CONCEPTS

15.1 Periodic motion and energy
15.2 Simple harmonic motion
15.3 Fourier’s theorem
15.4 Restoring forces in simple
harmonic motion
QUANTITATIVE TOOLS
15.5 Energy of a simple
harmonic oscillator
15.6 Simple harmonic motion
and springs
15.7 Restoring torques
15.8 Damped oscillations
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C
H A P T E R 1 5
Peri odi c moti on
2 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Concepts
post







s








Figure 15.1 A cart fastened to a spring that is anchored to a
post executes a periodic back-and-forth motion when it is re-
leased after being compressed.
A
ny motion that repeats itself at regular time in-
tervals is called periodic motion. The motion of,
say, the Moon revolving around Earth or Earth
revolving around the Sun is one type of familiar peri-
odic motion, as is the rotation of the hands of a clock.
In this chapter, we are interested in a particular type of
periodic motion, namely back-and-forth periodic mo-
tion. Such motion, called either vibration or oscillation
(the two words mean the same thing), is common at all
scales in the universe. A rocking chair, a swing, the pen-
dulum of a grandfather clock, the strings on a guitar,
the wings of a mosquito all oscillate. At the atomic
level, atoms oscillate inside solids. At the cosmic level,
the entire universe may oscillate in an ever-repeating
cycle of expansion and contraction. The physical na-
ture of these periodic motions are very different from
one another, and yet they are all closely related and
their mathematical descriptions are always of the same
form, differing only in the quantities involved.
In this chapter, we first develop a model for the
simplest type of oscillation, called simple harmonic mo-
tion, and relate it to a periodic motion we are already
familiar with: rotational motion. Then we show that
any oscillation can be described in terms of simple har-
monic motions. After discussing a number of examples,
we discuss the effects of energy dissipation during os-
cillations.
15.1 Periodic motion and energy
Figure 15.1 shows the periodic motion of a spring-cart
system. The system, initially at rest, is compressed and
then released from rest. After being released, the cart
oscillates back-and-forth along the low-friction track,
alternatingly compressing and stretching the spring.
15.1 (a) List the forces exerted on the spring-
cart system of Figure 15.1 right after it is released
and draw a free-body diagram for each object in
the system. (b) Which of these forces do work on
the system as it oscillates? (c) As the hand push-
es on the cart and compresses the spring, is the
work done by the cart on the spring positive, neg-
ative, or zero? (d) How does the work done by
the cart on the spring compare with that done by
the spring on the cart?
To understand why the motion of the cart in Figure
15.1 is periodic and why the cart doesn’t simply return
to its initial position and remain there, let us look at the
mechanical energy in the cart-spring system. As the
spring is compressed by the hand, elastic potential ener-
gy is stored in the system. Just before the cart is released
the system is at rest, so the mechanical energy of the sys-
tem consists entirely of potential energy (Figure 15.2a).
After the cart is released, the spring-cart system is closed
— none of the forces exerted on it does any work on it
— and so the energy of the system must remain con-
stant.
In order to analyze the system’s energy changes in
more detail, we choose an x axis that points in the ini-
tial direction of motion of the cart and that has its ori-
gin at the center of the cart’s equilibrium position. As
the expanding spring speeds up the cart in the positive
x direction, the kinetic energy increases and the poten-
tial energy decreases (Figure 15.2b). When the cart
reaches the equilibrium position at x = 0 the potential
energy is zero (Figure 15.2c). The cart, however, does
not stop at this position because its kinetic energy is
15.1 Periodic motion and energy 3
0
x
(a) 0.00 s
U
s
K
U
s
K
(b) 0.09 s
(h) 0.63 s
U
s
K
U
s
K
(i) 0.72 s
U
s
K
(c) 0.18 s
U
s
K
(d) 0.27 s
U
s
K
(e) 0.36 s
U
s
K
(f) 0.45 s
U
s
K
(g) 0.54 s
Figure 15.2 Periodic motion is the result of a continuous
exchange between kinetic and potential energy.
not zero. The cart therefore overshoots the equilibrium
position and begins stretching the spring. As the spring
stretches, it exerts on the cart a restoring force that
slows the cart down and converts kinetic energy back
to elastic potential energy (Figure 15.2d). This contin-
ues until the kinetic energy falls to zero, at which point
the cart reverses its direction of travel (Figure 15.2e).
The potential energy is converted back to kinetic ener-
gy (Figure 15.2f), and the cart again returns to the equi-
librium position, this time travelling leftward (Figure
15.2g). The potential energy is zero again, but with the
cart’s kinetic energy being nonzero, it overshoots the
equilibrium position once again. Provided no energy
is dissipated, the system returns to its initial state (com-
pare Figures 15.2a and 15.2i). A new cycle begins, and
the cart repeats its back-and-forth motion.
15.2 (a) In Figure 15.2e, the cart’s displacement
from the equilibrium position is maximum. Is
the cart’s acceleration at that instant positive,
negative, or zero? (b) At which instant(s) in Fig-
ure 15.2 is the magnitude of the cart’s accelera-
tion largest? At which instant(s) is it smallest?
(Use the blue position curve to answer these
questions.)
The time interval it takes to complete a full cycle
of the motion is the period T (see Section 11.1). For
the motion shown in Figure 15.2 the period is equal to
the time elapsed between (a) and (i): T = 0.72 s. The
inverse of the period, called the frequency of the mo-
tion, , gives the number of cycles completed
per second. In Figure 15.2, f = 1/(0.72 s) = 1.4 s
–1
and
so the cart completes 1.4 cycles each second.
The magnitude of the cart’s maximum displacement
from the equilibrium position is called the amplitude
A of the periodic motion. The amplitude is related to
the mechanical energy of the system. In Figure 15.2, for
example, the larger the initial compression of the spring,
the larger the amplitude and the larger the initial poten-
tial energy.
In practice, periodic motion in mechanical systems
does not continue indefinitely because some energy is
always dissipated (friction in the cart’s bearings, air resis-
tance, heating of the spring). This dying out of periodic
motion due to dissipation of energy is called damping.
Initially, we shall neglect damping and with this simplifi-
cation, we find that
Periodic motion is characterized by a continuous
conversion between potential and kinetic energy in
a closed system.
f ϭ 1͞T
4 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Concepts
All systems that exhibit this behavior have one com-
mon feature: a restoring interaction that tends to return
the system to equilibrium. Some examples are illustrat-
ed in Figure 15.3. Each of these systems executes period-
ic motion when disturbed from its equilibrium position,
and in each case the amplitude of the motion is a mea-
sure of the mechanical energy of the system.
15.3 For each system in Figure 15.3, identify (a)
the restoring force and (b) the type of potential
energy associated with the motion.
15.2 Simple harmonic motion
Measuring the period of any oscillating system reveals
a surprising fact: when the amplitude of the motion is
not too large, the period is independent of the ampli-
tude. For example, an object suspended from a spring
has a fixed period of oscillation regardless of its ampli-
tude (Figure 15.4). The period of a pendulum, too, is in-
dependent of the amplitude of its swing, which is why
pendulums are used to regulate the movement of me-
chanical clocks. Likewise, when you pluck a guitar string,
the pitch of the sound, which is determined by the
string’s period of oscillation, is the same regardless of
how far back you pull the string.
A system exhibiting equal periods for all amplitudes
is called isochronous. Provided their amplitudes are
not too large, all the systems shown in Figure 15.3 are
isochronous. Individual systems have different periods
that are determined by the properties of the system,
but any given system has a period that is essentially in-
dependent of amplitude.
The graph of displacement versus time for an
isochronous oscillating system is shown in Figure 15.5.
The x(t) curves for an isochronous oscillation are all
sine functions. For this reason they are referred to as si-
nusoidal curves. Any periodic motion that yields a si-
nusoidal x(t) curve is called simple harmonic motion
and a system executing such motion is called a simple
harmonic oscillator. For small amplitudes all the sys-
tems shown Figure 15.3 yield this type of x(t) curve,
and so all are examples of simple harmonic motion.
The motion is called harmonic because in musical in-
struments harmonic motion is responsible for the
sound emitted by the instruments.
The fact that simple harmonic motion is isochro-
nous allows us to draw some important conclusions.
Consider, for example, the two isochronous x(t)
curves in Figure 15.5, one with twice the amplitude of
the other. These could be the curves of two identical
pendulums or any other of the systems shown in Fig-
ure 15.3, with one oscillating object moving twice as
far out as the other. In one period, object 1 always
covers twice the distance that object 2 covers. Because
the periods are the same, the velocity of object 1 must
always be twice as large as that of object 2 at the same
instant in the periodic motion. Neither motion has
constant velocity or constant acceleration — the
velocities and accelerations change constantly. How-
(a)
(c) ( d)
(b)

Figure 15.3 Examples of oscillating systems: (a) pendulum, (b) ruler on desk, (c) ball on curved surface, (d) taut cello string.
15.2 Simple harmonic motion 5
object 1
turning point
turning point
object 2
0
A
1
2
!
A
1
2
+
!A
+A



x
1
4
T
1
2
T
3
4
T
T
Figure 15.5 Positions-versus-time graphs for two isochronous
objects.
7
4
T
3
2
T
5
4
T
3
4
T
1
2
T
1
4
T T 0




