of proportionality depending on the nature of the surface. Consider a block of mass m being dragged over a horizontal surface. acting parallel to the incline. and m g sin θ.. as shown in Fig 33. If the applied force F is less than this maximum value then the applied force is canceled out by an equal and opposite frictional force. and the block remains stationary.
(4. In fact. whereas the latter coefﬁcient is usually termed the coefﬁcient of kinetic (or dynamical) friction. µs .8 Friction R F f mg W Figure 32: Friction which is µ time the magnitude of the normal reaction. Simply tilt the surface gradually until the object just starts to move: the coefﬁcient of friction is simply the tangent of the critical tilt angle (measured with respect to the horizontal). or µ m g cos θ. thereby. Hence. The force required to unstick a given object. and. is m g sin θ > µ m g cos θ. to cause the block to slide down the incline. set it in motion. if the slope of the incline exceeds a certain critical value. we have implicitly suggested that the coefﬁcient of friction between an object and a surface is the same whether the object remains stationary or slides over the surface. and. the coefﬁcient of friction when the object is stationary is slightly larger than the coefﬁcient when the object is sliding.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. Incidentally. µk . is µ s times the normal 69 (4. Up to now. The fact that µs > µk simply implies that objects have a tendency to “stick” to rough surfaces when placed upon them. or tan θ > µ. this is generally not the case. Usually. We call the former coefﬁcient the coefﬁcient of static friction. which depends on µ.24) . then the block will start to slide. the above formula suggests a fairly simple way of determining the coefﬁcient of friction for a given object sliding over a particular surface.25) In other words. thus. the condition for the weight of the block to overcome friction.
as we have seen in Sect. However. the frictional force acting to impede this motion falls somewhat to µk times the normal reaction. 4. 12. (4.9 Frames of reference As discussed in Sect. two completely independent observers are likely to choose different systems of units with which to quantify physical measurements. 1.9 Frames of reference mg cos θ f m mg sin θ mg cos θ mg θ Figure 33: Block sliding down a rough slope reaction at the surface. In other words. would eventually formulate identical laws of physics in order to account for their observations. 1. the dimensional consistency of valid laws of physics renders them invariant under transformation from one system of units to another. as well as the orientation of the various coordinate axes. Independent observers are also likely to choose different coordinate systems. studying the same physical phenomenon. Are the laws of physics also invariant under transformation between coordinate systems possessing different origins. it is assumed that two independent observers. or a different orientation of the various coordinate axes? Consider the vector equation r = r 1 + r2 . the laws of physics are assumed to possess objective reality. Now. the origins of their separate coordinate systems might differ.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. Suppose that we shift the origin 70 . Once the object has been set in motion. For instance.26) which is represented diagrammatically in Fig.
12 still remains valid. We conclude that valid laws of physics must consist of combinations of scalars and vectors. We refer to such a quantity as a scalar (this is an improved deﬁnition). and r2 are going to be modiﬁed by this change in our coordinate scheme. if r represents the displacement of some body P in the stationary observer’s frame of reference. O and O . Hence. whose coordinate systems coincide momentarily at t = 0.. Note that the quantity m (i. then the corresponding displacement in the moving observer’s frame of reference is simply r = r − v0 t. we have implicitly assumed that all of our observers are stationary (i. Suppose that observer O is stationary (on the surface of the Earth). although the individual components of vectors r. Let us. in general. and r2 are modiﬁed by the change in coordinate scheme. 34. since measurements of mass are completely independent of measurements of distance. Clearly. In particular.9 Frames of reference of our coordinate system. the mass of the body whose motion is under investigation). the interrelation between these components expressed in Eq. appearing in the above equation.26) also remains valid. f = m a. at time t. As illustrated in Fig. or rotate the coordinate axes. Newton’s second law of motion. or changes in the orientation of the various coordinate axes. However. Fig. r1 .e. can be made manifest by simply writing these laws as interrelations between vectors. This observation suggests that the independence of the laws of physics from the arbitrary choice of the location of the underlying coordinate system’s origin. (4. Consider two observers. (4. they are all standing still on the surface of the Earth). we conclude that the vector equation (4.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4.28) The velocity of body P in the stationary observer’s frame of reference is deﬁned 71 . or the equally arbitrary choice of the orientation of the various coordinate axes. the components of vectors r. is invariant under any changes in the coordinate system.e. now.. In other words. otherwise they would retain an unphysical dependence on the details of the chosen coordinate system.27) is clearly invariant under shifts in the origin of our coordinate system. relax this assumption. (4. r1 . Up to now. whereas observer O moves (with respect to observer O) with uniform velocity v0 .26) remains invariant.
31) a= dt whereas the corresponding acceleration in the moving observer’s frame of reference takes the form dv a = = a. It follows that Newton’s laws of motion are equally valid in the frames of reference of the moving and the stationary observer. v= It is clear that if observer O concludes that body P is moving with constant velocity.32) dt Hence. (4. (4. Furthermore. therefore. if observer O concludes that body P is accelerating. the acceleration of body P is identical in both frames of reference.9 Frames of reference Figure 34: A moving observer dr .4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION P r’ r O’ v0 t O 4. (4. then observer O will agree with this conclusion. the corresponding velocity in the moving observer’s frame of reference takes the form dr v = = v − v0 . and. and. therefore. then observer O will remain in agreement. Such frames are termed inertial frames of reference. subject to a force a/m. the acceleration of body P in stationary observer’s frame of reference is deﬁned as dv .29) dt Hence. (4. subject to zero net force. There are inﬁnitely many inertial frames of reference—within as 72 .30) dt Finally.
The resultant of all these forces must be zero. Resolving in the horizontal direction (with rightward forces positive). this knot is subject to three forces: the downward force T4 = M g due to the tension in the string which directly supports the leftmost mass. resolving in the vertical direction (with upward forces positive) yields T1 cos 40◦ − T4 = 0. Worked example 4. 1 40 o 3 2 40 o M M Answer: It follows from symmetry that the tensions in strings 1 and 3 are equal. both points of view are equally valid. This. is the principle of special relativity. determine the mass M. Let T1 be the tension in string 1. in essence. Observer O might claim to be at rest compared to observer O . and the upward and leftward force T1 due to the tension in string 1. As shown below. Consequently. and the tension in string 2 is 50 N. If the system is in equilibrium.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. ﬁrst formulated by Albert Einstein in 1905. and T2 the tension in string 2. the rightward force T 2 due to the tension in string 2. there is absolutely no physical experiment which observer O could perform in order to demonstrate that he/she is at rest whilst observer O is moving. there is no universal standard of rest in physics.9 Frames of reference which Newton’s laws of motion are equally valid—all moving with constant velocity with respect to one another. Likewise.1: In equilibrium Question: Consider the diagram. Moreover. we obtain T2 − T1 sin 40◦ = 0. 73 . otherwise the system would not be in equilibrium. Consider the equilibrium of the knot above the leftmost mass. and vice versa: however.
Suppose that the block. g tan 40◦ Finally. Likewise.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. gives M= T2 . making use of the fact that T 4 = M g.074 kg. since T2 = 50 N and g = 9. mass m = 5 kg. The component of the applied force acting up the incline is F cos 25◦ . the component of 74 .9 Frames of reference Combining the above two expressions. is subject to a horizontal force F = 27 N.2: Block accelerating up a slope Question: Consider the diagram. we obtain M= 50 = 6.8391 T 1 40 o T 2 T 4 Worked example 4.81 × 0. 9.81 m/s2 . What is the acceleration of the block up the (frictionless) slope? F 25 o m Answer: Only that component of the applied force which is parallel to the incline has any inﬂuence on the block’s motion: the normal component of the applied force is canceled out by the normal reaction of the incline.
4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. emerging from the pulley.7483 m/s2 . With what force F must the (light) rope be pulled in order to lift the platform at 3. The platform is subject to two vertical forces: a downward force W due to its weight. it is clear that T = F. m Since m = 5 kg and F = 27 N. Thus. using Newton’s second law to determine the acceleration a of the block up the incline.9063 − 5 × 9. and an upward force 2 T due to the tension in the rope (the force is 2 T . 75 . 5 Worked example 4.9 Frames of reference the block’s weight acting down the incline is m g sin 25◦ . From Newton’s third law. are in tension and exerting an upward force on the pulley). The platform and the attached frictionless pulley weigh a total of 34 N. m = W/g the mass of the platform. rather than T . we have a= 27 × 0.81 × 0. Let us apply Newton’s second law to the upward motion of the platform. because both the leftmost and rightmost sections of the rope. and T the tension in the rope.4226 = 0. we obtain F cos 25◦ − m g sin 25◦ a= .2 m/s2 ? pulley F platform Answer: Let W be the weight of the platform. Hence.3: Raising a platform Question: Consider the diagram.
2 2T − W .2/9.45. The horizontal surface is frictionless. What minimum force F must be exerted on block A in order to prevent block B from falling? F A B Answer: Suppose that block A exerts a rightward force R on block B. block B exerts an equal and opposite force on block A. the maximum frictional force that block A can exert on block B is µ R. given that W = 34 N and a = 3. this maximum 76 .9 Frames of reference the upward acceleration a of the platform is a= Since T = F and m = W/g. In order to prevent block B from falling. Hence. Applying Newton’s second law of motion to the rightward acceleration a of block B.2 m/s2 . The normal reaction at the interface between the two blocks is R. 2 Worked example 4. m Finally. The mass of block A is 75 kg and the mass of block B is 15 kg.81 + 1) = 22. The coefﬁcient of static friction between the two blocks is µ = 0. we have F= 34 (3.55 N. we obtain R . a= mB where mB is the mass of block B. By Newton’s third law.4: Suspended block Question: Consider the diagram.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. we obtain F= W (a/g + 1) .
we require µ R > mB g. mB = 15 kg.9 Frames of reference frictional force (which acts upwards) must exceed the downward acting weight. 0. and µ = 0. It follows that F> (mA + mB ) g .962 × 103 N.4 NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION 4. Hence. of the block. mA + m B or where mA is the mass of block A.81 = 1. µ Applying Newton’s second law to the rightward acceleration a of both blocks (remembering that the equal and opposite forces exerted between the blocks cancel one another out). mB g.45 77 . µ Since mA = 75 kg. we have F> (75 + 15) × 9. we obtain a> a= F . g .45.
energy is transformed from one form into another.. Strangely enough.B. However. thermal processes.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5 Conservation of energy 5..2 Energy conservation during freefall Consider a mass m which is falling vertically under the inﬂuence of gravity. electrical energy. nuclear energy. We already know how to analyze the motion of such a mass. mechanical processes (which are the focus of this course). Let us examine the last of these equations: 78 . when scientists ﬁrst realized that heat was a form of energy). thermal energy. there exist processes in the Universe which transform energy from one form into another: e. (N. whenever. etc. kinetic energy.) The physics of freefall under gravity is summarized by the three equations (2. electrical processes.e. chemical energy.g.. energy is the substance from which all things in the Universe are made up. In fact.. For a closed system (i. Let us employ this knowledge to search for an expression for the conserved energy during this process. involving only the mass and the gravitational ﬁeld. the above law of universal energy conservation implies that the total energy of the system in question must remain constant in time. This is clearly an example of a closed system. although the basic idea of energy conservation was familiar to scientists from the time of Newton onwards. this crucial concept only moved to centrestage in physics in about 1850 (i.16). the conservation of energy is undoubtedly the single most important idea in physics.e. all of these processes leave the total amount of energy in the Universe invariant.14)–(2. Now. and however. a system which does not exchange energy with the rest of the Universe). it is always conserved. etc. In other words. According to the ideas of modern physics.g.. nuclear processes.1 Introduction Nowadays. everything that we observe in the world around us represents one of the multitudinous manifestations of energy. potential energy. 5. Energy can take many different forms: e.
The mks unit of energy is called the joule (symbol J). (5.2 Energy conservation during freefall 2 v2 = v0 −2 g s. or 1 newtonmeter..3) for kinetic and gravitational potential energy.3) Note that kinetic energy represents energy the mass possesses by virtue of its motion. whereas the righthand side only contains quantities evaluated at the ﬁnal height. the previous expression can be rearranged to give 1 1 2 2 m v1 + m g h 1 = m v2 + m g h 2 . Suppose that the mass falls from height h1 to h2 . Likewise.4) Here. the expressions (5. 1 joule is equivalent to 1 kilogram metersquared per secondsquared. 79 . its initial velocity is v1 . 1 K = m v2 . v0 = v1 and v = v2 . E is the total energy of the mass: i. (5. One of the most important lessons which students learn during their studies is that there are generally many different paths to the same result in physics.e. of some description. It follows that the net vertical displacement of the mass is s = h2 − h1 .1). It is clear that E is a conserved quantity: i. since the lefthand side only contains quantities evaluated at the initial height. are quite general. and its ﬁnal velocity is v2 .1) can be written E = K + U = constant. (5. It follows that Eq. In order to clarify the meaning of Eq.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.2) 2 and the gravitational potential energy of the mass. although the kinetic and potential energies of the mass vary as it falls. In fact. U = m g h.2) and (5. the sum of its kinetic and potential energies. (5. let us deﬁne the kinetic energy of the mass. potential energy represents energy the mass possesses by virtue of its position. Hence. Moreover. Incidentally. respectively.1) The above equation clearly represents a conservation law. Note that all forms of energy are measured in the same units (otherwise the idea of energy conservation would make no sense). and do not just apply to freefall under gravity. 2 2 (5. (5.. Now.e. its total energy remains the same.
the change in potential energy of the mass is simply ∆U = m g s = −m g h. Now. This follows because the initial kinetic energy of the mass is zero (since it is initially at rest). (5. follows from energy conservation that its kinetic energy must decrease with height.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5. m and v2 /2).5) that −(1/2) m v2 = −m g h. according to Eq. (5. and the ﬁnal kinetic energy is zero.2). it is illuminating to reexamine this problem from the point of view of energy conservation. where s = −h is its net vertical displacement.3) that as the mass rises its potential energy increases.e. which can be rearranged to give h= v2 . once the mass has risen to a height h which is such that its kinetic energy is reduced to zero it can rise no further. if energy is conserved then ∆K = −∆U : (5. and must. start to fall. It.6) 2 or v = 2 g h.5) i. 2g (5. Note. The change in potential energy of the mass in moving from its initial height to its maximum height is m g h. What is the maximum height h to which it rises? Well. from Eq. however. Hence.2 Energy conservation during freefall we have already analyzed freefall under gravity using Newton’s laws of motion. It follows from Eq. (5. (5.. However. the above expression yields 1 m v2 = m g h.8) It should be noted that the idea of energy conservation—although extremely useful—is not a replacement for Newton’s laws of motion. The corresponding change in kinetic energy is −(1/2) m v2 . The change in kinetic energy is simply ∆K = (1/2) m v2 . Suppose that a mass m is dropped from rest and falls a distance h. it is clear from Eq.7) Suppose that the same mass is thrown upwards with initial velocity v. What is the ﬁnal velocity v of the mass? Well. that kinetic energy can never be negative (since it is the product of the two positive deﬁnite quantities. (5. any increase in the kinetic energy of the mass must be offset by a corresponding decrease in its potential energy. Hence.1). since (1/2) m v2 is the initial kinetic energy. presumably. (5. therefore. where v is the ﬁnal velocity. For instance. in the 80 .
In fact. however. gives up a certain amount of energy to the surrounding gravitational ﬁeld. if a given mass rises a certain distance. All we need to know is that a gravitational ﬁeld stores energy without loss: i. Incidentally. we do not need to understand general relativity in order to talk about gravitational ﬁelds or gravitational potential energy.e. there is no way in which we can deduce how long it takes the mass to rise to its maximum height from energy conservation alone—this information can only come from the direct application of Newton’s laws. an appropriate point at which to note that the concept of gravitational potential energy—although extremely useful—is.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5. This energy ﬂow is mediated by the gravitational force exerted by the ﬁeld on the body in question. strictly speaking. the potential energy of a body is not an intrinsic property of that body (unlike its kinetic energy). according to Einstein’s general theory of relativity (1917). The mass falls because it is subject to a downwards gravitational force of magnitude m g. Fortunately. how this transformation is effected. in detail. when the body rises. we are really talking about a ﬂow of energy from the body to the surrounding gravitational ﬁeld. therefore. This is. perhaps. it is the energy of the gravitational ﬁeld surrounding the body which increases by this amount. Thus.. in reality. that the transformation of kinetic into potential energy is a direct consequence of the action of this force. and its potential energy consequently increases by an amount ∆U. when we speak of a body’s kinetic energy being transformed into potential energy. and. then that ﬁeld 81 . Of course.3 Work previous example. Let us now investigate.3 Work We have seen that when a mass freefalls under the inﬂuence of gravity some of its kinetic energy is transformed into potential energy. To be more exact. thereby. the increase in energy of the gravitational ﬁeld is offset by a corresponding decrease in the body’s kinetic energy. ﬁctitious. Thus. or vice versa. the gravitational ﬁeld of a mass consists of the local distortion that mass induces in the fabric of spacetime. the gravitational potential energy of a given body is stored in the gravitational ﬁeld which surrounds it. 5. It stands to reason.
then the net work done on the body is W = f x. it follows from Eq. as the amount of work W performed by that force on the body in question. we term such a ﬁeld a conservative ﬁeld (see later). the amount of energy transferred to the mass (i. and the body’s kinetic energy increases by a corresponding amount. and its intrinsic energy consequently increases by an amount W. Since an amount of work is equivalent to a transfer of energy. During this process.9) In other words.e. (5. given that U = m g h.. This transfer of energy..5) that ∆K = f ∆h.e. Likewise. presumably. It follows from Eq. we generally refer to the amount of energy transferred to a body. the ﬁctitious potential energy of the mass decreases by a certain amount). In physics. (5. Suppose that a mass m falls a distance h. we have made two assumptions which are not universally valid. the energy of the gravitational ﬁeld decreases by a certain amount (i. mediated by the gravitational force −m g (the minus sign indicates that the force is directed downwards) acting on the mass. If W is positive then energy is transferred to the body.10) It turns out that this equation is quite general.3 Work will return this energy to the mass—without loss—if the mass falls by the same distance. This situation occurs whenever a body moves in the same direction as the force acting upon it. from the ﬁeld to the mass. (5. is. Firstly. and its intrinsic energy consequently decreases by an amount W. This situation occurs whenever a body moves in the opposite direction to the force acting upon it. if W is negative then energy is transferred from the body. In deriving equation (5. the mks unit of work is the same as the mks unit of energy: namely. (5. the joule. In physics. causing it to displace a distance x in the direction of that force.9) that when a gravitational force f acts on a body. when a force acts upon it. we have assumed that the motion of the body upon 82 . the increase in the mass’s kinetic energy) is equal to the product of the force acting on the mass and the distance moved by the mass in the direction of that force.10).5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5. In fact. and does not just apply to gravitational forces.
(5. for the sake of argument.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.35)–(3. so as to obtain an expression for the work W done by a general force f. (5. and x representing horizontal distance. and s = (∆x. −m g).12) 83 . 2 2 Since the righthand side of the above expression is manifestly the increase in the kinetic energy of the mass between times t = 0 and t = t. Let us start by relaxing the ﬁrst assumption. f = (0.13) Of course. we have assumed that the force does not vary with position. a·b = (ax bx + ay by + az bz )]. that the gravitational potential energy of a mass only depends on its height above the ground. the lefthand side must equal the decrease in the mass’s potential energy during the same time interval. 35. Let us examine the last of these equations: 2 v2 = v0 + 2 a·s. we arrive at the following expression for the gravitational potential energy of the mass: U = m g z.3).. the above equation can be rearranged to give 1 1 2 (5.12) m v2 − m v0 = −m g ∆z. Let us adopt the coordinate system shown in Fig. ∆z) is the net displacement of the mass during this time interval. The vector acceleration of the mass is simply a = (0. with z representing vertical distance. Recalling the deﬁnition of a scalar product [i. (5. Suppose. Eq. The above expression merely makes manifest a point which should have been obvious anyway: namely. v0 is the speed at t = 0. Secondly. Let us now try to relate the ﬂow of energy between the gravitational ﬁeld and the mass to the action of the gravitational force.e. and is quite independent of its horizontal displacement. Hence.3 Work which the force acts is both 1dimensional and parallel to the line of action of the force.11) Here. The physics of motion under gravity in more than 1dimension is summarized by the three equations (3. for the sake of simplicity. v is the speed at t = t. we are neglecting the redundant ycomponent. this expression is entirely equivalent to our previous expression for gravitational potential energy. that we have a mass m which moves under gravity in 2dimensions. −g). Equation (5. Let us attempt to relax these two assumptions. Here.37).
38. if θ > 90◦ ) then negative work is performed. if θ < 90◦ ) then positive work is performed Likewise. if the displacement is entirely perpendicular to the direction of the force (i. The work W performed by a force f when the object upon which it acts is subject to a displacement s is W = f s cos θ. It turns out that this result is quite general. Figure 36 is a visualization of the deﬁnition (5. and does not just apply to gravitational forces... irrespective of the nature of the force.e.14) In other words. that an object is subject to a force f which varies with position. Moreover. It follows that any component of the displacement in a direction perpendicular to the force generates zero work. f. (5.15) where θ is the angle subtended between the directions of f and s. and the displacement of the object in the direction of that force. now. if θ = 90◦ ) then no work is performed. Suppose.e.14). In other words. one way in which we could approach this problem would be to approximate the trajectory as a series of N straightline segments. s cos θ. Well..e.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5. if the displacement has a component in the same direction as the force (i. as shown in Fig.3 Work z m x Figure 35: Coordinate system for 2dimensional motion under gravity can be rewritten ∆K = W = f· s. 37. As before. the work W done by the force f is equal to the scalar product of f and the vector displacement s of the body upon which the force acts. (5. What is the total work done by the force when the object moves along some general trajectory in space between points A and B (say)? See Fig. if the displacement has a component in the opposite direction to the force (i. the work performed is the product of the magnitude of the force. Suppose 84 .
if we take the limit N → ∞ then the above expression becomes exact: N B W = lim N→∞ i=1 fi ·∆ri = f(r)·dr. In fact. let the average force along the ith segment be fi . is approximately N W i=1 fi ·∆ri . It follows that the net work done on the body. and is subject to a varying force f(x) (directed along the xaxis). r measures vector displacement from the origin of our coordinate system. that an object moves in 1dimension.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY s s 5. with displacement x. What is the work done by this force when the object moves from x A 85 . therefore.16) We can always improve the level of our approximation by increasing the number N of the straightline segments which we use to approximate the body’s trajectory between points A and B. A (5.14)—which is valid for constant forces and straightline displacements—holds good for each segment. B and the mathematical construct A f(r)·dr is termed a lineintegral. that N is sufﬁciently large that the force f does not vary much along each segment. In fact.3 Work θ f s cos θ f Figure 36: Deﬁnition of work that the vector displacement of the ith segment is ∆ri . The meaning of Eq. Suppose. (5. as it moves from point A to point B. We shall assume that formula (5.17) becomes a lot clearer if we restrict our attention to 1dimensional motion.17) Here. (5. further. Suppose.
3 Work B A Figure 37: Possible trajectory of an object in a variable forceﬁeld B A Figure 38: Approximation to the previous trajectory using straightline segments 86 .5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.
Thus. roundoff this discussion by rederiving the socalled workenergy theorem. Eq. (5. the net work done by the force as the object moves from displacement xA to xB is simply the area under the f(x) curve between these two points. 0. According to Newton’s second law of motion. is equal to the 87 . 0)] yields xB W= xA f(x) dx.18) In other words. f=m d2 x . as it moves from point A to point B.19) Combining Eqs. 2 2 (5. (5. as illustrated in Fig.20) where x(tA ) = xA and x(tB ) = xB . the net work performed on a body by a nonuniform force. 0) and dr = (dx. allowing for a nonconstant force.14). 0.3 Work f > xA xB x > Figure 39: Work performed by a 1dimensional force to xB ? Well. (5. (5. Let us. It follows that W= 1 1 2 2 m vB − m vA = ∆K.19). a straightforward application of Eq. we obtain d2 x m 2 dx = W= dt xA xB d2 x dx m 2 dt = dt dt tA tB d m dx dt 2 dt dt. (5. dt2 tB tA 2 (5.17) [with f = (f.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.21) where vA = (dx/dt)tA and vB = (dx/dt)tB . 39.18) and (5. ﬁnally. in 1dimension.
24) i and then to calculate the work done by the resultant force: B W= A f(r)·dr. (5.23) An alternative approach would be to take the vector sum of all the forces to ﬁnd the resultant force. the work W1 performed by the forceﬁeld on the object can be written as a lineintegral along this trajectory: W1 = A→B:path1 f·dr. from point A to point B. taken in isolation.25) It should. and then to sum the results. f= fi . labeled path 1. Suppose. As we have seen. and does not just apply to 1dimensional motion. for conservative forceﬁelds—see later). (5. 88 (5.4 Conservative and nonconservative forceﬁelds net increase in that body’s kinetic energy between these two points. be clear that these two approaches are entirely equivalent. This result is completely general (at least.26) .22) as the work done by the ith force. deﬁning B Wi = A fi (r)·dr (5. hopefully. 5. ﬁnally. In other words.4 Conservative and nonconservative forceﬁelds Suppose that a nonuniform forceﬁeld f(r) acts upon an object which moves along a curved trajectory. How do we calculate the net work W performed by all these forces as the object moves from point A to point B? One approach would be to calculate the work done by each force.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5. the net work is given by W= i Wi . 40. (5. See Fig. that an object is subject to more than one force.
What is the total work done on the object by the forceﬁeld as it executes this closed circuit? Incidentally.27) W2 = f·dr.27) might depend both on the end points. there are two possibilities. Firstly. Suppose. and then from point B back to point A along path 2. Secondly. the lineintegrals (5. between the same two points.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 2 5. A and B.26) and (5. A and B.4 Conservative and nonconservative forceﬁelds B 1 A Figure 40: Two alternative paths between points A and B Suppose that the same object moves along a different trajectory. now. the work W2 performed by the forceﬁeld is (5. but not on the path taken between them. in which case W1 = W2 (in general). in which case W1 = W2 . whereas the second possibility corresponds to a nonconservative forceﬁeld. that the object moves from point A to point B along path 1. one fact which should be clear from the deﬁnition of a lineintegral is that if we simply reverse the path of a given integral then the 89 . and the path taken between them. A→B:path2 Basically. In this case. The ﬁrst possibility corresponds to what physicists term a conservative forceﬁeld. the easiest way of answering this question is to slightly modify the problem discussed above. the lineintegrals (5.27) might depend on the end points. labeled path 2.26) and (5. What is the physical distinction between a conservative and a nonconservative forceﬁeld? Well.
. we have W1 = W2 .e. of this energy to the object when it travels back to point B. There is a minus sign in front of W2 because we are moving from point B to point A.28) where it is understood that both the above integrals are taken in opposite directions along the same path. For the case of a nonconservative ﬁeld. The remainder is usually dissipated as heat. perhaps. (5. (5.4 Conservative and nonconservative forceﬁelds value of that integral picks up a minus sign: in other words. instead of the other way around. For the case of a conservative ﬁeld. (5. then the ﬁeld only returns part. none.. Hence. W1 = W2 . (5. then the ﬁeld returns this energy to the object—without loss—when it travels back to point B.26) and (5.e. or.31) In other words. respectively. a gravitational ﬁeld is probably the most wellknown example of a conservative ﬁeld (see later). In practice. the net work done by a conservative ﬁeld on an object taken around a closed loop is zero.27). A typical example of a nonconservative ﬁeld might consist of 90 . if we swap the limits of integration then the integral picks up a minus sign. the net work done by a nonconservative ﬁeld on an object taken around a closed loop is nonzero. we conclude that ∆W = 0. It follows that the total work done on the object as it executes the circuit is simply ∆W = W1 − W2 . if an object gives up a certain amount of energy to a conservative ﬁeld in traveling from point A to point B. we conclude that ∆W = 0. Recall that conventional 1dimensional integrals obey an analogous rule: i. if an object gives up a certain amount of energy to a nonconservative ﬁeld in traveling from point A to point B.29) where W1 and W2 are deﬁned in Eqs. What are typical examples of conservative and nonconservative ﬁelds? Well. Hence. This is just another way of saying that a nonconservative ﬁeld dissipates energy: i.30) In other words. This is just another way of saying that a conservative ﬁeld stores energy without loss: i.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5. the net work is invariably negative.e.. (5. B A f·dr = − A B f·dr.
It follows that fi ·∆ri = −fi  ∆ri . 41.) Hence. as shown in Fig. Hence. as it executes the circuit. This energy is actually dissipated as heat (we all know that if we rub two rough surfaces together. Let ∆ri represent the vector displacement of the ith leg of this circuit. therefore.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5. f i ∝ −∆ri . 91 . i (5. friction is an example of a nonconservative force.32) The fact that the net work is negative indicates that the frictional force continually drains energy from the object as it moves over the surface. lost to the system. Suppose. that the object executes a closed circuit on the surface which is made up entirely of straightline segments.4 Conservative and nonconservative forceﬁelds f i ∆r i Figure 41: Closed circuit over a rough horizontal surface an object moving over a rough horizontal surface. sufﬁciently vigorously. for the sake of simplicity. is given by ∆W = i fi ·∆ri = − fi  ∆ri  < 0. the laws of thermodynamics forbid energy which has been converted into heat from being converted back to its original form. Suppose that the frictional force acting on the object as it executes this leg is fi . Thus. (Generally speaking. because it dissipates energy rather than storing it. the net work performed by the frictional force on the object. then they will eventually heat up: this is how mankind ﬁrst made ﬁre) and is. One thing that we know about a frictional force is that it is always directed in the opposite direction to the instantaneous direction of motion of the object upon which it acts.
Another way of putting this is E = K + U = constant : 92 (5.5 Potential energy Consider a body moving in a conservative forceﬁeld f(r).33) In other words. the increase in the kinetic energy of the body. (5.33). is equal to the decrease in the function U evaluated between these same two points. Note that the above deﬁnition uniquely speciﬁes U(R). U(R) is just the energy transferred to the ﬁeld (i. Let us arbitrarily pick some point O in this ﬁeld. (5. U(R) would have an inﬁnite number of different values corresponding to the inﬁnite number of different paths the body could take between points O and R. Furthermore. (5.35) In other words.. Of course. as it moves from point O to point R. the value of U at point O is zero: i. is equal to the work done on the body by the forceﬁeld during this process. We can deﬁne a function U(r) which possesses a unique value at every point in the ﬁeld.e. (5.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5. since the work done when a body moves between two points in such a ﬁeld is dependent on the chosen path: hence..e.5 Potential energy 5. the above deﬁnition would make no sense in a nonconservative ﬁeld. comparing with Eq.36) . minus the work done by the ﬁeld) when the body moves from point O to point R. According to the workenergy theorem. The value of this function associated with some general point R is simply R U(R) = − O f·dr. the net change in the kinetic energy of the body. as it moves from point O to point R. However. U(O) = 0. since the work done when a body moves between two points in a conservative forceﬁeld is independent of the path taken between these points.34) In other words. we can see that ∆K = U(O) − U(R) = −∆U. R ∆K = O f·dr.
a property of the body—instead.6 Hooke’s law Consider a mass m which slides over a horizontal frictionless surface. However. the point in space at which we set the potential energy to zero can be chosen at will. or the bottom of the Dead Sea). It should be clear. 42.. the concept of potential energy is meaningless in a nonconservative forceﬁeld (since the potential energy at a given point cannot be uniquely deﬁned). it is a property of the forceﬁeld within which the body moves. potential energy is not. Suppose that the mass is attached to a light horizontal spring whose other end is anchored to an immovable object.e. Thirdly. Obviously. by now. potential energy is only deﬁned to within an arbitrary additive constant. the top of Mount Everest. This implies that only differences in potential energies between different points in space have any physical signiﬁcance.g. the force f that the spring exerts on 93 .. Firstly. x can also be used as a coordinate to determine the horizontal displacement of the mass.e.6 Hooke’s law i. According to Hooke’s law. Fifthly. the sum of the kinetic energy and the function U remains constant as the body moves around in the forceﬁeld. the existence of gravitational potential energy is proof that gravitational ﬁelds are conservative.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5. that the function U represents some form of potential energy. we have seen that the deﬁnition of gravitational potential energy is U = m g z. an energy a body possesses by virtue of its position) with any conservative forceﬁeld. where z0 is the height of some arbitrarily chosen reference point (e.. any forceﬁeld for which we can deﬁne a potential energy must necessarily be conservative. For instance. In other words. Fourthly. Let x be the extension of the spring: i. strictly speaking. the difference between the spring’s actual length and its unstretched length. For instance. where z represents height above the ground. Secondly. the difference in potential energy between two points represents the net energy transferred to the associated forceﬁeld when a body moves between these two points. it should be possible to associate a potential energy (i. See Fig. 5.e. In other words.. The above discussion leads to the following important conclusions. we could just as well write U = m g (z − z0 ).
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY
5.6 Hooke’s law
x m
x=0
Figure 42: Mass on a spring
the mass is directly proportional to its extension, and always acts to reduce this extension. Hence, we can write f = −k x, (5.37)
where the positive quantity k is called the force constant of the spring. Note that the minus sign in the above equation ensures that the force always acts to reduce the spring’s extension: e.g., if the extension is positive then the force acts to the left, so as to shorten the spring. According to Eq. (5.18), the work performed by the spring force on the mass as it moves from displacement xA to xB is
xB xB
W=
xA
f(x) dx = −k
xA
x dx = −
1 1 2 2 k xB − k xA . 2 2
(5.38)
Note that the righthand side of the above expression consists of the difference between two factors: the ﬁrst only depends on the ﬁnal state of the mass, whereas the second only depends on its initial state. This is a sure sign that it is possible to associate a potential energy with the spring force. Equation (5.33), which is the basic deﬁnition of potential energy, yields
xB
U(xB ) − U(xA ) = −
xA
f(x) dx =
94
1 1 2 2 k xB − k xA . 2 2
(5.39)
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY
5.6 Hooke’s law
Hence, the potential energy of the mass takes the form U(x) = 1 2 kx . 2 (5.40)
Note that the above potential energy actually represents energy stored by the spring—in the form of mechanical stresses—when it is either stretched or compressed. Incidentally, this energy must be stored without loss, otherwise the concept of potential energy would be meaningless. It follows that the spring force is another example of a conservative force. It is reasonable to suppose that the form of the spring potential energy is somehow related to the form of the spring force. Let us now explicitly investigate this relationship. If we let xB → x and xA → 0 then Eq. (5.39) gives
x
U(x) = −
f(x ) dx .
(5.41)
0
We can differentiate this expression to obtain f=− dU . dx (5.42)
Thus, in 1dimension, a conservative force is equal to minus the derivative (with respect to displacement) of its associated potential energy. This is a quite general result. For the case of a spring force: U = (1/2) k x2 , so f = −dU/dx = −k x. As is easily demonstrated, the 3dimensional equivalent to Eq. (5.42) is f=− ∂U ∂U ∂U . , , ∂x ∂y ∂z (5.43)
For example, we have seen that the gravitational potential energy of a mass m moving above the Earth’s surface is U = m g z, where z measures height off the ground. It follows that the associated gravitational force is f = (0, 0, −m g). (5.44)
In other words, the force is of magnitude m g, and is directed vertically downward.
95
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY
5.7 Motion in a general 1dimensional potential
The total energy of the mass shown in Fig. 42 is the sum of its kinetic and potential energies: 1 (5.45) E = K + U = K + k x2 . 2 Of course, E remains constant during the mass’s motion. Hence, the above expression can be rearranged to give K=E− 1 2 kx . 2 (5.46)
Since it is impossible for a kinetic energy to be negative, the above expression suggests that x can never exceed the value x0 = 2E . k (5.47)
Here, x0 is termed the amplitude of the mass’s motion. Note that when x attains its maximum value x0 , or its minimum value −x0 , the kinetic energy is momentarily zero (i.e., K = 0).
