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For IB Diploma.

November 20, 2012

Inertia in water-in-bu ket and roller oaster motion

The understanding of two following, simple and yet important observations on pu k's behavior
is ru ial for the understanding of the water-in-bu ket and the roller oaster motion.
1. Take an airplane starting to a elerate uniformly. A passenger is holding horizontally a table
with a pu k on it. The fri tion between the table and the pu k is negligible. What is observed
is that as the airplane starts to a elerate the pu k starts to a elerate in opposite dire tion.
straight line
path of puck


fixed Earth
reference position

One may reason that sin e the pu k approa hes the passenger with a eleration there must be
(due to Newton's se ond law of motion) a for e a ting on it in the dire tion of its motion. The
explanation, however, is the following: the pu k due to its inertia does not hange its position
with respe t to the Earth, it is the passenger that a elerates towards the pu k.1

1 When

the table's rear side omes in onta t with the pu k it pushes on it giving it forward a eleration. If
there's a s ale between the table's rear side and the pu k the s ale starts to read some value whi h magnitude
depends on both the airplane's forward a eleration and the pu k's mass.


2 . curved path of the passenger straight path of the puck puck frictionless table passenger Similarly to previous explanation there's no for e a ting on the pu k to the right. The passenger and the table move to the left and approa h from right side the moving along straight line pu k. If there's a s ale between the table's right side and the pu k the s ale starts to read some value whi h magnitude depends on both the airplane's turning a eleration and the pu k's mass.A se ond observation refers to the airplane moving with onstant speed and making a turn to the left. The pu k now seems to move right with a eleration equal in magnitude and opposite to the one ausing airplane's left turn.2 2 When the table's right side omes in onta t with the pu k it pushes on it to the left hanging its dire tion of motion.

When the water falls out of the bu ket. it is be ause the a eleration of the water is greater than the overall a eleration of the bu ket. the bu ket needs to be a elerated (pulled downwards) faster than what gravity would move the water. The pulling for e downward varies with the velo ity the bu ket moves. 2. By spinning the bu ket faster. When the pull on the bu ket is equal to the pull of gravity. just barely keep water in the bu ket when it is water needs to be a elerated (pulled downwards) gravity would move it. In order to keep water in the bu ket when it is upside down. Gravity is a elerating the water. 1. Gravity moves the water out of the bu ket. 3 . the water stays in the bu ket. The pulling for e downthe velo ity the bu ket moves. The bu ket needs a speed so that the pull equals the pull of grav- 3. When the pull on the bu ket is greater than the pull of gravity. 3. If swung slow enough the person's arm is resisting the fall of the bu ket but not the fall of water. the as fast as what ward varies with to be twirled at ity. When the pull on the bu ket is less than the pull of gravity. the pull downwards is greater.A bu ket with water 1. the water falls out of the bu ket. Figure 2: A bu ket being swung in a ir le. Figure 1: Snapshots of water in the bu ket. the water PULL OF GRAVITY PULL ON BUCKET PULL OF GRAVITY PULL ON BUCKET PULL OF GRAVITY PULL ON BUCKET just barely stays in the bu ket. 2. In order to upside down.