2A
1
2A
2
Figure 15. 4 The oscillation of an object suspended from a spring is isochronous: the period T does not depend on the ampli-
tude of the oscillation.
ever, in order for the velocity of object 1 always to be
twice that of object 2, the acceleration of object 1
must, at each instant, be twice as large as the acceler-
ation of object 1.
As you saw in Checkpoint 15.2, the acceleration is
largest when the displacement from the equilibrium
position is largest (that is to say, at the turning points
which are the positions where the object turns around).
This tells us that the acceleration of object 1 at its turn-
ing point x
1
= A is twice as large as that of object 2 at
its turning point . Given that the two objects
are identical, we conclude that the acceleration of an
isochronous object is proportional to the displacement
from the equilibrium position. Because the accelera-
tion of an object is proportional to the vector sum of
the forces exerted on it, this tells us that the restoring
force exerted on the oscillating object is also propor-
tional to the displacement from the equilibrium posi-
tion. We already know that springs exert linear
restoring forces (Hooke’s law, Section 8.9). The obser-
vation that all systems in Figure 15.3 are isochronous
tells us, then, that the restoring forces in all these sys-
tems must also be linearly proportional to displace-
ment from the equilibrium position.
A object executing simple harmonic motion is sub-
ject to a linear restoring force that tends to return
the object to its equilibrium position and is linear-
ly proportional to the object’s displacement from
x
2
ϭ
1
2
A
its equilibrium position.
15.4 Suppose the spring in Figure 15.1 is com-
pressed twice as much. (a) By how much does the
mechanical energy of the spring-cart system in-
crease? (b) What is the relationship between the
amplitude of the oscillation and the mechanical
energy in the oscillating system?
Simple harmonic motion is closely related to a pe-
riodic motion we have already studied: circular mo-
tion at constant speed. To see how the two are
related, imagine projecting the shadow of a small
sphere in circular motion at constant speed onto a
screen perpendicular to the plane of the motion (Fig-
6 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Concepts
(a)

(b)
Figure 15.7 Experimental demonstration of the correspondence between circular motion at constant speed and simple har-
monic motion for (a) an object suspended from a spring and (b) a pendulum.
A
shadow
screen
light
A sin␾ A sin t ␻
= t ␾ ␻
M



ω
Figure 15.6 A small black sphere moves at constant speed in
a circle in the vertical plane. A light source to the left of the
sphere casts a shadow of the sphere onto the screen. As the
sphere moves in its circle, the shadow moves up and down in
simple harmonic motion.
ures 15.6 and 15.7). While the sphere sweeps out a
circular trajectory, its shadow oscillates up and down
on the screen. The position of the shadow at any in-
stant is given by the vertical component of the
sphere’s position vector at that instant. If the sphere
begins on the horizontal axis and moves with a con-
stant rotational speed u, the angle between the
sphere’s position vector and the horizontal axis grows
steadily with time: . The position of the
sphere’s shadow on the screen is then described by
, where A is the radius of the sphere’s tra-
jectory. Because it is described by a sinusoidal func-
〈 sin(␻t)
␾ ϭ ␻t

*
After the French mathematician Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier
(1768–1830)
tion, the projection of circular motion at constant
speed is simple harmonic motion.
The correspondence between circular motion at
constant speed and simple harmonic motion can be
demonstrated experimentally by projecting the shad-
ows of an object in simple harmonic motion and an ob-
ject in circular motion at constant speed on a screen, as
in Figure 15.7. If the rotational speed is adjusted so that
its period equals that of the oscillation, the shadows of
the two objects move synchronously.
15.5 What are (a) the direction of the velocity
of the shadow on the screen in Figure 15.6 and
(b) the direction of the shadow’s acceleration?
15.3 Fourier’s theorem
Simple harmonic motion is important because, as Fig-
ure 15.3 suggests, it is very common. Another reason it
is important is that according to a rule known as Fouri-
er’s theorem,
*
any periodic function can be written as a
sum of sinusoidal functions of frequency ,
where is an integer and Tis the period of the func-
tion. This means that any periodic motion can be treat-
ed as a superposition of simple harmonic motions. So if
n!1
f
n
ϭ n͞T
15.3 Fourier’s theorem 7
A
1
A
2
A
3
A
4
O
r
i
g
i
n
a
l
H
a
r
m
o
n
i
c
s
S
u
m

o
f

H
a
r
m
o
n
i
c
s
A
1
h
1
(t)
(a)
(b) (c)
A
1
h
1
(t) + A
2
h
2
(t)
A
1
h
1
(t) + A
2
h
2
(t) + A
3
h
3
(t)
A
1
h
1
(t) + A
2
h
2
(t) + A
3
h
3
(t) + A
4
h
4
(t)
t
T
x
f
1
= 1/T
f
2
= 2f
1
f
3

= 3f
1
f
4

= 4f
1
A
1
sin(2 f
1
t) = A
1
h
1
(t) π
A
2
sin(2 f
2
t) = A
2
h
2
(t) π
A
3
sin(2 f
3
t) = A
3
h
3
(t) π
h
n
(t) = sin(2 f
n

t) f
n

= n/T
Harmonics:
π
t
t
A
4
sin(2 f
4
t) = A
4
h
4
(t) π

x
x
Figure 15.8 Fourier analysis of a periodic function into sinusoidal functions. The period of each function is indicated by the
shading. (a) Original periodic function. (b) Set of harmonics used to describe the function in (a). (c) Successive sum of har-
monics showing an increasingly improving match to the original periodic function.
*
In general, an infinite sum of sines and cosines is required to
break down arbitrary periodic functions. Only periodic functions
for which (that is to say, they are odd in t such
as the one shown in Figure 15.8) can be analyzed with just sines
(which are also odd in t).
f( t) ϭ Ϫf(Ϫt)
we understand simple harmonic motion, we can deal
with any other type of periodic motion by breaking it
down into its simple harmonic components. Because any
motion that is nonrepetitive can be thought of as peri-
odic motion having an infinitely long period, Fourier’s
theorem has broad implications: the time-dependent
motion of any system can be expressed in terms of sinu-
soidal functions.
Consider, for example, the periodic motion represent-
ed by the nonsinusoidal curve in Figure 15.8a. Although
very different from simple harmonic motion, this mo-
tion can be expressed as the sum of a few simple har-
monic components, shown in the sinusoidal curves of
Figure 15.8b. The first component has the same fre-
quency as the original periodic function; this
frequency, the lowest in the sum, is called the funda-
mental frequency or first harmonic. All other compo-
nents, called higher harmonics, are at integer multiples
of the fundamental frequency: .
*
When
these higher harmonics are added to the first harmon-
f
n
ϭ nf
1
ϭ n͞T
f
1
ϭ 1͞T
ic, the shape of the resulting periodic function is not si-
nusoidal, but the period remains the same (Figure
15.8c). By adjusting the amplitude of each harmonic, it
is possible to make the sum of harmonics fit the origi-
nal periodic function.
The breaking down of a function into harmonic
components is called Fourier analysis, and the resulting
sum of sinusoidal functions is called a Fourier series.
Figure 15.9 shows one way of graphically representing
the Fourier series: the amplitudes A
n
of all the harmon-
ics are plotted against the frequencies of the harmon-
ics. As you saw in Checkpoint 15.4, the energy of a
simple harmonic oscillator is proportional to the square
of the amplitude. For this reason, it is customary to plot
Figure 15.10 Spectrum
analyzer display on a
stereo component.
T T
min
x
f
f
1
= 1/T
f
max
= 1/T
min
(a)
(b)
(A
n
)
2
2
T
4
T
6
T




t
Figure 15.11 Relationship between a periodic function and
its spectrum.
t
Fourier
analysis
Fourier
synthesis
A
n
(a)
(b)
(A
n
)
2
(c)
f
f




2
T
4
T
6
T
x
2
T
4
T
6
T
Figure 15.9 (a) Periodic function and (b) amplitudes of the
harmonic functions in the Fourier series of the function
shown in (a). (c) Spectrum of the periodic function, obtained
by plotting the squares of the amplitudes.
8 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Concepts
A
n
2
as a function of frequency, as shown in Figure 15.9c;
such a plot is called the spectrum of the periodic
function.
The spectrum shows the contribution of each
harmonic to the original periodic function. A similar
type of visual display of frequency content is found on
some stereophonic components; displays such as the
one shown in Figure 15.10 provide a visual representa-
tion of the frequency content of the sound being
played.
Figure 15.11 shows some important relationships
between a periodic function and its spectrum. The pe-
riod T of the function determines the frequency of
the first harmonic. In other words, the duration of
the slowest component of the function determines
the lowest frequency in the spectrum. Conversely,
the duration T
min
of the fastest component in the
function determines the highest frequency in the
spectrum.
Fourier analysis has many applications, ranging from
electronic signal processing to chemical analysis and
voice recognition. The ear functions as a Fourier ana-
lyzer because the inner ear breaks down the oscilla-
tions produced by sound into the simple harmonic
components, each producing a nerve impulse propor-
tional to the amplitude of that component.
The inverse of Fourier analysis — the creation of
periodic functions by adding sinusoidal functions to-
gether — is called Fourier synthesis. Amusician’s elec-
tronic synthesizer, for example, produces a sum of
harmonics that add up to produce different periodic
functions. When the amplitudes of the different har-
monics are adjusted so that they match the frequency
content of real instruments, the synthesizer simulates
the sounds of many musical instruments.
15.6 (a) What does the spectrum of a single sinu-
soidal function of period T look like? (b) As T is
increased, what change occurs in the spectrum?
0 x
stable unstable neutral
x
1
x
2
x
3