5.7 Motion in a general 1dimensional potential Suppose that the curve U(x) in Fig. 43 represents the potential energy of some mass m moving in a 1dimensional conservative forceﬁeld. For instance, U(x) might represent the gravitational potential energy of a cyclist freewheeling in a hilly region. Note that we have set the potential energy at inﬁnity to zero. This is a useful, and quite common, convention (recall that potential energy is undeﬁned to within an arbitrary additive constant). What can we deduce about the motion of the mass in this potential? Well, we know that the total energy, E—which is the sum of the kinetic energy, K, and the potential energy, U—is a constant of the motion. Hence, we can write K(x) = E − U(x). (5.48)
Now, we also know that a kinetic energy can never be negative, so the above expression tells us that the motion of the mass is restricted to the region (or
96
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY
U >
5.7 Motion in a general 1dimensional potential
E2 x > E1
0
E0
x0
x1
x2
Figure 43: General 1dimensional potential
regions) in which the potential energy curve U(x) falls below the value E. This idea is illustrated in Fig. 43. Suppose that the total energy of the system is E0 . It is clear, from the ﬁgure, that the mass is trapped inside one or other of the two dips in the potential—these dips are generally referred to as potential wells. Suppose that we now raise the energy to E1 . In this case, the mass is free to enter or leave each of the potential wells, but its motion is still bounded to some extent, since it clearly cannot move off to inﬁnity. Finally, let us raise the energy to E 2 . Now the mass is unbounded: i.e., it can move off to inﬁnity. In systems in which it makes sense to adopt the convention that the potential energy at inﬁnity is zero, bounded systems are characterized by E < 0, whereas unbounded systems are characterized by E > 0. The above discussion suggests that the motion of a mass moving in a potential generally becomes less bounded as the total energy E of the system increases. Conversely, we would expect the motion to become more bounded as E decreases. In fact, if the energy becomes sufﬁciently small, it appears likely that the system will settle down in some equilibrium state in which the mass is stationary. Let us try to identify any prospective equilibrium states in Fig. 43. If the mass remains stationary then it must be subject to zero force (otherwise it would accelerate). Hence, according to Eq. (5.42), an equilibrium state is characterized by dU = 0. dx
97
(5.49)
5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY
5.7 Motion in a general 1dimensional potential
In other words, a equilibrium state corresponds to either a maximum or a minimum of the potential energy curve U(x). It can be seen that the U(x) curve shown in Fig. 43 has three associated equilibrium states: these are located at x = x0 , x = x1 , and x = x2 . Let us now make a distinction between stable equilibrium points and unstable equilibrium points. When the system is slightly perturbed from a stable equilibrium point then the resultant force f should always be such as to attempt to return the system to this point. In other words, if x = x0 is an equilibrium point, then we require df <0 (5.50) dx x0 for stability: i.e., if the system is perturbed to the right, so that x − x 0 > 0, then the force must act to the left, so that f < 0, and vice versa. Likewise, if df dx >0
x0
(5.51)
then the equilibrium point x = x0 is unstable. It follows, from Eq. (5.42), that stable equilibrium points are characterized by d2 U > 0. (5.52) dx2 In other words, a stable equilibrium point corresponds to a minimum of the potential energy curve U(x). Likewise, an unstable equilibrium point corresponds to a maximum of the U(x) curve. Hence, we conclude that x = x0 and x = x2 are stable equilibrium points, in Fig. 43, whereas x = x1 is an unstable equilibrium point. Of course, this makes perfect sense if we think of U(x) as a gravitational potential energy curve, in which case U is directly proportional to height. All we are saying is that it is easy to conﬁne a low energy mass at the bottom of a valley, but very difﬁcult to balance the same mass on the top of a hill (since any slight perturbation to the mass will cause it to fall down the hill). Note, ﬁnally, that if dU d2 U = =0 (5.53) dx dx2 at any point (or in any region) then we have what is known as a neutral equilibrium point. We can move the mass slightly off such a point and it will still remain
98
Suppose that the object displaces by dr in the time interval dt. the mks unit of power is called the watt (symbol W). We now know how to calculate how much energy ﬂows from the forceﬁeld to the object as it moves along a given path between two points. 99 U(x) > (5. In fact. the rate of working—which is usually referred to as the power—is simply the time derivative of the work performed. See Fig. If dW is the amount of work that the forceﬁeld performs on the mass in a time interval dt then the rate of working is given by dW .55) (5.8 Power Suppose that an object moves in a general forceﬁeld f(r).. it will neither attempt to return to its initial state. (5. nor will it continue to move). It follows from Eq. 1 watt equals 1 kilogram metersquared per secondcubed. the amount of work done on the object during this time interval is given by dW = f·dr.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY Stable Equilibrium Unstable Equilibrium Neutral Equilibrium 5.e.8 Power x > Figure 44: Different types of equilibrium in equilibrium (i. 44. 5.54) P= dt In other words.56) . Incidentally. (5. A neutral equilibrium point corresponds to a ﬂat spot in a U(x) curve. By deﬁnition. or 1 joule per second. Let us now consider the rate at which this energy ﬂows.54) that P = f·v.
In order to lift the bucket at a constant rate. the man must exert a force f on the bucket which balances (and very slightly exceeds) the force due to gravity.57) Worked example 5. power simply equals force times velocity.8 Power where v = dr/dt is the object’s instantaneous velocity.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.415 × 104 J. how much work does he perform? Answer: Let m be the mass of the bucket and h the depth of the well.1: Bucket lifted from a well Question: A man lifts a 30 kg bucket from a well whose depth is 150 m.81 = 4. which implies that the gravitational ﬁeld surrounding the bucket gains energy as the bucket is lifted. (5. Assuming that the man lifts the bucket at a constant rate. f = −m g (where upward is deﬁned to be positive). It follows that the work W done by the man is W = f h = m g h = 30 × 150 × 9. the work W performed by the gravitational force is the product of the (constant) force and the displacement of the bucket along the line of action of that force: W = f h = −m g h. If these two vectors are mutually perpendicular then the power is zero. 100 . For the case of 1dimensional motion. Hence. depending on the relative directions of the vectors f and v. Note that W is negative. Hence. in 1dimension. since W = −W . Hence. which implies that the man expends energy whilst lifting the bucket. Note that the work is positive. In other words. The gravitational force f acting on the bucket is of magnitude m g and is directed vertically downwards. the energy expended by the man equals the energy gained by the gravitational ﬁeld. f = −f . the above expression reduces to P = f v. The net upward displacement of the bucket is h. Of course. Note that power can be positive or negative.
and the coefﬁcient of kinetic friction between the chest and the dock is 0.15 × 465. Since the chest only moves horizontally. Since the chest does not accelerate in the vertical direction.89 N.15. The chest is subject to the following forces in the vertical direction: the downward force m g due to gravity.6 J. the upward reaction force R due to the dock. Hence. R = m g − F sin θ = 50 × 9.9 N. the force F exerted by the pirate can be resolved into a horizontal component F cos θ and a vertical component F sin θ. The work W performed by the horizontal component is simply the magnitude of this component times the horizontal distance x moved by the chest: W = F cos θ x = 95 × cos 15◦ × 6 = 550. and the upward component F sin θ of the force exerted by the pirate. the vertical component of F performs zero work. 101 .8 Power mg Worked example 5. How much work does the pirate perform? How much energy is dissipated as heat via friction? What is the ﬁnal velocity of the chest? Answer: Referring to the diagram. The chest moves 6 m in a straight line.2: Dragging a treasure chest Question: A pirate drags a 50 kg treasure chest over the rough surface of a dock by exerting a constant force of 95 N acting at an angle of 15◦ above the horizontal. these forces must balance.81 − 95 × sin 15◦ = 465.9 = 69. so f = µk R = 0.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY R F θ f chest dock 5. The frictional force f is the product of the coefﬁcient of kinetic friction µ k and the normal reaction R.
Hence. The fact that W is negative indicates a loss of energy by the chest: this energy is dissipated as heat via friction. Hence.29 m/s.3 = 2.3 J.89 × 6 = −419. Since the spring is stretched slowly. the force f which must be exerted on it is (almost) equal and opposite to f. It follows that k= 105 = 807.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5. 0. The minus sign indicates that the force acts in the opposite direction to the extension. We are told that f = 105 N when x = 0.3 = 131. f = −f = k x.8 Power The work W done by the frictional force is W = −f x = −69. where k is the force constant. Hence. Answer: The force f that the spring exerts on whatever is stretching it is f = −k x.3: Stretching a spring Question: The force required to slowly stretch a spring varies from 0 N to 105 N as the spring is extended by 13 cm from its unstressed length. Note that there is a minus sign in front of the f because the displacement of the chest is in the opposite direction to the frictional force. K = W + W = 550. The ﬁnal kinetic energy K of the chest (assuming that it is initially at rest) is the difference between the work W done by the pirate and the energy −W dissipated as heat.13 m.3 J.7 N/m.3 J. Since K = (1/2) m v2 . What is the force constant of the spring? What work is done in stretching the spring? Assume that the spring obeys Hooke’s law. the ﬁnal velocity of the chest is v= 2K = m 2 × 131. 50 Worked example 5.13 102 . the dissipated energy is 419. and x is the extension of the spring.6 − 419.
103 Likewise.83 J. UB = m g h2 = 300 × 9.4: Roller coaster ride Question: A roller coaster cart of mass m = 300 kg starts at rest at point A.81 × 25 = 7. neglecting the effect of friction? Answer: The gravitational potential energy of the cart with respect to the ground at point A is UA = m g h1 = 300 × 9.8 Power B h1 h2 The work W done by the external force in extending the spring from 0 to x is x x W = 0 f dx = k 0 x dx = 1 2 kx .132 = 6. What is the potential energy of the cart relative to the ground at point A? What is the speed of the cart at point B.81 × 7 = 2.7 × 0. whose height off the ground is h1 = 25 m. Worked example 5. and a little while later reaches point B. W = 0.36 × 104 = −5.06 × 104 J. the potential energy of the cart at point B is .5 × 807. the change in the cart’s potential energy in moving from point A to point B is ∆U = UB − UA = 2.06 × 104 − 7. Hence. 2 Hence.30 × 104 J.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY A 5.36 × 104 J. whose height off the ground is h2 = 7 m.
8 m/s. then slides along a horizontal surface. the change in kinetic energy ∆K is equivalent to the ﬁnal kinetic energy KB .5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5.30 × 104 = 18.43 = −12.25 × 3 × 9. The work W done on the block by the frictional force during this process is 104 . KB = −∆U = 5. where K represents kinetic energy. since the initial kinetic energy is zero. ∆K = −∆U. 2 Now.5: Sliding down a plane Question: A block of mass m = 3 kg starts at rest at a height of h = 43 cm on a plane that has an angle of inclination of θ = 35◦ with respect to the horizontal. The change in gravitational potential energy of the block as it slides down the plane is ∆U = −m g h = −3 × 9. However. The coefﬁcient of kinetic friction of the block on both surfaces is µ = 0. where vB is the ﬁnal speed. 300 Worked example 5.81 × cos 35◦ = 6.25. Hence.8 Power By energy conservation. How far does the block slide along the horizontal surface before coming to rest? Answer: The normal reaction of the plane to the block’s weight is R = m g cos θ. upon reaching the bottom. KB = (1/2) m vB . The block slides down the plane.81 × 0. vB = 2 KB = m 2 × 5. the frictional force acting on the block when it is sliding down the plane is f = µ R = 0.30 × 104 J. and.65 J. Thus. W = −f x.03 N. Hence.
of its engine is used to overcome the power dissipated by the resistive force.13 J.03 × 0. The frictional force acting on the block when it slides over the horizontal surface is f = µ m g = 0. then sin θ = 1/20)? Answer: When the car is traveling on a level road at its maximum speed. the kinetic energy K of the block at the bottom of the plane equals the decrease in the block’s potential energy plus the amount of work done on the block: K = −∆U + W = 12.. by energy conservation.8 Power where x = h/ sin θ is the distance the block slides. then all of the power output. f. when W = −K. It follows that 8.36 N.6: Driving up an incline Question: A car of weight 3000 N possesses an engine whose maximum power output is 160 kW. P = fv 105 The work done on the block as it slides a distance y over this surface is . Assuming that the resistive force (due to a combination of friction and air resistance) remains constant.65 − 4.36 Worked example 5. The maximum speed of this car on a level road is 35 m/s. Hence.52 = 8.81 = 7. the block comes to rest when the action of the frictional force has drained all of the kinetic energy from the block: i.13 K = 1.43 W=− = −4. 6. v.e. By energy conservation.52 J. Hence.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY 5. sin 35◦ Now. what is the car’s maximum speed on an incline of 1 in 20 (i.. if θ is the angle of the incline with respect to the horizontal.10 m.e. W = −f y. y= = f 7. P. The minus sign indicates that f acts in the opposite direction to the displacement of the block.25 × 3 × 9.
It follows that 160 × 103 P = 4.57 × 103 N. Here. the lefthand side represents the power output of the car. whereas the righthand side represents the sum of the power dissipated by the resistive force and the power expended to overcome the component of the car’s weight acting down the incline. this force is just the component of the car’s weight acting down the incline.5 CONSERVATION OF ENERGY f 5. f= = v 35 When the car. Thus. whose angle with respect to the horizontal is θ. minus the rate at which this force does work on the car). Of course.90 m/s. which acts to impede its motion.e.57 × 103 + 3000/20 106 . It follows that P 160 × 103 = = 33.. it is subject to the additional force f = W sin θ. v = f + W sin θ 4. is traveling up an incline. whose weight is W. where v is the maximum velocity of the car up the incline. the new power balance equation is written P = f v + W sin θ v .8 Power m h θ where the lefthand side is the power output of the engine. and the righthand side is the power dissipated by the resistive force (i.
Likewise. but are not necessarily constrained to move together. ¨ 107 (6. 6.2 Twocomponent systems The simplest imaginable multicomponent dynamical system consists of two point mass objects which are both constrained to move along the same straightline. From Newton’s third law of motion.e. (6. Let x1 be the displacement of the ﬁrst object. objects whose spatial extent is either negligible or plays no role in their motion) or arrangements of point masses which are constrained to move together because they are connected via inextensible cables. The physical concept which plays the central role in the dynamics of multicomponent point mass systems is the conservation of momentum. ﬁnally. a force which originates outside the system) F1 . Applying Newton’s second law of motion to each object in turn. that the ﬁrst object is subject to an external force (i.e. we obtain m1 x1 = f12 + F1 . whereas the second object exerts a force f12 on the ﬁrst.. we have f12 = −f21 .2) (6. See Fig. whose mass is m2 .3) . Let us now broaden our approach somewhat in order to take into account systems of point masses which exert forces on one another.. whose mass is m1 . we have only analyzed the behaviour of dynamical systems which consist of single point masses (i. whilst the second object is subject to an external force F2 . The classic example of such a multicomponent point mass system is one in which two (or more) freely moving masses collide with one another.1) Suppose. let x2 be the displacement of the second object.1 Introduction Up to now. ¨ m2 x2 = f21 + F2 .6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6 Conservation of momentum 6. 45. Suppose that the ﬁrst object exerts a force f21 on the second object.
¨ ¨ ¨ (6. Likewise. (6. m1 f x1 12 m2 F 1 x2 f F 2 x 21 Figure 45: A 1dimensional dynamical system consisting of two point mass objects 108 . ˙ is a convenient shorthand for d/dt. if the two masses are equal then the centre of mass lies half way between them. ¨ (6.1) and (6.6) where M = m1 + m2 is the total mass of the system.2) and (6.4). Thus. and then making use of Eqs. The physical signiﬁcance of this equation becomes clearer if we write it in the following form: M xcm = F.3).5) Note that the internal forces.4) Thus. xcm = m 1 x1 + m 2 x2 . (6. if the second mass is much larger than the ﬁrst then the centre of mass is almost coincident with the second mass. m 1 and m2 . At this point. m1 + m 2 (6. respectively. we obtain m1 x1 + m2 x2 = (m1 + m2 ) xcm = F1 + F2 . the motion of the centre of mass is equivalent to that which would occur if all the mass contained in the system were collected at the centre of mass. and F = F1 + F2 is the net external force acting on the system.2 Twocomponent systems Here. and so on.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. f12 and f21 . it is helpful to introduce the concept of the centre of mass. The centre of mass is an imaginary point whose displacement xcm is deﬁned to be the mass weighted average of the displacements of the two objects which constitute the system. and this conglomerate mass were then acted upon by the net external force. In general. this suggests that the motion of the centre of mass is simpler than the motions of the component masses. In other words. have canceled out. ¨ means d2 /dt2 . Summing Eqs. if the second mass is three times larger than the ﬁrst then the centre of mass lies threequarters of the way along the line linking the ﬁrst and second masses.
10) In other words. according to Eq. in this case..2 Twocomponent systems This is particularly the case if the internal forces. ˙ ˙ m1 x 1 + m 2 x 2 (6. equivalently. F = F1 + F2 = 0). F 1 = F2 = 0). (6.3. the total momentum is a conserved quantity—provided there is no net external force acting on the system. dt (6. In this case..e.6) can be written dP = F. from Sect. are complicated in nature.8) is also a constant of the motion.. the velocity of the centre of mass is written vcm = xcm = ˙ m1 x 1 + m 2 x 2 ˙ ˙ . Hence. the motion of the centre of mass is governed by Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion: i. the momentum of the ﬁrst mass is written p1 = m1 x1 . it consists of uniform motion in a straightline. (6. that momentum is deﬁned as the product of mass and velocity. Recall. or.e. Suppose that there are no external forces acting on the system (i. 109 . suppose that the sum of all the external forces is zero (i.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. m1 + m 2 (6. Hence. It follows that. however. whereas the momentum of the second mass takes the ˙ form p2 = m2 x2 .6).9) Thus. Eq.e. Now. More generally. (6.7) We have seen that in the absence of external forces vcm is a constant of the motion (i. It follows that the above expression corresponds to the total ˙ momentum of the system: P = p 1 + p2 . in the absence of a net external force. the centre of mass does not accelerate). the time derivative of the total momentum is equal to the net external force acting on the system—this is just Newton’s second law of motion applied to the system as a whole. This is true irrespective of the nature of the internal forces. the motion of the centre of mass is almost certainly far simpler than that of the component masses.e. f12 and f21 .. 4.
and xw the height of the sandbag.2 Twocomponent systems balloon gondola x xg cable sandbag xw Figure 46: An example twocomponent system Let us now try to apply some of the concepts discussed above. Let xg be the height of the gondola. The external forces are the net downward force due to the combined weight of the gondola and the sandbag. these forces are equal and opposite (it is assumed that the cable is reeled in sufﬁciently slowly that the 110 . These forces are transmitted via the cable. The internal forces are the upward force exerted by the gondola on the sandbag. by how much? Let us identify all of the forces acting on the system shown in Fig. The question is this: does the height of the gondola also change as the cable is reeled in? If so.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. A sandbag of mass mw is suspended from the gondola by means of a light inextensible cable. that the xaxis runs vertically upwards. The system is in equilibrium. A gondola of mass mg hangs from a hotair balloon whose mass is negligible compared to that of the gondola. and that this winch is used to slowly shorten the cable. Suppose. and the upward force due to the buoyancy of the balloon. for the sake of consistency with our other examples. so that the sandbag is lifted upwards a distance ∆xw . Since the system is in equilibrium. and are equal and opposite (by Newton’s third law of motion). and the downward force exerted by the sandbag on the gondola. Suppose that the upper end of the cable is attached to a winch inside the gondola. Consider the simple twocomponent system shown in Fig. 46. 46.
Hence. from the previous discussion. that the centre of mass of the system is subject to Newton’s ﬁrst law. Hence.13) Thus. Our next example is pictured in Fig. and ascends as it is lowered.12) (6. (6. it must remain stationary both during and after the period in which the winch is operated. Suppose that a cannon of mass M propels a cannonball of mass m horizontally with velocity v b . and that of the gondola to simultaneously change by ∆xg .11) mg + m w is a conserved quantity. It is clear that we could use a suspended sandbag as a mechanism for adjusting a hotair balloon’s altitude: the balloon descends as the sandbag is raised. or ∆xg = − mw ∆xw . It follows. then we must have 0 = mg ∆xg + mw ∆xw . there is zero net external force acting on the system. If xcm is a conserved quantity. if the winch is used to raise the sandbag a distance ∆xw then the gondola is simultaneously pulled downwards a distance (mw /mg ) ∆xw . Suppose that the operation of the winch causes the height of the sandbag to change by ∆xw . mg (6.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM cannon 6. m g xg + m w xw xcm = . the height of the centre of mass.2 Twocomponent systems cannonball vr ground vb Figure 47: Another example twocomponent system equilibrium is not upset). since the centre of mass is clearly stationary before the winch is turned on. In particular. What is the recoil 111 . 47.
Of course. The internal forces are the force exerted by the cannon on the cannonball. M m).6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. 48. the total momentum of the system takes the form P = m v b + M vr . Note.3 Multicomponent systems velocity vr of the cannon? Let us ﬁrst identify all of the forces acting on the system. and is of magnitude (m/M) vb .15) vr = − vb . but only last for a short instance in time: in physics. After the cannon is ﬁred. if the cannon is far more massive that the cannonball (i. the total momentum is zero (since momentum is mass times velocity.14) Since P is a conserved quantity. These forces are extremely large. however. Hence. that the momentum of the cannon is equal in magnitude to that of the cannonball. the force fij exerted by the jth object on the ith is given by fij = −fji . It follows that it takes the same effort (i. m (6. as the cannon is ﬁred.e..3 Multicomponent systems Consider a system of N mutually interacting point mass objects which move in 3dimensions. whose mass is mi . we call these impulsive forces. force applied for a certain period of time) to slow down and stop the cannon as it does to slow down and stop the cannonball. and the equal and opposite force exerted by the cannonball on the cannon. (6. we can set P = 0. There are no external forces acting in the horizontal direction (which is the only direction that we are considering in this example).e. Suppose that this object exerts a force fji on the jth object. Let the ith object. be located at vector displacement ri . and nothing is initially moving). the recoil velocity of the cannon is in the opposite direction to the velocity of the cannonball (hence.16) 112 . By Newton’s third law of motion.. (6. Prior to the ﬁring of the cannon. the minus sign in the above equation). then the recoil velocity of the cannon is far smaller in magnitude than the velocity of the cannonball. It follows that the total (horizontal) momentum P of the system is a conserved quantity. See Fig. which is usually the case. M Thus. 6.
e. Newton’s second law of motion applied to the ith object yields j=i r mi ¨i = j=1. in this case—which is equal and opposite.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM f ij 6.N fij + i=1. Let us now take the above equation and sum it over all objects. suppose that the ith object is subject to an external force F i . Finally. since the ith object cannot exert a force on itself. the elements of the sum all cancel out in pairs.N fij + Fi .19) .17) Note that the summation on the righthand side of the above equation excludes the case j = i. say—can be paired with another element— fji . Each element of this sum—fij . We obtain j=i r mi ¨i = i=1. (6. Thus.3 Multicomponent systems Fi mi r i Fj mj r j f ji Figure 48: A 3dimensional dynamical system consisting of many point mass objects. the ﬁrst term on the righthand side. In other words.j=1. r 113 (6. the net value of the sum is zero..N Fi .18) Consider the sum over all internal forces: i. It follows that the above equation can be written M ¨cm = F.N i. (6.
21) and (6. the motion of the centre of mass is equivalent to that which would be obtained if all the mass contained in the system were collected at the centre of mass. As before. (6.19) can be rewritten dP = F. and F = N Fi is the net external force. N mi i=1 (6. so that F = 0. Now.19) implies that the centre of mass moves with uniform velocity in a straightline. from the above discussion.22) suggests that P is also a constant of the motion when zero net external force acts on the system. rcm = N i=1 mi ri . for the case of a twocomponent system moving in 1dimension.19). the centre of mass is an imaginary point whose coordinates are the mass weighted averages of the coordinates of the objects which constitute the system. the motion of the centre of mass is likely to be far simpler than the motions of the component masses. 114 . In this case. As before. i=1 i=1 The quantity rcm is the vector displacement of the centre of mass. the momentum of the ith object takes the form r pi = mi ˙i . ˙cm = r N r i=1 mi ˙i .22) A comparison of Eqs. In other words. the velocity of the centre of mass. (6. (6.23) dt In other words. It is clear. Hence. the total momentum of the system is written N P= i=1 r mi ˙i .3 Multicomponent systems where M = N mi is the total mass. (6.21) is a constant of the motion. also apply to a multicomponent system moving in 3dimensions. Suppose that there is zero net external force acting on the system. and this conglomerate mass were then acted upon by the net external force. Thus. Finally. Eq. (6. (6. the time derivative of the total momentum is equal to the net external force acting on the system.20) According to Eq.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. Eq. that most of the important results obtained in the previous section. N mi i=1 (6.
or the fragments of Krypton. by Newton’s third law. The rocket exerts a backward force on the propellant. As an illustration of the points raised in the above discussion. however. We conclude that. that before. (6. 49. Krypton—Superman’s home planet—eventually exploded. the centre of mass of these fragments) continued to execute exactly the same orbit. during. after the explosion. In other words. in order to eject it. let us consider the unfortunate history of the planet Krypton. was unaffected by the explosion. the planet Krypton presumably executed a standard elliptical orbit around Krypton’s sun.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. This follows. from Eq. transitory. See Fig.4 Rocket science fragments of Krypton Krypton explosion trajectory of centre of mass Figure 49: The unfortunate history of the planet Krypton. since the motion of the centre of mass is independent of internal forces.19). internal forces. a rocket works by ejecting a propellant at high velocity from its rear end.4 Rocket science A rocket engine is the only type of propulsion device that operates effectively in outer space. 6. 50. We conclude that the motion of the centre of mass of Krypton. and after this explosion the net external force acting on Krypton. the forces responsible for the explosion can be thought of as large. 115 . and. As shown in Fig. the fragments of Krypton (or. the propellant exerts an equal and opposite force on the rocket. Before the explosion. As you probably all know. which propels it forward. the gravitational attraction to Krypton’s sun—remained the same. or the fragments of Krypton—namely. Note. to be more exact.
whose total mass is M + m. velocity −u in the instantaneous rest frame of the rocket). since the rocket is 116 . Suppose that the rocket engine ejects the propellant at some ﬁxed velocity u relative to the rocket. so this represents a positive mass) which travels with velocity v − u (i.. As a result of the fuel ejection. Suppose. Let us attempt to ﬁnd the equation of motion of a rocket. Now. and its total mass becomes M + m + dm.4 Rocket science rocket propellant Figure 50: A rocket. t t+dt v M+m M+m+dm v+dv dm vu Figure 51: Derivation of the rocket equation.e. there is zero external force acting on the system. 51.. are traveling with instantaneous velocity v. Let M be the ﬁxed mass of the rocket engine and the payload. further. and m(t) the total mass of the propellant contained in the rocket’s fuel tanks at time t. Suppose that at time t the rocket and propellant.b. dm is understood to be negative. Let us examine the rocket at two closely spaced instances in time. the velocity of the rocket at time t + dt is boosted to v + dv. that between times t and t + dt the rocket ejects a quantity of propellant of mass −dm (n.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. See Fig.
117 ..29) M+m The ﬁnal velocity of the rocket (i.e.e. It follows that the total momentum of the system is a constant of the motion. v 0 (6. This follows because ln x ∼ O(1).. (6. we can equate the momenta evaluated at times t and t + dt: (M + m) v = (M + m + dm) (v + dv) + (−dm) (v − u). so that m = 0) is v = u ln vf = u ln 1 + mp . we obtain dm dv =− . where mp is the maximum mass of propellant that the rocket can carry—but stationary. Hence..28) which yields M + mp . the velocity attained by the time the rocket has exhausted its fuel. (6. dm dv). Rearranging. unless x becomes extremely large. (6. unless the initial mass of the fuel exceeds the ﬁxed mass of the rocket by many orders of magnitude (which is highly unlikely).6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.27) It follows that v u v=v v=0 m=m = − [ln(M + m)]m=mp .e.25) dv =− u m mp dm . the above expression yields 0 = (M + m) dv + u dm. and a ﬁnal time at which the mass of the fuel is m and the velocity of the rocket is v.30) Note that. M+m (6. Hence.4 Rocket science assumed to be in outer space. (6.24) Neglecting second order quantities (i.26) u M+m Let us integrate the above equation between an initial time at which the rocket is fully fueled—i. m = mp . M (6. the ﬁnal velocity v f of the rocket is similar to the velocity u with which fuel is ejected from the rear of the rocket in its instantaneous rest frame.
However. Broadly speaking. physicists generally refer to such a force as an impulsive force. the momentum of the ball is changed by the collision with the wall. but is only exerted for the short instance in time during which the ball is in physical contact with the wall. but are limited to ejection velocities below about 5000 m/s. 1998: this probe successfully encountered the asteroid 9969 Braille in July. and then ejecting them. It follows that the wall must exert a force on the ball. 6. as we have just seen. compared to chemical rockets. Such rockets are ideal for lifting payloads out of the Earth’s gravitational ﬁeld. 52. since force is the rate of change of momentum. Now.5 Impulses Suppose that a ball of mass m and speed ui strikes an immovable wall normally and rebounds with speed uf . 1999. Although ion thrusters only generate very small thrusts. As we have already mentioned. the factor which essentially determines the ﬁnal velocity vf of a rocket is the speed of ejection u of the propellant relative to the rocket. ordinary chemical rockets (the kind which powered the Apollo moon program) can develop enormous thrusts. is currently under development: ion thrusters operate by accelerating ions electrostatically to great velocities. Since the distances involved in such travel are vast. called an ion thruster. otherwise the journey is going to take an unacceptably long time. but their relatively low ejection velocities render them unsuitable for long distance space travel. The ﬁrst spacecraft to employ an ion thruster was the Deep Space 1 probe. This force is generally very large. Clearly. It follows that a rocket suitable for interplanetary or interstellar travel should have as high an ejection speed as practically possible. it is important that the rocket’s ﬁnal velocity be made as large as possible. See Fig. 118 .5 Impulses Let us now consider the factors which might inﬂuence the design of a rocket for use in interplanetary or interstellar travel. since the direction of the ball’s velocity is reversed. A new type of rocket engine. vf can never signiﬁcantly exceed u. their much larger ejection velocities (up to 100 times those of chemical rockets) makes them far more suitable for interplanetary or interstellar space travel.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. which was launched from Cape Canaveral on October 24.
t2 119 .6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.5 Impulses wall after uf ui m before +ve Figure 52: A ball bouncing off a wall. f t1 t Figure 53: An impulsive force.
It is helpful to deﬁne a quantity known as the net impulse. we obtain ∆p = I. (6. We conclude that the average force f exerted on the ball during this time interval was I ¯ . making use of the deﬁnition (6. associated with f(t): t2 I= t1 f(t) dt. ∆p = pf − pi . I. (6.32) dt where p is the momentum of the object.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. We conclude that the net change in momentum of an object subject to an impulsive force is equal to the total impulse associated with that force. The vector impulse associated with this force is simply t2 I= t1 f(t) dt. since the ball is initially moving in the negative direction.31) In other words. Integrating the above equation. [Note: The initial velocity is −ui . I is the total area under the f(t) curve shown in Fig. f(t).5 Impulses Figure 53 shows the typical time history of an impulsive force. the generalization to 3dimensional motion is fairly straightforward. Newton’s second law of motion yields dp = f. 52 is ∆p = m uf − m (−ui ) = m (uf + ui ).31). where pi is the momentum before the impulse. It can be seen that the force is only nonzero in the short time interval t 1 to t2 .35) . 53. 120 (6. and pf is the momentum after the impulse. For instance.33) Here.] It follows that the net impulse imparted to the ball by the wall is I = m (u f + ui ). 53. However.34) f= ∆t The above discussion is only relevant to 1dimensional motion. which is only nonzero in the short time interval t 1 to t2 . Suppose that we know the ball was only in physical contact with the wall for the ¯ short time interval ∆t. the net change in momentum of the ball bouncing off the wall in Fig. Consider a object subject to the impulsive force pictured in Fig. Consider an impulsive force f(t). (6. (6.
further. We are clearly considering a system in which there is zero net external force (the forces associated with the collision are internal in nature). Suppose that these two objects collide. Suppose. after the collision. The net change in momentum of an object subject to f(t) is ∆p = I.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.6 Collisions in 1dimension Consider two objects of mass m1 and m2 . 54. Hence. Let vi1 and vi2 be the velocities of the ﬁrst and second objects. which are free to move in 1dimension. respectively. (6. before the collision. This situation is illustrated in Fig.6 Collisions in 1dimension m 1 vi1 m2 vi2 before m1 vf1 m 2 vf 2 after Figure 54: A collision in 1dimension. the total 121 .37) ∆t 6. if t2 − t1 = ∆t. f (6. we can model the collision as equal and opposite impulses given to the two objects at the instant in time when they come together. respectively. During the collision itself. respectively. In fact. then the average force experienced by the object in the time interval t1 to t2 is ¯= I . that both objects are subject to zero net force when they are not in contact with one another. whereas the second object exerts an equal and opposite force f12 = −f21 on the ﬁrst. the ﬁrst object exerts a large transitory force f21 on the second. the two objects move with constant velocity.36) Finally. Likewise. let vf1 and vf2 be the velocities of the ﬁrst and second objects. Both before and after the collision.
(6. we could be given the two ﬁnal velocities. For instance. the ball becomes warm to the touch after a long game. Such collisions are termed inelastic. we obtain m1 vi1 + m2 vi2 = m1 vf1 + m2 vf2 . however. an inelastic collision is only fully characterized when we are given the initial velocities of both objects. There is. Hence. assuming we know the masses of the colliding objects. An elastic collision is one in which the total kinetic energy of the two colliding objects is the same before and after the collision. and the ﬁnal velocity of at least one of the objects. (Alternatively. the collision is fully speciﬁed once we are given the two initial velocities of the colliding objects. or energy associated with the mechanical deformation of the objects—during the collision. the above equation only fully describes the collision if we are given the initial velocities of both objects. generally speaking.39) is invalid. we could be given both ﬁnal velocities and only one of the initial velocities. because some fraction of the ball’s kinetic energy of collision with the walls of the court has been converted into heat energy.38) remains valid for inelastic collisions—however. for an elastic collision we can write 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 m1 vi1 + m2 vi2 = m1 vf1 + m2 vf2 .38).) The majority of collisions occurring in real life are not elastic in nature. and the ﬁnal velocity of at least one of the objects. Note that. 2 2 2 2 (6. Equating the total momenta before and after the collision. irrespective its nature. (6.) There are many different types of collision. (6.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. Some fraction of the initial kinetic energy of the colliding objects is usually converted into some other form of energy—generally heat energy. Thus. (Alternatively.6 Collisions in 1dimension momentum of the system is a conserved quantity.39) in addition to Eq. Equation (6. Eq. in this case. a special case of an inelastic collision—called a totally inelastic collision—which is fully characterized once we are given the initial velocities of 122 . Inelastic collisions also occur during squash/racquetball/handball games: in each case.38) This equation is valid for any 1dimensional collision. Thus. a large fraction of the initial kinetic energy of a typical automobile accident is converted into mechanical energy of deformation of the two vehicles.
Thus. (6.41) m1 + m 2 m1 vi2 = + (vi2 − vi1 ).43) m1 + m 2 m1 (vf2 − vf1 ). (6. In a totally inelastic collision. In other words. (6. so that vf1 = vf2 . the two objects stick together after the collision. the two objects approach one another with equal and opposite momenta before the collision. Suppose that we transform to a frame of reference which comoves with the centre of mass of the system.42) m1 + m 2 m2 vf1 = − (vf2 − vf1 ).46) where µ = m1 m2 /(m1 + m2 ) is the socalled reduced mass. m1 + m 2 m1 + m 2 (6.40) An object which possesses a velocity v in our original frame of reference—henceforth. consider elastic collisions in more detail. 123 (6. Let us.6 Collisions in 1dimension the colliding objects. (6. It is easily demonstrated that m2 vi1 = − (vi2 − vi1 ). Since the system is subject to zero net external force.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.45) (6. etc.47) . −pf1 = pf2 = µ (vf2 − vf1 ). when viewed in the centre of mass frame. the centre of mass momentum conservation equation. pi1 + pi2 = pf1 + pf2 . (6. the velocity of the centre of mass is invariant. The motion of a multicomponent system often looks particularly simple when viewed in such a frame. and pi1 = m1 vi1 is the initial momentum of the ﬁrst object in the centre of mass frame. and diverge from one another with equal and opposite momenta after the collision. termed the laboratory frame—possesses a velocity v = v − vcm in the centre of mass frame. and is given by vcm = m1 vf1 + m2 vf2 m1 vi1 + m2 vi2 = . now.44) vf2 = + m1 + m 2 The above equations yield − pi1 = pi2 = µ (vi2 − vi1 ).
51) yield vf1 = vi2 . Suppose that two equal mass objects collide elastically. (6.51) Let us. and (6.48) Note. 2 m1 2 m2 2 m1 2 m2 (6. since relative velocities are frame invariant. (6. Incidentally. m1 + m 2 m1 + m 2 (6. that if energy and momentum are conserved in the laboratory frame then they must also be conserved in the centre of mass frame.53) In other words. (6. if the second object is stationary and the ﬁrst object strikes it headon with velocity v then the ﬁrst object is brought to a halt whereas the second object moves off with velocity v.46). incidentally. For instance. The centre of mass kinetic energy conservation equation takes the form pi12 pi22 pf12 pf22 + = + .49) can be combined to give the following pair of equations which fully specify the ﬁnal velocities (in the laboratory frame) of two objects which collide elastically. the two objects simply exchange velocities when they collide. (6. Equations (6.38) and (6.49) In other words. (6. consider some special cases. vf2 = vi1 .and righthand sides are zero. given their initial velocities: vf1 = vf2 2 m2 (m1 − m2 ) vi1 + vi2 . now.50) (6. This is true in all frames of reference. Note. this result is valid for both elastic and inelastic collisions. It is possible to reproduce this effect in pool by striking 124 .6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. because both the left. that this result only applies to fully elastic collisions.6 Collisions in 1dimension is trivially satisﬁed.45).52) (6. however. A comparison of Eqs. m1 + m 2 m1 + m 2 2 m1 (m1 − m2 ) = vi1 − vi2 . If m1 = m2 then Eqs.50) and (6.48) yields (vi2 − vi1 ) = −(vf2 − vf1 ). the relative velocities of the colliding objects are equal and opposite before and after the collision.
