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E6-Oscillatory Motion: The Pendulum


Partner’s Name:

Laboratory Section: Laboratory Instructor:

Recitation Section: Recitation Instructor:

OBJECTIVES: In class, you have just shown that the period of a pendulum is
T = 2π L
where L is the length of the string and g is the acceleration of gravity. This result
assumes a point mass for the bob and a massless string. It also assumes that the angle of
swing is small, small in the sense that (in radians) sin θ ≅ θ. Today, you will determine g
using a pendulum, determine the dependence of T upon L and investigate what happens if
θ is not “small.”

Procedure: Set up DATA STUDIO to measure the period of a pendulum using a
photogate. Choose Timers and then chose ch 1 gate blocked, again ch 1 gate blocked
and once again ch 1 gate blocked. This will time a full oscillation of the pendulum.

1. A pendulum is not truly isochronous; the period varies with amplitude. (Christian
Huyghens discovered a method of making an isochronous pendulum by varying
the length L with the angle of swing, θ.) For several values of θ, with L constant,
determine T. DO NOT DESTROY the timer gates. BE Careful.
2. Now measure T as a function of L. Measure T several times at each L, so you can
estimate ∆T, the error in your measurement of T. How do you measure L since
we assume a point mass for the bob?

1. Make a table of T vs. θ in an EXCEL spreadsheet.
2. Make a table of T vs. L in an EXCEL spreadsheet
1. Add a column to your spreadsheet where you calculate g from your
2. Calculate gAVE, the average value of g determined from your measurements of
3. Calculate the per cent difference between your measured gAVE and the USGS
value for Rolla of gUSGS = 9.7988230 ± .000005 m/s2. Incidentally, this value
from the USGS was measured with a pendulum not far from your present
4. Estimate ΔL, the range of error in your estimate of L. (I.e. L ±L). Similarly
estimate ΔT. [ΔL = L L ]. Recall that L =L/L.
5. Recalling that the error in (T2) =2 T, estimate g. Remember that fractional
or per cent errors add for multiplication and division.
6. Comments on 3 and 5?
7. Plot T vs. L.
8. Plot T vs. θ from your measurements.
9. Make a free-body diagram for the pendulum when the bob is at an angle θ
from the vertical. Find the component of the force tangent to the motion. Set
this equal to ma. The pendulum is isochronous if F has the form F ≈ -kx
where k is a constant. What approximation do you need to make to have F in
this form? Note that x is replaced by θ for the pendulum. What is the
equation you then obtain from F = ma?