Σ
F

Σ
F

Σ
F

Σ
F
x
= 0
Σ
F
x

Σ
F
x
= 0
Figure 15.12 Whenever the vector sum of the forces exert-
ed on an object is zero, the object is in translational equilib-
rium. Three types of equilibrium are represented in this
graph: stable, unstable, and neutral.
15.4 Restoring forces in simple
harmonic motion
Periodic motion takes place about a position of trans-
lational or rotational equilibrium (Section 12.5) and
requires a restoring force that tends to return the ob-
ject to the equilibrium position.Consider, for example,
an object moving along an x axis and subject to the vec-
tor sum of forces whose x component is shown graph-
ically in Figure 15.12. The object is in translational
equilibrium at each position where the vector sum is
zero: at x
1
, x
2
, and all values of x > x
3
. Can the object os-
cillate about any of these positions? From the graph
we see that is positive to the left of x
1
, and so the
vector sum points toward x
1
. To the right of x
1
is negative and so the vector sum of forces again
points toward x
1
. So the forces exerted on the object
tend to return the object to x
1
whenever it moves away
from x
1
. Around x
1
the vector sum of forces “restore”
the translational equilibrium and so the object can os-
cillate around x
1
.
Because the vector sum of the forces always push-
es the object back to x
1
, this equilibrium position is said
to be stable. You can visualize this position by imagin-
ing a ball at the bottom of a bowl: when the ball is
displaced in any direction, a restoring force accelerates
͚
F
x
͚
F
÷
͚
F
x
15.4 Linear restoring forces 9
it back toward the bottom.
On either side of equilibrium position x
2
, the direc-
tion of the vector sum of the forces is such that the ob-
ject accelerates away from the equilibrium position.
Such an equilibrium position is called unstable because
the forces tend to amplify any disturbance from equi-
librium. Imagine balancing a ball on top of a hill: the
slightest displacement of the ball in any direction is
enough to make it accelerate away from the equilibri-
um position.
Positions for which x > x
3
represent a neutral equi-
librium: moving the ball in any direction has no effect
on its subsequent acceleration.
What all this tells us is that objects tend to oscillate
about stable equilibrium positions because the forces
about such positions tend to restore the equilibrium.
A consequence of the restoring forces about stable
equilibrium positions is that,
In the absence of friction a small displacement of
a system from a position of stable equilibrium
causes the system to oscillate.
15.7 (a) Are there any equilibrium positions in
the force-versus-distance graph in Figure 15.13. If
so, is the equilibrium stable, unstable, or neutral?
(b) Compare the magnitude of the restoring force
for equal displacements on either side of x
o
in
Figure 15.13a.
Figure 15.13 shows why so many systems move in
simple harmonic motion. As we saw in section 15.2, sim-
ple harmonic motion requires linear restoring forces —
that is, forces that are linearly proportional to the dis-
placement from the equilibrium position. In Checkpoint
15.7b you saw that the restoring force about the stable
equilibrium position x
o
in Figure 15.13 is not linear.
However, as illustrated by the successive enlargements
in Figure 15.13, the curve, which gives the relationship
between force and position, becomes indistinguishable
from a straight line for small displacements from the
equilibrium position x
o
(say, within the shaded region).
In other words,
For sufficiently small displacements away from the
equilibrium position, restoring forces are always
linearly proportional to the displacement. Conse-
quently, for small displacements objects execute
simple harmonic motion about any stable equilib-
10 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Concepts
part 2 part 1
stretched
compressed
inside of curve
outside
of curve
(a)
(b) (c)
part 2
part 1

F
21
c

F
21
c
Figure 15.15 (a) A pole is held fixed at one end and bent at
the other end. (b) The material of which the pole is made is
compressed in some places and stretched in others. (c) The
result is a restoring torque that tends to return the pole to
its original shape.
part 2 part 3 part 1
part 2 part 3 part 1
(a)
(b)
(c)
part 2





F
12

c

F
32

c
Figure 15.14 (a) A taut string pulled upward from its
equilibrium position. (b,c) Any small part of the displaced
string experiences forces exerted by its left and right neigh-
bors that do not add to zero, causing a nonzero restoring
force.
rium position.
The restoring forces in the examples in Figure 15.3
fall into two categories: elastic (b, d) and gravitational
(a, c). We saw in Chapter 8 that, for small displacements
from the equilibrium position, the elastic restoring
force of a spring is linearly proportional to displace-
ment. The same is true for other elastic restoring forces.
Figure 15.14, for example, shows a string displaced from
its equilibrium position. Each part of the stretched
string is subject to elastic (contact) forces exerted by
the parts immediately adjacent to it. Part 2 in the mid-
dle of the string in Figure 15.14b, for instance, is subject
to a force exerted by part 1 and a force exerted by part
3. In the equilibrium position, when the string is
straight, the elastic forces exerted by parts 1 and 3 on
part 2 add to zero. As the string is displaced, however,
the elastic forces exerted by the two neighboring parts
no longer line up (Figure 15.14c) and their vector sum
provides a restoring force that tends to return the
string to its equilibrium position. For small displace-
ments, as we just saw, this restoring force is linearly
proportional to the displacement from the equilibrium
position.
The same line of reasoning applies to the restoring
forces that arise when materials are twisted or bent. Fig-
ure 15.15 shows that bending a piece of material com-
presses the surface that lies on the inside of the curve and
stretches the surface that lies on the outside of the curve.
The resulting internal elastic forces cause torques on each
part of the material, torques that tend to return the ma-
terial to its equilibrium shape. For small displacements,
the internal elastic forces are linearly proportional to the
displacement, and consequently the restoring torque, too,
x10
0 x
x
x
o
x
(a)
(c)
(b)




x10
Σ
F
x
Figure 15.13 For sufficiently small displacements near a sta-
ble equilibrium position, the restoring force is linear in the
displacement.
15.4 Linear restoring forces 11




s
l
x
(a)
(b)


F
Eb⊥
G



F
sb

c
F
Eb//
G →
F
Eb
G


Figure 15.16 (a) For small angles the horizontal displace-
ment x of a pendulum is almost the same as the length of the
arc s along which it is displaced. (b) Free-body diagram for
the pendulum bob.
is linearly proportional to the (rotational) displacement.
Let us next examine a pendulum, where the restor-
ing force is due to gravity. Figure 15.16 shows a
pendulum bob of mass m suspended from a string of
length l. If the bob is much more massive and much
smaller than the string supporting the bob, we can ig-
nore the mass of the string and treat the bob as a par-
ticle. Such a pendulum is called a simple pendulum. The
bob is pulled back over an arc of length . As the free-
body diagram in Figure 15.16b shows, the bob is subject
to two forces: a contact force exerted by the string and
a gravitational force. The restoring force is provided by
the component of the gravitational force perpendic-
ular to the string, . From Figure 15.16a, we see
that the magnitude of is equal to and
that . Provided the rotational displace-
ment is small, the bob’s horizontal displacement x is
approximately equal to the arc length s, x s, and so
Because the rotational position is defined
by , we see that, for small angles,
For small angles, therefore, the magnitude of the
restoring force exerted on the bob is
= mg(s/l) (mg/l)x. The restoring force is
therefore linearly proportional to the horizontal dis-
placement x of the bob from its equilibrium position.
! Example 15.1: Displaced string
Show that for small displacements the restoring force
mg sin␽ Ϸ
mg ␽ Ϸ
sin ␽ Ϸ ␽. ␽ ϵ s͞l
Ϸ
sin ␽ Ϸ s͞l.
F
÷
G
EbЌ
mg sin␽
sin ␽ ϭ x͞l
F
÷
G
EbЌ
s
exerted on part 2 in the middle of the displaced string
in Figure 15.14 is linearly proportional to displacement
of that part from its equilibrium position.
Getting started: Figure 15.14c shows the forces ex-
erted by parts 1 and 3 on part 2 when the string is dis-
placed from its equilibrium position. I’ll assume these
forces are much larger than the force of gravity on that
piece, so that I can ignore gravity in this problem. The
force that pulls the string away from the equilibrium
position is not shown, meaning it has been released
after being pulled away from the equilibrium position.
I begin by making a free-body diagram and choos-
ing a set of axes (Figure 15.17). The x components of
the two forces cancel; the sum of the y components is
the restoring force. The magnitude of the y components
is determined by the angle ␪ between the elastic forces
and and the x axis.
I also make a sketch of the displaced string, showing
the displacement of part 2 from its equilibrium po-
sition. I denote the length of the string in its equilibri-
um position by l and that of the displaced string by l'.
Devise plan: The forces and are equal in
magnitude and their y components are determined by
sin ␪ which is equal to . If the displacement is
small, I can assume that the length of the string does-
n’t change very much from its equilibrium value so that
. I can then also consider and to be con-
stant. Using this information, I can express the restor-
ing force in terms of the displacement .
Execute plan: From my sketch I see that the restor-
ing force is . Because and are
l Ϸ lЈ F
÷
c
12
F
÷
c
32
⌬y͞(
1
2
lЈ)
2
F
÷
c
12
F
÷
c
32
⌬y
F
÷
c
12
F
÷
c
32
1
⌬y
3
F
÷
c
32
F
÷
c
12
F
c
12y
ϩ F
c
32y