57) In other words. (6. However.e..51) yield vf1 vf2 −vi1 .. (6. and actually changes the answer. In this case. rather that rolls.. ﬁnally. In this case. the common ﬁnal velocity of the two objects is equal to the centre of mass velocity of the system. whereas the light object ends up going twice as fast as the massive one. when the cue ball strikes another ball headon it comes to a complete halt. vi2 = 0). In this case.38) reduces to m1 vi1 + m2 vi2 vf = = vcm .. Suppose.56) (6.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. when an elastic ball bounces off a brick wall. m2 m1 ) and is initially at rest (i. and the other ball is propelled forward very rapidly. Suppose that the second object is much more massive than the ﬁrst (i.e. the motion of the massive object is essentially unaffected by the collision. (6.50) and (6.e. whereas the massive object remains approximately at rest. 0. Incidentally.58) m1 + m 2 In other words. in a totally inelastic collision these 125 . m 2 m1 ) and is initially at rest (i. This is hardly a surprising result. it is necessary to prevent the cue ball from rolling.54) (6. vi2 = 0). (6. In a totally inelastic collision the two objects stick together after colliding. (6. 2 vi1 . (6. this is the sort of behaviour we expect when an object collides elastically with an immovable obstacle: e.51) yield vf1 vf2 vi1 .e. that the second object is much lighter than the ﬁrst (i. consider totally inelastic collisions in more detail. Eqs. We have already seen that in the centre of mass frame the two objects must diverge with equal and opposite momenta after the collision. Eqs.g.50) and (6. Eq.55) In other words. because rolling motion is not taken into account in our analysis. now.6 Collisions in 1dimension the cue ball with great force in such a manner that it slides. the velocity of the light object is effectively reversed during the collision. Indeed. over the table—in this case. Let us.. so they end up moving with the same ﬁnal velocity vf = vf1 = vf2 .
In this special case.g. the two objects move with the centre of mass velocity in the laboratory frame. if m2 m1 ).. Of course. Suppose that the second object is initially at rest (i. The fractional loss in kinetic energy of the system due to the collision is given by f= 2 m2 m1 vi1 − (m1 + m2 ) vf2 Ki − K f = = . 2 Ki m1 vi1 m1 + m 2 (6. Hence. 126 ..59) Note that the ﬁrst object is slowed down by the collision. heat energy.e..60) The loss in kinetic energy is small if the (initially) stationary object is much lighter than the moving object (i. The only way in which this is possible is if the two objects remain stationary in the centre of mass frame after the collision. two momenta must also be equal (since the two objects stick together).e.6 Collisions in 1dimension vf2 m1 vi1 m2 θ2 θ1 m1 x vf1 Figure 55: A collision in 2dimensions. the lost kinetic energy of the system is converted into some other form of energy: e. the common ﬁnal velocity of the two objects is vf = m1 vi1 . vi2 = 0). m1 + m 2 (6.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM y m2 6..e. and almost 100% if the moving object is much lighter than the stationary one (i. if m2 m1 ).
further. 127 (6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions Suppose that an object of mass m1 . 55. Likewise. See Fig.7 Collisions in 2dimensions 6. since there is initially no motion along the yaxis. m1 times the ycomponent of the ﬁrst object’s ﬁnal velocity. (6. respectively. Hence. unlike before..e. the total ymomentum is zero. since we are no longer dealing with 1dimensional motion. the ﬁnal xmomentum of the second object is m2 vf2 cos θ2 . momentum conservation in the xdirection yields m1 vi1 = m1 vf1 cos θ1 + m2 vf2 cos θ2 .e. momentum conservation in the ydirection yields m1 vf1 sin θ1 = m2 vf2 sin θ2 .and y. as indicated in Fig.62) . of mass m2 . Consider the xcomponent of the system’s total momentum. we must now treat the total momentum as a vector quantity. the ymomentum of the ﬁrst object is −m1 vf1 sin θ1 : i. the ﬁnal ymomentum of the second object is m2 vf2 sin θ2 . After the collision. so that after the collision the ﬁrst object moves off at an angle θ1 to its initial direction of motion.components of the total momentum before and after the collision. and the ﬁrst object is initially moving along the xaxis with speed vi1 . After the collision. 55. We are again considering a system in which there is zero net external force (the forces associated with the collision are internal in nature). that the collision is not headon.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. the total xmomentum is simply m1 vi1 . It follows that the total momentum of the system is a conserved quantity. moving with initial speed vi1 . Suppose. then it is sufﬁcient to equate the x.. Likewise. which is initially at rest. the xmomentum of the ﬁrst object is m1 vf1 cos θ1 : i. m1 times the xcomponent of the ﬁrst object’s ﬁnal velocity. However. Before the collision. Hence. whereas the second object moves off at an angle θ2 to this direction.61) Consider the ycomponent of the system’s total momentum. Let the ﬁnal speeds of the two objects be vf1 and vf2 . Before the collision. strikes a second object. since the second object is initially stationary. Note that if the collision takes place wholly within the xy plane.
Figure 56 shows a 2dimensional totally inelastic collision.. and (6. momentum conservation along the yaxis gives m2 vi2 sin θi = (m1 + m2 ) vf sin θf . the two objects stick together and move off at an angle θf to the xaxis with speed vf . the ﬁrst object.65) Given the initial conditions (i. m2 .e. Momentum conservation along the xaxis yields m1 vi1 + m2 vi2 cos θi = (m1 + m2 ) vf cos θf . mass m2 . Eqs.. we can equate the total kinetic energies of the two objects before and after the collision. (6.e. the second object. mass m1 . 2 2 2 (6.e. (6. initially moves along the xaxis with speed vi1 .62).7 Collisions in 2dimensions m + m2 1 m1 vi1 θi vi2 m2 θf vf x Figure 56: A totally inelastic collision in 2dimensions. (6.63) Given the initial conditions (i. Hence.61). (6. θ1 . After the collision. and vi1 ).g. the direction of motion or speed of one of the objects after the collision. vi1 . m1 . we have a system of three equations [i.e. For the special case of an elastic collision.. In this case.63)] and four unknowns (i. and θi ).64) Likewise. θ2 . Clearly.. we cannot uniquely solve such a system without being given additional information: e. we obtain 1 1 1 2 2 2 m1 vi1 = m1 vf1 + m2 vf2 . On the other hand. we have a system of 128 . m2 . initially moves at an angle θi to the xaxis with speed vi2 . and vf2 ).6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM y 6. vi2 . m1 . vf1 ..
What is the recoil speed of the carriage right after the cannon is ﬁred? What is the velocity of the carriage after the cannonball strikes the far wall? What net distance. where u is the recoil velocity of the carriage.115 m/s. The cannon ﬁres a cannonball. (6. and then becomes embedded in the carriage’s end wall. giving 0 = M u + m v.e.. Hence.64) and (6. horizontally with velocity v = 115 m/s. Hence.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. a distance L = 85 m.e.2 kg. which is free to move without friction along a straight track. does the carriage move as a result of the ﬁring of the cannon? L v M m Answer: Conservation of momentum implies that the net horizontal momentum of the system is the same before and after the cannon is ﬁred.115 m/s. we can also set the momentum after the cannon is ﬁred to zero. and in what direction. Clearly. vf and θf ). 129 . Worked example 6.7 Collisions in 2dimensions two equations [i. of mass m = 1. the recoil speed of the carriage is u = 0.. M 1200 The minus sign indicates that the recoil velocity of the carriage is in the opposite direction to the direction of motion of the cannonball. The momentum before the cannon is ﬁred is zero.1: Cannon in a railway carriage Question: A cannon is bolted to the ﬂoor of a railway carriage. we should be able to ﬁnd a unique solution for such a system. since nothing is initially moving. The combined mass of the cannon and the carriage is M = 1200 kg.2 × 115 m v=− = −0.65)] and two unknowns (i. It follows that u=− 1. The cannonball travels the length of the carriage. Eqs.
we have already seen that M u + m v = 0. Here.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. However. the carriage moves 8. the carriage is brought to a complete halt when the cannonball strikes its far wall. 130 . whereas its ﬁnal momentum is m v.35 × (21 + 12) = 11. The bat acts on the ball for t = 0. In the frame of reference of the carriage.738 s. both the cannonball and the carriage move with common velocity w.115 The distance moved by the carriage in this time interval is d = u t = −0. Hence. v − u 115 + 0. It follows that w = 0: in other words. the net change in momentum of the softball due to its collision with the bat is ∆p = m v − (−) m u = 0.738 = −0. Hence.35 kg is pitched at a speed of u = 12 m/s.01 s. the time of ﬂight of the cannonball is t= 85 L = = 0.55 N s. the cannonball moves with velocity v − u after the cannon is ﬁred. The batter hits the ball directly back to the pitcher at a speed of v = 21 m/s.49 cm in the opposite direction to the direction of motion of the cannonball. we can write M u + m v = (M + m) w. after the cannonball strikes the far wall of the carriage.7 Collisions in 2dimensions Suppose that. Worked example 6. Conservation of momentum implies that the net horizontal momentum of the system is the same before and after the collision. Thus. the ﬁnal direction of motion of the softball is taken to be positive.2: Hitting a softball Question: A softball of mass m = 0. Thus.115 × 0.0849 m. What impulse is imparted by the bat to the ball? What average force is exerted by the bat on the ball? Answer: The initial momentum of the softball is −m u.
0 N. The skater’s initial momentum is p1 = (M v. 0) = (120 × 8. One of the skater’s friends. 131 . The average force exerted by the bat on the ball is simply the net impulse divided by the time interval over which the ball is in contact with the bat. f= = t 0. who catches it. who is standing at the edge of the pond. whereas the initial direction of motion of the medicine ball is along the yaxis. the initial momentum of the medicine ball is p2 = (0. ¯ I 11. throws a medicine ball of mass m = 20 kg with velocity u = 3 m/s to the skater.01 Worked example 6. the net momentum change is equal to the impulse imparted by the bat. 20 × 3) = (0. p y 3 p 1 θ p 2 x Answer: Suppose that the skater is initially moving along the xaxis. Hence. m u) = (0.7 Collisions in 2dimensions By deﬁnition. Likewise. 60) N s.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. What is the ﬁnal speed of the skater? What is the ﬁnal direction of motion of the skater relative to his/her initial direction of motion? Assume that the skater moves without friction.55 = 1155. 0) N s. The direction of motion of the ball is perpendicular to the initial direction of motion of the skater.3: Skater and medicine ball Question: A skater of mass M = 120 kg is skating across a pond with uniform velocity v = 8 m/s. so I = ∆p = 11. 0) = (960.55 N s.
7 v= = 738.012 The initial kinetic energy of the bullet is Ki = 1 m u2 = 0.7 m/s. Momentum conservation requires the total horizontal momentum of the system to be the same before and after the bullet strikes the block.012 × 738. acquires a velocity of v = 1.4 m/s.2714 kJ. giving u= M+m (0. dissipated) due to the collision with the block? Answer: Let u be the initial velocity of the bullet. 60) N s.87 m/s. v = M+m 120 + 20 The ﬁnal direction of motion of the skater is parameterized by the angle θ (see the above diagram). since the block is initially at rest. since both the block and the bullet end up moving with velocity v.5 × 0.2) × 1. where θ = tan −1 p2  p1  = tan−1 60 = 3. The initial momentum of the system is simply m u.7 Collisions in 2dimensions After the skater catches the ball. with the bullet embedded in it.012 + 5.42 = 3.58◦ . m 0.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. 2 132 . What was the velocity of the bullet before it struck the block? What fraction of the bullet’s initial kinetic energy is lost (i. Hence.4: Bullet and block Question: A bullet of mass m = 12 g strikes a stationary wooden block of mass M = 5. 960 Worked example 6.2 kg standing on a frictionless surface. The block.e. The ﬁnal speed of the skater (and the ball) is √ p3  9602 + 602 = = 6. the combined momentum of the skater and the ball is p3 = p1 + p2 = (960. This follows from momentum conservation. m u = (M + m) v. The ﬁnal momentum is (M + m) v..
2714 × 103 Worked example 6. Eliminating x between the previous two expressions. i1 2 2 2 Let x = vf1 /vi1 and y = vf2 /vi1 . and 1 = x2 + 3 y2 . the above two equations reduce to 1 = x + 3 y.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. collides headon with a stationary object whose mass is m2 = 6 kg. Noting that m2 /m1 = 3.012 + 5.53 Ki − K f = f= = 0. moving with velocity vi1 = 12 m/s.5 × (0. Neglect friction.72 = 7. respectively.2) × 1.53 J. Hence. Since the collision is elastic. Ki 3. 2 Hence. Given that the collision is elastic.5: Elastic collision Question: An object of mass m1 = 2 kg. 1 1 1 2 2 m1 v2 = m1 vf1 + m2 vf2 .9977. 133 . we obtain 1 = (1 − 3 y)2 + 3 y2 .2714 × 103 − 7. what are the ﬁnal velocities of the two objects. where vf1 and vf2 are the ﬁnal velocities of the ﬁrst and second objects. or 6 y (2 y − 1) = 0. Answer: Momentum conservation yields m1 vi1 = m1 vf1 + m2 vf2 .7 Collisions in 2dimensions The ﬁnal kinetic energy of the system is 1 (M + m) v2 = 0. the total kinetic energy must be the same before and after the collision. the fraction of the initial kinetic energy which is dissipated is Kf = 3.
both objects have velocities which are directed θ = 30◦ on either side of the original line of motion of the ﬁrst object. Likewise.5 × 12 = 6 m/s. Likewise. conservation of momentum along the yaxis yields m1 vf1 sin θ = m2 vf2 sin θ. 134 . mass m1 = 5 kg. After the collision. It follows that the ﬁnal velocity of the ﬁrst object is vf1 = x vi1 = −0. mass m2 = 2.7 Collisions in 2dimensions which has the nontrivial solution y = 1/2.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6. Worked example 6.5 m/s toward the second object. Conservation of momentum along the xaxis yields m1 vi1 = m1 vf1 cos θ + m2 vf2 cos θ. The ﬁrst object. is propelled with speed vi1 = 4. The corresponding solution for x is x = (1 − 3 y) = −1/2.5 × 12 = −6 m/s.6: 2dimensional collision Question: Two objects slide over a frictionless horizontal surface. The minus sign indicates that this object reverses direction as a result of the collision. What are the ﬁnal speeds of the two objects? Is the collision elastic or inelastic? y m2 vf2 m1 θ vi1 m2 θ x m1 vf1 Answer: Let us adopt the coordinate system shown in the diagram.5 kg. the ﬁnal velocity of the second object is vf2 = y vi1 = 0. which is initially at rest.
5 vi1 = = 2.6 CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM 6.5 × 2.5 × 5 × 4.5 × 5.5981 m/s.5 × 5 × 2.63 J. 2 The ﬁnal kinetic energy of the system is Kf = 1 1 2 2 m1 vf1 + m2 vf2 = 0.52 = 50.7 Collisions in 2dimensions The above pair of equations can be combined to give vf1 = and vf2 = 4.19622 = 50. 2 2 Since Ki = Kf . the collision is elastic.5 The initial kinetic energy of the system is Ki = 1 2 m1 vi1 = 0.63 J.1962 m/s. 135 . vf1 = m2 2. 2 cos θ 2 × cos 30◦ m1 5 × 2.5981 = 5.59812 + 0.
motion in a straightline.2 Uniform circular motion Suppose that an object executes a circular orbit of radius r with uniform tangential speed v. The instantaneous position of the object is most conveniently speciﬁed in terms of an angle θ. 57. v t=0 r θ (t) r v t=t s Figure 57: Circular motion.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7 Circular motion 7. For instance. circular motion. the object rotates through an angle θ. For a uniformly rotating object. See Fig. Let us now broaden our approach so as to take into account the most important type of nonrectilinear motion: namely. (7. the angular velocity is simply the angle through which the object turns in one second. 7.1) where ω is termed the angular velocity of the object.1 Introduction Up to now. we have basically only considered rectilinear motion: i. See Fig. we could decide that θ = 0◦ corresponds to the object’s location at t = 0. It is fairly obvious that the arc length s is directly 136 ..e. In this interval. in which case we would write θ(t) = ω t. 57. and traces out a circular arc of length s. Consider the motion of the object in the time interval between t = 0 and t = t.
it is convenient to deﬁne a new angular unit known as a radian (symbol rad. an angle θ must correspond to an arc length of 2π r θ(◦ ).. (7. Hence. An object that rotates with uniform angular velocity ω turns through ω radians in 1 second. all angular velocities are measured in radians per second by default. the object turns through 2 π radians (i. 180◦ corresponds to π radians.3) ◦ 360 Thus.e. an angle of 360◦ corresponds to an arc length of 2π r. what is the constant of proportionality? Well. whereas δθ/δt (i. Henceforth. In this interval. (7. distance moved per unit time) is simply the tangential velocity v..7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. (7. Thus. 360◦ corresponds to 2 π radians. where δs = r δθ. all angles are measured in radians by default. and 57. (7.7) ω 137 .5) Now δs/δt (i.296◦ corresponds to 1 radian. in this course. however.4) Note. From now on. Eq. it executes a complete circle) in 2π T= (7.. angle turned through per unit time) is simply the angular velocity ω.2) simpliﬁes greatly to give θ(rad.2) ◦ 360 At this stage. that this formula is only valid if the angular velocity ω is measured in radians per second. 90◦ corresponds to π/2 radians. Hence. Consider the motion of the object in the short interval between times t and t + δt. When θ is measured in radians.5) by δt. (7.2 Uniform circular motion proportional to the angle θ: but.e. dividing Eq. the object turns through a small angle δθ and traces out a short arc of length δs. An angle measured in radians is related to an angle measured in degrees via the following simple formula: s= 2π θ(◦ ).) = s = r θ.6) (7.).e. we obtain v = r ω. (7. in this course.
the repetition frequency.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. then the number of cycles executed per second is f= ω 1 = . Here. and the (vector) velocity is indeed varying in time. further.. shown in the diagram. The vector PX.. turns through 360◦ ) in T seconds. of the motion is measured in cycles per second— otherwise known as hertz (symbol Hz). Moreover.e. the object executes a complete rotation 50 times a second). that the object rotates through δθ → radians in this time interval. suppose that an object executes uniform circular motion.e. As an example. since (vector) acceleration is the rate of change of (vector) velocity.16 rad. The repetition period of this motion is simply T= 1 = 0. T is the repetition period of the circular motion. but whose direction is continuously changing.2 × 314. If the object executes a complete cycle (i. is identical → → → to the vector QY. f. Suppose that the object moves from point P to point Q between times t and t + δt.9) Furthermore. It follows that the object must be accelerating. the angular frequency of the motion is given by ω = 2π f = 314.10) (7.3 Centripetal acceleration An object executing a circular orbit of radius r with uniform tangential speed v possesses a velocity vector v whose magnitude is constant.99 m/s.16 = 376. f (7.3 Centripetal acceleration seconds. 58. Finally. the angle subtended between vectors PZ and PX is 138 (7.2 m. at a frequency of f = 50 Hz (i.11) .02 s. Suppose. 7. as shown in Fig./s. the tangential velocity of the object is v = r ω = 1.8) Here. radius r = 1. T 2π (7.
for small angles sin θ Hence.3 Centripetal acceleration Z v P v Q δv X r v Y δθ Figure 58: Centripetal acceleration. δv.14) δt δt where ω = δθ/δt is the angular velocity of the object. (7. radius r. the length of vector ZX is δv = 2 v sin(δθ/2). provided that θ is measured in radians.15) r 139 . and uniform angular velocity ω = v/r. δv a= v δθ. a centripetal acceleration—of magnitude v2 a = vω = = r ω2 .7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. It follows that θ. measured in radians per second.13) δθ δv =v = v ω.. possesses an acceleration directed towards the centre of the circle—i. In summary. The vector ZX represents the change in vector velocity. with uniform tangential velocity v. (7. an object executing a circular orbit.e. However. between times t and t + δt.12) (7. (7. → simply δθ. It can be seen that this vector is directed towards the centre of → the circle. From standard trigonometry.
7 CIRCULAR MOTION
weight v cable m T r
7.3 Centripetal acceleration
Figure 59: Weight on the end of a cable.
Suppose that a weight, of mass m, is attached to the end of a cable, of length r, and whirled around such that the weight executes a horizontal circle, radius r, with uniform tangential velocity v. As we have just learned, the weight is subject to a centripetal acceleration of magnitude v2 /r. Hence, the weight experiences a centripetal force m v2 . (7.16) f= r What provides this force? Well, in the present example, the force is provided by the tension T in the cable. Hence, T = m v2 /r. Suppose that the cable is such that it snaps whenever the tension in it exceeds a certain critical value Tmax . It follows that there is a maximum velocity with which the weight can be whirled around: namely, vmax = r Tmax . m (7.17)
If v exceeds vmax then the cable will break. As soon as the cable snaps, the weight will cease to be subject to a centripetal force, so it will ﬂy off—with velocity v max — along the straightline which is tangential to the circular orbit it was previously executing.
140
7 CIRCULAR MOTION
7.4 The conical pendulum
h
θ
l T r m
mg
Figure 60: A conical pendulum.
7.4 The conical pendulum Suppose that an object, mass m, is attached to the end of a light inextensible string whose other end is attached to a rigid beam. Suppose, further, that the object is given an initial horizontal velocity such that it executes a horizontal circular orbit of radius r with angular velocity ω. See Fig. 60. Let h be the vertical distance between the beam and the plane of the circular orbit, and let θ be the angle subtended by the string with the downward vertical. The object is subject to two forces: the gravitational force m g which acts vertically downwards, and the tension force T which acts upwards along the string. The tension force can be resolved into a component T cos θ which acts vertically upwards, and a component T sin θ which acts towards the centre of the circle. Force balance in the vertical direction yields T cos θ = m g. (7.18)
In other words, the vertical component of the tension force balances the weight of the object. Since the object is executing a circular orbit, radius r, with angular velocity ω, it experiences a centripetal acceleration ω2 r. Hence, it is subject to a centripetal force m ω2 r. This force is provided by the component of the string tension which
141
7 CIRCULAR MOTION
7.5 Nonuniform circular motion
acts towards the centre of the circle. In other words, T sin θ = m ω2 r. Taking the ratio of Eqs. (7.18) and (7.19), we obtain ω2 r . tan θ = g However, by simple trigonometry, tan θ = Hence, we ﬁnd g . h Note that if l is the length of the string then h = l cos θ. It follows that ω= ω= g . l cos θ (7.22) r . h (7.21) (7.20) (7.19)
(7.23)
For instance, if the length of the string is l = 0.2 m and the conical angle is θ = 30◦ then the angular velocity of rotation is given by ω= 9.81 = 7.526 rad./s. 0.2 × cos 30◦ f= ω = 1.20 Hz. 2π (7.24)
This translates to a rotation frequency in cycles per second of (7.25)
7.5 Nonuniform circular motion Consider an object which executes nonuniform circular motion, as shown in Fig. 61. Suppose that the motion is conﬁned to a 2dimensional plane. We can specify the instantaneous position of the object in terms of its polar coordinates r
142
7 CIRCULAR MOTION
7.5 Nonuniform circular motion
eθ
er
r θ
Figure 61: Polar coordinates.
and θ. Here, r is the radial distance of the object from the origin, whereas θ is the angular bearing of the object from the origin, measured with respect to some arbitrarily chosen direction. We imagine that both r and θ are changing in time. As an example of nonuniform circular motion, consider the motion of the Earth around the Sun. Suppose that the origin of our coordinate system corresponds to the position of the Sun. As the Earth rotates, its angular bearing θ, relative to the Sun, obviously changes in time. However, since the Earth’s orbit is slightly elliptical, its radial distance r from the Sun also varies in time. Moreover, as the Earth moves closer to the Sun, its rate of rotation speeds up, and vice versa. Hence, the rate of change of θ with time is nonuniform. Let us deﬁne two unit vectors, er and eθ . Incidentally, a unit vector simply a vector whose length is unity. As shown in Fig. 61, the radial unit vector er always points from the origin to the instantaneous position of the object. Moreover, the tangential unit vector eθ is always normal to er , in the direction of increasing θ. The position vector r of the object can be written r = r er . (7.26)
In other words, vector r points in the same direction as the radial unit vector e r , and is of length r. We can write the object’s velocity in the form v = ˙ = v r er + v θ eθ , r
143
(7.27)
7 CIRCULAR MOTION
7.5 Nonuniform circular motion
whereas the acceleration is written ˙ a = v = a r er + a θ eθ . (7.28)
Here, vr is termed the object’s radial velocity, whilst vθ is termed the tangential velocity. Likewise, ar is the radial acceleration, and aθ is the tangential acceleration. But, how do we express these quantities in terms of the object’s polar coordinates r and θ? It turns out that this is a far from straightforward task. For instance, if we simply differentiate Eq. (7.26) with respect to time, we obtain ˙ v = ˙ e r + r er , r (7.29)
˙ where er is the time derivative of the radial unit vector—this quantity is nonzero because er changes direction as the object moves. Unfortunately, it is not ˙ entirely clear how to evaluate er . In the following, we outline a famous trick for calculating vr , vθ , etc. without ever having to evaluate the time derivatives of the unit vectors er and eθ . Consider a general complex number, z = x + i y, (7.30)
where x and y are real, and i is the square root of −1 (i.e., i2 = −1). Here, x is the real part of z, whereas y is the imaginary part. We can visualize z as a point in the socalled complex plane: i.e., a 2dimensional plane in which the real parts of complex numbers are plotted along one Cartesian axis, whereas the corresponding imaginary parts are plotted along the other axis. Thus, the coordinates of z in the complex plane are simply (x, y). See Fig. 62. In other words, we can use a complex number to represent a position vector in a 2dimensional plane. Note that the length of the vector is equal to the modulus of the corresponding complex number. Incidentally, the modulus of z = x + i y is deﬁned z = x2 + y2 . (7.31)
Consider the complex number e i θ , where θ is real. A famous result in complex analysis—known as de Moivre’s theorem—allows us to split this number into its real and imaginary components: e i θ = cos θ + i sin θ.
144
(7.32)
since i e i θ = sin2 θ + cos2 θ = 1. we can represent the instantaneous position 145 . we can.34) Here. What are the properties of this vector? Well. in the direction of increasing θ. as we have just discussed. (7. this vector is normal to er . the length of the vector is given by e i θ = cos2 θ + sin2 θ = 1. it is clear from Fig. (7. This number again represents a unit vector.26). Consider an object executing nonuniform circular motion in the complex plane.32) by i. whereas the tail of the vector corresponds to the origin. By analogy with Eq. In fact. we can think of e i θ as representing a vector in the complex plane: the real and imaginary parts of e i θ form the coordinates of the head of the vector. Now. we have just multiplied Eq. 63. (7. making use of the fact that i2 = −1. e i θ represents a unit vector. (7.33) In other words. Can we also ﬁnd a complex representation of the corresponding tangential unit vector eθ ? Actually. 63 that e i θ represents the radial unit vector er for an object whose angular polar coordinate (measured anticlockwise from the real axis) is θ.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. The complex number i e i θ can be written i e i θ = − sin θ + i cos θ.5 Nonuniform circular motion Im(z) z y x Re(z) Figure 62: Representation of a complex number in the complex plane. i e i θ represents the tangential unit vector eθ . In other words.35) Moreover. (7. as is clear from Fig.
Differ˙ entiating Eq. Again. Let us differentiate ˙ z with respect to time.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.38) (7. whereas θ(t) is its angular bearing relative to the real axis. then z = dz/dt must represent the object’s velocity vector. (7. we obtain ˙ ¨ z = (¨ − r θ2 ) e i θ + (r θ + 2 ˙ θ) i e i θ . we obtain vr = ˙. Now. we obtain ˙ z = ˙ e i θ + r θ i e i θ. Note that. recalling that e i θ represents er and i e i θ represents eθ . (7. Thus.40) .5 Nonuniform circular motion Im(z) i ei θ eθ ei θ sin θ Re(z) er θ cos θ . in the above formula. as desired. We can go further.36) with respect to time. using the standard rules of calculus.36) Here. if z represents the position vector of the object. r and θ. in order to obtain a complex number representing the object’s vector acceleration. vector of this object via the complex number z = r e i θ. r ˙ vθ = r θ = r ω. (7. using the standard rules of calculus.27). we are using e i θ to represent the radial unit vector er .sin θ cos θ Figure 63: Representation of the unit vectors er and eθ in the complex plane. (7. ¨ r r˙ 146 (7. ˙ r (7. r(t) is the object’s radial distance from the origin.37) Comparing with Eq.39) where ω = dθ/dt is the object’s instantaneous angular velocity. we have obtained expressions for the radial and tangential velocities of the object in terms of its polar coordinates.
r˙ ˙ r (7.15)—the only difference is that we have now proved that this relation holds for nonuniform.39). Let us now consider the commonly occurring special case in which an object executes a circular orbit at ﬁxed radius. (7. (7.41).5 Nonuniform circular motion Comparing with Eq. it follows that ˙ = ¨ = 0. According to Eq.42). the radial acceleration is given by ar = −r ω2 .28).38) and (7. circular motion.6)—the only difference is that we have now proved that this relation holds for nonuniform. ˙ (7. the above equation is equivalent to Eq. we now have expressions for the object’s radial and tangential accelerations in terms of r and θ. but varying angular velocity. as well as uniform. we obtain ˙ ar = ¨ − r θ 2 = ¨ − r ω 2 . (7. as well as uniform. (7. circular motion. Of course. The beauty of this derivation is that the complex analysis has automatically taken care of the fact that the unit vectors e r and eθ change direction as the object moves. and the tangential velocity takes the form vθ = r ω. According to Eqs.42) Thus. (7. r r ¨ aθ = r θ + 2 ˙ θ = r ω + 2 ˙ ω.44) The minus sign indicates that this acceleration is directed towards the centre of the circle.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. according to Eq. Since the radius is ﬁxed.43) Note that the above equation is exactly the same as Eq. the tangential acceleration takes the form aθ = r ω. Finally.41) (7. recalling that e i θ represents er and i e i θ represents eθ .45) The existence of a nonzero tangential acceleration (in the former case) is the one difference between nonuniform and uniform circular motion (at constant radius). 147 . (7. the r r radial velocity of the object is zero. (7. (7.
This gain in potential energy must be offset by a corresponding loss in kinetic energy. the object is situated a vertical distance r below the pivot.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. obtain the relationship between v and v . or string. Suppose that the object moves from point A. in moving from A to B the object gains potential energy m g r (1 − cos θ). The other end of the rod. Thus. 2 2 148 (7. 1 1 2 m v2 − m v = m g r (1 − cos θ). 7. where its tangential velocity is v . is attached to a stationary pivot in such a manner that the object is free to execute a vertical circle about this pivot. Let v be the velocity of the object at θ = 0◦ . where its tangential velocity is v. measured with respect to the downward vertical. This is most easily achieved by considering energy conservation. At point A. whereas at point B the vertical distance below the pivot has been reduced to r cos θ. Hence. Suppose that an object of mass m is attached to the end of a light rigid rod. 64. to point B. of length r. Let θ measure the angular position of the object. Let us. or light string.6 The vertical pendulum v’ B mg cos θ mg T θ r v r cos θ A mg Figure 64: Motion in a vertical circle.46) . How large do we have to make v in order for the object to execute a complete vertical circle? Consider Fig. ﬁrst of all.6 The vertical pendulum Let us now examine an example of nonuniform circular motion.
unlike rigid rods. they cannot support negative tensions.47) Let us now examine the radial acceleration of the object at point B. the condition for the object to execute a complete vertical circle without the string becoming slack is T0 > 0. It is certainly the case that if the string tension is positive at this point then it must be positive at all other points. which acts away from the centre of the circle. Another way of putting this is that if the tension in a string ever becomes negative then the string will become slack and collapse. 149 (7. or string. This is hardly surprising.48) (7. it must experience an instantaneous acceleration v 2 /r towards the centre of the circle. In other words. Clearly. T= r (7. and the component m g cos θ of the object’s weight. Now.48) can be combined to give m v2 + m g (3 cos θ − 2). Since the object is executing circular motion with instantaneous tangential velocity v . which acts towards the centre of the circle. (7. since θ = 180◦ corresponds to the point at which the object attains its maximum height. Hence. 2 (7. It is clear from Eq. attached to the end of a piece of string. The radial forces acting on the object are the tension T in the rod. its minimum tangential velocity. Newton’s second law of motion yields mv 2 = T − m g cos θ. in fact. or v2 > 5 r g. One important property of strings is that. a string can only pull objects attached to its two ends together—it cannot push them apart.49) that the tension attains its minimum value when θ = 180◦ (at which point cos θ = −1).47) and (7. rather than a rigid rod.49) Suppose that the object is. and.6 The vertical pendulum which reduces to v = v2 − 2 r g (1 − cos θ). therefore.51) .50) T0 = r Hence. the tension at θ = 180◦ is given by m v2 − 5 m g. if our object is to execute a full vertical circle then then tension T in the string must remain positive for all values of θ.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. (7. r Equations (7.
1 1 2 (7. in order for the object to execute a complete vertical circle the square of its tangential velocity v 2 must remain positive at all values of θ. it is slightly easier to cause an object attached to the end of a rigid rod to execute a vertical circle than it is to cause an object attached to the end of a string to execute the same circle. or v2 > 4 r g.e. on objects attached to its two ends). However. Now. Thus. since a rigid rod can quite easily support a negative tension (i.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. it gains potential energy m g r (1 − cos θ).51). There is now no constraint on the tension. 7. (7. This gain in potential energy must be offset by a corresponding loss in kinetic energy. instead of a piece of string. the expression for v 2 at θ = 180◦ is 2 (v )0 = v2 − 4 r g. Suppose that an object of mass m slides without friction around the inside of this hoop. the condition for the object to execute a complete vertical circle is (v 2 )0 > 0.53) Note that this condition is slightly easier to satisfy than the condition (7. again. It is clear from Eq. Suppose that the object is attached to the end of a rigid rod. The reason for this is that the rigidity of the rod helps support the object when it is situated above the pivot point. (7. if v 2 is positive at this point then it must be positive at all other points.54) m v2 − m v = m g r (1 − cos θ). as shown in Fig. as well as pull.. Thus.7 Motion on curved surfaces Note that this condition is independent of the mass of the object. 2 2 150 . This is. 65. 65. In doing so. (7. it can push.7 Motion on curved surfaces Consider a smooth rigid vertical hoop of internal radius r. where θ is the angular coordinate of the object measured with respect to the downward vertical. In other words.52) Hence. What is the motion of this object? Is it possible for the object to execute a complete vertical circle? Suppose that the object moves from point A to point B in Fig. hardly surprising.47) that v 2 attains its minimum value when θ = 180◦ .
Let us now examine the radial acceleration of the object at point B. This reaction must always be positive. but it can never pull it towards itself. Since the object is executing circular motion with instantaneous tangential velocity v . and v is the velocity at point B (θ = θ◦ ). which acts towards the centre of the hoop. The radial forces acting on the object are the reaction R of the vertical hoop. it must experience an instantaneous acceleration v 2 /r towards the centre of the hoop. and the component m g cos θ of the object’s weight. that there is a constraint on the reaction R that the hoop can exert on the object. which acts away from the centre of the hoop. v is the velocity at point A (θ = 0◦ ). which reduces to v = v2 − 2 r g (1 − cos θ). In other words.56) Note.55) Here. Hence. however. Another way of putting this is that if the reaction ever becomes negative then 151 . 2 (7. the hoop can push the object away from itself.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.7 Motion on curved surfaces v’ B mg cos θ mg R θ r v r cos θ A mg Figure 65: Motion on the inside of a vertical hoop. Newton’s second law of motion yields mv r 2 = R − m g cos θ. (7.
interestingly enough.58) m Now. (7. the train can slide part way up the loop. the condition for the train to reverse direction without falling off the loop is v 2 = 0 with R > 0.. the train can slide part way up the loop. by now.57) Note. Firstly. The object sliding around the inside of the loop then becomes the rollercoaster train. It should be clear. (7. but then fall off the loop. Thirdly. it is the third possibility that the fairground operator would wish to guard against. Using the analogy between this problem and the problem of a mass on the end of a piece of string executing a vertical circle. reverse direction. since it is no longer being pressed into this surface. that this condition is independent of the mass of the train. come to a halt. (7. Obviously. if the train starts at θ = 0◦ with velocity v then there are only three possible outcomes. Secondly. that the problem we are considering is exactly analogous to the earlier problem of an object attached to the end of a piece of string which is executing a vertical circle. Thus.7 Motion on curved surfaces the object will ﬂy off the surface of the hoop.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. the train reverses direction when v = 2 R = m g cos θ. Suppose that the fairground operator can vary the velocity v with which the train is sent into the bottom of the loop (i.e. the train can execute a complete circuit of the loop. the condition for the rollercoaster train to execute a complete circuit is v2 > 5 r g. the train can only turn around without falling off the loop if the 152 .56) yields rR − r g cos θ. with the reaction R of the hoop playing the role of the tension T in the string. Equation (7. Let us imagine that the hoop under consideration is a “loop the loop” segment in a fairground rollercoaster. What is the safe range of v? Now. the velocity at θ = 0◦ ). and then slide back down again.59) Note that this equation can only be satisﬁed for positive R when cos θ > 0. In other words.
the dangerous range of v2 is 2 r g < v2 < 5 r g. Suppose that the skier starts at rest (v = 0) on top of the mountain (θ = 0◦ ). as shown in Fig. and not sufﬁciently small for it to turn around before entering the upper half of the loop. (7.. It is fairly clear that if the train’s initial velocity is not sufﬁciently large for it to execute a complete circuit of the loop. At what point does the skier ﬂy off the surface of the mountain? 153 . (7. The condition for the train to fall off the loop is v = −r g cos θ. In other words. The critical value of v2 at which the train just turns around before entering the upper half of the loop is 2 r g [this is obtained from Eq. (7. measured with respect to the upward vertical.55) by setting v = 0 and θ = 90◦ ]. the train can only fall off the loop when it is situated in the upper half of the loop. 66. The critical value of v2 above which the train executes a complete circuit is 5 r g [see Eq. turning point lies in the lower half of the loop (i.57)].e. Let θ be the angular coordinate of the skier. then it must inevitably fall off the loop somewhere in the loop’s upper half.60) Note that this equation can only be satisﬁed for positive v 2 when cos θ < 0. the train turns around in the lower half of the loop. the train falls off the loop somewhere in its upper half. the train executes a complete circuit around the loop. 2 (7. Hence.61) For v2 < 2 r g. −90◦ < θ < 90◦ ).7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. and slides down the mountain without friction.7 Motion on curved surfaces m r mg cos θ R r cos θ θ mg v Figure 66: A skier on a hemispherical mountain. Consider a skier of mass m skiing down a hemispherical mountain of radius r. For v2 > 5 r g. However. for 2 r g < v2 < 5 r g.