F . the latter in reases proportionally to the velo ity squared and inversely proportional to the lo al radius of the loop. then by denition no entripetal for e is present. If no ir ular motion. gets the form (3) N= mv 2 + mg. F = N − Q. whi h is ee tively what a roller oaster does when it travels through a loop.A oaster's loop When an obje t moves in a ir le. Near the bottom of a loop. r where r is the loop's (lo al) radius. N To better understand the situation. 4 . Solving eq. the for es add together (gure to the right) (4) F = N + Q. however. gravity (weight Q on gure to the right) pulls in a dire tion away from the enter of the loop ir le. gravity. F = 0. when substituting relevant quantities. This should be intuitive: the faster we go at the bottom on the loop and the smaller is the loop the more we feel pressed to the art (the more the hypotheti al s ale between our body and the art would read). put yourself in the rider's pla e. is the dieren e between the for e of the tra k pushing up (normal for e3 ) and gravity pulling down (1) N Net Force Fc (Centripetal Force) Q Figure 3: A roller oaster's art at the bottom of the tra k. (If the art. (1) for normal for e gives (2) N = F + Q. 3 Remember Q Net Force F c (Centripetal Force) Figure 4: Top position of the art. (1) the for e N applied by the lo ally horizontal tra k equals the art's weight: N = Q. it pulls downward on the arts wherever they are on the tra k. your body ontinues (be ause of its inertia ) to travel in the same dire tion it was traveling in before the hange in dire tion. Gravity always pulls downward with the same strength (for a given mass). the moving obje t is for ed inward toward what's alled the enter of rotation. Thus the art (and the passenger in it!) experien es for e pushing up that is bigger the its weight mg by the fa tor mv 2 /r. Here. in the ase of a roller oaster. and the pushing for e of the tra k. the entripetal for e. Q. N . both are dire ted downward and a t together to provide the entripetal for e. When the roller oaster's art you're riding in hanges dire tion. whi h. and a ording to eq. F . and. normal for e a ting on obje t is what the s ale pla ed between a oor and the obje t reads. It's this push toward the enter  entripetal for e  that keeps an obje t moving along a urved path. Near the top of the loop.

The art has speed enough to move along tra k of bigger r and it tries to do it by pushing on the tra k with for e N . A tall loop means a big radius. As a ompromise. you'd realize that the tra k is a tually pushing down on the art. The weight be omes dominant and pulls the art down away from the urve of the tra k. however.tra k and gravity weren't there. In other words. the tra k barely pushes on the art) then N = 0 and eq. and the art on you. as a art goes up. On some of the early round loops. however. It is analog to the bu ket with water des ribed in 2. (4) simplies to (5) 2 mvtop = mg. In order to apply a entripetal for e equal to gravity at the top. Most rides have a tall loop. If the art is to be on the verge of falling o the tra k (i. the test riders a tually had their ne ks broken as a ombination of the sudden rise in the loop as they entered at an extremely high rate of speed. inward toward the enter of rotation. The sti tra k. These irregular loops allow a ir ular gure whose radius hanges. the art does not push on the tra k anymore and so is the tra k on the art alike to the bu ket water problem #3. 5 . the slower it will be traveling over the top. The art looses onta t and be omes weightless. you nd yourself pressed against the seat throughout the loop  perhaps most surprisingly at the top. you would ontinue on the tangent to the path!) As a result. In order to apply enough entripetal a eleration the roller oaster's art has to either be traveling very fast or the radius of the loop has to be made small. (5) stay onstant (and they do!) then the entripetal for e is too small to provide the motion of the art along the urve of radius r. The entripetal for e applied is bigger than the obje t's weight and the art pushes on the tra k with for e N = F − Q > 0. when you're ompletely upside-down! If you were to observe your motion relative to the art. the art must be traveling extremely fast as the rider enters the loop. The higher it goes. it slows down. (4) when N = 0) so that there is no push N between the art and the tra k. does not allow the art to do it and drives it through its own urved shape. The problem is. If the speed of the art's motion is smaller than vtop and all other quantities in eq. the loops today are designed around an irregular shape alled a lothoid loop or spiral of Ar himedes. r where vtop is the minimum speed at the top of the loop required for the art to stay on it.e. The entripetal for e applied is now equal to the art's weight (eq.

b) Figure 6: Ee ts for the average healthy person. the dire tion of the blood is: in ase a) away from person's head. a) Inside loop. b) Can you spot the irregular loop in these regular ir les? A person passes out because of the lack of oxygen in the brain. The g's felt is the a eleration N felt relative to gravity a eleration g: g ′ s felt = .b) a) Figure 5: a) Irregular loops of a real roller oaster. in ase b) towards person's head. 3g red out limit 8g black out limit a) A person passes out because of too much blood creating too much pressure on the brain. 6 . In both ases a) and b) an oxygen arrying blood due to its mg inertia ontinues its motion along the tangent to the urved path. b) Outside loop.