string
displacement


equilibrium position
part 2
⌬y
1
2
l
y
l'
1
2
FF
12x
c

FF
32x
c

FF
12y
c

FF
32y
c


→ →
→ →
F
12
c

F
3
c
Figure 15.17
equal in magnitude, I can write the sum of the y com-
ponents as . I also know that
. Combining these two
relationships, I obtain for the magnitude of the restor-
ing force: . For small
displacements, the term in parentheses is constant and
so the restoring force is, indeed, proportional to the
displacement .
Evaluate result: The answer confirms a more gen-
eral principle: close to equilibrium any restoring force
is proportional to the displacement. I made two as-
sumptions to derive my answer. The first is that gravi-
ty can be ignored. Indeed taut strings tend to be
straight, indicating that gravity (which would make the
string sag) doesn’t play an appreciable role. The other
assumption I made was that the length of the string
doesn’t change much. This assumption is also justified
because the displacement of a string tends to be
several orders of magnitude smaller than the string
length l.
15.8 Using a calculator, determine the percent
error in the approximation for polar
angles of 1°, 5°, 10°, and 20°.
In Section 15.1, I showed how oscillations arise from
a continuous conversion between kinetic energy and
potential energy. Another way to look at oscillations
is to say that
Oscillations arise from an interplay between
inertia and a restoring force.
When an object that is subject to a restoring force is
displaced from its equilibrium position, the restoring
force accelerates it back toward the equilibrium
position. Once it gets there, however, it has a nonzero
velocity, and its inertia causes it to overshoot the
equilibrium position.
This picture of an interplay between inertia and
restoring force allows us to make some qualitative pre-
sin ␪ Ϸ ␪
⌬y
4
⌬y
F
restoring
ϭ 2F
c
12y
Ϸ (4F
c
12
͞l)⌬y
⌬y͞(
1
2
lЈ) Ϸ ⌬y͞(
1
2
l)
2F
c
12y
ϭ 2F
c
12
sin ␪
sin ␪ ϭ
dictions about the period of an oscillator. The larger
the mass of the oscillating object, the harder it is to
accelerate, and so the longer the period.
*
Increasing
the restoring force has the opposite effect: the larger
the restoring force, the larger the object’s acceleration
and the shorter the period — a stiff spring causes a
much more rapid oscillation than a soft, sloppy one.
The period of an oscillating object increases when
its mass is increased and decreases when the mag-
nitude of the restoring force is increased.
This relationship does not hold for pendulums,
however, because for a pendulum the restoring force
and mass are proportional to each other. Increasing
the mass of a pendulum bob makes the pendulum
harder to accelerate but increases the magnitude of the
gravitational force exerted on the pendulum bob —
restoring force — in proportion (see Figure 15.16b).
The two effects cancel, and so
The period of a pendulum is independent of the
mass of the pendulum.
15.9 (a) What effect, if any, does increasing the
length l of a simple pendulum have on its peri-
od? (b) A pendulum and an object suspended
from a spring are taken to the Moon, where the
acceleration due to gravity is smaller than that
on Earth. How does the period of the pendulum
on the Moon compare with that on Earth? (c)
How does the period of the suspended object on
the Moon compare with that on Earth?
12 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Concepts
*
You can demonstrate this as follows. Position a plastic or thin
wooden ruler on a table so about half its length overhangs the
edge of the table. Pull the free end down and release, noting the
rapid oscillations. Next attach an eraser or other small object on
top of the overhanging part of the ruler and repeat the experi-
ment. Because of the increased mass, the period is now much
longer.
[(H1F)] 13
S
E L F - Q U I Z
14
S
E L F - Q U I Z
1. Is an oscillating object in translational equilibrium?
2. A pendulum bob swings through a circular arc defined by positions A and D
in Figure 15.18. (a) At A, B, and C, what are the possible directions of the ve-
locity of the bob and of the restoring force exerted on it? (b) What is the di-
rection of the bob’s acceleration at A and C?
3. (a) In the cart-spring system shown in Figure 15.19, is the cart’s speed higher
at A or at B? (b) At which of these two positions is the restoring force acting
on the cart larger? (c) At which of these two positions is the cart's acceleration larger?
4. A T-shaped wooden structure is balanced on a pivot in the two configurations shown in Figure 15.20. Which
configuration is in stable equilibrium? Which configuration is likely to oscillate?
ANSWERS
1. No. When an object is in translational equilibrium, the sum of the forces exerted on it is zero. An oscillating
object is subject to a variable force that accelerates the object back and forth.
2. (a) The velocity is always tangent to the bob’s trajectory; the restoring force always points along the arc toward
the equilibrium position C. At A, the bob reaches its maximum displacement, so its velocity must be zero; the
restoring force points along the arc towards C. At B, the velocity can be in either direction along the arc as the
bob swings back and forth, but the restoring force always points along the arc towards C. At C, the velocity
can be to the right or left, but the restoring force is zero because this is the equilibrium position. (b) At A, the
acceleration is tangent along the arc toward C. At C, the bob does have a centripetal radial acceleration direct-
ed vertically upward,but no tangential acceleration.
3. (a) Once released from the stretched position shown, the cart speeds up as it moves left toward the equilibri-
um position, meaning its speed is higher at Athan at B. (b) The restoring force is proportional to the displace-
ment from the equilibrium position and so is larger at B than at A. (c) The acceleration is proportional to the
restoring force, and so it, too, is larger at B.
4. If the structure in configuration Ais tipped slightly to the left as shown in Figure 15.21, the gravitational force
exerted on the part to the left of the vertical line through the pivot is larger than that exerted on the part to
the right of the pivot and so the torques caused by these forces make it tip farther in the same direction, away
from the equilibrium position. Conversely, if it is tipped to the right, it tips farther to the right. This configura-
tion is unstable, and so the structure does not oscillate. If the structure in configuration B is tipped slightly ei-
ther way, the torques caused by gravitational forces exerted on the parts on either side of the pivot cause it to
move in the opposite direction, back toward the equilibrium position. Configuration Bis stable, and so the struc-
ture oscillates.
A
B
C
D
A B
A B
x
max
eq.
A B
Figure 15.18
Figure 15.19
Figure 15.20
Figure 15.21
15.5 Energy of a simple harmonic oscillator 15
position
at t = 0
vertical
component
at t = 0
1 cycle
x x
t
t
1
position
at instant t
1
vertical
component
at instant t
1


2


A
ω
Figure 15.22 Reference
circle and x(t) curve for a
simple harmonic oscilla-
tor.
15.5 Energy of a simple harmonic oscillator
In Section 15.2, you saw that there is a correspondence between simple harmon-
ic motion and circular motion at constant speed. We begin our quantitative de-
scription of simple harmonic motion by exploiting this correspondence.
Figure 15.22 shows a sinusoidally varying time-dependent function describing
some simple harmonic motion represented by a rotating arrow of length Awhose
tip traces out a circle. The circle is called a reference circle, and the arrow is called
a phasor. The phasor rotates in a counterclockwise direction with a constant rota-
tional speed u. The vertical component of the phasor varies sinusoidally with time
(see Figures 15.6 and 15.7).
Let us first establish a relationship between the rotational speed of the phasor
and the frequency f of the corresponding simple harmonic motion. If the phasor
completes one revolution in a period T, its rotational speed is
(15.1)
and the frequency of the corresponding simple harmonic motion is, as noted in
Section 15.1,
. (15.2)
The derived SI unit of frequency is the hertz (Hz) after the 19th-century German
physicist Heinrich Hertz, who produced the first radio waves:
. (15.3)
Substituting 1/T from Eq. 15.2 into Eq. 15.1, we find
. (15.4)
So the rotational speed u of the phasor is larger than the frequency f of the sim-
ple harmonic motion by a factor 2␲. The reason for this factor is as follows: umea-
sures the change in rotational position per unit time, and in one revolution the
␻ ϭ 2␲f
1 Hz ϵ 1 s
Ϫ1
f ϵ
1
T
␻ ϵ
⌬␽
⌬t
ϭ
2␲
T
,
S
E L F - Q U I Z
16 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Quantitative Tools
rotational position changes by 2r . Frequency, on the other hand, measures the
number of cycles per unit time, and one revolution on the reference circle corre-
sponds to one oscillation cycle (Figure 15.22).
In the context of oscillations, is often called the angular frequency because
it has the same unit (s
–1
or inverse second) as the frequency f. Keep in mind, how-
ever, that the frequency f and the angular frequency are not equal (Eq. 15.4).
To facilitate remembering the distinction between the two, we use the SI unit hertz
for f and the SI unit s
–1
for .
The rotational position of the tip of the phasor relative to the positive horizon-
tal axis is called the phase of the motion (Figure 15.23). The phase is represented
by the symbol . For constant angular frequency, the phase increases linearly
with time:
(constant angular frequency), (15.5)
where the constant is the initial phase at t = 0. The phase tells us at what
point in the cycle the motion is; the initial phase is the phase at t = 0. Because
rotational position is a unitless number, the phase is unitless too. You determine
the phase by expressing the angle between the phasor and the positive horizontal
axis in radians and dividing by 1 rad.
The vertical component of A in Figure 15.23 can now be written in the form:
(simple harmonic motion), (15.6)
where the amplitude Aof the oscillation is equal to the length of the phasor. Equa-
tion 15.6 gives a general expression for the position of a simple harmonic oscilla-
tor as a function of time when the equilibrium position is at x = 0 — a pendulum
bob, an object suspended from a spring, a piece of taut string. Because the motion
is periodic, x(t) has the same value each time the phase increases by . For a
crest (where x(t) = A and the sine function in Eq. 15.6 has the value 1), the phase
could be , or plus an integer multiple of ; for a trough (where x(t) = –Aand
the sine function in Eq. 15.6 has the value –1), the phase could be , or plus
an integer multiple of . 2␲
3␲
2
3␲
2