This occurs when cos θ0 = 2/3.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. which acts radially inwards. At what angle θ should the curve be banked? 154 . he/she experiences an instantaneous inward radial acceleration v2 /r.62) Let us now consider the skier’s radial acceleration. Worked example 7. (7. radius r.1: A banked curve Question: Civil engineers generally bank curves on roads in such a manner that a car going around the curve at the recommended speed does not have to rely on friction between its tires and the road surface in order to round the curve. The radial forces acting on the skier are the reaction R exerted by the mountain.19◦ . as soon as the reaction becomes negative. The height through which the skier falls before becoming a skijumper is h = r (1 − cos θ0 ) = a/3.63) can be combined to give R = m g (3 cos θ − 2). r Equations (7. Hence. with instantaneous tangential velocity v. Newton’s second law of motion yields v2 m = m g cos θ − R.62) and (7. 2 (7. and the component of the skier’s weight m g cos θ.7 Motion on curved surfaces Suppose that the skier has reached angular coordinate θ. the tangential velocity v of the skier is given by energy conservation: 1 m v2 = m g r (1 − cos θ).64) (7. and that the recommended speed is v = 40 km/h.63) As before. In fact. the reaction R is constrained to be positive—the mountain can push outward on the skier. the skier ﬂies of the surface of the mountain. or θ0 = 48. which acts radially outwards. Suppose that the radius of curvature of a given curve is r = 60 m. At this stage. the skier has fallen though a height r (1 − cos θ). Thus. but it cannot pull the skier inward. Since the skier is executing circular motion.
The horizontal component of the reaction. tan θ = rg or v2 θ = tan−1 .8◦ . θ = tan −1 (40 Note that if the car attempts to round the curve at the wrong speed then m v 2 /r = m g tan θ. Unfortunately. r which yields v2 . In other words. rg Hence. this does not always work—especially if the road surface is wet! × 1000/3600)2 = 11. and the difference has to be made up by a sideways friction force exerted between the car’s tires and the road surface.7 CIRCULAR MOTION R centre of curvature θ r mg car 7. m g. The car’s weight. 60 × 9. This component provides the force m v2 /r towards the centre of the curvature which the car experiences as it rounds the curve. so R cos θ = m g. R sin θ.7 Motion on curved surfaces banked curve Answer: Consider a car of mass m going around the curve. The road surface exerts an upward normal reaction R on the car. acts towards the centre of curvature of the road. v2 R sin θ = m . The vertical component of the reaction must balance the downward weight of the car. acts vertically downwards.81 155 .
r or √ √ v = r aθ = 85 × 0.6 m/s. When the car travels with tangential velocity v its centripetal acceleration is a r = v2 /r.6 m/s. R is the normal reaction between the person and the wall.7 Motion on curved surfaces Worked example 7. Hence.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7.3: Amusement park ride Question: An amusement park ride consists of a vertical cylinder that spins about a vertical axis. Worked example 7. and let r = 7 m be the radius of the cylinder. Find the critical angular velocity of the cylinder above which a typical person will not slide down the wall.2: Circular race track Question: A car of mass m = 2000 kg travels around a ﬂat circular race track of radius r = 85 m. any person inside it is held up against the wall. Here. the person is subject to a downward force m g due to gravity. How many revolutions per second is the cylinder executing at this critical velocity? Answer: In the vertical direction.6 = 7. Let the mass of an typical person be m = 60 kg. ar = aθ when v2 = aθ .25. Suppose that the coefﬁcient of static friction between a typical person and the wall is µ = 0. In order for the person not to slide down the wall. The car starts at rest. the person is subject to a single force: namely. What is the speed of the car at the point when its centripetal and tangential accelerations are equal? Answer: The tangential acceleration of the car is aθ = 0. the 156 .14 m/s. When the cylinder spins sufﬁciently fast. and a maximum upward force f = µ R due to friction with the wall. the critical case corresponds to f = µ R = m g. we require f > m g. Hence. and its speed increases at the constant rate aθ = 0. In the radial direction.
which acts towards the centre of the loop. which acts radially inwards. due to the plane.37 rad/s. Hence. R = m r ω2 . which acts away from the centre of the loop. ω= g = µr 9. Given that the speed of the stunt plane is v = 500 km/h. Since the pilot 157 .38 Hz. Consider the radial acceleration of the pilot at the top of the loop.7 Motion on curved surfaces R mg f r reaction R due to the wall. the person) rotates with angular velocity ω. If the cylinder (and. 0.25 × 7 The corresponding number of revolutions per second is f= 2.1415 Worked example 7.81 = 2. what is the radius r of the loop? Answer: Let m be the mass of the pilot. and the reaction force R. hence.37 ω = = 0. It follows that. then this force must provided the acceleration r ω2 towards the axis of rotation. in the critical case.4: Aerobatic maneuver Question: A stunt pilot experiences weightlessness momentarily at the top of a “loop the loop” maneuver. 2 π 2 × 3.7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. The pilot is subject to two radial forces: the gravitational force m g.
if the pilot is weightless at the top of the loop then R = 0.3 kg horizontally with speed v. therefore. if the pilot is “weightless” then he/she exerts no force on the plane. and.7 CIRCULAR MOTION R 7. The bob is free to rotate in the vertical direction. the bullet and bob move off with a velocity v which is given by momentum conservation: m v = (M + m) v .81 Worked example 7. the reaction R is equivalent to the apparent weight of the pilot. r= g 9.6 m and negligible mass.7 Motion on curved surfaces mg r experiences an acceleration v2 /r towards the centre of the loop.5: Ballistic pendulum Question: A bullet of mass m = 10 g strikes a pendulum bob of mass M = 1. instead of a stiff rod? Answer: When the bullet strikes the bob. giving (500 × 1000/3600)2 v2 = = 1. In particular.97 km. and then sticks to it. and then becomes embedded in the bob. Newton’s second law of motion yields v2 m = m g − R. the plane exerts no reaction force on the pilot. What is the minimum value of v which causes the bob to execute a complete vertical circle? How does the answer change if the bob is suspended from a light ﬂexible rod (of the same length). The bob is initially at rest. r Now. Hence. 158 . and is suspended by a stiff rod of length l = 0.
7 CIRCULAR MOTION 7. Hence.31 × √ 5 × 9.6 = 710. 0. in this critical case. l It follows that. The velocity v of the bob and bullet at the top of the loop is obtained from energy conservation: 1 (M + m) v 2 2 = 1 2 (M + m) v − (M + m) 2 g l. 0. M+m Consider the case where the bob is suspended by a rigid rod. in this critical case. If the bob and bullet only just manage to execute a vertical loop.6 = 635. 2 which implies 2 v = 4 g l.7 m/s. v = mv .7 Motion on curved surfaces Hence. then the tension in the rod is zero at the top of the loop. then their initial kinetic energy (1/2) (M + m) v 2 must only just be sufﬁcient to lift them from the bottom to the top of the loop—a distance 2 l. the acceleration due to gravity g must account exactly for the required acceleration v 2 /l towards the centre of the loop: v 2 = g.6 m/s.31 × √ 4 × 9. energy conservation yields 1 2 (M + m) v = (M + m) 2 g l. Hence. or (M + m) v= m √ 5gl 1.81 × 0. or (M + m) v= m √ 4gl = 1. v = 5 g l.01 Consider the case where the bob is suspended by a ﬂexible rod. 2 If the bob and bullet only just manage to execute a vertical loop.81 × 0.01 2 = 159 .
centred on AB. but constantly changes its orientation with respect to other ﬁxed points in space. A general point located inside the body executes circular motion which is centred on the rotation axis. this implies that QP is normal to AB. the only type of motion which a point mass object can exhibit is translational motion: i. quite distinct. in the plane perpendicular to AB. The axis of rotation is the line AB. we tacitly assume that the axis of rotation remains ﬁxed. Let the line QP be a radius of this orbit which links the axis of rotation to the instantaneous position of P at time t. type of motion by which it remains located (more or less) at the same spatial position. 8.e. However. Let us now broaden our approach in order to take extended objects into account.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8 Rotational motion 8. 160 . objects whose spatial extent is either negligible or plays no role in their motion). and orientated in the plane perpendicular to this axis.. Obviously. In the following. is assumed to pass through the body)—this axis corresponds to the straightline which is the locus of all points inside the body which remain stationary as the body rotates.1 Introduction Up to now.2 Rigid body rotation Consider a rigid body executing pure rotational motion (i. A general point P lying within the body executes a circular orbit. and the radius QP has rotated through an angle δφ.e.. for the sake of simplicity. Now.e. we have only analyzed the dynamics of point masses (i. It is possible to deﬁne an axis of rotation (which. rotational motion which has no translational component). motion by which the object moves from one point in space to another.. Let us investigate rotational motion. Figure 67 shows a typical rigidly rotating body. an extended object can exhibit another. This new type of motion is called rotation. Suppose that at time t + δt point P has moved to P .
2) where σ is the perpendicular distance from the axis of rotation to point P. dω d2 φ = . measured with respect to the rotation axis. The instantaneous angular velocity of the body ω(t) is deﬁned δφ dφ = . (8. for which ω is illdeﬁned). Thus. (8. It is helpful to introduce the angular acceleration α(t) of a rigidly rotating body: this quantity is deﬁned as the time derivative of the angular velocity. Note that angular α= 161 .3) dt dt2 where φ is the angular coordinate of some arbitrarily chosen point reference within the body.1) δt→0 δt dt Note that if the body is indeed rotating rigidly. Thus. in a rigidly rotating body.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION A 8.2 Rigid body rotation rigid body P’ Q σ δφ P B axis of rotation Figure 67: Rigid body rotation. (8. The rotation speed v of point P is related to the angular velocity ω of the body via ω = lim v = σ ω. the rotation speed increases linearly with (perpendicular) distance from the axis of rotation. then the calculated value of ω should be the same for all possible points P lying within the body (except for those points lying exactly on the axis of rotation.
ω. and angular acceleration plays the role of (regular) acceleration. we can resolve this problem by adopting the following convention—the rotation “vector” runs parallel to the axis of rotation in the sense indicated by the thumb of the righthand. φ. This convention is known as the righthand grip rule. It is tempting to try to deﬁne a rotation “vector” φ which describes this motion. Unfortunately. since there are two possible directions which run parallel to the rotation axis. so that ω(t) = ω0 + α t. (8.4) where φ0 = φ(t = 0). the angular velocity increases linearly with time. for a body rotating with constant angular acceleration.3 Is rotation a vector? Consider a rigid body which rotates through an angle φ about a given axis. suppose that φ is deﬁned as the “vector” whose magnitude is the angle of rotation. and the equations of rectilinear motion at constant acceleration introduced in Sect. angular velocity plays the role of (regular) velocity. The righthand grip rule is illustrated in Fig. Note that there is a clear analogy between the above equations. ω0 = ω(t = 0). and the rotation angle satisﬁes φ(t) = φ0 + ω0 t + 1 2 αt .3 Is rotation a vector? velocities are conventionally measured in radians per second.6) (8. when the ﬁngers of this hand circulate around the axis in the direction of rotation. 2.5) Here. However. and the rotation angle φ increases linearly with time: φ(t) = φ0 + ω t. and whose direction runs parallel to the axis of rotation. 2 (8. this deﬁnition is ambiguous. 68.6—rotation angle plays the role of displacement. 8. For example. α. For a body rotating with constant angular velocity.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. Likewise. the angular acceleration is zero. whereas angular accelerations are measured in radians per second squared. 162 .
it is independent of the order of addition).7) In other words. and the other about the zaxis—to a sixsided die.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. This noncommutative algebra cannot be represented by vectors. Clearly. as we have just deﬁned them? Figure 69 shows the effect of applying two successive 90◦ rotations—one about the xaxis. although rotations have welldeﬁned magnitudes and directions. After all. The rotation “vector” φ now has a welldeﬁned magnitude and direction. Is this true for “vector” rotations. In the lefthand case. If a and b are two general vectors. but it turns out that not all quantities which have welldeﬁned magnitudes and directions are necessarily vectors. vector quantities. then it is certainly the case that a + b = b + a. We conclude that. the zrotation is applied before the xrotation. There is a direct analogy between rotation and motion over the Earth’s surface. the addition of vectors is necessarily commutative (i. in general. Let us review some properties of vectors.e. It can be seen that the die ends up in two completely different states. the motion of a pointer along the Earth’s equator from longitude 0 ◦ W to 163 . is this quantity really a vector? This may seem like a strange question to ask. But. (8.3 Is rotation a vector? direction of rotation vector sense of rotation Figure 68: The righthand grip rule. the zrotation plus the xrotation does not equal the xrotation plus the zrotation. they are not. and vice versa in the righthand case..
164 .8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.3 Is rotation a vector? z x y zaxis xaxis xaxis zaxis Figure 69: The addition of rotation is noncommutative.
which is in the middle of the Indian Ocean. In this case. Hence. But. if we start at the same point. ω. 90◦ E). 0◦ W). Suppose that we walk 10 m northwards and then 10 m eastwards.. Next. ω represents an angular velocity vector. For instance. deﬁned above. The crucial point is that for sufﬁciently small displacements the Earth’s surface is approximately planar. Let us now repeat this experiment on a far smaller scale. We can then deﬁne the quantity ω = lim δφ dφ = . This observation immediately suggests that rotation “vectors” which correspond to rotations through small angles must also commute with one another. and rotate 90 ◦ eastwards and then 90◦ northwards. which is deﬁned in a similar manner but corresponds to a rotation through an inﬁnitesimal angle δφ. and rotate 90 ◦ northwards and then 90◦ eastwards. since it is simply the ratio of a true vector and a scalar. We end up at (0◦ N. The noncommutative nature of rotation “vectors” is a direct consequence of the nonplanar (i. whereas the direction of the vector indicates the axis of rotation. δt→0 δt dt (8. how is this deﬁnition useful? Well.8) This quantity is clearly a true vector. large rotations over the Earth’s surface do not commute. curved) nature of the Earth’s surface. In other words. speciﬁes the instantaneous angular velocity of the object. few people would need much convincing that the two end points are essentially identical. is not a true vector. suppose that vector δφ describes the small rotation that a given object executes in the inﬁnitesimal time interval between t and t + δt. suppose that—starting from the same initial position—we walk 10 m eastwards and then 10 m northwards. However. We have just established that it is possible to deﬁne a true vector δφ which describes a rotation through a small angle δφ about a ﬁxed axis.e. is a perfectly good vector. which is just off the Atlantic coast of equatorial Africa. then the ﬁngers of the righthand indicate the sense of 165 . we end up at the North pole. The sense of rotation is given by the righthand grip rule: if the thumb of the righthand points along the direction of the vector.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. the inﬁnitesimal quantity δφ.3 Is rotation a vector? longitude 90◦ W could just as well be achieved by keeping the pointer ﬁxed and rotating the Earth through 90◦ about a NorthSouth axis. Of course. The magnitude of this vector. suppose we start off at (0◦ N. although the quantity φ. and vector displacements on a plane surface commute with one another.
we can always shift the origin such that this is the case. bz ) is deﬁned a·b = ax bx + ay by + az bz = a b cos θ. combined with rotation about the zaxis at angular velocity ωz .10) can be thought of as representing rotation about the xaxis at angular velocity ω x .9) where the sum is performed according to the standard rules of vector addition.11) . [There is. that a rigid body rotates at constant angular velocity ω1 . where θ is the angle subtended between the directions of a and b. again.] Moreover.] Clearly.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. ay . that the rotation axis corresponding to ω must pass through the origin. although rotation can only be thought of as a vector quantity under certain very special circumstances.4 The vector product We saw earlier. by . What is the subsequent motion of the body? Since we know that angular velocity is a vector. the knowledge that angular velocity is vector quantity can be extremely useful. a proviso— namely. 3. the rotation axes corresponding to ω1 and ω2 must cross at a certain point—the rotation axis corresponding to ω3 then passes through this point. [Note. Recall that the scalar product a·b of two vectors a = (ax .4 The vector product rotation. a constant angular velocity ^ ^ ω = ωx x + ω y y + ωz ^ z (8. az ) and b = (bx .9) to be valid. we can safely treat angular velocity as a vector quantity under all circumstances. Of course. in Sect. combined with rotation about the yaxis at angular velocity ω y . for example. that it is possible to combine two vectors multiplicatively. (8. we can be certain that the combined motion simply corresponds to rotation about a third axis at constant angular velocity ω3 = ω 1 + ω 2 . Suppose.10. however. the following important proviso. In order for Eq. 8. Let us now combine this motion with rotation about a different axis at constant angular velocity ω2 . (8. by means of a scalar product. We conclude that. to form a scalar. 166 (8.
in the sense given by the righthand grip rule when vector a is rotated onto vector b (the direction of rotation being such that the angle of rotation is less than 180 ◦ ). must also be zero (since sin 0◦ = 0).4 The vector product ax b a x b = a b sin θ b θ a Figure 70: The vector product.13). a b sin θ. In coordinate form. Secondly. (8. ax by − ay bx ). (8.14) In other words. Is it also possible to combine two vector multiplicatively to form a third (noncoplanar) vector? It turns out that this goal can be achieved via the use of the socalled vector product.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. the vector product. of two vectors a = (ax . if vector b is parallel to vector a.13) There are a number of fairly obvious consequences of the above deﬁnition. See Fig. b × a has the same magnitude as a × b. 167 . az bx − ax bz . 70. then the vector product a × b has zero magnitude. b × a is not equivalent to a × b. By deﬁnition. but points in diagrammatically the opposite direction. (8.12) The direction of a × b is mutually perpendicular to a and b. Firstly. as can be seen from Eq. hence the magnitude of the vector product. Thus. bz ) is of magnitude a × b = a b sin θ. The easiest way of seeing this is to note that if a and b are parallel then the angle θ subtended between them is zero. (8. ay . the order of multiplication matters. so that we can write b = λ a. In fact. a × b. b × a = −a × b. az ) and b = (bx . a × b = (ay bz − az by . by .
For the sake of simplicity. that the direction of the angular velocity vector ω indicates the orientation of the axis of rotation—however. (8. in the sense indicated by the righthand grip rule when ω is rotated onto r (through an angle less than 180◦ ). Figure 71 shows a rigid body rotating with angular velocity ω. 6. then the position vector of the centre of mass is given by 1 rcm = mi ri .5 Centre of mass The centre of mass—or centre of gravity—of an extended object is deﬁned in much the same manner as we earlier deﬁned the centre of mass of a set of mutually interacting point mass objects—see Sect.3. such that the ith element has mass mi and position vector ri . is that the direction of the velocity is mutually perpendicular to the directions of ω and r. 8. in fact. is assumed to pass through the origin O of our coordinate system.17) M i=1.15) where σ is the perpendicular distance of point P from the axis of rotation. The direction of the velocity is into the page. (8. the axis of rotation. let us ﬁnd a use for this concept. if the object has net mass M. the coordinates of the centre of mass of an extended object are the mass weighted averages of the coordinates of the elements which make up that object. all of the motion is perpendicular to the direction of ω. It follows that we can write v = ω × r. Thus. What is the velocity of rotation v at point P? Well. nothing actually moves in this direction. Another way of saying this. which runs parallel to ω.N 168 . To be more exact.5 Centre of mass Now that we have deﬁned the vector product of two vectors.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. incidentally. (8. whose position vector is r. Point P. and θ is the angle subtended between the directions of ω and r. represents a general point inside the body. and is composed of N elements. the magnitude of this velocity is simply v = σ ω = ω r sin θ.16) Note.
Taking the limit that the number of elements goes to inﬁnity. it is assumed that this volume is small compared to the total volume of the object. and Vi is the volume occupied by the ith element. the triple integral sign indicates a volume integral: i.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. then mi = ρ(ri ) Vi .5 Centre of mass ω σ P θ O r v Figure 71: Rigid rotation. (8.18) where ρ(r) is the mass density of the object. for an object whose mass density is constant— which is the only type of object that we shall be considering in this course—the above expression reduces to rcm = 1 V 169 r dV. (8. Finally.20) . Eqs. (8. a simultaneous integral over three independent Cartesian coordinates. Here.e. and the volume of each element goes to zero. Incidentally.19) Here. and dV = dx dy dz is an element of that volume.17) and (8. (8. the integral is taken over the whole volume of the object. If the object under consideration is continuous.18) yield the following integral formula for the position vector of the centre of mass: rcm = 1 M ρ r dV..
Suppose that the base of the pyramid lies on the xy plane. between the geometric centre and the base of the pyramid. zcm . halfway up the cylinder. According to Eq. as shown in the diagram. 72. that the geometric centre of the pyramid lies on the zaxis. Let a be the length of each side. and the apex is aligned with the zaxis. This quantity is obtained from the 170 . (8. the geometric centre of a cube is the point of intersection of the cube’s diagonals. 73. let us calculate the geometric centre of a regular squaresided pyramid. the geometric centre of a right cylinder is located on the axis.5 Centre of mass where V is the volume of the object. It follows.20). For instance. that the height √ of the pyramid is h = a/ 2.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. the location of the geometric centre follows from symmetry. axis geometric centre h h/2 Figure 73: Locating the geometric centre of a right cylinder. Likewise. It only remains to calculate the perpendicular distance. the centre of mass of a body of uniform density is located at the geometric centre of that body. It follows. geometric centre a a a Figure 72: Locating the geometric centre of a cube. As an illustration of the use of formula (8. from simple trigonometry. For many solid objects.20). See Fig. from symmetry. Figure 74 shows such a pyramid. See Fig.
(8. from the base to the apex of the pyramid).23) 171 .21) can be written more explicitly as zcm = h 0 z dz h 0 dz +a (1−z/h)/2 −a (1−z/h)/2 dy +a (1−z/h)/2 −a (1−z/h)/2 dy +a (1−z/h)/2 −a (1−z/h)/2 dx . (8. +a (1−z/h)/2 dx −a (1−z/h)/2 (8. Eq. and x. we obtain zcm = h 0 z dz h 0 dz +a (1−z/h)/2 −a (1−z/h)/2 a (1 − z/h) dy . Performing the xintegrals. +a (1−z/h)/2 a (1 − z/h) dy −a (1−z/h)/2 (8.. y = −a (1 − z/h)/2 to x. zcomponent of Eq. dx dy dz (8. y = +a (1 − z/h)/2.e.integrals before the zintegrals.. respectively (i.integrals are zdependent.e.and y.5 Centre of mass y geometric centre z a a a top view x z cm a side view h x Figure 74: Locating the geometric centre of a regular squaresided pyramid. the limits of integration for z are z = 0 to z = h.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. y = ±a/2 at the base of the pyramid.22) As indicated above. The corresponding limits of integration for x and y are x.20): zcm = z dx dy dz . Hence.and y. the limits are x. it makes sense to perform the x.21) where the integral is taken over the volume of the pyramid. In the above integral. since the limits of integration for the x. y = ±0 at the apex). respectively (i.
8. and velocity vi . The total kinetic energy of the object is written 1 (8. one quarter of the way from the base to the apex.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.27) (8. that vi = ω × r i . Let the ith element possess mass mi .30) . Let us write ω = ω k. we obtain zcm = a2 z2 /2 − 2 z3 /(3 h) + z4 /(4 h2 ) a2 [z − z2 /(h) + z3 /(3 h)]0 h h 0 a2 h2 /12 h = 2 = . we obtain zcm = h 2 2 0 a z (1 − z/h) dz . 8. 2 172 (8. from Sect. 2 i=1. position vector ri .25) Thus. It follows from the above equations that the kinetic energy of rotation of the object takes the form K= or K= 1 mi k × ri 2 ω2 .4. It follows. K= 2 i=1.6 Moment of inertia Performing the yintegrals. (8.29) (8.28) where k is a unit vector aligned along the axis of rotation (which is assumed to pass through the origin of our coordinate system).24) Finally.N Suppose that the motion of the object consists merely of rigid rotation at angular velocity ω.6 Moment of inertia Consider an extended object which is made up of N elements. performing the zintegrals. a h/3 4 (8. h 2 a (1 − z/h)2 dz 0 (8. the geometric centre of a regular squaresided pyramid is located on the symmetry axis.26) mi vi2 .N 1 I ω2 .
Note that for translational motion we usually write K= 1 M v2 . In fact. The moment of inertia of a uniform object depends not only on the size and shape of that object but on the location of the axis about which the object is rotating. Note that the integrals are taken over the whole volume of the object. (8. Unfortunately.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. analogous arguments to those employed in Sect. Finally.34) Here. A comparison of Eqs. In particular. the above expression reduces to I=M σ2 dV .5 yield I= ρ σ2 dV.N (8. 8. there is only one trivial moment of inertia calculation—namely.6 Moment of inertia Here. the moment of inertia of a thin circular ring about a symmetric axis which runs perpendicular to the plane of the ring. See Fig. and is written I= i=1. (8. 75. the same object can have different moments of inertia when rotating about different axes. Suppose that M is the mass of the ring. and dV is a volume element.N mi k × ri 2 = mi σi2 . dV (8. 2 (8. i=1.32) where M represents mass and v represents speed. σ = k × r is the perpendicular distance from the axis of rotation. the evaluation of the moment of inertia of a given body about a given axis invariably involves the performance of a nasty volume integral.33) where ρ(r) is the mass density of the object. for an object of constant density. and 173 . For a continuous object.30) and (8.31) where σi = k × ri  is the perpendicular distance from the ith element to the axis of rotation. the quantity I is termed the moment of inertia of the object. M is the total mass of the object.32) suggests that moment of inertia plays the same role in rotational motion that mass plays in translational motion.
Suppose.34) reduces to I = M b2 . Each element of the ring shares a common perpendicular distance from the axis of rotation—i. that the object lies in the xy plane. planar object) of uniform density.e. (8.. The moment of inertia of the object about the zaxis is given by Iz = M (x2 + y2 ) dx dy . and only applies to uniform laminar objects. Likewise. a thin. Incidentally. Hence.36) where we have suppressed the trivial zintegration. σ = b. for the sake of simplicity.6 Moment of inertia axis I = M b2 M b ring Figure 75: The moment of inertia of a ring about a perpendicular symmetric axis. Fortunately. b is its radius.35) In general.e. Consider a laminar object (i. there exist two powerful theorems which enable us to simply relate the moment of inertia of a given body about a given axis to the moment of inertia of the same body about another axis.and y. moments of inertia are rather tedious to calculate. dx dy (8.37) . the moments of inertia of the object about the x. dx dy (8.axes take the form Ix = M 174 y2 dx dy . Eq.. the above expression follows from the observation that σ2 = x2 +y2 when the axis of rotation is coincident with the zaxis. (8. The ﬁrst of these theorems is called the perpendicular axis theorem.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. and the integral is taken over the extent of the object in the xy plane.
The second useful theorem regarding moments of inertia is called the parallel axis theorem.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION z Iz = I x + I y y 8. See Fig. we have made use of the fact that z = 0 inside the object. farther from the axis of rotation than when it spins about the xaxis. that Ix = Iy . or Ix = (8. The parallel axis theorem—which is quite general—states that if I is the moment of inertia of a given body about an axis passing through the centre 175 . (8.6 Moment of inertia x Figure 76: The perpendicular axis theorem. because when the ring spins about the zaxis its elements are. where M is the mass of the ring. Hence.41) 2 2 Of course. Iz > Ix . Now. 76.39) Iz 1 = M b2 . we already know that Iz = M b2 . dx dy (8. Let us use the perpendicular axis theorem to ﬁnd the moment of inertia of a thin ring about a symmetric axis which lies in the plane of the ring. it is clear. and b is its radius. the perpendicular axis theorem tells us that 2 Ix = I z . Iy = M x2 dx dy . Adopting the coordinate system shown in Fig.38) respectively. from symmetry. 77. Here. on average.40) (8. It follows by inspection of the previous three equations that Iz = I x + I y .
43) where the integrals are taken over the volume of the body. (8.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION y ring 8. y.45) . of mass of that body. In order to prove the parallel axis theorem. From Eq.6 Moment of inertia x z Figure 77: The moment of inertia of a ring about a coplanar symmetric axis. then the moment of inertia I of the same body about a second axis which is parallel to the ﬁrst is I = I + M d2 .34). (8. (8. From Eq. Furthermore. and d is the perpendicular distance between the two axes. dx dy dz 176 (8.44) since x2 + y2 is the perpendicular distance of a general point (x. y = 0.42) where M is the mass of the body. (8. let us orientate the axes of our coordinate system such that the zaxis coincides with the ﬁrst axis of rotation. the expression for the ﬁrst moment of inertia is I=M (x2 + y2 ) dx dy dz . the expression for the second moment of inertia takes the form I =M [(x − d)2 + y2 ] dx dy dz . Likewise.20). dx dy dz (8. let us choose the origin of our coordinate system to coincide with the centre of mass of the body in question. z) from the zaxis. whereas the second axis pieces the xy plane at x = d. the fact that the centre of mass is located at the origin implies that x dx dy dz = y dx dy dz = z dx dy dz = 0.
I . Hence.6 Moment of inertia The above equation can be expanded to give I = M = M [(x2 + y2 ) − 2 d x + d2 ] dx dy dz dx dy dz (x2 + y2 ) dx dy dz − 2dM dx dy dz dx dy dz . Let us use the parallel axis theorem to calculate the moment of inertia. let us calculate the moment of inertia of a thin circular disk.49) . (8. Hence.44) that I = I + M d2 .34) reduces to I=M (x2 + y2 ) dx dy . of mass M and radius b.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. the parallel axis theorem tells us that I = I + M b 2 = 2 M b2 .48) (8. formula (8.43) and (8. dx dy 177 (8. coincident with the zaxis. See Fig. The axis of rotation is.34). Our new axis is parallel to this original axis. of a thin ring about an axis which runs perpendicular to the plane of the ring. Let us choose our coordinate system such that the disk lies in the xy plane with its centre at the origin.46) +d2 M It follows from Eqs. about an axis which passes through the centre of the disk. We know that the moment of inertia of a ring of mass M and radius b about an axis which runs perpendicular to the plane of the ring. dx dy dz x dx dy dz dx dy dz (8. which proves the theorem. but shifted sideways by the perpendicular distance b.47) (8. therefore. and passes through the centre of the ring—which coincides with the centre of mass of the ring—is I = M b2 . and runs perpendicular to the plane of the disk. As an illustration of the direct application of formula (8. 78. and passes through the circumference of the ring.
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. 2 (8. so as to give b 3 0 2π σ dσ . we can replace dx dy in the above integrals by 2π σ dσ. 12 178 .51) Similar calculations to the above yield the following standard results: • The moment of inertia of a thin rod of mass M and length l about an axis passing through the centre of the rod and perpendicular to its length is I= 1 M l2 .50) I=M b 2π σ dσ 0 The above expression yields I=M b 0 2 /2]b [2 π σ 0 2 π σ4 /4 = 1 M b2 . and the redundant zintegration has been suppressed. (8. where the integrals are taken over the area of the disk. Hence.6 Moment of inertia axis M b I=Mb 2 axis I=2Mb M b 2 ring ring original axis new axis Figure 78: An application of the parallel axis theorem. 12 • The moment of inertia of a thin rectangular sheet of mass M and dimensions a and b about a perpendicular axis passing through the centre of the sheet is 1 I= M (a2 + b2 ). Let us divide the disk up into thin annuli. The area of this annulus is simply 2π σ dσ. Consider an annulus of radius σ = x2 + y2 and radial thickness dσ.
See Fig. Let r be the position vector of point P. The radial component of f is canceled out by a reaction at the pivot. which is coplanar with the wheel. The tangential component of f causes the wheel to accelerate tangentially. what is the rotational equivalent of force? Consider a bicycle wheel of radius b which is free to rotate around a perpendicular axis passing through its centre. to a point P lying on its circumference. What is the wheel’s subsequent motion? Let us choose the origin O of our coordinate system to coincide with the pivot point of the wheel—i. 79. Suppose that we apply a force f. and a component f sin θ which acts tangentially. We can resolve f into two components— namely.e. But. 2 • The moment of inertia of a thin spherical shell of mass M and radius b about a diameter is 2 I = M b2 . 3 • The moment of inertia of a solid sphere of mass M and radius b about a diameter is 2 I = M b2 .. the point of intersection between the wheel and the axis of rotation. since the wheel is assumed to be mounted in such a manner that it can only rotate. a component f cos θ which acts radially. angular velocity—and the rotational equivalent of mass—namely.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.7 Torque • The moment of inertia of a solid cylinder of mass M and radius b about the cylindrical axis is 1 I = M b2 . and let θ be the angle subtended between the directions of r and f. Newton’s second law of motion. applied to 179 .7 Torque We have now identiﬁed the rotational equivalent of velocity—namely. 5 8. Let v be the instantaneous rotation velocity of the wheel’s circumference. and is prevented from displacing sideways. moment of inertia.
v (8. and moment of inertia. the tangential motion of the wheel.55) (8.53) Since the wheel is basically a ring of radius b. to a quantity. Clearly.56) (8. I. Let us now convert the above expression into a rotational equation of motion. which is known as the torque. Combining the previous three equations. ω.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION f sinθ θ O r b P f 8. τ.52) where M is the mass of the wheel (which is assumed to be concentrated in the wheel’s rim). its moment of inertia is I = M b2 . then the relation between ω and v is simply v = b ω. yields M ˙ = f sin θ. (8. rotating about a perpendicular symmetric axis. we obtain I ω = τ. and ω is analogous to 180 .54) Equation (8. ˙ where τ = f b sin θ.55) is the angular equation of motion of the wheel.7 Torque Figure 79: A rotating bicycle wheel. if I is analogous to mass. It relates the wheel’s angular velocity. (8. If ω is the instantaneous angular velocity of the wheel.
e. The torque. f. since the perpendicular distance between the line of action of the force and the bolt (i. wrench.57) Of course. (8. We usually refer to this distance as the length of the lever arm. l: τ = f l. from Eq. torque is the rotational equivalent of force. the torque we apply to the bolt is larger in the former case. and some distance l = b sin θ. is simply the product of the magnitude of the applied force. We all know that it is far easier to turn a rusty bolt using a long. If can be seen that l is the perpendicular distance of the line of action of the force from the axis of rotation. In other words.7 Torque f τ=fl b O l P θ Figure 80: Deﬁnition of the length of the level arm. Assuming that we exert the same force on the end of each wrench. 80. and the length of the lever arm. It is clear. (8. velocity. f. In summary.. rather than a short.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. l. then torque must be analogous to force. a torque measures the propensity of a given force to cause the object upon which it acts to twist about a certain axis. the length of the wrench) is greater. 181 . that a torque is the product of the magnitude of the applied force. τ.56). The physical interpretation of l is illustrated in Fig. this deﬁnition makes a lot of sense.