2

2
2␲
2␲

i



␾(t)
␾(t)

x(t) ϭ A sin␾(t) ϭ A sin(␻t ϩ ␾
i
)

i
␾(t) ϭ ␻t ϩ ␾
i
A sin (t
1
) ␾
A sin
i

(phase
at t = 0)
amplitude
x x
+A
!A
t
t
1
(phase at instant t
1
)
i



2


(t
1
)

= t
1
+
i
␾ ␾ ␻
A
"
Figure 15.23 The phase of a simple harmonic oscillator at any instant is given by the angle between the phasor and the pos-
itive horizontal axis measured in the counterclockwise direction.
15.6 Simple harmonic motion and springs 17
! Exercise 15.2: Oscillation phases
Consider the spring-cart system of Figure 15.1 again. The cart is pulled away from
its equilibrium position in the positive x direction and then released at t = 0. (a)
What is the initial phase of the cart’s oscillation? What is the phase of the cart’s os-
cillation (b) half a period later and (c) one period later? What are the cart’s initial
phases in the following two situations?(d) The cart is at its equilibrium position
when, at t = 0, it is given a sharp blow in the negative x direction so it starts oscil-
lating. (e) The cart is first pulled back a distance d in the positive x direction, and
then, at t = 0 it is given a sharp blow, also in the positive x direction, so it carries
out an oscillation of amplitude A = 2d.
Solution: (a) The cart starts at maximum amplitude in the positive x direction, so
the phasor is pointing straight up and the initial phase is = (90°)(2␲ rad/360°)/(1
rad) = ␲/2. "
(b) In one period, the phasor completes a full cycle, so half a period later the pha-
sor has traversed half a cycle (180°). The angle between the phasor and the hori-
zontal axis is thus 90° + 180° = 270°, and thus = (270°)(2␲ rad/360°)/(1 rad)
= 3␲/2. "
(c) In one period the phasor has completed a full cycle, so the phase is equal to the
initial phase + = + = . "
(d) If the cart is in the equilibrium position, the phasor must be parallel to the hor-
izontal axis and so the phasor is at 0° or 180°. When the phasor is at 0° the cart
moves in the positive x direction; when it is at 180° the cart moves in the negative
x direction, so the initial phase is = (180°)(2␲ rad/360°)/(1 rad) = ␲. "
(e) The displacement of the cart is given by Eq. 15.6. At t = 0: x(0) = Asin . I am
given that x(0) = +d, and A = 2d, so +d = 2d sin , or and so = ␲/6
or 5␲/6. Because the cart moves in the positive x direction at t = 0, the initial phase
must be = ␲/6. "
By differentiating Eq. 15.6 with respect to time, we can obtain general expres-
sions for the x components of the velocity and acceleration of a harmonic oscilla-
tor:
(simple harmonic motion), (15.7)
(simple harmonic motion). (15.8)
Equations 15.6 through 15.8 are the basic kinematic equations for simple harmon-
ic motion. We derived them without considering any particular system — every-
thing followed from the fact that simple harmonic motion corresponds to the
projection onto a vertical screen of some object moving in circular motion at
constant speed.
a
x
ϵ
d
2
x
dt
2
ϭ Ϫ ␻
2
A sin(␻t ϩ ␾
i
)
v
x
ϵ
dx
dt
ϭ ␻A cos(␻t ϩ ␾
i
)

i

i

i

i

i

i
5␲
2

2
2␲ 2␲
sin ␾
i
ϭ
1
2

i
␾(t)
18 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Quantitative Tools
15.10 (a) What are the algebraic signs of x, v
x
, and a
x
when the phase
is between 0 and ? (b) Repeat for .
Substituting Eq. 15.6 into Eq. 15.8, we find that the x component of the accel-
eration of an object in simple harmonic motion is proportional to the displace-
ment and points in the direction opposite the displacement (that is, toward the
equilibrium position):
(simple harmonic motion). (15.9)
Substituting the definition of the acceleration into Eq. 15.9 we obtain a second-
order differential equation in the variable x
(simple harmonic motion). (15.10)
This equation is called the simple harmonic oscillator equation, because any sys-
tem that satisfies this equation undergoes simple harmonic motion. As we shall
see in the next two sections, the symbols may take on different meanings for dif-
ferent types of simple harmonic motion, but the mathematical form is always that
given in Eq. 15.10.
Multiplying both sides of Eq. 15.9 by the mass of the oscillating object, we have
(simple harmonic motion). (15.11)
The left side of Eq. 15.11 is equal to the x component of the vector sum of the
forces acting on the oscillating object, ma
x
= , and so
(simple harmonic motion). (15.12)
Because mand ␻ are positive constants, Eq. 15.12 tells us that an object in simple
harmonic motion is subject to a force that always points in a direction opposite the
object’s displacement x from the equilibrium position and is linearly proportion-
al to x — in other words a linear restoring force as we already concluded in Sec-
tion 15.4
Let us next examine the mechanical energy of a simple harmonic oscillator,
using the kinematic equations 15.6–8. The work done by the forces exerted on the
oscillating object when it is moving from the equilibrium position to position x is
found by integrating the x component of the position-dependent force exerted on
the oscillator (Eq. 9.22).
, (15.13)
where we have substituted the restoring force given in Eq. 15.12. This work caus-
es the kinetic energy of the oscillating object to change, and so Eq. 15.13 gives us
the change in kinetic energy . Working out the integration thus yields
ma
x
ϭ Ϫm␻
2
x

2
␾(t) ϭ ␻t ϩ ␾
i
␲ Ͻ ␾(t) Ͻ
3␲
2
d
2
x
dt
2
ϭ Ϫ␻
2
x
͚
F
x
ϭ Ϫm␻
2
x
a
x
ϭ Ϫ␻
2
x
͚
F
x
W ϭ
͵
x
x
o
͚s
F
x
(x)dx ϭ Ϫ
͵
x
x
o
m␻
2
x dx
⌬K
For the rest of section
15.5, the only really
important result is the fact
that the energy is
proportional to the square
of the amplitude. The
rest you can gloss over.
15.6 Simple harmonic motion and springs 19
(15.14)
Because the interaction causing the oscillation is reversible, this change in kinet-
ic energy must be provided by some form of potential energy. (In the examples we
discussed, the energy was provided by gravitational potential energy or elastic po-
tential energy of a spring). If we include the object causing the oscillation in our
system, the system must be closed so . Therefore the change
in potential energy of the (closed) system is , or, substituting Eq.
15.14:
. (15.15).
If we let the potential energy at the equilibrium position be zero, ,
we see that the potential energy of the oscillating system is , and
so the mechanical energy is
, (15.16)
or, substituting for x from Eq. 15.6 and for v
x
from Eq. 15.7,
(simple harmonic motion), (15.17)
where we have used the fact that for all . Equation 15.17
shows that the mechanical energy of a simple harmonic oscillator is constant and
proportional to the square of the amplitude, as we concluded earlier.
15.11 (a) Use Eq. 15.15 to determine the maximum potential energy of a
simple harmonic oscillator. (b) Does your answer to (a) agree with Eq. 15.17?
15.6 Simple harmonic motion and springs
Whenever an object undergoes reversible deformation as a result of stretching,
compressing, bending, or twisting, it exerts an elastic restoring force. Consider, for
example, the spring-cart system in Figure 15.24.The spring exerts on the oscillat-
ing cart a force (Eq. 8.20), where k is the spring constant and
x – x
o
is the displacement of the cart from its equilibrium position at x
o
, where the
spring is relaxed.
We can use this information about the restoring force to obtain an equation for
the cart’s motion in terms of the amplitude, angular frequency, and phase of the mo-
tion. If we let the origin be at the equilibrium position, x
o
= 0, and so
(15.18)
The equation of motion for the cart in the horizontal direction is then
(15.19)
F
c
scx
ϭ Ϫkx .
F
c
scx
ϭ Ϫk(x Ϫ x
o
)
⌬U ϭ Ϫ⌬K
⌬E ϭ ⌬K ϩ ⌬U ϭ 0
⌬K ϭ Ϫm␻
2
͵
x
x
o
xdx ϭ Ϫm␻
2
[
1
2
x
2
]
x
x
o
ϭ
1
2
m␻
2
x
o
2
Ϫ
1
2
m␻
2
x
2
U(x) ϭ
1
2
m␻
2
x
2
U(x
o
) ϭ 0
⌬U ϭ U(x) Ϫ U(x
o
) ϭ
1
2
m␻
2
x
2
Ϫ
1
2
m␻
2
x
o
2
E ϭ K ϩ U ϭ
1
2
mv
2
ϩ
1
2
m␻
2
x
2
E ϭ
1
2
m␻
2
A
2
cos
2
(␻t ϩ␾
i
) ϩ
1
2
m␻
2
A
2
sin
2
(␻t ϩ␾
i
) ϭ
1
2
m␻
2
A
2
␾ cos
2
␾ ϩ sin
2
␾ ϭ 1
͚
F
cx
ϭ ma
x
ϭ Ϫkx ,
x