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION
8.7 Torque
Since force is a vector quantity, it stands to reason that torque must also be a vector quantity. It follows that Eq. (8.57) deﬁnes the magnitude, τ, of some torque vector, τ. But, what is the direction of this vector? By convention, if a torque is such as to cause the object upon which it acts to twist about a certain axis, then the direction of that torque runs along the direction of the axis in the sense given by the righthand grip rule. In other words, if the ﬁngers of the righthand circulate around the axis of rotation in the sense in which the torque twists the object, then the thumb of the righthand points along the axis in the direction of the torque. It follows that we can rewrite our rotational equation of motion, Eq. (8.55), in vector form: dω = I α = τ, (8.58) I dt where α = dω/dt is the vector angular acceleration. Note that the direction of α indicates the direction of the rotation axis about which the object accelerates (in the sense given by the righthand grip rule), whereas the direction of τ indicates the direction of the rotation axis about which the torque attempts to twist the object (in the sense given by the righthand grip rule). Of course, these two rotation axes are identical. Although Eq. (8.58) was derived for the special case of a torque applied to a ring rotating about a perpendicular symmetric axis, it is, nevertheless, completely general. It is important to appreciate that the directions we ascribe to angular velocities, angular accelerations, and torques are merely conventions. There is actually no physical motion in the direction of the angular velocity vector—in fact, all of the motion is in the plane perpendicular to this vector. Likewise, there is no physical acceleration in the direction of the angular acceleration vector—again, all of the acceleration is in the plane perpendicular to this vector. Finally, no physical forces act in the direction of the torque vector—in fact, all of the forces act in the plane perpendicular to this vector. Consider a rigid body which is free to pivot in any direction about some ﬁxed point O. Suppose that a force f is applied to the body at some point P whose position vector relative to O is r. See Fig. 81. Let θ be the angle subtended
182
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION
8.7 Torque
f torque θ P r O
pivot
Figure 81: Torque about a ﬁxed point.
between the directions of r and f. What is the vector torque τ acting on the object about an axis passing through the pivot point? The magnitude of this torque is simply τ = r f sin θ. (8.59) In Fig. 81, the conventional direction of the torque is out of the page. Another way of saying this is that the direction of the torque is mutually perpendicular to both r and f, in the sense given by the righthand grip rule when vector r is rotated onto vector f (through an angle less than 180◦ degrees). It follows that we can write τ = r × f. (8.60)
In other words, the torque exerted by a force acting on a rigid body which pivots about some ﬁxed point is the vector product of the displacement of the point of application of the force from the pivot point with the force itself. Equation (8.60) speciﬁes both the magnitude of the torque, and the axis of rotation about which the torque twists the body upon which it acts. This axis runs parallel to the direction of τ, and passes through the pivot point.
183
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION
8.8 Power and work
8.8 Power and work Consider a mass m attached to the end of a light rod of length l whose other end is attached to a ﬁxed pivot. Suppose that the pivot is such that the rod is free to rotate in any direction. Suppose, further, that a force f is applied to the mass, whose instantaneous angular velocity about an axis of rotation passing through the pivot is ω. Let v be the instantaneous velocity of the mass. We know that the rate at which the force f performs work on the mass—otherwise known as the power—is given by (see Sect. 5.8) P = f·v. (8.61) However, we also know that (see Sect. 8.4) v = ω × r, (8.62)
where r is the vector displacement of the mass from the pivot. Hence, we can write P =ω×r·f (8.63) (note that a·b = b·a). Now, for any three vectors, a, b, and c, we can write a × b · c = a · b × c. (8.64)
This theorem is easily proved by expanding the vector and scalar products in component form using the deﬁnitions (8.11) and (8.13). It follows that Eq. (8.63) can be rewritten P = ω · r × f. (8.65) However, τ = r × f, (8.66)
where τ is the torque associated with force f about an axis of rotation passing through the pivot. Hence, we obtain P = τ·ω.
184
(8.67)
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION
8.8 Power and work
In other words, the rate at which a torque performs work on the object upon which it acts is the scalar product of the torque and the angular velocity of the object. Note the great similarity between Eq. (8.61) and Eq. (8.67). Now the relationship between work, W, and power, P, is simply P= dW . dt (8.68)
Likewise, the relationship between angular velocity, ω, and angle of rotation, φ, is dφ ω= . (8.69) dt It follows that Eq. (8.67) can be rewritten dW = τ·dφ. Integration yields W= τ·dφ. (8.71) (8.70)
Note that this is a good deﬁnition, since it only involves an inﬁnitesimal rotation vector, dφ. Recall, from Sect. 8.3, that it is impossible to deﬁne a ﬁnite rotation vector. For the case of translational motion, the analogous expression to the above is W = f·dr. (8.72) Here, f is the force, and dr is an element of displacement of the body upon which the force acts. Although Eqs. (8.67) and (8.71) were derived for the special case of the rotation of a mass attached to the end of a light rod, they are, nevertheless, completely general. Consider, ﬁnally, the special case in which the torque is aligned with the angular velocity, and both are constant in time. In this case, the rate at which the torque performs work is simply P = τ ω. (8.73)
185
8 ROTATIONAL MOTION
Translational motion Displacement Velocity Acceleration Mass Force Work Power Kinetic energy
8.9 Translational motion versus rotational motion
Rotational motion dr Angular displacement v = dr/dt Angular velocity a = dv/dt Angular acceleration M Moment of inertia f = Ma Torque W = f·dr Work P = f·v Power 2 K = M v /2 Kinetic energy
dφ ω = dφ/dt α = dω/dt ^ I = ρ ω×r2 dV τ ≡ r × f = Iα W = τ·dφ P = τ·ω K = I ω2 /2
Table 3: The analogies between translational and rotational motion.
Likewise, the net work performed by the torque in twisting the body upon which it acts through an angle ∆φ is just W = τ ∆φ. (8.74)
8.9 Translational motion versus rotational motion It should be clear, by now, that there is a strong analogy between rotational motion and standard translational motion. Indeed, each physical concept used to analyze rotational motion has its translational concomitant. Likewise, every law of physics governing rotational motion has a translational equivalent. The analogies between rotational and translational motion are summarized in Table 3.
8.10 The physics of baseball Baseball players know from experience that there is a “sweet spot” on a baseball bat, about 17 cm from the end of the barrel, where the shock of impact with the ball, as felt by the hands, is minimized. In fact, if the ball strikes the bat exactly on the “sweet spot” then the hitter is almost unaware of the collision. Conversely, if the ball strikes the bat well away from the “sweet spot” then the impact is felt as a painful jarring of the hands.
186
6. Finally. applied to each object at the time of the collision (see Sect. To be more exact. The collision between the bat and the ball can be modeled as equal and opposite impulses. Suppose that the bat pivots about a ﬁxed point located at one of its ends. and let l be its length. J. as shown in Fig. equal and opposite impulses J are applied to the pivot and the bat. and then allowing all of the external forces acting on the system to act upon that mass. Let us analyze this problem. Consider the schematic baseball bat shown in Fig. 6. Let the centre of mass of the bat be located a distance b from the pivot point. At the same time. 82. 82.10 The physics of baseball centre of mass v ball l J J ω Figure 82: A schematic baseball bat. suppose that the ball strikes the bat a distance h from the pivot point. The existence of a “sweet spot” on a baseball bat is just a consequence of rotational dynamics. Let us use this idea to 187 .5). If the pivot actually corresponds to a hitter’s hands then the latter impulse gives rise to the painful jarring sensation felt when the ball is not struck properly.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION pivot J’ J’ bat b h 8. We saw earlier that in a general multicomponent system—which includes an extended body such as a baseball bat—the motion of the centre of mass takes a particularly simple form (see Sect. Let M be the mass of the bat.3). the motion of the centre of mass is equivalent to that of the point particle obtained by concentrating the whole mass of the system at the centre of mass.
we must not only follow the translational motion of its centre of mass. 82 about a perpendicular (to the bat) axis passing through the pivot point. If v is the instantaneous velocity of the centre of mass then the change in momentum of this point due to the action of the two impulses is simply M ∆v = −J − J . ω is its instantaneous angular velocity. The bat is actually subject to an impulsive torque (i. in order to follow the motion of an extended body. J and J (which are applied simultaneously)..76) over the time of the collision to ﬁnd I ∆ω = K.75) The minus signs on the righthand side of the above equation follow from the fact that the impulses are oppositely directed to v in Fig.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.10 The physics of baseball analyze the effect of the collision with the ball on the motion of the bat’s centre of mass. we obtain t K= τ dt. Deﬁning the angular impulse K associated with an impulsive torque τ in much the same manner as we earlier deﬁned the impulse associated with an impulsive force (see Sect. Consider the rotational motion of the bat shown in Fig. since the body can rotate about its centre of mass.5). 188 (8. we must also specify its orientation in space. (8. This motion satisﬁes I dω = τ. Thus.76) where I is the moment of inertia of the bat. Note that in order to specify the instantaneous state of an extended body we must do more than just specify the location of the body’s centre of mass. and τ is the applied torque. a torque which only lasts for a short period in time) at the time of the collision with the ball. 6. Indeed. dt (8. but also the body’s rotational motion about this point (or any other convenient reference point located within the body). The centre of mass of the bat acts like a point particle of mass M which is subject to the two impulses.e. (8. (8. 82.78) .77) It follows that we can integrate Eq.
(8. the relationship between the instantaneous velocity of the bat’s centre of mass and the bat’s instantaneous angular velocity is simply v = b ω. (8. Eq. that the centre of mass of the bat lies at its halfway point: 189 . is simply K = J x. by symmetry.80) and (8.82) can be combined to yield J =− 1− Mbh J. (8. Now. the torque associated with a given force is equal to the magnitude of the force times the length of the lever arm. J and J .82) (8. 82. Let us crudely model the bat as a uniform rod of length l and mass M. Hence.80) The minus sign comes from the fact that the impulse J is oppositely directed to the angular velocity in Fig.81) ’ The above expression speciﬁes the magnitude of the impulse J applied to the hitter’s hands terms of the magnitude of the impulse J applied to the ball. associated with an impulse. I (8. respectively. It follows. the angular impulses associated with the two impulses. K.79) where x is the perpendicular distance from the line of action of the impulse to the axis of rotation. Now. are J h and 0. it stands to reason that the angular impulse. to which the bat is subject when it collides with the ball. The latter angular impulse is zero since the point of application of the associated impulse coincides with the pivot point.75) can be rewritten M b ∆ω = −J − J . It follows that Eq.10 The physics of baseball where ∆ω is the change in angular velocity of the bat due to the collision with the ball. Equations (8. Hence. J.78) can be written I ∆ω = −J h.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. Thus.83) (8. and so the length of the lever arm is zero. (8.
e. However. (8. no matter how large we make J) zero impulse is applied to the hitter’s hands. 5). 8.e. in scientiﬁc terms. no energy is dissipated.85) 3 (this is a standard result).. we know from experience that a round 190 . l (8.. 2l h0 h0 = (8. it is more that twothirds of the way along the bat). if h = h0 then no matter how hard the ball is hit (i.. of course. 2 Moreover.e.11 Combined translational and rotational motion In Sect. is converted into translational kinetic energy (see Sect. we can easily demonstrate that the centre of percussion is shifted further away from the hitter (i. the centre of percussion—of a uniform baseball bat lies twothirds of the way down the bat from the hitter’s end. no way in which a block can slide over a frictional surface without dissipating energy. Combining the previous three equations. There is.11 Combined translational and rotational motion i. We found that the block accelerates down the slope with uniform acceleration g sin θ. we obtain J =− 1− 3h h J=− 1− J.87) 3 Clearly.84) b= . In particular. In this case. where θ is the angle subtended by the incline with the horizontal. all of the potential energy lost by the block. 4. If we adopt a more realistic model of a baseball bat. in which the bat is tapered such that the majority of its weight is located at its hitting end.86) where 2 l. We conclude that the “sweet spot”—or.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. we analyzed the motion of a block sliding down a frictionless incline. the moment of inertia of the bat about a perpendicular axis passing through one of its ends is 1 I = M l2 (8.7. as it slides down the slope.
Consider.89) It follows that when a cylinder.. 83. In other words. and. Consider a uniform cylinder of radius b rolling over a horizontal. rolling down rough inclines. translational 191 . Let v be the translational velocity of the cylinder’s centre of mass. If the cylinder starts from rest.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. is θ. Thus. This decrease in potential energy must be offset by a corresponding increase in kinetic energy. which implies v = 0. rolls across a rough surface without slipping—i.) However. Let us investigate the physics of round objects rolling over rough surfaces. This is only possible if there is zero net motion between the surface and the bottom of the cylinder. it is far easier to drag a heavy suitcase across the concourse of an airport if the suitcase has wheels on the bottom. The velocity v of this point is made up of two components: the translational velocity v. what happens when the cylinder shown in Fig.11 Combined translational and rotational motion object can roll over such a surface with hardly any dissipation. and let ω be the angular velocity of the cylinder about an axis running along its length. v = v − vt = v − b ω.e. without slipping. suppose that there is no frictional energy dissipation as the cylinder moves over the surface. Consider the point of contact between the cylinder and the surface. in particular. and passing through its centre of mass. Firstly. if the cylinder slips as it rolls across the surface then this relationship no longer holds. See Fig. 83 rolls. but satisfy a particular relationship (see the above equation). or v = b ω. with respect to the horizontal. For instance. due to the cylinder’s rotational motion. (8. (8. down a rough slope whose angle of inclination. Of course. which is common to all elements of the cylinder. now. (Recall that when a cylinder rolls without slipping there is no frictional energy loss. and the tangential velocity vt = −b ω. a rolling cylinder can possesses two different types of kinetic energy.88) Suppose that the cylinder rolls without slipping. and rolls down the slope a vertical distance h. without dissipating energy—then the cylinder’s translational and rotational velocities are not independent. frictional surface. where M is the mass of the cylinder. or any other round object. then its gravitational potential energy decreases by −∆P = M g h.
Hence. The reason for this is that.90) that v2 = 2gh .11 Combined translational and rotational motion ω centre of mass v b vt vt cylinder surface Figure 83: A cylinder rolling over a rough surface. rotational kinetic energy: Kr = (1/2) I ω2 . in the former case. its ﬁnal translational velocity is less than that obtained when the cylinder slides down the same incline without friction. secondly.93) A comparison of Eqs.92) and (8. (8.91) Making use of the fact that the moment of inertia of a uniform cylinder about its axis of symmetry is I = (1/2) M b2 . (8. and.93) reveals that when a uniform cylinder rolls down an incline without slipping. we can write the above equation more explicitly as 4 v2 = g h.90) 2 2 Now. when the cylinder rolls without slipping. if the same cylinder were to slide down a frictionless slope. its translational and rotational velocities are related via Eq. It follows from Eq.89). where ω is the cylinder’s angular velocity. energy conservation yields 1 1 M g h = M v 2 + I ω2 . (8. then its ﬁnal translational velocity would satisfy v2 = 2 g h. and I is its moment of inertia. (8. where v is the cylinder’s translational velocity.92) 3 Now. such that it fell from rest through a vertical distance h. (8. 1 + I/M b2 (8. kinetic energy: Kt = (1/2) M v2 . (8. some of the potential energy released 192 .8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.
Note that. which acts up the slope. to the cylinder’s centre of mass. we can most easily describe the translational motion of an extended body by following the motion of its centre of mass. Thus. all of the released potential energy is converted into translational kinetic energy. as the cylinder falls is converted into rotational kinetic energy. we have the reaction. f. there are three forces acting on the cylinder. applying the three forces. (8. whereas. M g. which acts vertically downwards. applied to the motion of the centre of mass 193 . Newton’s second law. Secondly. we have the cylinder’s weight. we obtain R = M g cos θ. in the latter case. whose mass equals that of the body.11 Combined translational and rotational motion centre of mass cylinder f R Mg b slope θ Figure 84: A cylinder rolling down a rough incline. R. Firstly. we have the frictional force. and f. parallel to its surface. M g. of the slope. Let us examine the equations of motion of a cylinder. of mass M and radius b. the cylinder’s total kinetic energy at the bottom of the incline is equal to the released potential energy. Finally.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.94) Furthermore. which is subject to the same external forces as those that act on the body. 84. which acts normally outwards from the surface of the slope. in both cases. and resolving in the direction normal to the surface of the slope. This motion is equivalent to that of a point particle. R. rolling down a rough slope without slipping. As shown in Fig. As we have already discussed.
96) (8. and so is the associated torque. now. 84. the weight of an extended object acts at its centre of mass. that the line of action of the reaction force. passes through the centre of mass of the cylinder. (8. However. We conclude that the net torque acting on the cylinder is simply τ = f b.95) It follows that the rotational equation of motion of the cylinder takes the form. 84. we must evaluate the torques associated with the three forces acting on the cylinder.98) (8. Hence. 1 + I/M b2 194 (8.e.97) that ˙ = v g sin θ . v Let us. such that the constraint (8. First. the length of the lever arm associated with R is zero. that the torque associated with a given force is the product of the magnitude of that force and the length of the level arm—i. then the time derivative of this constraint implies the following relationship between the cylinder’s translational and rotational accelerations: ˙ = b ω. Now.97) (8. Recall.. ˙ Now. the perpendicular distance between the line of action of the friction force. Thus.11 Combined translational and rotational motion parallel to the slope. and ω is its rotational acceleration. Finally. v ˙ It follows from Eqs.95) and (8. yields M ˙ = M g sin θ − f. the perpendicular distance between the line of action of the force and the axis of rotation. f.89) is satisﬁed at all times. It is clear. v where ˙ is the cylinder’s translational acceleration down the slope. It follows that the associated torque is also zero. which coincides with the axis of rotation. ˙ where I is its moment of inertia. examine the cylinder’s rotational equation of motion.99) . the axis of rotation passes through the centre of mass. the length of the lever arm associated with the weight M g is zero. (8. R. and the axis of rotation is just the radius of the cylinder. I ω = τ = f b. if the cylinder rolls.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. according to Fig. from Fig. without slipping. in this case. b—so the associated torque is f b. by deﬁnition.
suppose that the ﬁrst cylinder is uniform. in order for the slope to exert the frictional force speciﬁed in Eq. the above expressions simplify to give 2 ˙ = g sin θ. Of course. but may well be violated for extremely steep slopes (depending on the size of µ). and does not dissipate energy. the above condition is always violated for frictionless slopes. and both roll without slipping? The acceleration of each cylinder down the slope is given by Eq. whereas the second is a hollow shell. that the frictional force merely acts to convert translational kinetic energy into rotational kinetic energy. However. Suppose.95) that. this force must be less than the maximum allowable static frictional force.102) 3 Note that the acceleration of a uniform cylinder as it rolls down a slope. is only twothirds of the value obtained when the cylinder slides down the same slope without friction. in the former case. µ R(= µ M g cos θ). 1 + M b2 /I (8. the condition for the cylinder to roll down the slope without slipping is f < µ R. Which cylinder reaches the bottom of the slope ﬁrst.103) This condition is easily satisﬁed for gentle slopes. Note. without slipping. where µ is the coefﬁcient of static friction.99). For the case of the solid cylinder. Let the two cylinders possess the same mass. or tan θ < 3 µ.102). (8. (8. ﬁnally.101) 3 and 1 f = M g sin θ. that we place two cylinders. (8. however. It is clear from Eq. Now. b.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. for which µ = 0. at the top of a frictional slope of inclination θ. In other words.11 Combined translational and rotational motion f = M g sin θ . assuming that they are both released simultaneously.100) Since the moment of inertia of the cylinder is actually I = (1/2) M b 2 . the acceleration of the cylinder down the slope is retarded by friction. M. without any slippage between the slope and cylinder. the moment of inertia is I = 195 . and the same radius. v (8. side by side and at rest. (8. (8.
3 s.59 rad. starting from rest. This suggests that a solid cylinder will always roll down a frictional incline faster than a hollow one.3 × 2 π = 33. α= 1 2 αt . 2 2 t 2. with uniform angular acceleration α is φ= Hence.30 rad.104) 3 For the case of the hollow cylinder.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. Eq. then the most compact object—i.99) suggests that whenever two different objects roll (without slipping) down the same slope.e. the object with the smallest I/M b2 ratio—always wins the race.3 196 . and axis of rotation). radius. What is the angular acceleration of the tire (assuming that this quantity remains constant)? What is the ﬁnal angular speed of the tire? Answer: The tire turns through φ = 5. 2 2 φ 2 × 33.3 revolutions in 2.105) It is clear that the solid cylinder reaches the bottom of the slope before the hollow one (since it possesses the greater acceleration). in t = 2. (8. Worked example 8. the moment of inertia is I = M b2 (i. and so 2 g sin θ. 2 (8..e.3 s before reaching its ﬁnal angular speed. In fact. irrespective of their relative dimensions (assuming that they both roll without slipping). and so ˙solid = v ˙hollow = v 1 g sin θ.11 Combined translational and rotational motion (1/2) M b2 .1: Balancing tires Question: A tire placed on a balancing machine in a service station starts from rest and turns through 5.30 = = 12. (8.. the same as that of a ring with a similar mass. Note that the accelerations of the two cylinders are independent of their sizes or masses./s2 . The relationship between φ and t for the case of rotational motion.
perpendicular to its length./min. the moment of inertia about a parallel axis passing through one of the ends of the rod is L I =I+M 2 197 2 = 1 M L2 .142 W= Worked example 8. Worked example 8. This is a standard result.142 rad./s. its angular velocity after t seconds takes the form ω = α t = 12. Using the parallel axis theorem.96 rad.3 = 28. Assuming that all of the work W performed on the wheel goes to increase its rotational kinetic energy. we have 1 I ω2 . which passes through its midpoint is I = (1/12) M L 2 .59 × 2.2 m pivots about an axis. 3 . 2 where I is the wheel’s moment of inertia. perpendicular to its length. which passes through one of its ends. It follows that 2 × 5500 2W = 1114. what is its rotational kinetic energy? Answer: The moment of inertia of a rod of mass M and length L about an axis. What is the moment of inertia of the wheel? Answer: The ﬁnal angular speed of the wheel is ω = 30 × 2 π/60 = 3.6 kg m2 .2: Accelerating a wheel Question: The net work done in accelerating a wheel from rest to an angular speed of 30 rev. I= 2 = 2 ω 3.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8./s. What is the moment of inertia of the rod? Given that the rod’s instantaneous angular velocity is 60 deg.11 Combined translational and rotational motion Given that the tire starts from rest.3: Moment of inertia of a rod Question: A rod of mass M = 3 kg and length L = 1./s. is W = 5500 J.
Treating the pulley as a uniform disk.5 × 1.4 m.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. 2 Worked example 8.44 × 1.44 kg m2 .789 J. and T the tension in the cable.22 = 1. v 198 .4 kg and radius b = 0. the rod’s rotational kinetic energy is written K= 1 I ω2 = 0. b pulley T ω weight mg Answer: Let v be the instantaneous downward velocity of the weight.0472 = 0. we obtain m ˙ = m g − T.4: Weight and pulley Question: A weight of mass m = 2.047 rad. Applying Newton’s second law to the vertical motion of the weight. I = 3 The instantaneous angular velocity of the rod is π ω = 60 × = 1. ﬁnd the downward acceleration of the weight and the tension in the cable. Assume that the cable does not slip with respect to the pulley. ω the instantaneous angular velocity of the pulley./s. 180 Hence.11 Combined translational and rotational motion so 3 × 1.6 kg is suspended via a light inextensible cable which is wound around a pulley of mass M = 6.
Now.07 N. and the perpendicular distance from the line of action of this force to the rotation axis. and τ is the torque acting on the pulley.4/2 × 2.6 2. ˙ where I is its moment of inertia.3 m rotates about a ﬁxed frictionless pivot located at one of its ends. 1 + m b2 /I Now. of the pulley. the only force acting on the pulley (whose line of action does not pass through the pulley’s axis of rotation) is the tension in the cable. The torque associated with this force is the product of the tension. then its downward velocity.81 mg = = 14. Thus. ˙ = v 1 + I/m b2 mg T = .3 kg and length l = 1. T . 1 + M/2 m 1 + 6.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. v = b ω. If the cable does not slip with respect to the pulley. the moment of inertia of the pulley is I = (1/2) M b2 . v ˙ The above equations can be combined to give g .6/6. Hence. v.4 Worked example 8. b.6 × 9. It follows that ˙ = b ω. b ω.11 Combined translational and rotational motion The angular equation of motion of the pulley is written I ω = τ.81 ˙ = v = = 4. which is equal to the radius. must match the tangential velocity of the outer surface of the pulley. the above expressions reduce to g 9. τ = T b. The rod is released from rest at 199 .5: Hinged rod Question: A uniform rod of mass m = 5.40 m/s2 . T = 1 + 2 m/M 1 + 2 × 2. Hence.
which passes through one of its ends is I = (1/3) m l 2 (see question 8. What is the angular acceleration of the rod immediately after it is released? pivot x θ l/2 rod l mg Answer: The moment of inertia of a rod of mass m and length l about an axis.986 200 .3 × 1. the only force acting on the rod (whose line of action does not pass through the pivot) is the rod’s weight. the torque acting on the rod is τ = m g x.11 Combined translational and rotational motion an angle θ = 35◦ beneath the horizontal. which is situated at the rod’s midpoint.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.3).32 = 2. 2 2 Thus. 5. The perpendicular distance x between the line of action of the weight and the pivot point is simply l 1. and τ is the net torque exerted on the rod. Now. where α is the rod’s angular acceleration. This force acts at the centre of mass of the rod.3 × 9. I I 2.3 × cos 35◦ x = cos θ = = 0./s2 . Hence.532 m. perpendicular to its length.532 α= = = = 9. I= 3 The angular equation of motion of the rod is I α = τ. It follows that the rod’s angular acceleration is written τ m g x 5.81 × 0. m g.26 rad.986 kg m2 .
f the frictional force exerted by the surface on the cylinder. v Note that the friction force acts to accelerate the cylinder’s translational motion. M the cylinder’s mass./s about an axis./min. The coefﬁcient of friction of the surface is µ = 0.11 Combined translational and rotational motion Worked example 8.15.57 × 105 W..8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8. The cylinder’s translational equation of motion is written M ˙ = f.7: Rotating cylinder Question: A uniform cylinder of radius b = 0. Thus. P= 746 Worked example 8. this becomes 1. parallel to its length. What horsepower does the engine generate? (1 hp = 746 W). In units of horsepower. which passes through its centre. The cylinder is gently lowered onto a horizontal frictional surface. Likewise. ˙ 201 . and I the cylinder’s moment of inertia.12 × 500 = 1. How long does it take before the cylinder starts to roll without slipping? What distance does the cylinder travel between its release point and the point at which it commences to roll without slipping? Answer: Let v be the velocity of the cylinder’s centre of mass. ω the cylinder’s angular velocity.5 hp. the power output of the engine is P = ω τ = 314. and released.25 m is given an angular speed of ω0 = 35 rad. Answer: The angular speed of the engine is ω = 3000 × 2 π/60 = 314.6: Horsepower of engine Question: A car engine develops a torque of τ = 500 N m and rotates at 3000 rev. the cylinder’s rotational equation of motion takes the form I ω = −f b.12 rad.57 × 105 = 210./s.
at the surface: f = µ M g. 2 The above equations can be solved to give ˙ = µ g. is equal to the coefﬁcient of friction.11 Combined translational and rotational motion ω cylinder b v surface f since the perpendicular distance between the line of action of f and the axis of rotation is the radius. the cylinder stops slipping as soon as the “no slip” condition. the cylinder is initially at rest) and ω = ω 0 at time t = 0. Finally.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.e. then the friction force. which yields v − b ω = −(b ω0 − 3 µ g t). f. of the cylinder. µ. b. Note that the friction force acts to decelerate the cylinder’s rotational motion. M g. the above expressions can be integrated to give v = µ g t. v b ω = −2 µ g. If the cylinder is slipping with respect to the surface. Now. 202 .. ˙ Given that v = 0 (i. b ω = b ω0 − 2 µ g t. times the normal reaction. the moment of inertia of the cylinder is I= 1 M b2 . v = b ω.
5 × 0.15 × 9.11 Combined translational and rotational motion is satisﬁed.81 Whilst it is slipping. 3 µ g 3 × 0. the cylinder travels a distance x= 1 µ g t2 = 0.982 = 2.8 ROTATIONAL MOTION 8.25 × 35 = = 1. This occurs when t= b ω0 0.15 × 9. 2 203 .98 s.81 × 1.88 m.
3) where θ is the angle subtended between the directions of r and p. In other words. See Fig. in the sense given by the righthand grip rule. and its rotational concomitant angular momentum. Namely. (9. 85. (9. position vector r. then the thumb of the righthand indicates the direction of l.2) dt where f is the force acting on the particle. It turns out that angular momentum is a sufﬁciently important concept to merit a separate discussion. We know that the particle’s linear momentum is written p = m v. and the ﬁngers of the righthand are aligned with this rotation.2 Angular momentum of a point particle Consider a particle of mass m.4) l = r × p. if vector r rotates onto vector p (through an angle less than 180◦ ). which rotates about an axis passing through the origin of our coordinate system. and instantaneous velocity v. Let us search for the rotational equivalent of p.9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9 Angular momentum 9. 204 . (9. momentum.1) dp = f. Consider the quantity This quantity—which is known as angular momentum—is a vector of magnitude l = r p sin θ. 9. The direction of l is deﬁned to be mutually perpendicular to the directions of r and p.1 Introduction Two physical quantities are noticeable by their absence in Table 3. and satisﬁes (9.
l. (9. we know that ˙ = v = p/m and p = f. p × p = 0. except that the order of the various ˙ terms is preserved.7) (9. Also. Hence. (9. Let us differentiate Eq. For the special case of a particle of mass m executing a circular orbit of radius r. since the vector product of two parallel vectors is zero.5) dt Note that the derivative of a vector product is formed in much the same manner as the derivative of an ordinary product. We obtain dl ˙ = ˙ × p + r × p.9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.2 Angular momentum of a point particle l = r p sin θ p θ l origin O r particle Figure 85: Angular momentum of a point particle about the origin. (9.3) with respect to time. which suggests that angular momentum.8) dt Of course.6) dt m However. 205 r × f = τ. (9. this equation is analogous to Eq. (9.9) . p. we obtain r dl p×p = + r × f. where τ is the torque acting on the particle about an axis passing through the origin. the magnitude of the particle’s angular momentum is simply l = m v r = m ω r2 .2). plays the role of linear momentum. r (9. in rotational dynamics. with instantaneous velocity v and instantaneous angular velocity ω. We conclude that dl = τ. Now.
The total angular momentum of the object.e. the above expression can be rewritten Lk = ω i=1. 8. We can write Lk = L · k = ω mi k · ri × (k × ri ).11) mi ri × (k × ri ). the component along the k axis. 206 i=1.15) Now.N mi (k × ri ) · (k × ri ) = ω mi k × ri 2 = Ik . it is assumed that the object’s axis of rotation passes through the origin of our coordinate system. Suppose that the ith particle has mass mi .N mi k × ri 2 .10) Now. (9.16) i=1.3 Angular momentum of an extended object 9.4) vi = ω × r i .. is simply the vector sum of the angular momenta of the N particles from which it is made up. for a rigidly rotating object we can write (see Sect. and velocity vi .N . Hence. (9. (9.3 Angular momentum of an extended object Consider a rigid object rotating about some ﬁxed axis with angular velocity ω.13) Let us calculate the component of L along the object’s rotation axis—i. L= i=1. It follows that L=ω i=1. position vector ri . (9. L.N mi ri × vi . (9.12) where k is a unit vector pointing along the object’s axis of rotation (in the sense given by the righthand grip rule).9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9. Let us model this object as a swarm of N particles.N However. (9.14) i=1. Incidentally.N (9. Let ω = ω k. since a · b × c = a × b · c.
8. L y = I y ωy . Hence. Ly . 207 (9.21) where Ix is the moment of inertia of the object about the xaxis. (9. Does this result imply that we can automatically write L = I ω? (9. y. ωz ). (see Sect.6). in general. Note that it is always possible to ﬁnd three. For a rigid object rotating with angular velocity ω = (ωx . where linear momentum is always found to be parallel to linear velocity. and zaxes are aligned in a certain very special manner—in fact.22) . the component of a rigid body’s angular momentum vector along its axis of rotation is simply the product of the body’s moment of inertia about this axis and the body’s angular velocity. ωy . Note that the above equations are only valid when the x.20) (9. the answer to the above question is no! This conclusion follows because the body may possess nonzero angular momentum components about axes perpendicular to its axis of rotation. (9. principal axes of rotation which pass through a given point in a rigid body. they must be aligned along the socalled principal axes of the object (these axes invariably coincide with the object’s main symmetry axes).19) (9.3 Angular momentum of an extended object where Ik is the moment of inertia of the object about the k axis. in general. it is again assumed that the origin of our coordinate system lies on the object’s axis of rotation.18) Unfortunately. L z = I z ωz .17) According to the above formula.9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9. it follows that Lk = Ik ω. Lz ) in the form L x = I x ωx . we can write the object’s angular momentum L = (Lx . Thus. This is a major difference from translational motion. etc. we obtain ^ ^ z L = Ix ωx x + Iy ωy y + Iz ωz ^. Here. Reconstructing L from its components. mutually perpendicular. the angular momentum vector of a rotating body is not parallel to its angular velocity vector.
The generalization of this argument to deal with continuous objects is fairly straightforward. parallel to ω. then L is not. if Ix = Iy = Iz = I then L = I ω. a perpendicular axis which passes through the centre of a uniform rod is a principal axis. located a distance r from the origin.23) Thus. a perpendicular axis which passes through the centre of a uniform disk is a principal axis. symmetry implies that any axis of rotation which passes through the centre of a uniform sphere is a principal axis of that object. It follows z from Eq. in general. (9. if Ix = Iy = Iz .or y. that the object rotates about the zaxis. It is clear. otherwise. at least. Likewise. in general. (9. Suppose. in this case. and the angular momentum and angular velocity vectors are always parallel. the angular momentum vector is parallel to the angular velocity vector. three special axes of rotation for which this is the case.3 Angular momentum of an extended object ^ where x is a unit vector pointing along the xaxis. and subtending an angle θ with the rotation axis. Assuming that the object can be modeled as a swarm of particles—for every particle of mass m. However. for instance.9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9. In other words. We conclude that when a rigid object rotates about one of its principal axes then its angular momentum is parallel to its angular velocity. there must be an identical particle located on diagrammatically the opposite side of the rotation axis. so that ω = ω z ^. but not. 208 .22) suggests that the angular momentum of a rigid object is not generally parallel to its angular velocity. this equation also implies that there are. a principal axis is one about which the object possesses axial symmetry. How can we identify a principal axis of a rigid object? At the simplest level. Although Eq. Finally. For instance. etc. z (9.axes. As shown in the diagram. which is usually the case. The same can be said for rotation about the x. The required type of symmetry is illustrated in Fig. from the above equation. that the reason L is not generally parallel to ω is because the moments of inertia of a rigid object about its different possible axes of rotation are not generally the same. if the object is composed entirely of matched particle pairs then its angular momentum vector must be parallel to its angular velocity vector. the angular momentum vectors of such a matched pair of particles can be added together to form a resultant angular momentum vector which is parallel to the axis of rotation. 86. Thus.22) that L = Iz ωz ^ = Iz ω.
that the ith particle is subject to an external force Fi . By Newton’s third law of motion. (9. is directed along the line of centres of these particles. Suppose that this particle exerts a force fji on the jth particle. fij ∝ (ri − rj ).4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system ω l2 v2 m l l2 l1 r θ O θ r Figure 86: A principal axis of rotation. this is not a particularly restrictive assumption. electrostatic forces are central. For instance. since most forces occurring in nature are central forces.9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM axis of rotation l1 v1 m 9.e. Such a system might represent a true multicomponent system. and the internal stresses acting within a rigid body are approximately central. be located at vector displacement ri .4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system Consider a system consisting of N mutually interacting point particles. gravity is a central force. the force fij . such as an asteroid cloud. See Fig. acting between particles i and j. ﬁnally.. 209 . 87. (9. Let the ith particle. whose mass is mi . Suppose.24) Let us assume that the internal forces acting within the system are central forces— i. the force fij exerted by the jth particle on the ith is given by fij = −fji . In other words. 9. or it might represent an extended body.25) Incidentally.
dt i.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system Fi mi line of centres r i Fj mj r j f ji Figure 87: A multicomponent system with central internal forces.27) d(ri × pi ) .26) Taking the vector product of this equation with the position vector r i .27) over all particles.9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM f ij 9. The equation of motion of the ith particle can be written j=i ˙ pi = j=1. (9.j=1.28) dt We also know that the total angular momentum. (9. (9. we obtain j=i ˙ ri × pi = Now.29) Hence.N fij + Fi .N ri × p i .N 210 i=j (9. (9. we have already seen that j=1. summing Eq. L.N i=1. of the system (about the origin) can be written in the form ˙ ri × pi = L= i=1.N ri × fij + ri × Fi . (9. we obtain dL = ri × fij + ri × Fi .30) .
(9. It follows from Eq. Hence. (9.30). Let 211 .33) is simply the rotational equation of motion for the system taken as a whole.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system Consider the ﬁrst expression on the righthand side of Eq. in this sum can always be paired with a matching term.33) ri × Fi (9. ri × fij . Let us consider some examples.32) for any values of i and j. dt where τ= i=1. Thus. (9. Of course.24). We conclude that ri × fij + rj × fji = 0.33) that. such that it is subject to zero net external torque. Conservation of angular momentum is an extremely useful concept which greatly simpliﬁes the analysis of a wide range of rotating systems. We are left with dL = τ.9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9. Imagine that the two weights are equipped with small motors which allow them to travel along the rod: the motors are synchronized in such a manner that the distance of the two weights from the axis of rotation is always the same. if the internal forces are central in nature then fij is parallel to (ri − rj ). in which the indices have been swapped.31) However.30) sums to zero. the sum of a general matched pair can be written ri × fij + rj × fji = (ri − rj ) × fij . Suppose that the system is isolated. the total angular momentum of the system is a conserved quantity. Making use of Eq.34) is the net external torque acting on the system (about an axis passing through the origin). (9. rj × fji .N (9. (9. in this case. Suppose that two identical weights of mass m are attached to a light rigid rod which rotates without friction about a perpendicular axis passing through its midpoint. To be more exact. the ﬁrst expression on the righthand side of Eq. A general term. the vector product of these two vectors is zero. the components of the total angular momentum taken about any three independent axes are individually conserved quantities. Eq. (9. (9.
and then draws her arms inwards. This effect is familiar from ﬁgure skating. the system spins faster as the weights move inwards towards the axis of rotation. Neglecting the contribution of the rod. It follows that the system’s angular momentum must remain constant as the weights move along the rod. See Fig. if the skater starts spinning with outstretched arms.35) Since the system is rotating about a principal axis. When a skater spins about a vertical axis. How does the angular velocity ω change as the distance d is varied? Note that there are no external torques acting on the system. her angular momentum is approximately a conserved quantity. and vice versa.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system ω axle m m d d rod weight Figure 88: Two movable weights on a rotating rod. Thus. 88.36) If L is a constant of the motion then we obtain ω d2 = constant. since the ice exerts very little torque on her.9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM 9.37) In other words. and let ω be the angular velocity of the rod. The skater can slow her rate of rotation by simply pushing her arms outwards again. the moment of inertia of the system is written I = 2 m d2 . 212 . its angular momentum takes the form L = I ω = 2 m d2 ω. us call this common distance d. (9. (9. then her rate of rotation will spontaneously increase in order to conserve angular momentum. (9.
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM
bullet v m
9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
M b d pivot rod
Figure 89: A bullet strikes a pivoted rod.
Suppose that a bullet of mass m and velocity v strikes, and becomes embedded in, a stationary rod of mass M and length 2 b which pivots about a frictionless perpendicular axle passing through its midpoint. Let the bullet strike the rod normally a distance d from its axis of rotation. See Fig. 89. What is the instantaneous angular velocity ω of the rod (and bullet) immediately after the collision? Taking the bullet and the rod as a whole, this is again a system upon which no external torque acts. Thus, we expect the system’s net angular momentum to be the same before and after the collision. Before the collision, only the bullet possesses angular momentum, since the rod is at rest. As is easily demonstrated, the bullet’s angular momentum about the pivot point is l = mvd : (9.38) i.e., the product of its mass, its velocity, and its distance of closest approach to the point about which the angular momentum is measured—this is a general result (for a point particle). After the collision, the bullet lodges a distance d from the pivot, and is forced to corotate with the rod. Hence, the angular momentum of the bullet after the collision is given by l = m d2 ω, (9.39) where ω is the angular velocity of the rod. The angular momentum of the rod after the collision is L = I ω, (9.40)
213
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM
9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
where I = (1/12) M (2 b)2 = (1/3) M b2 is the rod’s moment of inertia (about a perpendicular axis passing through its midpoint). Conservation of angular momentum yields l = l + L, (9.41) or ω= mvd . I + m d2 (9.42)
Worked example 9.1: Angular momentum of a missile Question: A missile of mass m = 2.3×104 kg ﬂies level to the ground at an altitude of d = 10, 000 m with constant speed v = 210 m/s. What is the magnitude of the missile’s angular momentum relative to a point on the ground directly below its ﬂight path?
θ v
d
r
r
O
ground
Answer: The missile’s angular momentum about point O is L = m v r sin θ, where θ is the angle subtended between the missile’s velocity vector and its position vector relative to O. However, r sin θ = d, where d is the distance of closest approach of the missile to point O. Hence, L = m v d = (2.3 × 104 ) × 210 × (1 × 104 ) = 4.83 × 1010 kg m2 /s.
214
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM
9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
Worked example 9.2: Angular momentum of a sphere Question: A uniform sphere of mass M = 5 kg and radius a = 0.2 m spins about an axis passing through its centre with period T = 0.7 s. What is the angular momentum of the sphere? Answer: The angular velocity of the sphere is 2π 2π ω= = = 8.98 rad./s. T 0.7 The moment of inertia of the sphere is 2 I = M a2 = 0.4 × 5 × (0.2)2 = 0.08 kg m2 . 5 Hence, the angular momentum of the sphere is L = I ω = 0.08 × 8.98 = 0.718 kg m2 /s. Worked example 9.3: Spinning skater Question: A skater spins at an initial angular velocity of ω1 = 11 rad./s with her arms outstretched. The skater then lowers her arms, thereby decreasing her moment of inertia by a factor 8. What is the skater’s ﬁnal angular velocity? Assume that any friction between the skater’s skates and the ice is negligible. Answer: Neglecting any friction between the skates and the ice, we expect the skater to spin with constant angular momentum. The skater’s initial angular momentum is L 1 = I 1 ω1 , where I1 is the skater’s initial moment of inertia. The skater’s ﬁnal angular momentum is L 2 = I 2 ω2 , where I2 is the skater’s ﬁnal moment of inertia, and ω2 is her ﬁnal angular velocity. Conservation of angular momentum yields L1 = L2 , or I1 ω2 = ω2 . I2
215
9 ANGULAR MOMENTUM
9.4 Angular momentum of a multicomponent system
Now, we are told that I1 /I2 = 8. Hence, ω2 = 8 × 11 = 88 rad./s.
216
10 STATICS
10
Statics
10.1 Introduction Probably the most useful application of the laws of mechanics is the study of situations in which nothing moves—this discipline is known as statics. The principles of statics are employed by engineers whenever they design stationary structures, such as buildings, bridges, and tunnels, in order to ensure that these structures do not collapse.
10.2 The principles of statics Consider a general extended body which is subject to a number of external forces. Let us model this body as a swarm of N point particles. In the limit that N → ∞, this model becomes a fully accurate representation of the body’s dynamics. In Sect. 6.3 we determined that the overall translational equation of motion of a general Ncomponent system can be written in the form dP = F. dt Here, P is the total linear momentum of the system, and F=
i=1,N
(10.1)
Fi
(10.2)
is the resultant of all the external forces acting on the system. Note that F i is the external force acting on the ith component of the system. Equation (10.1) effectively determines the translational motion of the system’s centre of mass. Note, however, that in order to fully determine the motion of the system we must also follow its rotational motion about its centre of mass (or any other convenient reference point). In Sect. 9.4 we determined that the overall rotational equation of motion of a general Ncomponent system (with central
217
and τ= ri × Fi (10. L. these are the principles of statics. It follows from Eqs.2 The principles of statics internal forces) can be written in the form dL = τ. 218 . dP/dt = dL/dt = 0. What conditions must be satisﬁed by the various external forces and torques acting on the system if it is to remain stationary in time? Well. the net external force acting on system must be zero. In a nutshell. To be more exact: The components of the net external force acting along any three independent directions must all be zero. if the system does not evolve in time then its net linear momentum.3) Here.6) In other words. ri is the vector displacement of the ith component of the system. In other words. L is the total angular momentum of the system (about the origin of our coordinate scheme).3) that F = 0.10 STATICS 10. P. must both remain constant.4) i=1. and The magnitudes of the net external torques acting about any three independent axes (passing through the origin of the coordinate system) must all be zero. (10. (10.5) (10.N is the resultant of all the external torques acting on the system (about the origin of our coordinate scheme).1) and (10. dt (10. and its net angular momentum. and the net external torque acting on the system must be zero. In the above. τ = 0.
(10. if the system is in equilibrium then F = τ = 0. (10. Firstly.N is the net torque acting on the system about the origin of our coordinate scheme. Hence. τ= ri × Fi (10. are they also sufﬁcient conditions? In other words. is it necessarily true that a general system which satisﬁes these conditions does not exhibit any time variation? The answer to this question is as follows: if the system under investigation is a rigid body. the determination that the net torque acting about a given point is zero necessarily implies that the net torque acting about any other point is also zero. there are a couple of important points which need clariﬁcation. The net torque about some general point r0 is simply τ = i=1. But.10) In other words. then the above principles are necessary and sufﬁcient conditions for the existence of an equilibrium state.N ri × Fi − r 0 × i=1. if we determine that the net torque acting about a given point is zero does this necessarily imply that the net torque acting about any other point is also zero? Well. for a system in equilibrium.N Fi = τ + r0 × F. so that some components of the body can move independently of others. Hence. Before we attempt to apply the principles of statics.8) However. (10. On the other hand. such that the motion of any component of the body necessarily implies the motion of the whole body. it follows from the above equation that τ = 0.7) i=1. we can rewrite the above expression as τ = i=1.2 The principles of statics It is clear that the above principles are necessary conditions for a general physical system not to evolve in time.9) Now. does it matter about which point we calculate the net torque acting on the system? To be more exact. if the system is not a rigid body.N (ri − r0 ) × Fi . we can choose the point about which 219 . then the above conditions only guarantee that the system remains static in an average sense.10 STATICS 10.
The external force acting on the ith component of the system due to its weight is Fi = mi g. (10. See Fig. Another question which needs clariﬁcation is as follows.3 Equilibrium of a laminar object in a gravitational ﬁeld Consider a general laminar object which is free to pivot about a ﬁxed perpendicular axis. the net gravitational torque acting on the system about the origin of our coordinate scheme is τ= i=1. we effectively answered this question by assuming that the weight acts at the centre of mass of the system. At which point should we assume that the weight of the system acts in order to calculate the contribution of the weight to the net torque acting about a given point? Actually. whereas θ is the angle subtended between the line OC and the downward 220 . 10.N ri × m i g = i=1. and rcm = i=1.11) where g is the acceleration due to gravity (which is assumed to be uniform throughout the system).10 STATICS 10. 90. what is the object’s equilibrium conﬁguration in this ﬁeld? Let O represent the pivot point. Suppose that r represents the distance between points O and C. that the net gravitational torque acting on the system about a given point can be calculated by assuming that the total mass of the system is concentrated at its centre of mass. Let us now justify this assumption. Hence.N mi ri /M is the position vector of its centre of mass.N mi is the total mass of the system. (10.11. from the above equation. and let C be the centre of mass of the object. Assuming that the object is placed in a uniform gravitational ﬁeld (such as that on the surface of the Earth). in Sect. It follows. 8.N mi ri × g = rcm × M g.3 Equilibrium of a laminar object in a gravitational ﬁeld we calculate the net torque at will—this choice is usually made so as to simplify the calculation.12) where M = i=1.
the torque associated with the gravitational force. This implies that the reaction. The second condition is that there must be zero net torque acting about the pivot point. is simply the magnitude of this force times the length of the lever arm. does not generate a torque. First. there must be zero net external force acting on the object. First. R. Moreover. is equal and opposite to the gravitational force.3 Equilibrium of a laminar object in a gravitational ﬁeld O θ d r h C Mg Figure 90: A laminar object pivoting about a ﬁxed point in a gravitational ﬁeld. 90 to represent an equilibrium conﬁguration. which acts at the centre of mass. Two conditions must be satisﬁed in order for a given conﬁguration of the object shown in Fig. M g. which implies that θ = 0 ◦ . the reaction. In other words. R. 90).10 STATICS 10. due to gravity. d (see Fig. we obtain sin θ = 0. and g is the acceleration due to gravity. Here. R. There are two external forces acting on the object. (10. M g. due to the pivot. there is the downward force. Hence. the net torque acting on the system about the pivot point is τ = M g d = M g r sin θ. the reaction is of magnitude M g and is directed vertically upwards. Second. Now.13) Setting this torque to zero. 221 . In other words. since it acts at the pivot point. there is the reaction. the equilibrium conﬁguration of a general laminar object (which is free to rotate about a ﬁxed perpendicular axis in a uniform gravitational ﬁeld) is that in which the centre of mass of the object is aligned vertically below the pivot point. M g. M is the mass of the object. which acts at the pivot point. vertical.
we would mark a line running vertically downward from the pivot point. 90 is not quite complete. in the present case. Our discussion of the equilibrium conﬁguration of the laminar object shown in Fig. 222 . θ = 180◦ .) It can be seen that θ = 0◦ corresponds to a minimum of this potential. from Sect.3 Equilibrium of a laminar object in a gravitational ﬁeld Incidentally. This is in accordance with Sect. 5.7. 90. The potential energy of the object shown in Fig. the former root is far more important than the latter. corresponds to the case where the centre of mass is aligned vertically above the pivot point. Of course. in fact. that when a system is slightly disturbed from a stable equilibrium then the forces and torques which act upon it tend to return it to this equilibrium. two physical roots of this equation. is to evaluate the gravitational potential energy of the system. we can use the above result to experimentally determine the centre of mass of a given laminar object. The ﬁrst. is simply U = −M g h = −M g r cos θ.10 STATICS 10. whereas the unstable equilibrium points correspond to maxima. and vice versa for an unstable equilibrium. θ = 0◦ . the stable equilibrium points correspond to minima of the potential energy associated with this ﬁeld. corresponds to the case where the centre of mass of the object is aligned vertically below the pivot point. successively. (10. there are. 5. calculated using the height of the pivot as the reference height. We have determined that the condition which must be satisﬁed by an equilibrium state is sin θ = 0.7.14) (Note that the gravitational potential energy of an extended object can be calculated by imagining that all of the mass of the object is concentrated at its centre of mass. where it was demonstrated that whenever an object moves in a conservative forceﬁeld (such as a gravitational ﬁeld). In each equilibrium conﬁguration. We recall. The second. whereas the latter corresponds to an unstable equilibrium. using a plumbline. We would need to suspend the object from two different pivot points. The crossing point of these two lines would indicate the position of the centre of mass. However. whereas θ = 180◦ corresponds to a maximum. The easiest way to distinguish between stable and unstable equilibria. since the former root corresponds to a stable equilibrium.
setting the net torque to zero. the condition that zero net force acts on the system reduces to the condition that the net vertical force is zero. x2 − x 1 223 (10. the condition that zero net torque acts on the system reduces to the condition that the net torque at point A.10 STATICS 10. because this torque obviously attempts to twist the rod in the opposite direction to the torques associated with the tensions in the cables. in the cables? Let us ﬁrst locate the centre of mass of the rod. about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the diagram. Thus. It is assumed that x2 > x1 . T1 and T2 . M g. labeled A. Let the points of attachment of the two cables be located distances x1 and x2 from one of the ends of the rod. 91.17) . we obtain x 1 T1 + x 2 T2 − l M g = 0. T1 and T2 . Each of these forces is directed vertically. The previous two equations can be solved to give T1 x2 − l/2 = M g. What are the tensions. and the two tension forces. Hence. the length of the lever arm is equivalent to the distance of the point of action of the force from A.16) Note that the torque associated with the gravitational force. There are three forces acting on the rod: the gravitational force.4 Rods and cables Consider a uniform rod of mass M and length l which is suspended horizontally via two vertical cables. See Fig. which is situated at the rod’s midpoint. which yields T1 + T2 − M g = 0. has a minus sign in front. M g. (10. Each of these torques attempts to twist the rod about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the diagram. a distance l/2 from reference point A (see Fig. 91).4 Rods and cables 10.15) Consider the torques exerted by the three abovementioned forces about point A. measured along the length of the rod. 2 (10. The contribution of each force to this torque is simply the product of the magnitude of the force and the length of the associated lever arm. is zero. Hence. In each case.
and that the cable subtends an angle θ with the horizontal. The other end of the rod is attached to a ﬁxed cable. that in order for the tensions T1 and T2 to remain positive (given that x2 > x1 ).10 STATICS 10. R. the attachment points of the two cables must straddle the centre of mass of the rod. at the pivot? 224 .4 Rods and cables x2 x1 A l/2 Mg Figure 91: A horizontal rod suspended by two vertical cables. It is clear. 2 (10. and what is the direction and magnitude of the reaction. T 1 T 2 T2 Recall that tensions in ﬂexible cables can never be negative.19) (10. T . when cables are compressed they simply collapse. Of course. Consider a uniform rod of mass M and length l which is free to rotate in the vertical plane about a ﬁxed pivot attached to one of its ends. Assuming that the rod is in equilibrium. See Fig. 2 l > . 92. We can imagine that both the pivot and the cable are anchored in the same vertical wall. Suppose that the rod is level. the following conditions must be satisﬁed: x1 < x2 l . since this would imply that the cables in question were being compressed.20) l/2 − x1 M g. what is the magnitude of the tension. from the above expressions. in the cable.18) In other words. = x2 − x 1 (10.
does not contribute to this torque. R. The weight acts at the centre of mass of the rod. M g. the centre of mass of the rod lies at its midpoint. resolving vertically. (10. as shown in Fig. M g.22) The above constraints are sufﬁcient to ensure that zero net force acts on the rod.21) Likewise. There are three forces acting on the rod: the reaction. The reaction acts at the pivot. Resolving horizontally. we obtain R cos φ − T cos θ = 0. 92. The reaction. T . and the tension. As usual. is l/2. The length of the lever arm associated with the weight. the tension acts at the end of the rod. and is directed vertically downwards. and setting the net horizontal force acting on the rod to zero. Let φ be the angle subtended by the reaction with the horizontal. and is directed along the cable. Let us evaluate the net torque acting at the pivot point (about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the diagram). R. and setting the net vertical force acting on the rod to zero. Hence. T . we obtain R sin φ + T sin θ − M g = 0. since it acts at the pivot point.4 Rods and cables wall cable pivot R T φ l Mg rod θ Figure 92: A rod suspended by a ﬁxed pivot and a cable. (10. is l sin θ. the weight. Simple trigonometry reveals that the length of the lever arm associated with the tension. Finally. setting the net torque 225 .10 STATICS 10.
24) and (10. (10. sin(θ + φ) cos θ R = M g.21) and (10. (10.25) The physical solution of this equation is φ = θ (recall that sin 2 θ = 2 sin θ cos θ).23). (10.24) (10. (10.24) into Eq. sin(θ + φ) T = Substituting Eq. whenever a rigid body is in equilibrium under the action of three forces. (10.5 Ladders and walls about the pivot point to zero.27) 2 sin θ which determines both the magnitude of the tension in the cable and that of the reaction at the pivot.26) (10. we obtain l − T l sin θ = 0. 10. as shown in Fig. and T —intersect at the same point. Eqs. Finally.10 STATICS 10. One important point to note about the above solution is that if φ = θ then the lines of action of the three forces—R. A workman of mass M climbs 226 .25) yield Mg T =R= . we obtain sin(θ + φ) = 2 sin θ cos φ.23) 2 Note that there is a minus sign in front of the second torque. then these forces are either mutually parallel. or their lines of action pass through the same point. as shown in Fig. 92. This is an illustration of a general rule. M g. Namely. (10.22) can be solved to give cos φ M g. since this torque clearly attempts to twist the rod in the opposite sense to the ﬁrst. 92. Mg Equations (10. as shown in Fig. making an angle θ with the horizontal.5 Ladders and walls Suppose that a ladder of length l and negligible mass is leaning against a vertical wall. 91. which determines the direction of the reaction at the pivot.
and setting the net horizontal force acting on the ladder to zero. acts at the bottom of the ladder. See Fig.10 STATICS wall 10. and is directed horizontally. and the frictional force. the reaction. The reaction. f. we obtain S − f = 0. R. of the workman. R..e. normal to the surface of the wall). The weight acts at the position of the workman. Fur227 . Finally. M g. at the wall. we obtain R − M g = 0. (10. at the ground. (10. Resolving horizontally. Suppose that the wall is completely frictionless.29) Evaluating the torque acting about the point where the ladder touches the ground. S. normal to the ground).e. S. The reaction. but that the ground possesses a coefﬁcient of static friction µ.28) Resolving vertically. also acts at the bottom of the ladder.5 Ladders and walls S workman Mg l ladder x θ R ground f Figure 93: A ladder leaning against a vertical wall. we note that only the forces M g and S contribute. f. measured from the bottom. and is directed vertically downwards. the frictional force. and is directed horizontally (i. and setting the net vertically force acting on the ladder to zero. and is directed vertically upwards (i. 93. due to the ground. The lever arm associated with the force M g is x cos θ. the reaction. a distance x along the ladder. How far up the ladder can the workman climb before it slips along the ground? Is it possible for the workman to climb to the top of the ladder without any slippage occurring? There are four forces acting on the ladder: the weight. acts at the top of the ladder. The lever arm associated with the force S is l sin θ..
setting the net torque about the bottom of the ladder to zero. This result suggests that ladders leaning against walls are less likely to slip when they are almost vertical (i.35) Note that if tan θ > 1/µ then the workman can climb all the way along the ladder without any slippage occurring. and are then suspended from a cable.32) (10.33) .6 Jointed rods Suppose that three identical uniform rods of mass M and length l are joined together to form an equilateral triangle. Y2 . we obtain M g x cos θ − S l sin θ = 0.34) Thus. This condition reduces to x < l µ tan θ. the furthest distance that the workman can climb along the ladder before it slips is xmax = l µ tan θ. Hence. and let Y1 . 94. What is the tension in the cable.6 Jointed rods thermore. l tan θ (10. when θ → 90 ◦ ). the condition for the ladder not to slip with respect to the ground is f < µ R.31) (10. The above three equations can be solved to give R = M g. and what are the reactions at the joints? Let X1 . we have made use of the fact that the rods exert equal and opposite 228 (10. 94. as shown in Fig.e.10 STATICS 10. 10.30) Now. and Y3 be the corresponding vertical reactions. and f=S= x M g.. X2 . as shown in Fig. In drawing this diagram. and X3 be the horizontal reactions at the three joints. (10. the torques associated with these two forces act in opposite directions. (10.
the above equations can be solved to give T = 3 M g. it is clear. in accordance with Newton’s third law. we obtain X1 − X3 = 0.40) (10. reactions on one another. T + Y1 + Y3 − M g = 0.41) respectively.42) . from symmetry. Finally. Y2 − Y1 − M g = 0.37) respectively. Setting the horizontal and vertical forces acting on rod AB to zero. 229 (10.36) (10.39) respectively. (10.10 STATICS cable Y 1 X1 A θ Y 1 rod Mg X2 X1 Mg Y 2 θ C Y 2 T Y 3 l X3 θ Y 3 Mg X2 B X3 10. that X1 = X3 and Y1 = Y3 . (10. we obtain X2 − X1 = 0. (10. setting the horizontal and vertical forces acting on rod BC to zero.38) (10.6 Jointed rods Figure 94: Three identical jointed rods. we obtain X3 − X2 = 0. Let T be the tension in the cable. −Y2 − Y3 − M g = 0. Setting the horizontal and vertical forces acting on rod AC to zero. Thus. Incidentally.
that there is zero net torque acting on rod AB. as shown in the diagram below.45) Now. and tan 60◦ = 3.7 m.46) Worked example 10.43) (10.4 kg and length l2 = 0.1: Equilibrium of two rods Question: Suppose that two uniform rods (of negligible thickness) are welded together at rightangles. (Recall that the reaction Y2 is zero). Let us evaluate the torque acting on rod AC about point A. it is clear.10 STATICS 10. X.3 m. and all the reactions at the joints. respectively. What angle θ does the ﬁrst rod subtend with the downward vertical in this state? Answer: Let us adopt a coordinate system in which the xaxis runs parallel to the second rod.44) (10. Let the ﬁrst rod be of mass m1 = 5. 2 tan θ 2 3 √ since θ = 60◦ . There now remains only one unknown. from symmetry. M g. which yields Mg Mg (10. (By symmetry. X1 = X2 = X3 = X. we obtain M g (l/2) cos θ + X l sin θ = 0. Let the origin of our 230 . setting the net torque to zero.6 Jointed rods Y2 = 0. Thus. and then allowed to reach a stable equilibrium state. The lever arms associated with these two torques (which act in the same direction) are (l/2) cos θ and l sin θ. whereas the yaxis runs parallel to the ﬁrst.47) X=− =− √ . this is the same as the torque acting on rod BC about point B). We have now fully determined the tension in the cable. (10.2 kg and length l1 = 1. Y1 = Y3 = −M g. (10. Suppose that the system is suspended from a pivot point located at the free end of the ﬁrst rod. Let the second rod be of mass m2 = 3. The two forces which contribute to this torque are the weight. and the reaction X2 = X.
10 STATICS 10.6 and ycm = m1 l1 /2 + m2 l1 5.7 xcm = = = = 0. y2 ) = (l2 /2. whose coordinates are (x2 . y1 ) = (0. m1 + m 2 m1 + m 2 8. The centre of mass of the ﬁrst rod is situated at its midpoint.2 × 1. the centre of mass of the second rod is situated at its midpoint. Likewise.3/2 + 3.6 The angle θ subtended between the line joining the pivot point and the overall centre of mass. m1 + m 2 2 m1 + m 2 2 × 8. and the ﬁrst rod is simply θ = tan−1 xcm = tan−1 0. l1 /2).65◦ with the downward vertical.4 × 1.4 × 0. l1 ).6 Jointed rods pivot x y l1 l2 coordinate system correspond to the pivot point. It follows that the coordinates of the centre of mass of the whole system are given by m 1 x1 + m 2 x2 1 m 2 l2 3.138 m. ycm When the system reaches a stable equilibrium state then its centre of mass is aligned directly below the pivot point.3 m 1 y1 + m 2 y2 = = = 0. 231 .65◦ . This implies that the ﬁrst rod subtends an angle θ = 8. whose coordinates are (x1 .907 m.152 = 8.
232 l + m1 g l1 + m2 g l2 − T l sin θ = 0. Masses m1 = 36 kg and m2 = 24 kg are suspended from the rod at positions l1 = 0.3/3)] × 9. the weight times the length of the lever arm). setting the net torque to zero.e. The angle θ is 40◦ .6 Jointed rods Worked example 10. The torque due to the weight of the ﬁrst mass is m1 g l1 . 2 . The torque due to the weight of the rod is m g l/2 (i. which is located at the rod’s midpoint.2: Rod supported by a cable Question: A uniform rod of mass m = 15 kg and length l = 3 m is supported in a horizontal position by a pin and a cable. Note that the reaction at the pin makes no contribution to this torque (since the length of the associated lever arm is zero).5 × 15 + 36 × (0.5/3) + 24 × (2. Note that the weight of the rod acts at its centre of mass. the torque due to the tension in the cable is −T l sin θ (this torque is negative since it twists the rod in the opposite sense to the other three torques).84 N.5 m and l2 = 2. Hence. Finally.81 = sin 40◦ = 486.. as shown in the ﬁgure below. we obtain mg or T = [m/2 + m1 (l1 /l) + m2 (l2 /l)] g sin θ [0.3 m.10 STATICS 10. The torque due to the weight of the second mass is m2 g l2 . What is the tension T in the cable? rod pin l1 l2 m1 l m2 θ cable Answer: Consider the torque acting on the rod about the pin.
6 Jointed rods Worked example 10. S. Consider the torque acting on the ladder about the point where it meets the ground. at the wall. 2 233 . we obtain mg l cos θ + M g x cos θ − S l sin θ = 0. Hence. the weight. The foot of the ladder is d = 1. let R be the normal reaction at the ground. and l sin θ. of the person. Note that the reaction force acts to twist the ladder in the opposite sense to the two weights. Let S be the normal reaction at the wall. and let f be the frictional force exerted by the ground on the ladder. and the reaction.2/10) = 83. M g. A person of mass M = 80 kg stands on the ladder a distance x = 7 m from the bottom. What is the force exerted by the wall on the ladder? What is the normal force exerted by the ﬂoor on the ladder? wall S person l Mg mg d ladder x θ R ground f Answer: The angle θ subtended by the ladder with the ground satisﬁes θ = cos−1 (d/l) = cos−1 (1.10 STATICS 10. m g.2 m from the bottom of the wall. which acts at the top of the ladder. which acts a distance x along the ladder.11◦ . Only three forces contribute to this torque: the weight. setting the net torque to zero. x cos θ.3: Leaning ladder Question: A uniform ladder of mass m = 40 kg and length l = 10 m is leaned against a smooth vertical wall. of the ladder. The lever arms associated with these three forces are (l/2) cos θ. as shown in the diagram. which acts halfway along the ladder. as measured along the ladder. respectively.
we get M g l/3 + m g l/2 − S l = 0. Hence. The bridge is supported at its two endpoints.6 Jointed rods which yields S= (m g/2 + M g x/l) (0.5 × 40 × 9.81 × 7/10) = = 90.2 N. Setting the net vertical force acting on the bridge to zero.4: Truck crossing a bridge Question: A truck of mass M = 5000 kg is crossing a uniform horizontal bridge of mass m = 1000 kg and length l = 100 m.10 STATICS 10.11◦ The condition that zero net vertical force acts on the ladder yields R − m g − M g = 0.81 + 80 × 9. What are the reactions at these supports when the truck is one third of the way across the bridge? R l/3 truck S l Mg mg bridge Answer: Let R and S be the reactions at the bridge supports. Here. Setting the torque acting on the bridge about the leftmost support to zero.81 = 1177. 234 . R = (m + M) g = (40 + 80) × 9. tan θ tan 83.09 N. Worked example 10. R is the reaction at the support closest to the truck. we obtain R + S − M g − m g = 0.
See the diagram. and subtends an angle of θ = 30◦ with the rod.5: Rod supported by a strut Question: A uniform horizontal rod of mass m = 15 kg is attached to a vertical wall at one end. by a light rigid strut at the other. 235 .76 × 104 N.13 × 104 = 3. in accordance with Newton’s third law.81 − 2. and Y3 . and R = M g + m g − S = (5000 + 1000) × 9. Find the horizontal and vertical reactions at the point where the strut is attached to the rod. we have made use of the fact that centre of mass of the bridge lies at its midpoint. Let the corresponding horizontal reactions be Y1 . The strut is attached to the rod at one end. and the points where the rod and the strut are attached to the wall. Here. X1 Y 1 θ X2 Y 2 wall mg Y 3 strut X3 rod X3 Y 3 Answer: Let us call the vertical reactions at the joints X1 . Setting the net vertical force on the rod to zero yields X1 + X3 − m g = 0. Y2 . and is supported.13 × 104 N.6 Jointed rods Here.81/3 + 1000 × 9. we have made use of the fact that the strut and the rod exert equal and opposite reactions on one another.10 STATICS 10. X2 . from below. It follows from the above two equations that S = M g/3 + m g/2 = 5000 × 9. Worked example 10. and X3 .81/2 = 2. and the wall at the other.
Setting the net vertical force on the strut to zero yields X2 − X3 = 0.58 X = = 127. we obtain m g l/2 − X3 l = 0.10 STATICS 10.81/2 = 73. with X1 = m g − X.44 N. and the horizontal reactions are −Y1 = Y2 = Y3 = 127. we ﬁnd Y3 h sin θ − X3 h cos θ = 0. The above equation implies that X3 = X = m g/2 = 15 × 9. and X2 = X3 = X. we have used the fact that the centre of gravity of the rod lies at its midpoint.6 Jointed rods Setting the net horizontal force on the rod to zero gives Y1 + Y3 = 0. Finally. 73. Here. the vertical reactions are X1 = X2 = X3 = 73. There now remain only two unknowns.58 N. where l is the length of the rod. setting the net horizontal force on the strut to zero yields Y2 − Y3 = 0. 236 . We also have X1 = m g − X = 73. X and Y.44 N. The above equations can be solved to give −Y1 = Y2 = Y3 = Y.58 N. Setting the net torque acting on the strut about the point where it is connected to the wall to zero. Setting the net torque acting on the rod about the point where it is connected to the wall to zero. where h is the length of the strut.58 N. Thus. Y3 = Y = tan θ tan 30◦ In summary.
. so that the spring becomes extended) then the mass experiences a restoring force given by Hooke’s law: f = −k x.6).1) Here.. In this state. 5. 10. 11.1 Introduction We have seen previously (for instance.3) that when systems are perturbed from a stable equilibrium state they experience a restoring force which acts to return them to that state. in Sect. Obviously.e. In this section. Let x be the extension of the spring: i. and the spring is unextended (i. Of course. the displacement from equilibrium cannot be made too large. In many cases of interest.e. The negative sign indicates that f is indeed a restoring force. If the system is perturbed from this equilibrium state (i. x can also be used as a coordinate to determine the horizontal displacement of the mass. Note that the magnitude of the restoring force is directly proportional to the displacement of the system from equilibrium (i. Hooke’s law only holds for small spring extensions.. 42. the difference between the spring’s actual length and its unstretched length.. The equilibrium state of the system corresponds to the situation where the mass is at rest.2 Simple harmonic motion Let us reexamine the problem of a mass on a spring (see Sect. x = 0). so there is no reason for it to start to move.e. The motion of this 237 .11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11 Oscillatory motion 11. (11. the magnitude of the restoring force is directly proportional to the displacement from equilibrium. zero net force acts on the mass. Hence. See Fig. Consider a mass m which slides over a horizontal frictionless surface.e. Suppose that the mass is attached to a light horizontal spring whose other end is anchored to an immovable object. we shall investigate the motion of systems subject to such a force. f ∝ x). if the mass is moved. k > 0 is the force constant of the spring.
it repeats exactly after a certain time period has elapsed). (11.2). (11.2) by direct substitution. The frequency of the motion (i. the number of oscillations completed per second) is f= 1 ω = .6) This result is easily obtained from Eq. We can demonstrate that Eq. ω. (11. the solution is x = a cos(ω t − φ). It can be seen that the displacement x oscillates between x = −a and x = +a. Here. m (11. (11.7) .e. Newton’s second law gives following equation of motion for the system: m x = −k x. (11.4) Figure 95 shows a graph of x versus t obtained from Eq. (11.3) is the correct solution provided ω= k . we obtain − m ω2 a cos(ω t − φ) = −k a cos(ω t − φ).2 Simple harmonic motion system is representative of the motion of a wide range of systems when they are slightly disturbed from a stable equilibrium state.2) This differential equation is known as the simple harmonic equation.3) where a.3) into Eq. and recalling from calculus that d(cos θ)/dθ = − sin θ and d(sin θ)/dθ = cos θ.5) (11. In fact. the period is T= 2π . T 2π 238 (11. ¨ (11. (11.3) by noting that cos θ is a periodic function of θ with period 2 π. The type of motion shown here is called simple harmonic motion. (11. the motion is periodic in time (i. Substituting Eq.3) is indeed a solution of Eq. In fact. ω (11.. It follows that Eq.e. and φ are constants.11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11. a is termed the amplitude of the oscillation.3).. and its solution has been known for centuries. Moreover.
(11. Finally. Eq. We have seen that when a mass on a spring is disturbed from equilibrium it 239 φ . tmax = T n + Here. velocity. n is an arbitrary integer.11 OSCILLATORY MOTION ωt − φ x x ˙ x ¨ 0◦ 90◦ +a 0 0 −ω a 2 −ω a 0 11.2 Simple harmonic motion 180◦ 270◦ −a 0 0 +ω a 2 +ω a 0 Table 4: Simple harmonic motion.e. and acceleration of the mass at various phases of the simple harmonic cycle. the frequency f converted into radians per second).3). The information contained in this table can easily be derived from the simple harmonic equation. Table 4 lists the displacement. the phase angle φ determines the times at which the oscillation attains its maximum amplitude. It can be seen that ω is the motion’s angular frequency (i. Figure 95: Simple harmonic motion. x = a: in fact.. Note that all of the nonzero values shown in this table represent either the maximum or the minimum value taken by the quantity in question during the oscillation cycle. 2π (11.8) .
from Sect. In contrast. The restoring force again overcompensates. It follows from Eq.5). v0 = x(t = 0) = a ω sin φ. via Eq.11) (11. respectively. use has been made of the wellknown identities cos(−θ) = cos θ and sin(−θ) = − sin θ. Suppose that the instantaneous displacement and velocity of the mass at t = 0 are x0 and v0 .11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11. we obtain 2 a = x0 + (v0 /ω)2 . if the initial displacement is positive (x > 0) then the restoring force overcompensates. ω x0 since sin2 θ + cos2 θ = 1 and tan θ = sin θ/ cos θ. k. m. and sends the system past the equilibrium state (x = 0) to negative displacement states (x < 0). that the potential energy takes the form U= 1 2 k a2 cos2 (ω t − φ) kx = . (11. and sends the system back through x = 0 to positive displacement states. 2 2 Recall.10) Here. (11.9) (11. Hence.13) Hence. and the system inertia. 5. (11. 2 (11. 2 2 (11. ˙ (11. The kinetic energy of the system is written 1 m a2 ω2 sin2 (ω t − φ) 2 K = mx = ˙ . The motion then repeats itself ad inﬁnitum.15) . the total energy can be written E=K+U= 240 a2 k . In physical terms.14) (11. the amplitude and phase angle of the oscillation are determined by the initial conditions.2 Simple harmonic motion executes simple harmonic motion about its equilibrium state. The frequency of the oscillation is determined by the spring stiffness.12) and φ = tan−1 v0 .3) that x0 = x(t = 0) = a cos φ.6.