F
sc

c
x x
o
eq
Figure 15.24 When a cart
fastened to a spring is pulled
away from its equilibrium posi-
tion x
o
, the spring exerts a
restoring force on the cart.
20 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Quantitative Tools
where m is the cart’s mass, or
(15.20)
or . (15.21)
The solution to this simple harmonic oscillator equation is a sinusoidal function
x(t), and comparison with Eq. 15.10 tells us that k/m ϭ␻
2
. Therefore the angular
frequency of the oscillation is
. (15.22)
The plus sign in front of the square root means that we must take the positive
square root because ␻ is always positive.
The motion of the cart is given by Eq. 15.6,
. (15.23)
Figure 15.25 shows a number of different sinusoidal functions of the form given
by Eq. 15.23 that satisfy Eq. 15.21. All of the functions x(t) shown in Figure 15.25
complete one cycle in a period T and so they have the same angular frequency ␻,
whose value is fixed by properties of the system — the spring constant k and the
cart’s mass m (Eq. 15.22). However, the peak heights tell you the curves do not
all have the same amplitude A, and the fact that each curve reaches its maximum
at different instants tells you that they have different initial phase . Without in-
formation in addition to the values of k and m, we cannot determine the ampli-
tude A and initial phase .
In order to determine A and , we have to know the position and x compo-
nent of the velocity at some instant. The following examples illustrate how to de-
termine these quantities for some specific situations.
! Example 15.3: Cart pulled away and released from rest
A cart of mass m = 0.50 kg fastened to a spring of spring constant k = 14 N/m is
pulled 30 mm away from its equilibrium position and then released with zero ini-
tial velocity. What are the cart’s position and x component of velocity 2.0 s after
being released?
Getting started: I begin by making a sketch of the initial condition and repre-
senting the oscillation by a reference circle and a graph of position versus time
(Figure 15.26). I choose the positive x axis to be in the same direction as the cart’s
initial displacement with its origin at the equilibrium position. Because the cart is
released with zero initial velocity, its initial kinetic energy at x = +30 mm is
and so each time it returns to that position it again has K = 0. This tells
me that the cart’s initial displacement is also its maximum displacement, and so
A = 30 mm. Because the cart begins at its maximum positive displacement, I
know that the oscillation begins with the phasor straight up and so the initial
K ϭ 0,
1

i

i

i
ma
x
ϭ m
d
2
x
dt
2
ϭ Ϫkx,
d
2
x
dt
2
ϭ Ϫ
k
m
x
␻ ϭ ϩͱ
k
m
x(t) ϭ A sin
΂
ͱ
k
m
t ϩ ␾
i
΃
x (mm)
0 30
x x
t
→ →
v = 0
eq
Figure 15.26
Mazur: An Introduction to the New Physics
PH Network Graphics Fig. 16.19
1st Pass 1999-11-1
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T
x(t)
t
all three curves
return to their
initial value at t = T
Figure 15.25 Four of the infi-
nite number of solutions that
satisfy Eq. 15.21.
important!
15.6 Simple harmonic motion and springs 21
phase is .
Devise plan: To determine the position of the cart at t = 2.0 s, I can use Eq.
15.6. This equation contains the angular frequency, which I can determine from
Eq. 15.22, and the amplitude and initial phase, which I already determined. To cal-
culate the x component of the velocity of the cart, I can use Eq. 15.7.
Execute plan: From Eq. 15.22, I get for the angular frequency of the oscillation:
␻ = 5.3 s
–1
.
Substituting this angular frequency, t = 2.0 s, A = 30 mm, and into
Eq. 15.6, I obtain for the cart’s position at , t = 2.0 s
. "
Substituting the same values into Eq. 15.7, I obtain for the x component of the
cart’s velocity
. "
Evaluate result: The magnitude of the value I obtained for x is smaller than
the amplitude, as it should be. The cart moves a distance of 4A = 0.12 m in one
cycle, which takes 2␲ր␻ = 1.2 s, so the cart’s average speed is (0.12 m)/(1.2 s) = 0.10
m/s, indicating that the magnitude of the velocity I obtain is reasonable. The phase
at t = 2.0 s is = (5.3 s
–1
)(2.0 s) + ␲/2 = 12, which corresponds to 12/(2␲) = 1.9
cycle and so the phasor is in the fourth quadrant confirming that x should be neg-
ative. Because the cart is moving in the positive x direction when the phasor is in
the fourth quadrant, the x component of the velocity should be positive, as I found.
15.12 (a) In Example 15.3 is the initial condition that = 0 satisfied by Eq.
15.7? (b) Is it correct to say that the x component of the velocity given by Eq.
15.7 must be positive whenever x is negative so as to make sure the cart moves
back to its equilibrium position?
! Example 15.4: Cart struck with spring already compressed
Cart 1 of mass m = 0.50 kg fastened to a spring of spring constant k = 14 N/m is
pushed 15 mm in from its equilibrium position and held in place by a ratchet (Fig-
ure 15.27). An identical cart 2 is launched at a speed of 0.10 m/s toward cart 1. The
carts collide elastically, releasing the ratchet and setting cart 1 in motion. After the
collision cart 2 is immediately removed from the track. What is the maximum com-
pression of the spring, and how many seconds elapse between the instant the carts
collide and the instant the spring reaches maximum compression?
v
x
␾(t)
3
2

o
ϭ ϩ␲͞2
͙k͞m ϭ ͙(14 N͞m)͞(0.50 kg) ϭ ͙28 s
Ϫ2
ϭ
x(2.0 s) ϭ (30 mm) sin
΄
(5.3 s
Ϫ1
) (2.0 s) ϩ

2
΅
ϭ Ϫ12 mm

i
ϭ ϩ␲͞2
v
x
(2.0 s) ϭ (5.3 s
Ϫ1
) (30 mm) cos
΄
(5.3 s
Ϫ1
) (2.0 s) ϩ

2
΅
ϭ ϩ0.15 m͞s
4
Mazur: An Introduction to the New Physics
PH Network Graphics Fig. 16.21
1st Pass 1999-11-1
Nested file: n/a
(b)
(a)
(b)
(c)
initial
condition
inertia m
spring
constant k
x (mm)
T = 1.2 s
t (s) 0
1 .5
+30
!30
1.5
Figure 15.27
22 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Quantitative Tools
Getting started: If I ignore the effect of the spring during the collision, I can say
that the elastic collision interchanges the velocities of the two carts. I make a sketch
of the initial condition of the cart, choosing the positive x axis to the right, the ini-
tial displacement of the cart to the left, and the equilibrium position at x = 0. I also
draw a reference circle and sketch the resulting oscillation (Figure 15.28). With
this choice of axis, the x component of the initial velocity of the cart is = –0.10
m/s. Because m and k are the same as in Example 15.3, the angular frequency is
again ␻ = 5.3 s
–1
.
In contrast to the situation in Example 15.3, the initial displacement of cart 1 is
not equal to the amplitude of the oscillation. The collision increases the cart’s dis-
placement from the equilibrium position. In other words, cart 1 moves leftward
immediately after the collision. It continues moving in this direction until the elas-
tic restoring force building in the compressing spring causes it to stop. This posi-
tion gives the amplitude of the oscillation.
Devise plan: I can determine the value of this amplitude from the cart’s mechan-
ical energy, which is the sum of the initial potential energy in the spring and the ini-
tial kinetic energy of the cart. The potential energy in the spring is given by Eq. 9.23;
because the equilibrium position x
o
is at the origin, this equation reduces to
. The kinetic energy is given by . At the position of max-
imum compression all of the mechanical energy is stored in the spring and x = –A,
so .
Once I know A, I can determine the initial phase from Eq. 15.6. I can then use
that same equation to solve for t at the position of maximum compression where
x = –A.
Execute plan: (a) The initial kinetic and potential energies are
K = (0.50 kg)(–0.10 m/s)
2
= 0.0025 J
(14 N/m)(–15 mm)
2
and so E
mech
= K + U = (0.0025 J) + (0.0016 J) = 0.0041 J.
At the position of maximum compression, all of this energy is stored in the
spring, and so 0.0041 J, or with the k value given:
. "
(b) Substituting the value for A determined in part a and the initial condition
x
i
ϭϪ15 mm at t ϭ0 into Eq. 15.6, I obtain
(–15 mm)/(24 mm) = –0.63 or sin
–1
(–0.63).
Two initial phases satisfy this relation, –0.68 and –␲ + 0.68 = –2.5,
but only the latter gives a negative x component of the velocity (see Eq. 15.7) as
required by the initial condition.
sin ␾
i
ϭ ␾
i
ϭ
x(0) ϭ A sin(0 ϩ ␾
i
) ϭ (24 mm) sin␾
i
ϭ Ϫ15 mm
A ϭ
2(0.0041 J)
14 N͞m
ϭ 0.024 m ϭ 24 mm
1
2
kA
2
ϭ
U ϭ
1
2
kx
2
ϭ
1
2
΂
1.0 m
1000 mm
΃
2
ϭ 0.0016 J
1
2
3
E
mech
ϭ U
spring
ϭ
1
2
kA
2
K ϭ
1
2
mv
2
v
x,i
1
2
U
spring
ϭ
1
2
kx
2

i
ϭ ␾
i
ϭ
!15 0
x (mm)
x x
t
eq
"
v
Figure 15.28
15.7 Restoring torques 23
At the first instant of maximum compression , which means
. Solving for t yields [ –(–2.5)]/(5.3 s
–1
)
= 0.17 s. "
Evaluate result: The amplitude is larger than the initial displacement from the
equilibrium position, as I would expect. From my sketch I see that it takes about
one-eighth of a cycle to go from the position of impact to the position of maxi-
mum compression. From Eq. 15.1 I see that the time it takes to complete one cycle
is = 2␲/(5.3 s
–1
) = 1.2 s, and so the value I obtained is indeed close to
one-eighth of a cycle. The assumption that the influence of the spring can be ignored
during the collision is justified because the force exerted by the spring is small
compared to the force of the impact: at a compression of 15 mm, the magnitude
of the force exerted by the spring is (14 Nm
–1
)(0.015 m) = 0.020 N. The force of im-
pact is given by the rate of change in the cart’s momentum, .The magnitude
of the cart’s momentum change is = (0.50 kg)(0.10 m/s) = 0.050 kg
m/s. If the collision takes place in 20 ms, then the magnitude of the force of impact
is (0.05 kg m/s)/(0.020 s) = 2.5 N, which is more than 100 times as large as the mag-
nitude of the force of the spring.
15.13 Suppose cart 2 were not removed from the track of Figure 15.27 im-
mediately after the collision but instead were left stationary at the collision
point. (a) At what instant do the two carts collide again? (b) Describe the mo-
tion of the two carts after this second collision.
! Example 15.5: Vertical oscillations
A block of mass m= 0.50 kg is suspended from a spring of spring constant k = 100
N/m. (a) How far below the end of the relaxed spring at x
o
is the equilibrium po-
sition x
eq
of the suspended block (Figure 15.29a)? (b) Is the frequency with which
the suspended block oscillates about this equilibrium position x
eq
larger than,
smaller than, or equal to that of an identical system that oscillates horizontally
about x
o
on a surface for which friction can be ignored (Figure 15.29b)?
Getting started: I begin by making a free-body diagram for the suspended
block, choosing the x axis pointing down. Two forces are exerted on the block: an
upward force exerted by the spring and a downward gravitational force
exerted by Earth (Figure 15.30a). When the suspended block is in translational
equilibrium at x
eq
(which lies below x
o
) the vector sum of these forces must be
zero. When the block is below x
eq
the spring stretches further causing the magni-
tude of the force exerted by the spring to increase, and so the vector sum of the
forces exerted on the block points up. When the block is above x
eq
(but below the
position x
o
of the end of the spring when it is relaxed), the spring stretches less
causing the magnitude of the force exerted by the spring to decrease, and so the
vector sum of the forces exerted on the block points down. The vector sum of
and thus serves as a restoring force.
I also make a free-body diagram for the horizontal arrangement, showing only
the horizontal forces (the force of gravity and the normal force cancel out). I let
F
÷
c
sb
F
÷
G
Eb
1
sin(␻t ϩ ␾
i
) ϭ Ϫ1
T ϭ 2␲͞␻
4
␻t ϩ ␾
i
ϭ Ϫ
1
2
␲ t ϭ (Ϫ
1
2
␲ Ϫ ␾
i
)͞␻ ϭ Ϫ
1
2

⌬p
÷
͞⌬t
⌬p ϭ m⌬v
F
÷
c
sb
F
÷
G
Eb
(a)
x
o
x
o
x
1
(b)
Mazur: An Introduction to the New Physics
PH Network Graphics Fig. 16.22
1st Pass 1999-11-1
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Figure 15.29 Example 15.5
24 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Quantitative Tools
the x axis point to the right. In this case the restoring force is the force exerted by
the spring on the block (Figure 15.30b).
Devise plan: In translational equilibrium, the vector sum of the forces exerted
on the suspended block is zero, so I can determine the magnitude of the force ex-
erted by the spring. I can then use Hooke’s law (Eq. 8.20) to determine the distance
between the equilibrium position and x
o
. To compare the oscillation frequencies
of the two systems, I should write down the simple harmonic oscillator equation for
each system in the same form as Eq. 15.12.
Execute plan: (a) In translational equilibrium, the vector sum of the forces ex-
erted on the block is zero, so
,
where is the displacement of the spring’s end from its relaxed position.
Solving for , I obtain
= mg/k = (0.50 kg)(9.8 m/s
2
)/(100 N/m) = 0.049 m. "
(b) For the horizontal arrangement, I have in the situation depicted in my sketch
(Figure 15.30b)
, (1)
and so, if I let the origin be at the position of the end of the relaxed spring, x
o
= 0,
the rightmost factor in Eq. 1 reduces to Ϫkx and the simple harmonic oscillator
equation becomes
.
Next I turn to the vertical arrangement. In the position illustrated in Figure
15.30a, the x component of the upward force exerted by the spring is
. (2)
From part a I know that k(x
eq
Ϫx
o
) is equal to mg. The x component of the vector
sum of the forces exerted on the block at position x is thus
.
If, as usual, I let the origin be at the equilibrium position, x
eq
= 0, the equation of
motion is identical to Eq. 1, and so the oscillation frequencies f of the two systems
are the same. "
Evaluate result: The two oscillations take place about different equilibrium
͚
F
x
ϭ F
G
Ebx
ϩ F
c
sbx
ϭ mg Ϫ k(x Ϫ x
eq
) Ϫmg ϭ Ϫ k(x Ϫ x
eq
)
F
c
sbx
ϭ Ϫ k(x Ϫ x
o
) ϭ Ϫ k(x Ϫ x
eq
) Ϫ k(x
eq
Ϫ x
o
)
m
d
2
x
dt
2
ϭ Ϫ kx
͚
F
x
ϭ F
c
sbx
ϭ Ϫ k(x Ϫ x
o
)
x
eq
Ϫ x
o
x
eq
Ϫ x
o
x
eq
Ϫ x
o
͚
F
x
ϭ F
c
sbx
ϩ F
G
Ebx
ϭ Ϫ k(x
eq
Ϫ x
o
) ϩ mg ϭ 0
3
2
4
x
(a)
(b)
x
o

a →
F
sb

c
x
o
x
eq
x
x
x

a

F
Eb

G

F
sb

c
Figure 15.30
15.8 Damped oscillations 25
positions, but the effect of the combined gravitational and elastic force in the ver-
tical arrangement is the same as that of just the elastic force in the horizontal
arrangement because the force exerted by the spring is linear in the displacement.
15.14 Convince yourself that the argument presented in the solution to
Example 15.5 is also valid for displacements of the block above x
eq
.
15.7 Restoring torques
Some simple harmonic oscillators involve rotational rather than translational
displacements. As an example, consider the disk suspended from a thin fiber shown
in Figure 15.31. Such a setup is called a torsional oscillator. If the disk is rotated in
the horizontal plane over an angle , the fiber is twisted, and elastic potential en-
ergy is stored in the fiber. When the disk is released, it oscillates as energy is con-
verted back and forth between elastic potential energy in the fiber and rotational
kinetic energy of the disk. Translational oscillations, as in our simple pendulum
and block-spring setup, are due to the interplay between a restoring force and in-
ertia; rotational oscillations are due to an interplay between a restoring torque
and rotational inertia.
For a quantitative description of the disk’s oscillation, we use the rotational
form of the equation of motion for the disk, which relates the sum of the torques
caused by the forces acting on the disk to its rotational acceleration ␣

(Eq. 12.8)
, (15.24)
where I is the rotational inertia of the disk.
To complete the description, we must relate the torque to the rotational dis-
placement — just as we related force to translational displacement for translation-
al oscillations. In the case of the rotating disk, the torque is caused by the twisted
fiber: a clockwise rotation of the fiber causes a counterclockwise torque and vice
versa; larger rotational displacements of the disk cause larger torques. For small ro-
tational displacements, we might expect that the relationship between rotational
displacement and torque is linear:
. (15.25)
The minus sign indicates that the direction of the torque is opposite the direction
of the rotational displacement: the torque tends to rotate the disk back toward its
equilibrium position. This rotational form of Hooke’s law is found to hold for a wide
variety of materials. The constant (the Greek letter kappa), called the torsional
constant, depends on the properties of the material being twisted. Just as stiff
springs have large spring constants, so do stiff materials have large torsional
constants.
If we let the rotational position at equilibrium be zero, , we can combine
Eqs. 15.24 and 15.25, yielding



ϭ Ϫ ␬ (␽ Ϫ ␽
o
)
͚


ϭ I␣


m

o
ϭ 0
Mazur: An Introduction to the New Physics
PH Network Graphics Fig. 16.24
1st Pass 1999-11-1
Nested file: n/a
0
fiber
support
+
m

!
m

Figure 15.31 Torsional oscillator.
You can skim section 15.7.
26 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Quantitative Tools
, (15.26)
or . (15.27)
Notice the similarity between this equation and two earlier ones: Eq. 15.9 for a
generic harmonic oscillator and Eq. 15.21 for a translational oscillator. The mean-
ing of the symbols is different, but the mathematical form is identical. The disk
therefore executes simple harmonic motion, and the rotational position is a
sinusoidal function of time.
To find the position as a function of time, we exploit the correspondence be-
tween Eqs. 15.21 and 15.27, substituting rotational displacement for translation-
al displacement x in Eq. 15.23 and rotational inertia I for mass mand the torsional
constant for the spring constant k in Eq. 15.22:
, (15.28)
(torsional oscillator), (15.29)
where in Eq. 15.28 is the maximum rotational displacement (the amplitude of
the rotational oscillation).
15.15 For the torsional oscillator shown in Figure 15.31, what effect, if any,
does a decrease in the radius of the disk have on the oscillation frequency f ?
Assume the disk’s mass is kept the same.
The pendulum is another example of a rotational oscillator. For a pendulum, how-
ever, the restoring torque is not caused by an elastic force, and so we cannot use Eq.
15.25. Instead, we must write an expression for the restoring torque due to gravity and
relate the magnitude of this torque to the rotational displacement of the pendulum.
Consider an object suspended about a rotation axis located a distance l
cm
from the ob-
ject’s center of mass, as illustrated in Figure 15.32a. The restoring torque is provided
by the component of the force of gravity perpendicular to l
cm
:
(Figure 15.32b). The lever arm of this force relative to the rotation axis is l
cm
, and so
for a rotational displacement , the torque caused by the force of gravity about the
axis is
, (15.30)
where m is the object’s mass. For small rotational displacements, , and
so once again we obtain a restoring torque that is linearly proportional to the
rotational displacement:
. (15.31)
sin ␽Ϸ␽