96. when x = 0). 11. The wire resists such deformation by developing a restoring torque.3 The torsion pendulum θ torsion wire disk Figure 96: A torsion pendulum. when the displacement is maximal (i. Of course. The kinetic energy attains its maximum value. A torsion wire is essentially inextensible. and let θ = 0 correspond to the case in which the wire is untwisted.3 The torsion pendulum Consider a disk suspended from a torsion wire attached to its centre. Any twisting of the wire is inevitably associated with mechanical deformation. This setup is known as a torsion pendulum. since m ω2 = k and sin2 θ + cos2 θ = 1. It is clear. which acts 241 .. Note that the minimum value of K is zero. Likewise.e. and the potential energy attains it minimum value. as the wire twists it also causes the disk attached to it to rotate in the horizontal plane. since the system is instantaneously at rest when the displacement is maximal. when x = ±a). τ. the potential energy attains its maximum value. as expected for an isolated system. See Fig. the energy is proportional to the amplitude squared of the motion. that simple harmonic motion is characterized by a constant backward and forward ﬂow of energy between kinetic and potential components. and the kinetic energy attains its minimum value. Let θ be the angle of rotation of the disk..e.11 OSCILLATORY MOTION fixed support 11. Moreover. but is free to twist about its axis. when the displacement is zero (i. from the above expressions. Note that the total energy is a constant of the motion.
The above equation is essentially a torsional equivalent to Hooke’s law.. Note. For instance. Torsion pendulums are often used for timekeeping purposes. Hence..18) is clearly a simple harmonic equation [cf.4 The simple pendulum Consider a mass m suspended from a light inextensible string of length l. Equation (11. ω= (11. Eq.20) I We conclude that when a torsion pendulum is perturbed from its equilibrium state (i. Eq. it executes torsional oscillations about this state at a ﬁxed frequency. (11. such that the mass is free to swing from side to side in a vertical plane.19) 11. (11.2)]. Combining the previous two equations. (11. θ = 0). (11. we obtain ¨ (11..e. Eq.11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11. The rotational equation of motion of the system is written ¨ I θ = τ. For relatively small angles of twist.16) where k > 0 is the torque constant of the wire. the magnitude of this torque is directly proportional to the twist angle. we can immediately write the standard solution [cf. (11.. the balance wheel in a mechanical wristwatch is a torsion pendulum in which the restoring torque is provided by a coiled spring.5)] k . ω.16) still applies].4 The simple pendulum to restore the wire to its untwisted state. where [cf. in particular.18) I θ = −k θ. The moment of inertia of the wire is assumed to be negligible.3)] θ = a cos(ω t − φ). (11. (11.17) where I is the moment of inertia of the disk (about a perpendicular axis through its centre). that the frequency is independent of the amplitude of the oscillation [provided θ remains small enough that Eq. as shown in 242 . we can write τ = −k θ. Hence. which depends only on the torque constant of the wire and the moment of inertia of the disk.
This setup is known as a simple pendulum. the equilibrium state of the simple pendulum corresponds to the situation in which the mass is stationary and hanging vertically down (i.4 The simple pendulum fixed support pivot point θ T l m mg Figure 97: A simple pendulum. the pivot point). that the tension makes no contribution to the torque.. From simple trigonometry.e. 97. however. m g. Note. the gravitational torque is a restoring torque: i. Moreover. it is easily seen that I = m l2 . The two forces acting on the mass are the downward gravitational force. Obviously... and is situated a distance l from the axis of rotation (i. Let θ be the angle subtended between the string and the downward vertical. 243 . in the string. if the mass is displaced slightly from its equilibrium state (i. the magnitude of the gravitational torque is m g l sin θ. Fig.21) where I is the moment of inertia of the mass. The angular equation of motion of the pendulum is simply ¨ I θ = τ. T . Hence. θ = 0) then the gravitational force clearly acts to push the mass back toward that state. For the case in hand. since its line of action clearly passes through the pivot point. θ = 0).e. the line of action of the gravitational force passes a distance l sin θ from the pivot point. given that the mass is essentially a point particle.e.11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11..e. and the tension. and τ is the torque acting on the system. (11.
and is independent of the mass of the pendulum and the amplitude of the pendulum swings (provided that sin θ θ remains a good approximation).2). suppose that the angle θ is constrained to take fairly small values. this is not the simple harmonic equation. Eq.25) which is in the familiar form of a simple harmonic equation. Indeed.26) ω= l In this case. In other words. and its solution. the above equation possesses no closed solution which can be expressed in terms of simple functions. (11.23) Unfortunately. (11. (11. (11. Simple pendulums can also be used to measure local variations in g. (11. we can write τ = −m g l sin θ. We know.24) Hence.22) Combining the previous two equations. Historically. Eq. Comparing with our original simple harmonic equation.11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11. the pendulum frequency is dependent only on the length of the pendulum and the local gravitational acceleration.23) reduces to ¨ l θ = −g θ. the simple pendulum was the basis of virtually all accurate timekeeping devices before the advent of electronic clocks. from trigonometry. Suppose that we restrict our attention to relatively small deviations from the equilibrium state. (11. we conclude that the angular frequency of small amplitude oscillations of a simple pendulum is given by g .4 The simple pendulum Thus. that for θ less than about 6 ◦ it is a good approximation to write sin θ θ. 244 . (11. in the small angle limit. we obtain the following angular equation of motion of the pendulum: ¨ l θ = −g sin θ.
. 10. Let P be the pivot point. and let C be the body’s centre of mass. which passes through the hole.11 OSCILLATORY MOTION R P d θ C 11. 11. See Sect. and τ is the torque.28) 245 . θ = 0. 98. The angular equation of motion of the pendulum is simply ¨ I θ = τ.5 The compound pendulum Pivot point Centre of mass Mg Figure 98: A compound pendulum. This setup is known as a compound pendulum. Let θ be the angle subtended between the downward vertical (which passes through point P) and the line PC. Using similar arguments to those employed for the case of the simple pendulum (recalling that all the weight of the pendulum acts at its centre of mass). we can write τ = −M g d sin θ.27) where I is the moment of inertia of the body about the pivot point. Suppose that the body is suspended from a ﬁxed peg. as shown in Fig.5 The compound pendulum Consider an extended body of mass M with a hole drilled though it. The equilibrium state of the compound pendulum corresponds to the case in which the centre of mass lies vertically below the pivot point: i. (11. such that it is free to swing from side to side.3.e. which is located a distance d from the pivot. (11.
We conclude that a compound pendulum behaves like a simple pendulum with effective length L. sin θ harmonic equation: ¨ I θ = −M g d θ.6 Uniform circular motion Note that the reaction.31) ω= I It is helpful to deﬁne the length L= Equation (11. and which is such that the motion is conﬁned to the xy plane.6 Uniform circular motion Consider an object executing uniform circular motion of radius a.29) θ. at the peg does not contribute to the torque. (11. since its line of action passes through the pivot point.32) 11. by analogy with our previous solutions of such equations.30) It is clear. Md (11.11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11. the instantaneous position of the object can be conveniently parameterized in terms of an angle θ. R. (11. 99. As illustrated in Fig. 246 . ω= I . Combining the previous two equations. we arrive at the simple (11. Finally.33) L which is identical in form to the corresponding expression for a simple pendulum. Let us set up a cartesian coordinate system whose origin coincides with the centre of the circle. that the angular frequency of small amplitude oscillations of a compound pendulum is given by Mgd . we obtain the following angular equation of motion of the pendulum: ¨ I θ = −M g d sin θ. (11.31) reduces to g . adopting the small angle approximation.
.35) (11.38) (11. it is assumed that θ = 0 at t = 0. From simple trigonometry. y = a cos(ω t − π/2). (11.e. reveals that our object is executing simple harmonic 247 . we can write θ = ω t.and ycoordinates of the object can be written x = a cos θ. y = a sin θ. for the sake of convenience.34) where ω is the angular rotation frequency (i.3). the number of radians through which the object rotates per second). Since the object is executing uniform circular motion. Here.11 OSCILLATORY MOTION y ω 11. respectively. we expect the angle θ to increase linearly with time. Hence. use has been made of the trigonometric identity sin θ = cos(θ − π/2). combining the previous equations. A comparison of the above two equations with the standard equation of simple harmonic motion. Eq.36) Here.6 Uniform circular motion a θ a cos θ a sinθ x Figure 99: Uniform circular motion. (11. (11. In other words.37) (11. the x. we obtain x = a cos(ω t).
Note.07 × 418.e. 4. hertz). Consulting Tab.2: Block and spring Question: A block attached to a spring executes simple harmonic motion in a horizontal plane with an amplitude of 0.1: Piston in steam engine Question: A piston in a stream engine executes simple harmonic motion. that these two motions are 90◦ (i. the angular frequency is ω = 2 π f = 418.11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11. At a point 0./sec. Clearly.6 Uniform circular motion motion simultaneously along both the x. and that the mass of the piston is 4 kg. 4. Given that the maximum displacement of the piston from its centreline is ±7 cm.07 × 418.15 m away from the 248 . Likewise. Hence..88 = 1./min. there is a close relationship between simple harmonic motion and circular motion. the amplitude of the motion equals the radius of the circle. What is the maximum acceleration? Answer: We are told that the amplitude of the oscillation is a = 0.6666 Hz. Moreover. the maximum velocity is vmax = a ω = 0. however.07 m.32 m/s.. Worked example 11. ﬁnd the maximum velocity of the piston when the steam engine is running at 4000 rev. 60 Hence. when converted to cycles per second (i.and the y axes.88 × 418. according to Tab. the frequency of the oscillation becomes 4000 f= = 66.88 rad. we note that the maximum velocity of an object executing simple harmonic motion is vmax = a ω. Worked example 11.88 = 29. the maximum acceleration is given by amax = a ω2 = 0. π/2 radians) out of phase. Moreover.e.228 × 104 m/s2 .25 m.
11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11. x = 0. ﬁnd the period of oscillation of the system. We are told that a = 0.3: Block and two springs Question: A block of mass m = 3 kg is attached to two springs.13◦ ) Hence. 249 . ˙ 0. the period of the motion is T= 2π = 1.75 = 3. as shown below. and slides over a horizontal frictionless surface. The velocity of the block is obtained by taking the time derivative of the above expression: x = −a ω sin(ω t − φ).25 cos(φ).676 s. 0.15 = 0.75 m/s.75 = 0. Answer: Let x1 and x2 represent the extensions of the ﬁrst and second springs.75 m/s. The ﬁrst equation gives φ = cos−1 (0. respectively.25 × sin(53. ω Worked example 11. Hence. Given that the force constants of the two springs are k1 = 1200 N/m and k2 = 400 N/m.6 Uniform circular motion equilibrium position.25) = 53. where x is the displacement. ω= 0. What is the period of oscillation of the block? Answer: The equation of simple harmonic motion is x = a cos(ω t − φ).13◦ .15 m and x = 0. ˙ We are told that at t = 0 (say).15/0. The second equation yields 0./s.25 m. The net displacement x of the mass from its equilibrium position is then given by x = x1 + x2 .25 ω sin(φ). and a is the amplitude.75 rad. the velocity of the block is 0.
then force balance implies that f = f1 = f2 . x1 + x 2 1 + k1 /k2 k1 + k 2 Thus. the period of oscillation is T= 2π = 0. Here. if f is the magnitude of the restoring force acting on the mass.6283 s. or f = keff x = k1 x1 . This implies that f1 = f2 . 3 Hence. k1 + k 2 1200 + 400 The angular frequency of oscillation is immediately given by the standard formula ω= keff = m 300 = 10 rad. Finally. Since the springs (presumably) possess negligible inertia./s. ω 250 .11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11. or k 1 x1 = k 2 x2 .6 Uniform circular motion k1 k2 m Let f1 = k1 x1 and f2 = k2 x2 be the magnitudes of the forces exerted by the ﬁrst and second springs. they must exert equal and opposite forces on one another. The above equations can be combined to give keff = k1 k1 k2 k 1 x1 = = . respectively. the problem reduces to that of a block of mass m = 3 kg attached to a spring of effective force constant keff = k1 k2 1200 × 400 = = 300 N/m. keff is the effective force constant of the two springs.
5 J. 251 51 = 0.06228 m. Rearrangement of this formula gives a= 2E = k 2 × 2. The total energy of the system is E = 2. What is the surface gravitational acceleration on the planet? Answer: The frequency of the oscillations is f= Hence. the angular frequency is ω = 2 π f = 2 × π × 1.833 = 5./s.341 rad. The amplitude of the oscillations is small compared to the length of the pendulum.1 N/m and the amplitude is 0.6 m. the force constant is 1289.35 Now.6 Uniform circular motion Worked example 11.5: Gravity on a new planet Question: Having landed on a newly discovered planet. and ﬁnds that it makes 51 complete oscillations in 1 minute.4: Energy in simple harmonic motion Question: A block of mass m = 4 kg is attached to a spring. T 0.1 Thus. Worked example 11.85 Hz. What is the force constant of the spring? What is the amplitude of the motion? Answer: The angular frequency of the motion is ω= 2π 2π = = 17.1 N/m.06228 m./s. ω = k/m for a mass on a spring.95 = 1289.5 = 0.95 rad.11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11. and undergoes simple harmonic motion with a period of T = 0.95 × 17. Rearrangement of this formula yields k = m ω2 = 4 × 17. The total energy of a system executing simple harmonic motion is E = a2 k/2. 1289. an astronaut sets up a simple pendulum of length 0.35 s. 60 .
8 + 3 × 0.6 Uniform circular motion Now. Answer: The moment of inertia of the disk about a perpendicular axis passing through its centre is I = (1/2) M r2 .8 m and mass M = 3 kg is freely suspended from a horizontal pivot located a radial distance d = 0.11 m/s2 . ω= I 1. Rearrangement off this formula gives g = ω2 l = 5. the surface gravitational acceleration is 17. From the parallel axis theorem. 2 The angular frequency of small amplitude oscillations of a compound pendulum is given by Mgd 3 × 9. 252 .11 m/s2 .11 OSCILLATORY MOTION 11.25 m from its centre./s.341 × 5.81 × 0.1475 kg m2 .532 rad.6 = 17. Hence. Find the angular frequency of small amplitude oscillations of the disk.341 × 0.6: Oscillating disk Question: A uniform disk of radius r = 0.1475 Hence.25 = = 2./s. the moment of inertia of the disk about the pivot point is I = I + M d2 = 3 × 0.25 = 1.8 × 0. the answer is 2.25 × 0. Worked example 11.532 rad. ω = g/l for small amplitude oscillations of a simple pendulum.
For instance. The Sun and the Moon were important for determining the calendar. However. interesting to discuss the particular application of this theory which made Newton an international celebrity. and also for navigation. Venus. the Moon. and which we call planets. the planets were vital to astrology: i.. Mercury and Venus can sometimes be seen to transit in front of the Sun. This application is.. the Moon. Mars.g. In ancient times. and. and the objects which the ancient Greeks called plantai (“wanderers”). Actually. because the Moon clearly passes in front of.e. Moreover. the motion of the Solar System. in particular. of course. It was also recognized that some bodies were closer to the Earth than others.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12 Orbital motion 12. ancient astronomers noted that the Moon occasionally passes in front of the Sun and each of the planets. The ﬁrst scientiﬁc model of the Solar System was outlined by the Greek philoso253 . and Saturn. 12. much of this interest was of a practical nature. and blocks the light from. Moreover. and which profoundly and permanently changed humankind’s outlook on the Universe. there were only seven “wandering” heavenly bodies visible to ancient peoples: the Sun.2 Historical background Humankind has always been fascinated by the night sky. therefore.1 Introduction We have spent this course exploring the theory of motion ﬁrst outlined by Sir Isaac Newton in his Principia (1687). It is. and the ﬁve planets—Mercury. by the movements of the Sun. stars in its path. Jupiter. The ancients believed that the stars were ﬁxed to a “celestial sphere” which formed the outer boundary of the Universe. the belief—almost universally prevalent in the ancient world—that the positions of the planets in the sky could be used to foretell important events. it was recognized that the wandering bodies were located within this sphere: e.
Jupiter. Mars. and nonrotating. This model became known as the heliocentric model of the Solar System. Since a circle is the most “perfect” imaginable shape. Since no stellar parallax is observable (at least. However. This effect is known as parallax. Saturn—with the Moon closest to the Earth. proposed an alternative model in which the Earth and the planets execute uniform circular orbits around the Sun—which is ﬁxed. Aristarchus of Samos (310–230 BC). Note that orbits are circular in this model for philosophical reasons. and the Earth rotates daily about a NorthSouth axis. Venus. The order of the planetary orbits is as follows: Mercury. and the planets all execute uniform circular orbits around the Earth— which is ﬁxed. the Earth must be stationary. the Moon. the Moon orbits around the Earth. it follows that heavenly objects must execute circular orbits. The geocentric model is far more philosophically attractive than the helio254 . then the Earth must be in motion. Hence. If the Earth is executing a circular orbit around the Sun then the positions of the stars should be slightly different when the Earth is on opposite sides of the Sun. the Sun. 3. the Earth must be stationary. Saturn—with Mercury closest to the Sun. Mars. The order of the orbits is as follows: Moon. For obvious reasons. and orbiting around the Sun. we cannot “feel” this motion. Mercury.2 Historical background pher Eudoxas of Cnidus (409–356 BC). Sun. Jupiter. Eudoxas’ model became known as the geocentric model of the Solar System. Nor does this motion give rise to any obvious observational consequences. The ancients believed the heavens to be the realm of perfection. If the Earth is rotating about its axis. it is important to realize that ancient astronomers did not suppose the stars to be signiﬁcantly further away from the Earth than the planets. 2. In order to appreciate the force of this argument. According to this model. with the naked eye). Earth. The heliocentric model was generally rejected by the ancient philosophers for three main reasons: 1. Moreover. Venus. A second Greek philosopher.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12. The celestial sphere was assumed to lie just beyond the orbit of Saturn.
As shown in Fig. centric model. Ptolemy was forced to make some signiﬁcant modiﬁcations to the original model of Eudoxas. we need to introduce some terminology. Ptolemy found.2 Historical background planet Earth C + E equant Figure 100: The Ptolemaic system. instead of traveling around deferants.12 ORBITAL MOTION epicycle deferant centre of deferant P 12. remained the dominant scientiﬁc picture of the Solar System for over a millennium. and epicyles are small circles whose centres move around the circumferences of the deferants. move around the circumference of deferants. The geocentric model was ﬁrst converted into a proper scientiﬁc theory. in turn. however. in order to ﬁt the observations. the planets move around the circumference of epicycles. and then constructed a geocentric model capable of accounting for them. now known as the Almagest. However. which. Ptolemy acquired and extended the extensive set of planetary observations of his predecessor Hipparchus. 100. In the Ptolemaic system. Ptolemy’s second modiﬁcation to Eudoxas’ model was 255 . deferants are large circles centred on the Earth. that this modiﬁcation was insufﬁcient to completely account for all of his data. The theory that Ptolemy proposed in his famous book. since in the former model the Earth occupies a privileged position in the Universe. Let us discuss these modiﬁcations. capable of accurate predictions. Basically. by the Alexandrian philosopher Claudius Ptolemy (85–165 AD). First.
In fact. rotates uniformly. 101) with a period of 1 day. the centres of the inferior planet epicycles move on an imaginary line connecting the Earth and the Sun.e.2 Note that this diagram is not drawn to scale. for the sake of clarity. hence. The Sunlinked epicyles of the inferior planets are needed to explain why these objects always remain close to the Sun in the sky. and slow down when they are further away. as well as the introduction of the equant as the centre of uniform rotation.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12. It can be seen that the Moon and the Sun do not possess epicyles. appear brighter in the night sky). Ptolemy assumed that the Sun. the motions of the inferior planets (i. Mars. the displacement of the Earth from the centre of the deferants. Figure 101 shows more details of the Ptolemaic model.e. some planets need as many as 28 epicycles to account for all the details of their motion. However..clas. Mercury and Venus) are closely linked to the motion of the Sun. the radius vectors connecting the superior planets (i. Note that. Moon. motion in the opposite direction to their apparent direction of rotation around the Earth. Finally. The epicycles of the superior planets are needed to account for their occasional bouts of retrograde motion: i. there are epicycles within the epicycles shown in the diagram. As is quite apparent. and the displacement of the Earth from the centre of the deferants has been omitted for the sake of clarity. and Saturn) to the centres of their epicycles are always parallel to the geometric line connecting the Earth and the Sun. all of the heavenly bodies (including the stars) rotate clockwise (assuming that we are looking down on the Earth’s North pole in Fig. it successfully accounted for the relatively crude naked eye observations made by the ancient Greeks. called the equant. University of Florida.e..2 Historical background to displace the Earth slightly from the common centre of the deferants. In other words. http://web. the Ptolemaic model of the Solar System is extremely complicated. 100.A. and planets rotate uniformly about an imaginary point. in Fig. Ptolemy assumed that the line EP.ufl. which is displaced an equal distance in the opposite direction to the Earth from the centre of the deferants. Furthermore. Finally. Moreover. In fact.. These subsidiary epicycles are not shown in the diagram. rather than the line CP. Hatch. 2 R. Jupiter. Moreover.edu/users/rhatch/ 256 . is needed to explain why the planets speed up slightly when they are close to the Earth (and. in addition to the motion indicated in the diagram.
257 .86 y 1.88 y Mars 1y 1y 1y 1y 27 1/3 d Earth Moon Mercury 88 d Venus 225 d Sun Jupiter 1y Saturn 1y Figure 101: The Ptolemaic model of the Solar System.46 y 11.2 Historical background Stars 29.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.
102. converted it into a minor article of faith.. The planets execute uniform circular orbits about the Sun. Habakkuk 3:11). Furthermore. Unfortunately. the Earth revolves about its axis daily. unfortunately.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12. and they appear to move backward in the night sky. Moreover. After many years of mathematical calculations. this diagram is not to scale. not on the many epicycles (which to the modern eye seem rather absurd). which. Since the Earth orbits more rapidly than the superior planets. this symmetry is severely compromised when the Earth is displaced from the apparent centre of the Universe. Again. the inferior planets remain close to the Sun in the sky without any special synchronization of their orbits. Having said this. Their dissatisfaction focused.g. that the only reason planetary orbits are constructed from circles in Ptolemy’s model is to preserve the assumed ideal symmetry of the heavens. this model was not subject to proper scientiﬁc criticism for over a millennium. This problem so perplexed the Polish priestastronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) that he eventually decided to reject the geocentric model. and the introduction of the equant as the centre of uniform rotation. by postulating that the stars were a lot further away than had previously been supposed. on the basis of a few references in the Bible which seemed to imply that the Earth is stationary and the Sun is moving (e. few medieval or renaissance philosophers were entirely satisﬁed with Ptolemy’s model. in this model. Copernicus’ model is illustrated in Fig. in much the same manner that slow moving cars on a freeway appears to move backward to a driver overtaking them. Consequently. and there is no equant. Recall. Copernicus accounted for the lack of stellar parallax. due to the Earth’s motion.2 Historical background Ptolemy’s model of the Solar System was rescued from the wreck of ancient European civilization by the Roman Catholic Church. rendering any parallax undetectably small. Joshua 10:1213. and the Moon orbits about the Earth. Copernicus published a book entitled De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the revolutions of the celestial spheres) in 1543 which outlined his new heliocentric theory. Finally. Note that there is no displacement of the Sun from the centres of the planetary orbits. Copernicus insisted on retaining uni258 . it occasionally “overtakes” them. and revive the heliocentric model of Aristarchus. Unfortunately. but on the displacement of the Earth from the centre of the deferants. the occasional retrograde motion of the superior planets has a more natural explanation than in Ptolemy’s model.
88 y 1y Mars 225 d Venus 88 d Mercury Sun Moon Earth 27 1/3 d Jupiter Saturn Figure 102: The Copernican model of the Solar System.86 y Stars 1.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.46 y 11. 259 .2 Historical background 29.
who devoted his life to making naked eye astronomical observations of unprecedented accuracy and detail. 2. Suppose that the planet moves from point A to point B in the same time it takes to move from point C to point D. Kepler eventually concluded that no combination of circular deferants and epicycles could completely account for his data. Moreover. 3. the German scientist Johannes Kepler (1571–1630). Kepler was eventually able to formulate three extraordinarily simple laws which completely accounted for Brahe’s observations. Note that there are no epicyles or equants in Kepler’s model of the Solar System. A line from the Sun to any given planet sweeps out equal areas in equal time intervals. Maybe. he was just as ﬁrm a believer as Copernicus in the perfection of the heavens. Consequently. and the consequent need for circular motion of planetary bodies. The square of a planet’s period is proportional to the cube of the planet’s mean distance from the Sun. After years of fruitless effort.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12. Copernicus’ model ended up with more epicycles than Ptolemy’s! The real breakthrough in the understanding of planetary motion occurred—as most breakthroughs in physics occur—when better data became available. 260 . he was trying to construct a more symmetric model than that of Ptolemy). At this stage. This data was eventually inherited by Brahe’s pupil and assistant. According the Kepler’s second law. These laws are as follows: 1. The data in question was produced by the Dane Tycho Brahe (1546–1601). which is located at one of the focii of the ellipse. and S represents the Sun. The planets move in elliptical orbits with the Sun at one focus.2 Historical background form circular motion in his model (after all. planetary motion was not circular after all? After more calculations. he started to think the unthinkable. In fact. Kepler fully accepted Copernicus’ heliocentric theory of the Solar System. the ellipse represents a planetary orbit. Figure 103 illustrates Kepler’s second law. The main difference was that Kepler’s observational data was considerably better than Copernicus’. Here. Copernicus also had to resort to epicycles to ﬁt the data.
993 B A Table 5: Kepler’s third law.999 1.862 1. Here. the areas of the elliptic segments ASB and CSD are equal.000 Mars 1. The mean distance. let us discuss the ancient Greek objections to such a model.458 0. measured in Astronomical Units (1 AU is the mean EarthSun distance). and T is the orbital period. T . It can be seen that the ratio a3 /T 2 is indeed constant from planet to planet.615 0. Since we have now deﬁnitely adopted a heliocentric model of the Solar System.516 T (yr) a3 /T 2 0.000 11. a is the mean distance from the Sun.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.881 1.2 Historical background C S D Figure 103: Kepler’s second law. The third objection (that it is philosophically more attractive to have the Earth at the centre of the Universe) is not a valid scientiﬁc criticism. measured in years. as well as the ratio a3 /T 2 . We have already dealt with the second objection (the absence of stellar parallax) by stating that the stars are a lot further away from the Earth than the ancient Greeks supposed. and orbital period. listed earlier.723 Earth 1.524 Jupiter 5. Note that this law basically mandates that planets speed up when they move closer to the Sun.001 29.241 0. Table 5 illustrates Kepler’s third law. Planet a(AU) Mercury 0. a.000 1.998 0.000 1. What about the ﬁrst objection? If the Earth is rotating about its axis. are listed for each of the ﬁrst six planets in the Solar System.203 Saturn 9.387 Venus 0. and also 261 .
12. the coup de grace was delivered by Copernicus. Ptolemy seriously undermined this explanation by shifting the Earth slightly from the centre of the Universe.034 m/s2 . Since the centre of the Earth coincides with the centre of the Universe. After all. Since 262 .12 ORBITAL MOTION 12. the planets are embedded in crystal spheres which rotate with them whilst holding them in place in the ﬁrmament. all objects have a natural tendency to fall towards the centre of the Universe.3 Gravity There is one important question which we have avoided discussing until now. So. a universal theory of motion. according to Aristotle. this objection appears to have some force. Moreover. why do the planets not fall towards the Earth? Well. but the ancient Greeks certainly could not. Kepler correctly formulated the three laws of planetary motion in 1619. that we only “feel” the acceleration associated with motion. why do we not “feel” this motion? At ﬁrst sight. to seriously consider this question was Sir Isaac Newton. from Newton’s laws of motion. not the motion itself. Surely. in 1687. why do objects fall towards the surface of the Earth? The ﬁrst person. for the ﬁrst time. all objects also tend to fall towards the Earth’s surface. in which he presented. Unfortunately. Newton then went on to illustrate his theory by using it to deriving Kepler’s laws from ﬁrst principles. So. after Aristotle. the Earth’s orbital velocity is approximately 30 km/s. who converted the Earth into just another planet orbiting the Sun. we would notice if we were moving this rapidly? Of course. It turns out that the acceleration at the Earth’s surface due to its axial rotation is only about 0. the rotation velocity of the Earth’s surface is about 460 m/s. According to Aristotle. Isaac Newton published his Principia.3 Gravity orbiting the Sun. Nowadays.0059 m/s2 . an ancient Greek might ask. we can detect such small accelerations. Moreover. Almost seventy years later. Why do objects fall towards the surface of the Earth? The ancient Greeks had a very simple answer to this question. Let us now discuss Newton’s monumental achievement in more detail. this reasoning is faulty because we know. However. the Earth’s acceleration due to its orbital motion is only 0.
Newton reasoned. objects must be attracted toward the Earth itself. What intrinsic property of objects causes them to exert this attractive force— which Newton termed gravity—on other objects? Newton decided that the crucial property was mass. Moreover. (12. 263 . 104. The direction of the force is along the line joining the particles. Newton adopted an inverse square law because he knew that this was the only type of force law which was consistent with Kepler’s third law of planetary motion. Incidentally.3 Gravity −f r m2 m1 f Figure 104: Newton’s law of gravity. In fact.12 ORBITAL MOTION f = G m 1 m2 / r 2 12.1) f=G r2 The direction of the force is along the line joining the two objects. After much thought. all objects must exert a force of attraction on all other objects in the Universe. since the Earth is just another planet. he was eventually able to formulate his famous law of universal gravitation: Every particle in the Universe attracts every other particle with a force directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Consider two point objects of masses m1 and m2 . separated by a distance r. the magnitude of the force of attraction between these objects is m1 m2 . the Earth is not located in a special place in the Universe. As illustrated in Fig. objects must be attracted towards other planets as well.
The modern value of G is G = 6.378 × 106 m. gravity usually only becomes signiﬁcant if at least one of the masses involved is of astronomical dimensions (e. after considerable effort. Let us use Newton’s law of gravity to account for the Earth’s surface gravity.g. the vector gravitational force exerted by object 1 on object 2 takes the form r1 − r 2 f21 = G = −f21 . This implies that gravity is an intrinsically weak force. In fact. (12. (12. whose mass and radius are M⊕ = 5.3 Gravity Let r1 and r2 be the vector positions of the two objects. r2 − r1 3 (12. respectively.6) 264 . appearing in the above formulae is called the gravitational constant. it is a planet. or a star).97 × 1024 kg and R⊕ = 6. z 2 R⊕ (12. Newton could only estimate the value of this quantity. that the gravitational force exerted by a spherical body (outside that body) is the same as that exerted by an equivalent point mass located at the body’s centre. which was ﬁrst directly measured by Henry Cavendish in 1798. G. the gravitational force exerted by the Earth on the object in question is of magnitude f=G m M⊕ .5) and is directed towards the centre of the Earth.6726 × 10−11 N m2 /kg2 .2) Likewise. It follows that the equation of motion of the object can be written m ¨ = −G r m M⊕ ^. respectively. The vector gravitational force exerted by object 2 on object 1 can be written f12 = G r2 − r 1 . 2 R⊕ (12.4) Note that the gravitational constant is numerically extremely small. Hence.. Newton proved.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12. Consider an object of mass m close to the surface of the Earth.3) r1 − r2 3 The constant of proportionality.
we immediately conclude that any spherical body of mass M and radius R possesses a surface gravity g given by the following formula: g M/M⊕ = . Since Newton’s law of gravitation is universal. (12. we conclude that all objects on the Earth’s surface. Canceling the factor m on either side of the above equation.9) g⊕ (R/R⊕ )2 Table 6 shows the surface gravity of various bodies in the Solar System. irrespective of their mass. has an associated potential energy. r z where G M⊕ (6. The gravitational force acting on the ﬁrst mass is of magnitude f = G M/r2 . This estimate for the acceleration due to gravity is slightly off the conventional value of 9.4 Gravitational potential energy We saw earlier.4 Gravitational potential energy where ^ is a unit vector pointing straight upwards (i. No wonder Apollo astronauts were able to jump so far on the Moon’s surface! Prospective Mars colonists should note that they will only weigh about a third of their terrestrial weight on Mars. Imagine that the ﬁrst mass moves radially away from the second mass.5. It can be seen that the surface gravity of the Moon is only about one ﬁfth of that of the Earth.378 × 10 (12.e. Let us obtain a general formula for this energy. we obtain ¨ = −g⊕ ^. which is a radial distance r from another point object of mass M.. until it reaches inﬁnity.673 × 10−11 ) × (5. estimated using the above expression.e. 12.79 m/s2 .12 ORBITAL MOTION 12. therefore. in Sect.79 m/s2 .81 m/s2 because the Earth is actually not quite spherical.7) Thus. away from the Earth’s z centre).97 × 1024 ) g⊕ = = 9.8) (12. What 265 . 5. towards the Earth’s centre) with a constant acceleration of 9. Consider a point object of mass m. and is directed towards the second mass.. that gravity is a conservative force. = 2 6 )2 R⊕ (6. accelerate straight down (i. and.
11) r Here. we have adopted the convenient normalization that the potential energy at inﬁnity is zero. All quantities are expressed as fractions of the corresponding terrestrial quantity.273 0.38 11.91 1.07 Table 6: The mass. The above expression can be integrated to give GMm .38 0. U(r) = − Consider an object of mass m moving close to the Earth’s surface.0 28. and surface gravity. g.17 0.1 0. and z is the vertical height of the object above the Earth’s surface.5 9.12) where M⊕ and R⊕ are the mass and radius of the Earth. is the change in the potential energy of the ﬁrst mass associated with this shift? According to Eq.108 Jupiter 318. (5. The potential energy of such an object can be written U=− G M⊕ m . the above expression can be expanded using the binomial theorem to give U − G M⊕ m G M⊕ m + z.45 1. the gravitational potential energy of a mass m located a distance r from a mass M is simply −G M m/r.949 0. respectively.10) There is a minus sign in front of f because this force is oppositely directed to the motion.4 Gravitational potential energy R/R⊕ g/g⊕ 109.33).533 0. R.33 × 105 Moon 0.12 ORBITAL MOTION Body M/M⊕ Sun 3. M. (12. R⊕ + z (12.14 Saturn 12.000 Earth Mars 0.21 2.383 0.0123 0. According to the above formula.000 0. (12. of various bodies in the Solar System.000 1.0553 Mercury Venus 0.816 1. radius. 2 R⊕ R⊕ 266 (12. In the limit that z R⊕.3 95.13) . U(∞) − U(r) = − r ∞ [−f(r)] dr.
15) to be a constant of the motion. Of course. it follows that at the launch point GMm 1 2 m vesc − = 0. We conclude that our object possesses zero net energy: i. Moreover. r is the distance between the two objects. Since E is a constant of the motion.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12. Suppose. that the second object is launched from the surface of this sphere with some velocity vesc which is such that it only just escapes the sphere’s gravitational inﬂuence..16) (12. For an object of mass m and speed v. Suppose that the ﬁxed object is a sphere of radius R. the objects will remain in orbit around the sphere. Here.8)]. the above formula is equivalent to the formula (5. Objects launched from the surface of the sphere with velocities exceeding this value will eventually escape from the sphere’s gravitational inﬂuence.4 Gravitational potential energy Since potential energy is undetermined to an arbitrary additive constant. 2 R This expression can be rearranged to give E= vesc = 2GM . moving in the gravitational ﬁeld of a ﬁxed object of mass M. if the object only just escaped. Note that the escape velocity is independent of the object’s mass and launch direction (assuming that it is not straight into the sphere). further. the kinetic energy is written K = (1/2) m v 2 .e. and may eventually strike its surface.3) derived earlier on in this course. then we also expect K = 0. whereas the potential energy takes the form U = −G M m/r. E = K + U = 0. we expect the total energy. Of course. After the object has escaped. it is a long way away from the sphere. E = K + U. 267 . (12. we could just as well write U m g z. (12. Otherwise. and hence U = 0.14) 2 where g = G M⊕ /R⊕ is the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth’s surface [see Eq. since the object will have expended all of its initial kinetic energy escaping from the sphere’s gravitational well. R (12.17) The quantity vesc is known as the escape velocity. (12.
The satellite experiences an acceleration towards the Earth’s centre of magnitude ω2 r.378 × 106 Clearly. r2 (12. 12.2 km/s. NASA must launch deep space probes from the surface of the Earth with velocities which exceed this value if they are to have any hope of eventually reaching their targets. Let ω be the satellite’s orbital angular velocity. In this case.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12. Virtually all of the satellites used to monitor the Earth’s weather patterns are geostationary in nature.5 Satellite orbits Consider an artiﬁcial satellite executing a circular orbit of radius r around the Earth.5 Satellite orbits The escape velocity for the Earth is vesc = 2 G M⊕ = R⊕ 2 × (6. The angular 268 . Let us calculate the orbital radius of a geostationary satellite. this acceleration is provided by the gravitational attraction between the satellite and the Earth.673 × 10−11 ) × (5. Of course. Communications satellites also tend to be geostationary. Moreover. Of course. A satellite with this singular property is known as a geostationary satellite. (12. you would need to install an expensive tracking antenna on top of your house in order to pick up the transmissions. suppose that the satellite’s orbital angular velocity just matches the Earth’s angular velocity of rotation.97 × 1024 ) = 11.19) Suppose that the satellite’s orbit lies in the Earth’s equatorial plane.18) 6. It follows that ω2 r = G M⊕ . which yields an acceleration of magnitude G M⊕ /r2 . the satellite will appear to hover in the same place in the sky to a stationary observer on the Earth’s surface. the satellites which beam satelliteTV to homes across the world must be geostationary—otherwise. Clarke in 1945. Incidentally. the person who ﬁrst envisaged rapid global telecommunication via a network of geostationary satellites was the science ﬁction writer Arthur C.
(A unit vector is simply a vector whose length is unity. It is convenient to specify the planet’s instantaneous position.97 × 1024 ) = (7. r is the radial distance between the planet and the Sun. in terms of the polar coordinates r and θ.22 × 107 m = 6. r ¨ aθ = r θ + 2 ˙ θ. 24 × 60 × 60 It follows from Eq. we demonstrated that when acceleration is written in terms of polar coordinates. (6.27 × 10−5 rad. a geostationary satellite must be placed in a circular orbit whose radius is exactly 6.24) . Moreover. Let us deﬁne two unit vectors.62 R⊕ ./s.62 times the Earth’s radius.20) = 4.19) that ω= rgeo = G M⊕ ω2 1/3 (12. in the direction of increasing θ. where ˙ ar = ¨ − r θ 2 . er and eθ . In Sect.21) Thus. 7. measured with respect to some arbitrarily chosen direction. 105.) As shown in Fig.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.23) (12. the radial unit vector er always points from the Sun towards the instantaneous position of the planet. from the Sun.6 Planetary orbits velocity of the Earth’s rotation is 2π = 7. 12. with respect to the Sun. the tangential unit vector eθ is always normal to er .27 × 10−5 )2 1/3 (12. 105. As illustrated in Fig.673 × 10−11 ) × (5. r˙ 269 (12. Consider a planet orbiting around the Sun.5. whereas θ is the angular bearing of the planet.22) (12. it takes the form a = a r er + a θ eθ . (12.6 Planetary orbits Let us now see whether we can use Newton’s universal laws of motion to derive Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.
the force of gravitational attraction exerted by the Sun.27) (12. this force takes a particularly simple form (which is why we are using polar coordinates): f=− GM m er . According to Newton’s second law.12 ORBITAL MOTION eθ er Planet 12. the Sun.e. The above four equations yield GM ˙ ¨ − r θ2 = − 2 ..25) The minus sign indicates that the force is directed towards. r˙ (12. the planet’s equation of motion is written m a = f. In polar coordinates.6 Planetary orbits r Sun θ Figure 105: A planetary orbit.26) 270 .28) (12. These expressions are more complicated that the corresponding cartesian expressions because the unit vectors er and eθ change direction as the planet changes position. the planet is subject to a single force: i. rather than away from. r r ¨ r θ + 2 ˙ θ = 0. Now. r2 (12.
6 Planetary orbits δθ S P’ P r Figure 106: The origin of Kepler’s second law. its line of action passes through the Sun. Here. Equation (12. and so its associated lever arm is of length zero. that the angular momentum vector of a point particle can be written l = m r × v. Consider Fig.28) reduces to d 2˙ (r θ) = 0.e.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.32) . yielding l . (Recall. r ˙ l = m r vθ = m r2 θ.30) where h is a constant of the motion. Angular momentum is conserved (i. 9. from Sect. (12.31) ˙ For the case in hand.2. 9. dt or ˙ r2 θ = h. (12. S 271 (12. 106. r = r er and v = ˙ er + r θ eθ [see Sect.5].29) (12. from Sect. h represents the angular momentum (per unit mass) of our planet around the Sun. that torque is the rate of change of angular momentum.) The torque is zero because the gravitational force is radial in nature: i.. Suppose that our planet moves from P to P in the short time interval δt. h= The quantity h has another physical interpretation.. (12.33) m Clearly. What is the physical interpretation of h? Recall. h is constant) because the force of gravitational attraction between the planet and the Sun exerts zero torque on the planet. 7. Hence.e.
Moreover. (12. δt→0 δt 2 δt→0 δt 2 2 (12. this is just Kepler’s second law.6 Planetary orbits represents the position of the Sun. we obtain r= ¨ = −h r 2 d du d2 u ˙d u = −h θ 2 = −h2 u2 2 . dθ2 h2 272 (12. (12.38) Equations (12.37) ˙=− 2 =− 2 r u u dθ dθ ˙ The last step follows from the fact that θ = h u2 . using simple trigonometry. We conclude that Kepler’s second law of planetary motion is a direct manifestation of angular momentum conservation.27) and (12. the fact that h is a constant of the motion implies that the line joining the planet and the Sun sweeps out area at a constant rate: i. Hence. Differentiating a second time with respect to t. Of course. Differentiating with respect to t. The lines SP and SP are both approximately of length r. The area of the triangle PSP is approximately δA = 1 × r δθ × r : 2 (12..12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.35) Clearly. half its base times its height. the line sweeps equal areas in equal time intervals.34) i. where δθ is the small angle through which the line joining the Sun and the planet rotates in the time interval δt. dt dθ dθ dθ Let (12.e. the line PP is of length r δθ.. 1 .38) can be combined to give d2 u GM +u= . this area represents the area swept out by the line joining the Sun and the planet in the time interval δt.e.39) . the rate at which this area is swept is given by ˙ δA 1 2 δθ r2 θ h lim = r lim = = .36) u where u(t) ≡ u(θ) is a new radial variable. But. we obtain ˙ θ du du u ˙ = −h .
we have now proved Kepler’s ﬁrst law of planetary motion. the closest distance to the Sun) and r1 is termed the aphelion distance (i.6 Planetary orbits This equation possesses the fairly obvious general solution u = A cos(θ − θ0 ) + where A and θ0 are arbitrary constants.e..e. The quantity r1 − r 0 e= (12. with the origin at a focus. (12. e = 0 corresponds to a purely circular orbit. The radial distance at θ = π is written 1+e r1 = r 0 .45) 1−e Here. G M (1 + e) (12.44) Formula (12. h2 (12. It is clear that r0 is the radial distance at θ = 0. our orbit equation reduces to r = r0 where e= and 1+e . and is a measure of its departure from circularity. whereas e → 273 . Thus. Since we are only interested in the orbit’s shape.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12. 1 + e cos θ A h2 . The above formula can be inverted to give the following simple orbit equation for our planet: 1 r= . r0 is termed the perihelion distance (i. (12.40) (12..46) r1 + r 0 is termed the eccentricity of the orbit. GM (12. the furthest distance from the Sun). we can set this quantity to zero without loss of generality.42) is the standard equation of an ellipse (assuming e < 1). Hence. Hence.43) h2 r0 = .42) GM .41) A cos(θ − θ0 ) + G M /h2 The constant θ0 merely determines the orientation of the orbit.
47) T= h/2 Incidentally. We expect the line to sweep out the whole area of the ellipse enclosed by the planet’s orbit in the time interval T .48) can be combined to give h2 a= 2GM h2 1 1 = + . is given by the wellknown formula b = 1 − e2 .49) a This formula can easily be obtained from Eq.44).. the orbital eccentricities of all of the planets (except Mercury) are fairly small.056 12.35). 107 illustrates the relationship between the aphelion distance.007 Earth 0. b.45).206 Venus 0. As speciﬁed in Tab. (12. a line joining the Sun and an orbiting planet sweeps area at the constant rate h/2. from the ﬁgure.093 Jupiter 0. Let T be the planet’s orbital period. It is clear. and the eccentricity. Since the area of an ellipse is π a b.50) . the relationship between a.017 Mars 0. (12. a is essentially the planet’s mean distance from the Sun. that the semimajor axis is just the mean of the aphelion and perihelion distances: i. 1 corresponds to a highly elongated orbit. Finally.6 Planetary orbits Table 7: The orbital eccentricities of various planets in the Solar System.42). (12. we can write πab .48) a= 2 Thus. (12. r0 + r 1 . and (12. (12.048 Saturn 0. the perihelion distance. 1+e 1−e G M (1 − e2 ) 274 (12.e. Fig. (12.12 ORBITAL MOTION Planet e Mercury 0. According to Eq. 7. where a and b are the semimajor and semiminor axes. e. and the semimajor and semiminor axes of a planetary orbit. Equations (12.
673 × 10−11 ) × (1. from Eqs.08 × 1023 kg and R = 2403 km. the orbital period of a planet is proportional to its mean distance from the Sun to the power 3/2—the constant of proportionality being the same for all planets. (12.08 × 1023 ) g= = 1. Worked example 12. (12. and (12. R Hence. respectively.12 ORBITAL MOTION focus 12. What is the gravitational acceleration on the surface of this moon? Answer: The surface gravitational acceleration on a spherical body of mass M and radius R is simply GM g= 2 .1: Gravity on Callisto Question: Callisto is the eighth of Jupiter’s moons: its mass and radius are M = 1.403 × 10 275 . (6. It follows. that the orbital period can be written 2π T=√ a3/2 .6 Planetary orbits b r0 r1 a Figure 107: Anatomy of a planetary orbit. (12. this is just Kepler’s third law of planetary motion. 6 )2 (2.47).49).51) GM Thus. Of course.25 m/s2 .50).
5 + 1) R⊕ = 4.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12. The distance of the rocket from the centre of the Earth is r1 = (3.69 × 106 m.6 Planetary orbits Worked example 12. g ∝ 1/r2 ). What is the rocket’s freefall acceleration? Answer: Let R⊕ be the Earth’s radius.97 × 1024 kg and R⊕ = 6. when it is at the Earth’s surface) is g0 = 9. the satellite’s altitude above the Earth’s surface is h = r − R⊕ = 1. r r2 The above expression can be rearranged to give (6. We know that the freefall acceleration of the rocket when its distance from the Earth’s centre is r0 = R⊕ (i. Moreover.5 R⊕ . 2 (4.484 m/s2 .81 m/s2 . respectively. v2 G M⊕ = .81 × 1 = 0. the rocket’s acceleration is g1 = g 0 r0 r1 2 = 9.97 × 1024 ) G M⊕ = = 1.. Determine the period of the satellite’s orbit. The Earth’s mass and radius are M ⊕ = 5.107 × 107 − 6. This acceleration must be provided by the acceleration G M⊕ /r2 due to the Earth’s gravitational attraction.e. Answer: The acceleration of the satellite towards the centre of the Earth is v 2 /r.3: Circular Earth orbit Question: A satellite moves in a circular orbit around the Earth with speed v = 6000 m/s. r= 2 2 v (6000) Thus.107 × 107 m. where r is its orbital radius.378 × 106 m.2: Acceleration of a rocket Question: A rocket is located a distance 3. 276 . Determine the satellite’s altitude above the Earth’s surface.5) Worked example 12.. we know that gravity is an inversesquare law (i.673 × 10−11 ) × (5.5 times the radius of the Earth above the Earth’s surface.378 × 106 = 4.e. Hence. Hence.
r is its distance from the Sun.879 km/s.6 Planetary orbits The satellite’s orbital period is simply 2 π r 2 × π × (1. and u0 = 54 km/s. the comet’s velocity is perpendicular to its position vector from the Sun. Hence. where r0 and u0 are the perihelion distance and speed.57 AU.3 × 107 s and r = 2. What is its speed when it is furthest from the Sun? Answer: At perihelion and aphelion. The period and radius of the orbit are T = 4. Hence. = r1 35 Worked example 12. at these two special points. According to Kepler’s second law. we can write r0 u 0 = r 1 u 1 . the comet’s angular momentum (around the Sun) takes the particularly simple form l = m r u.22 hours.) The greatest distance of the comet from the Sun is 35 AU. 277 . (1 AU is the mean EarthSun distance. We are told that r 0 = 0.107 × 107 ) = = 3.57 AU. m is the comet’s mass.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12.4: Halley’s comet Question: The distance of closest approach of Halley’s comet to the Sun is 0. r1 = 35 AU. It follows that u1 = u 0 r0 54 × 0. T= v 6000 Worked example 12. respectively.34 × 1011 m. Here. respectively. and r1 and u1 are the corresponding quantities at aphelion. Calculate the mass of the star. and u is its speed. the comet orbits the Sun with constant angular momentum.5: Mass of star Question: A planet is in circular orbit around a star. The comet’s speed at closest approach is 54 km/s.57 = 0.
673 × 10 Worked example 12.34 × 1011 )3 = 4. the mass of the star is M∗ = 4 × π2 × (2. G T2 Thus.3 × 107 )2 (6.673 × 10−11 ) × (5. we obtain G M∗ ω2 r = . the probe’s potential energy in outer space is zero. combining the previous two expressions. By deﬁnition. The potential energy of the probe at the Earth’s surface is G M⊕ m (6. the gain in potential energy.495 × 109 J. is 7. U=− 6) R⊕ (6. respectively. −11 ) × (4. Equating these accelerations. The acceleration due to the star’s gravitational attraction is G M∗ /r2 . 278 . The planet accelerates towards the star with acceleration ω2 r.6: Launch energy Question: What is the minimum energy required to launch a probe of mass m = 120 kg into outer space? The Earth’s mass and radius are M⊕ = 5.495 × 109 J. 2π T= . we get 4 π 2 r3 M∗ = . r2 Now.01 × 1030 kg.12 ORBITAL MOTION 12. which is the same as the minimum launch energy. where M∗ is the mass of the star.97 × 1024 ) × 120 = = −7. ω Hence.6 Planetary orbits Answer: Let ω be the planet’s orbital angular velocity.378 × 106 m. Answer: The energy which must be given to the probe should just match the probe’s gain in potential energy as it travels from the Earth’s surface to outer space.378 × 10 Thus.97 × 1024 kg and R⊕ = 6.
Nevertheless. liquids. this segment is subject to opposing tension forces. and we see things via light waves. What is the equation of motion for y(x.2 Waves on a stretched string Probably the simplest type of wave is that which propagates down a stretched string. in the ydirection. rather than those properties which are peculiar to particular wave types. we are assuming that the string displacement remains sufﬁciently small that the tension does not vary in magnitude along the string. t) be the string’s displacement at position x and time t. Note that these angles are written as inﬁnitesimal quantities because the string displacement is 279 . Now.1 Introduction Waves are small amplitude perturbations which propagate through continuous media: e. we hear things via sound waves propagating through the air. Suppose that the local tangent line to the string subtends angles δθ1 and δθ2 with the xaxis at x − δx/2 and x + δx/2. t)? Consider an inﬁnitesimal segment of the string which extends from x − δx/2 to x + δx/2. In this section. Suppose that the string is subject to a small amplitude displacement. Waves are important because they are the means through which virtually all information regarding the outside world is transmitted to us. 13.g.13 WAVE MOTION 13 Wave motion 13. Let y(x. Let the string run along the xaxis. 108. For instance. Here. As shown in Fig. respectively—as shown in Fig. Wave motion is a combination of oscillatory and translational motion. we shall concentrate on the common properties of waves. Consider a straight string which is stretched such that it is under uniform tension T . 108. the physical mechanisms which underlie sound and light wave propagation are completely different. sound and light waves possesses a number of common properties which are intrinsic to wave motion itself. solids. or—in the special case of electromagnetic waves—a vacuum. which act along the local tangent line to the string. gases. T . at its two ends.. which can vary along its length.
of the curve y(x) is equal to the tangent of the angle subtended by this curve with the xaxis.2 Waves on a stretched string T δθ 2 δθ1 T x − δ x/2 x + δ x/2 x −> Figure 108: Forces acting on a segment of a stretched string. Note that tan θ θ when θ is small.2) (13. t) = tan δθ1 ∂x ∂y(x + δx/2. ∂x ∂x ∂x2 (13.4) 280 . Consider the ycomponent of the string segment’s equation of motion. dy(x)/dx. t) = tan δθ2 ∂x δθ1 .13 WAVE MOTION y −> 13. The quantity ∂y(x. assumed to be inﬁnitesimally small. ∂y(x − δx/2. (13. for the sake of clarity).3) can be combined to give ∂y(x + δx/2. t) = T − = T δx . δθ2 . t) ∂y(x − δx/2.1)– (13. t)/∂x refers to the derivative of y(x. keeping t constant—such a derivative is known as a partial derivative. Now. which implies that the string is everywhere almost parallel with the xaxis (the string displacement is greatly exaggerated in Fig. Equations (13. t) fy (x. t) = T sin δθ2 − T sin δθ1 since sin θ T (δθ2 − δθ1 ). 108.1) θ when θ is small.3) since the gradient. (13. The net force acting on the segment in the ydirection takes the form fy (x. t) ∂2 y(x. from calculus. t) with respect to x.
t) with respect to t.. and ω are constants. We can demonstrate that (13.4) and (13.7) where y0 . (13.11) 2 ∂x Substituting Eqs. (13. ∂2 y(x.7) satisﬁes (13. t)/∂x2 is the second derivative of y(x. t) µ δx = fy (x. Thus. keeping t constant. (13. Equations (13.12) k2 µ 281 (13. t) = y0 cos (k x − ω t). 2 ∂t and ∂y = −y0 k sin (k x − ω t). t) with respect to x. ∂t ∂2 y = −y0 ω2 cos (k x − ω t). all small amplitude waves satisfy an equation of motion of this basic form. t)/∂t2 —the second derivative of y(x. (13. ∂2 y(x. In fact. keeping x constant—is the yacceleration of the string segment at position x and time t. (13.11) into Eq.6) by direct substitution. ∂y = y0 ω sin (k x − ω t).e. k.5) yield the ﬁnal expression for the string’s equation of motion: ∂2 y T ∂2 y = . It follows that the y equation of motion of our string segment takes the form ∂2 y(x.6) is an example of a wave equation. (13.6) ∂t2 µ ∂x2 Equation (13.2 Waves on a stretched string Here.13 WAVE MOTION 13. t). we ﬁnd that the latter equation is satisﬁed provided ω2 T = .9) and (13. A particular solution of this type of equation has been known for centuries: i. (13.9) .6).8) (13.10) ∂x ∂2 y = −y0 k2 cos (k x − ω t). (13. Suppose that the string has a mass per unit length µ.5) ∂t2 Here. y(x.
.7) describes a pattern of motion which is periodic in both space and time. The wave frequency (i. which correspond to k x − ω t = n 2 π. (13. y0 corresponds to the wave amplitude. t + T ) = y(x. This periodicity follows from the wellknown periodicity property of the cosine function: namely. (13. The wave pattern is periodic in time. the wave pattern is periodic in space. λ is known as the wavelength.e. we obtain dx ω = . whereas k is known as the wavenumber.14) k Here. (13.16) ω The wave period is the oscillation period of the wave disturbance at a given point in space.19) dt k 282 . y(x + λ. Finally. t).13) with periodicity length 2π . t) = y(x. Hence. (13. y = +y0 . Equation (13. at any given point in space. t). We can see this by examining the motion of the wave peaks.7) also describes a sinusoidal pattern which propagates along the xaxis without changing shape. the displacement y oscillates between +y0 and −y0 (since the maximal values of cos θ are ±1). Thus. y(x. (13. the number of cycles per second the wave pattern executes at a given point in space) is written T= f= 1 ω = .17) The quantity ω is termed the angular frequency of the wave.13 WAVE MOTION 13.18) where n is an integer. T 2π (13.2 Waves on a stretched string Equation (13. (13. The wavelength is the distance between successive wave peaks. cos(θ + 2 π) = cos θ.15) λ= with period 2π . Differentiating the above expression with respect to time.
20) imply that v= T . from Eq. y = −y0 . Equations (13. propagate with the same speed.13 WAVE MOTION 13. Note.. that the wavelength 283 .20) yield v = fλ : (13.20) It is easily demonstrated that the wave troughs. This is true for all types of (sinusoidal) wave. 109. the wave peaks all propagate along the xaxis with uniform speed v= ω . (13. In other words.2 Waves on a stretched string v Figure 109: A sinusoidal wave propagating down the xaxis.21) i.12) and (13.14). (13.7). and dotdashed curves show the wave displacement at four successive and equally spaced times. it is fairly clear that the whole wave pattern moves with speed v—see Fig.e. dotted. µ (13.17). a wave’s speed is the product of its frequency and its wavelength. The solid. k (13. all waves that propagate down a stretched string do so with the same speed. dashed. Equations (13.. This common speed is determined by the properties of the string: i. its tension and mass per unit length.e. Thus. and (13.22) In other words.
24) This is interpreted as a (sinusoidal) wave of amplitude y0 and wavelength λ = 2 π/k which propagates in the +x direction with speed v. t) are two distinct solutions of Eq. (13.3 General waves By analogy with the previous discussion.22).e. One solution of Eq.3 General waves λ is arbitrary. the wave speed is determined by the gas pressure and density.23) ∂t2 ∂x2 where v is the common wave speed. (13. it is invariant under the transformation y → a y + b. c = 3 × 108 m/s2 . However.23) is a linear partial differential equation (PDE): i. One important mathematical property of linear PDEs is that their solutions are superposable: i. and vice versa.. a general wave disturbance propagating along the xaxis satisﬁes 2 ∂2 y 2 ∂ y =v . once the wavelength is speciﬁed.23) is y(x. 13. if y1 (x. they can be added together and still remain solutions. v is determined by the properties of the medium through which the wave propagates. for sound waves propagating through a gas.25) This is interpreted as a (sinusoidal) wave of amplitude y0 and wavelength λ = 2 π/k which propagates in the −x direction with speed v. (13.23) is y(x. the wave speed is a constant of nature: i.e. for waves propagating along a string. (13. Equation (13. (13. (13.13 WAVE MOTION 13.e.. In general.. where a and b are arbitrary constants. the wave speed is determined by the string tension and mass per unit length. the wave frequency f is ﬁxed via Eqs. (13. and for electromagnetic waves propagating through a vacuum. t) and y2 (x.21) and (13.23) then 284 . It follows that short wavelength waves possess high frequencies. Thus. t) = y0 cos [k (x + v t)]. t) = y0 cos [k (x − v t)]. Thus. It is easily demonstrated that another equally good solution of Eq.
4 Wavepulses As is easily demonstrated. t) = y1 (x. and y2 (x. and represents the two aforementioned waves propagating in the same region without affecting one another.29) 285 . t) (where a and b are arbitrary constants) is also a solution— this can be seen from inspection of Eq. t) + b y2 (x. t) + y2 (x.27) represents a wave of amplitude a2 and wavenumber k2 which propagates in the −x direction. The solid. dotted. 13. and dashed curves show the wave displacement at three successive and equally spaced times. To be more exact. then y(x.4 Wavepulses x −> Figure 110: A wavepulse propagating down the xaxis.13 WAVE MOTION v 13.23) is written F(x − v t).26) represents a wave of amplitude a1 and wavenumber k1 which propagates in the +x direction. t) = a1 cos [k1 (x − v t)] (13. a y1 (x. t) = a2 cos [k2 (x + v t)] (13. (13. if y1 (x.23). the most general solution of the wave equation (13.28) is a valid solution of the wave equation. t) (13. (13.
13 WAVE MOTION 13. then we can write F(x − v t) = ∞ ¯ F(k) cos [k (x − v t)] dk. without changing shape.30) represents another arbitrary pulse which propagates in the −x direction with speed v. unlike our previous sinusoidal wave solutions. (13. a general wavepulse possesses a deﬁnite propagation speed but does not possess a deﬁnite wavelength or frequency. for the sake of simplicity. The above solution is interpreted as a pulse of arbitrary shape which propagates in the +x direction with speed v. For instance. (13. What is the relationship between these new wavepulse solutions and our previous sinusoidal wave solutions? It turns out that any wavepulse can be built up from a suitable linear superposition of sinusoidal waves. if F(x − v t) represents a wavepulse propagating down the xaxis. Note that the function ¯ F(k) is known as the Fourier spectrum of the wavepulse F(x − v t).32) 0 The above expression essentially tells us the strength of the wavenumber k component of the wavepulse F(x − v t). by combining sinusoidal waves of varying wavenumber in different proportions. Likewise. it is possible to build up wavepulses of completely different shape. 110. Figures 111 and 112 show two different wavepulses and their associated Fourier spectra. G(x + v t) (13. How do we determine ¯ F(k) for a given wavepulse? Well.4 Wavepulses where F(p) is an arbitrary function. without changing shape—see Fig. a mathematical result known as Fourier’s theorem yields 2 ¯ F(k) = π ∞ F(p) cos (k p) dp. Note that. Note how.31) 0 where we have assumed that F(−p) = F(p). 286 . The above formula is basically a recipe for generating the propagating wavepulse F(x − v t) from a suitable admixture of sinusoidal waves of deﬁnite wavelength and frequency: ¯ F(k) speciﬁes the required amplitude of the wavelength λ = 2 π/k component.
F(x − v t). 287 .4 Wavepulses Figure 111: A propagating wavepulse. ¯ F(k).13 WAVE MOTION 13. and its associated Fourier spectrum.
4 Wavepulses Figure 112: A propagating wavepulse.13 WAVE MOTION 13. 288 . ¯ F(k). F(x − v t). and its associated Fourier spectrum.
At the antinodes. 113. The nodes are halfway between successive antinodes. that the amplitude of the wave now varies with position. however. (13. (13. It can be seen that the wave pattern does not propagate along the xaxis. y1 (x. the waves completely cancel one another out—this is termed destructive interference.13 WAVE MOTION 13. the amplitude is maximal. Making use of the standard trigonometric identity cos x + cos y = 2 cos we obtain y(x. t) = y0 [cos (k x − ω t) + cos (k x + ω t)] . 113 can be thought of as the interference pattern generated by combining the two traveling wave solutions y1 (x. At the nodes. y2 (x. 289 (13. The net result is y(x. the waves reinforce one another.5 Standing waves 13. the amplitude is zero.5 Standing waves Up to now. called antinodes. so that the oscillation amplitude becomes double that associated with each wave individually—this is termed constructive interference. t) + y2 (x. t) = y0 cos (k x − ω t). and both nodes and antinodes are evenly spaced half a wavelength apart. The standing wave shown in Fig. 2 2 (13. Is it possible to construct a wave solution which does not propagate? Suppose we combine a sinusoidal wave of amplitude y0 and wavenumber k which propagates in the +x direction.34) (13. At other points. Note.35) x+y x−y cos . all of the wave solutions that we have investigated have been propagating solutions. called nodes.37) The pattern of motion speciﬁed by the above expression is illustrated in Fig. t) = y1 (x. t).33) with a second sinusoidal wave of amplitude y0 and wavenumber k which propagates in the −x direction.36) . At certain points. t) = y0 cos (k x + ω t). t) = 2 y0 cos (k x) cos (ω t). t) and y2 (x.
it follows that the wave frequency must be adjusted such that an integer number of halfwavelengths ﬁt on the string. . µ (13. .5 Standing waves node anti−node Figure 113: A standing wave. Suppose that the string runs along the xaxis. Since the ends of the string are ﬁxed. However. any wave excited on the string must satisfy the constraints y(0. λ L=n . 2 where n = 1. 3. Most musical instruments work by exciting standing waves.. whereas wind instruments excite standing waves in columns of air. Since the nodes in a standing wave pattern are spaced half a wavelength apart. (13. . Consider a guitar string of length L. t) = y(L. fλ = 290 (13.21) and (13. from Eqs.22). Now. In other words.39) T . The various curves show the wave displacement at different times. and extends from x = 0 to x = L. a standing wave can easily satisfy the constraints. 2.13 WAVE MOTION 13. For instance. t) = 0. stringed instruments excite standing waves on strings. (13.38) It is fairly clear that no propagating wave solution of the form y 0 cos [k (x ± v t)] can satisfy these constraints.40) . provided two of its nodes coincide with the ends of the string.
it is the overtone harmonics which give the note its peculiar timbre. µ (13. The frequency f0 is termed the fundamental frequency. etc. 3 f0 . via sound waves which oscillate in sympathy with the guitar string.. which are integer multiples of f0 = 1 2L T . respectively. 3 f0 . The above two equations can be combined to give f= n 2L T . is excited on the string. µ (13. To be more exact. etc. t) = y0 cos (k x − ω t). consisting predominantly of the fundamental harmonic wave. (13.41) Thus. and are interpreted as musical notes. What are the wavelength and frequency of the wave. Of course. The fundamental harmonic determines the musical note which the guitar string plays. When a guitar string is plucked an admixture of standing waves. are termed the overtone harmonic frequencies. as seen by the second observer? Well. the xcoordinate in the moving observer’s frame of reference is x = x − v0 t (see Sect. a trumpet sounds different to a guitar. 4. the standing waves that can be excited on a guitar string have frequencies f0 . whereas the frequencies 2 f0 . are λ = 2 π/k and f = ω/2 π. because a trumpet excites a different mix of overtone harmonics than a guitar.43) The wavelength and frequency of the wave.6 The Doppler effect where T and µ are the tension and mass per unit length of the string. both 291 .42) These frequencies are transmitted to our ear. 2 f0 .13 WAVE MOTION 13. Consider a second observer moving with uniform speed vo in the +x direction. the frequencies correspond to notes spaced an octave apart. However.9). respectively. as seen by a stationary observer. even when they are both playing the same note.6 The Doppler effect Consider a sinusoidal wave of wavenumber k and angular frequency ω propagating in the +x direction: y(x. Thus. 13.
Since v = ω/k. Consider a stationary observer measuring a wave emitted by a source which is moving towards the observer with speed vs . This phenomenon is called the Doppler effect. since v = f λ. the wave frequency experienced by the moving observer is f = 1− vo v f. Let v be the propagation speed of the wave. (13. Finally.47) Thus. in the second observer’s frame of reference the wave takes the form y(x .. t) = y0 cos (k x − ω t). In fact. (13.e. the general Doppler shift formula (for a moving observer and a stationary wave source) is f = 1 vo v f. (13.. v = v − vo . we have simply replaced x by x + vo t in Eq.46) (13. Hence. Clearly.45) Here.e. Hence.6 The Doppler effect observers measure the same time. Consider two neighbouring wave crests emitted by the source. it follows that the wave speed is also shifted in the moving observer’s frame of reference.48) where the upper/lower signs correspond to the observer moving in the same/opposite direction to the wave. the same k) but a different frequency (i. the moving observer sees a wave possessing the same wavelength (i. It is easily demonstrated that an observer moving in the opposite direction to a wave sees a higher frequency than a stationary observer.44) where v is the wave speed seen by the moving observer. (13.43). and the wavelength is the same in both the moving and stationary observers’ frames of reference. Suppose 292 . where ω = ω − k vo . a different ω) to that seen by the stationary observer. This occurs because the moving observer is traveling in the same direction as the wave. the moving observer sees a lower frequency wave than the stationary observer. (13.13 WAVE MOTION 13. and is therefore effectively trying to catch it up.
the effective frequency f seen by the observer is f = f . 1 − vs /v (13. (13. we have taken into account the fact that the source is a distance vs T closer to the observer when the second wave crest is emitted.. a high frequency) when it is coming towards us than when it is moving away from us. Likewise. λ = d1 − d2 = (v − vs ) T. electromagnetic waves of centimeter wavelength) of ﬁxed frequency at an oncoming 293 . When an ambulance passes us on the street. λ .13 WAVE MOTION 13.50) (13. At time t. and the second at time t = T . Of course. This manifestation of the Doppler effect should be familiar to everyone.49) where f is the wave frequency in the frame of reference of the source. In a speed trap. if the source is moving away from the observer then the frequency is shifted downwards. its siren has a higher pitch (i. Since v = f λ .e. Probably the most notorious use of the Doppler effect in everyday life is in police speed traps. seen by the observer is the distance between neighbouring wave crests. Hence. The general formula for the shift in a wave’s frequency induced by relative motion of the observer and the source is 1 vo /v f = f. The effective wavelength. The upper/lower signs correspond to relative motion by which the observer and the source move apart/together. and vs is the speed of the source. We conclude that if the source is moving towards the observer then the wave frequency is shifted upwards. It is the Doppler shift induced by the motion of the siren with respect to a stationary listener which causes the frequency change. Here.6 The Doppler effect that the ﬁrst is emitted at time t = 0..e. whereas the second wave crest has traveled a distance d2 = v (t − T ) + vs T (measured from the position of the source at t = 0). the ﬁrst wave crest has traveled a distance d1 = v t towards the observer. the oscillation frequency of the siren never changes. where T = 1/f is the wave period in the frame of reference of the source.51) 1 ± vs /v where vo is the speed of the observer. a policeman ﬁres radar waves (i.
6 The Doppler effect car.e. v.. λ.2: Middle C Question: A steel wire in a piano has a length of L = 0. by measuring the frequency increase of the reﬂected waves.13 WAVE MOTION 13. is v = f λ.250 m. These waves reﬂect off the car. Answer: The fundamental standing wave on a stretched wire is such that the length L of the wire corresponds to half the wavelength λ of the wave. f.9 m and a mass of m = 5. Worked example 13. λ = v/f.6 Hz. Hence.1667 × 10−2 m. fh 4200 The longest wavelength (which corresponds to the lowest frequency) is λh = 343 v = 12. λ = 2 L = 1.1: Piano range Question: A piano emits sound waves whose frequencies range from fl = 28 Hz to fh = 4200 Hz. the vibration possess a frequency f = 261. and speed. wavelength. What range of wavelengths is spanned by these waves? The speed of sound in air is v = 343 m/s. = fl 28 Worked example 13.80 m. the policeman can determine the car’s speed. Answer: The relationship between a wave’s frequency. The shortest wavelength (which corresponds to the highest frequency) is v 343 λl = = = 8. 294 . which effectively becomes a moving source.4 g. Hence. To what tension T must this wire be stretched so that its fundamental vibration corresponds to middle C: i. Hence.
330 × 103 N.65 Furthermore.78 rad.00 × 10−3 kg/m. x is in meters and t is in seconds. k = 2. k as the wavenumber. What are the wavelength. Furthermore. T .78 ω = = 0. Moreover./m. and ω as the angular frequency. k 2. the mass per unit length.7608 × 2.7608 Hz. and propagation speed of the wave? Answer: We identify A as the wave amplitude. Hence.6 The Doppler effect The propagation speed of waves on the wire is given by v = f λ = 261. Now. k = 2 π/λ.804 m/s. µ . of a stretched wire is v= Thus.88 m/s.88)2 × 6. ω = 2 π f.3: Sinusoidal wave Question: A wave is described by y = A sin (k x − ω t).80 = 470. 295 T . the relationship between the wave propagation speed. 2π 2 × π = = 2. where v is the propagation speed. and the tension.371 m. v. f= v = 0. where f is the frequency. and ω = 4. Worked example 13. λ= 4. frequency. Thus. the string’s mass per unit length is m 5.9 Now. µ.13 WAVE MOTION 13. 2π 2 × π Finally.6 × 1. µ= L 0.00 × 10−3 = 1.4 × 10−3 = = 6. where λ is the wavelength. where A = 4 cm.65 rad. Hence. T = v2 µ = (470.371 = 1. v = f λ./s.
. the ambulance).61 Hz. v 343 Hence. the siren’s apparent frequency is vo 22. moving at vo = 80 km/hr. Worked example 13. passes a stationary police car whose siren has a frequency of f = 500 Hz. Answer: The truck’s speed is 80 × 1000 = 22. and f is the wave frequency 296 . 1 − vs /v where vo is the speed of the observer (i. at speed vo = 33 m/s.. the siren’s apparent frequency is vo 22. v 343 When the truck is moving away from the police car.22 m/s.e.79 Hz.39 − 467. At what frequency does the driver of the car hear the siren? The speed of sound is v = 343 m/s.22 f2 = 1 − f= 1− × 500 = 467.6 The Doppler effect Worked example 13. Answer: The apparent frequency f of a sound wave is given by 1 − vo /v f = f. the frequency shift is vo = ∆f = f1 − f2 = 532. The ambulance approaches a car which is traveling on the same road.4: Truck passing stationary siren Question: A truck. vs is the speed of the source (i. in the same direction. 3600 When the truck is moving towards the police car. the car driver).5: Ambulance and car Question: An ambulance is traveling down a straight road at speed vs = 42 m/s.13 WAVE MOTION 13. The ambulance driver hears his/her siren at a frequency of f = 500 Hz.e.61 = 64. v is the speed of sound. What is the frequency change heard by the truck driver as the truck passes the police car? The speed of sound is v = 343 m/s.39 Hz.22 f1 = 1 + f= 1+ × 500 = 532.
Hence. We have chosen a minus sign in the numerator of the above formula because the observer is moving away from the source. f = 1 − 42/343 297 .13 WAVE MOTION 13. We have chosen a minus sign in the denominator of the above formula because the source is moving towards the observer. leading to a downward Doppler shift.6 The Doppler effect in the frame of reference of the source. leading to a upward Doppler shift. 1 − 33/343 × 500 = 514.95 Hz.