ϭ Ϫ l
cm
(mg sin ␽)

F
G
EoЌ
ϭ Ϫ mg sin␽

m
␻ ϭ ͱ

I
␽ ϭ ␽
m
sin(␻t ϩ ␾
i
)


␽(t)
I␣

ϭ I
d
2

dt
2
ϭ Ϫ ␬␽
d
2

dt
2
ϭ Ϫ

I



ϭ Ϫ(ml
cm
g)␽
Mazur: An Introduction to the New Physics
PH Network Graphics Fig. 16.25
1st Pass 1999-11-1
Nested file: n/a
CM
(a)
(b)
l
cm
axis
CM
l
cm

F
Eo
G F
Eo//
G
F
Eo⊥
G



F
so
c


Figure 15.32 (a) Oscillating pen-
dulum. (b) Extended free-body
diagram for the pendulum.
Key point: once again, the
oscillation frequency has
the form
sqrt( (stiffness) / (inertia) )
15.8 Damped oscillations 27
After is substituted for the left side of Eq. 15.31, we get
. (15.32)
and so the angular frequency of oscillation is
(pendulum ). (15.33)
! Example 15.6: The simple pendulum
Suppose a simple pendulum consisting of a bob of mass msuspended from a string
of length l is pulled back and released. What is the period of oscillation of the bob?
Getting started: I begin by making a sketch of the simple pendulum (Figure
15.33). I indicate the equilibrium position by a vertical dashed line.
Devise plan: The period of the pendulum is related to the angular frequency
(Eq. 15.1). To calculate the angular frequency, I can use Eq. 15.33 with l
cm
= l. If I
treat the bob as a particle, I can use Eq. 11.30 to calculate the bob’s rotational in-
ertia about the point of suspension, and so I = ml
2
.
Execute plan: Substituting the bob’s rotational inertia into Eq. 15.33 I get
.
and so, from Eq. 15.1, ␻ϭ2␲/T, I obtain:
. "
Evaluate result: My result is independent of the mass m of the bob, in agree-
ment with what is stated in Section 15.4. Increasing g decreases the period as it
should: a larger g means a larger restoring force and so the bob is pulled back to
the equilibrium position faster. It also makes sense that increasing l increases the
period: as my sketch shows, for larger l the bob has to move a larger distance to re-
turn to the equilibrium position.
! Example 15.7: Measuring g
The oscillations of a thin rod can be used to determine the value of the accelera-
tion due to gravity. A rod that is 0.800-m long and suspended from one end is ob-
served to complete 100 oscillations in 147 s. What is the value of g at the location
of this experiment?
Getting started: I begin by making a sketch of the situation. To simplify the
4
T ϭ
2␲

ϭ 2␲ͱ
l
g
␻ ϭ ͱ
mlg
ml
2
ϭ ͱ
g
l
3
2
1
␻ ϭ ͱ
ml
cm
g
I
d
2

dt
2
ϭ Ϫ
ml
cm
g
I



ϭ I␣

ϭ I d
2
␽͞dt
2
1
l
m

Figure 15.33
l
Figure 15.34
The frequency and period for a
"simple pendulum" are
important, and worth remembering.
problem, I shall assume that the rod pivots about the fixed end (Figure 15.34).
Devise plan: I calculated the rotational inertia of a thin rod about one end in
Example 11.11: I = , where m is the rod’s mass and l its length. I can use
this result and Eq. 15.33 to solve for g, noting that l
cm
in Eq. 15.33 is half the length
of the rod ( ).
Execute plan: Substituting the rod’s rotational inertia and the center-of-mass
distance into Eq. 15.33, I get
.
Solving for g yields g = .
The period of the rod is (147 s)/(100) = 1.47 s, and the angular frequency is ␻ =
2rf = 2r(1/T) = 2r /(1.04 s) = 4.27 s
–1
. Substituting this information into the ex-
pression for g yields g = (4.27 s
–1
)
2
(0.800 m) = 9.74 m/s
2
. "
Evaluate result: Again, the mass of the rod does not appear in the problem, be-
cause the restoring force is proportional to the rod’s mass. The value I obtained,
9.74 m/s
2
, is reasonably close to the acceleration due to gravity near Earth’s sur-
face, giving me confidence in my solution.
15.16 Can you use the experiment described in Example 15.7 to measure the
gravitational constant G?
! Example 15.8: The simple pendulum as a translational oscillator
The angular frequency ␻ of a simple pendulum can be calculated by treating the
pendulum as a translational oscillator and, as we did in Section 15.4, considering
the effect of the force of gravity on the horizontal displacement of the bob and ig-
noring, for small displacements, the slight up and down motion. Show that this
treatment yields the same result as you obtained in Example 15.6.
Getting started: I make a sketch of the pendulum, showing it displaced from
its equilibrium position (Figure 15.35a). In this problem we are going to concen-
trate on the horizontal displacement, labeled x. I also draw a free-body diagram for
the pendulum bob (Figure 15.35b).
Devise plan: The component of the gravitational force perpendicular to the
string supporting the pendulum bob, , provides the restoring force. For small
displacements, this component is nearly parallel to the x axis and so I can take
to be the restoring force in the x direction. This will permit me to write down
the simple harmonic oscillator equation for the pendulum.
Execute plan: From my free-body diagram, I see that . In
l
cm
ϭ
1
2
l
l
cm
ϭ
1
2
l
1
4
2
3
2
3

2
l
␻ ϭ ͱ
m
1
2
lg
1
3
ml
2
ϭ ͱ
3g
2l
3
1
3
ml
2
2
2
F
÷
G
EbЌ
F
G
EbЌ
Ϫmg sin␽ F
G
EbЌ
ϭ
3
28 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Quantitative Tools
(a)
(b)
l
s
x
x
y


F
sb
c

F
Eb
G
G
FF

F
Eb
G

F
Eb//


Figure 15.35
the small-angle approximation, this becomes . From the definition
of rotational coordinate, I have where s is the arc length over which the
bob is displaced and x the bob’s horizontal displacement (Figure 15.35a). For small
displacement and so the restoring force is
,
The simple harmonic oscillator equation for the pendulum bob is thus
,
or .
Comparing this result with Eq. 15.11, d
2
x/dt
2
ϭϪ␻
2
x, yields the same angular fre-
quency of oscillation as in Example 15.6: ␻ϭ . "
Evaluate result: Given that my result is the same as that obtained via a differ-
ent method, I can feel confident that it is correct.
15.17 Imagine placing a pendulum in an elevator. While the elevator accel-
erates upward, is the frequency f of the pendulum larger than, smaller than,
or equal to that when the elevator is at rest?
15.8 Damped oscillations
Up to this point, we have ignored any dissipation of energy in simple harmonic mo-
tion. Mechanical oscillations always involve some friction, however, and so the en-
ergy of the oscillation is slowly converted to thermal energy. As this conversion
takes place, the oscillating object slows down. The general term for this slowing
down because of energy dissipation is damping, and the system is said to execute
a damped oscillation.
Consider, for example, the two systems in Figure 15.36. Figure 15.36a shows a
block oscillating under the action of a spring. In Figure 15.36b the block is replaced
by a cart with a vane on top. As the block oscillates, it rubs against the floor, and
its motion is slowed down by friction with the floor. The motion of the cart is hin-
dered by air drag caused by the vane.
The figure also shows the free-body diagrams for the block and the cart. Each
object is subject to two forces in the horizontal direction: a restoring force exert-
ed by the spring and a damping force — a force due to friction or drag that dissi-
pates the energy of the oscillation. Damping forces can take on many forms. For
the oscillating block rubbing on the floor, the magnitude of the force of kinetic
friction is , with µ
k
the coefficient of kinetic friction; the direction of
this force is always opposite the direction of motion (that is, in the direction op-
posite the direction of the velocity vector).
Drag forces exerted by air or liquids at low speeds tend to be proportional to
F
G
EbЌ
Ϸ Ϫmg ␽
4
͙g͞l
a
x
ϵ
d
2
x
dt
2
ϭ Ϫ
g
l
x
ma
x
ϭ Ϫ
mg
l
x
F
G
EbЌ
Ϸ Ϫmg
s
l
Ϸ Ϫmg
x
l
ϭ Ϫ
mg
l
x
s Ϸ x
␽ ϵ s͞l
F
k
fb
ϭ ␮
k
(mg)
[(H1F)] 29
x
x
(a)
(b)

v

F
sb
c

F
sc
c

F
ac
d

F
fb
k

v

a

a
Figure 15.36 Damped oscillat-
ing systems.
Read text and graphs in section 15.8, but gloss over the equations.
the velocity of the object: the faster you ride your bicycle, for instance, the larger
the drag force exerted on you by the air. So
(low speed), (15.34)
where the coefficient b, called the damping coefficient, depends on the shape of the
object on which the drag force acts and on the properties of the gas or liquid ex-
erting the force. The SI units of the damping coefficient are kg/s. The minus sign tells
you that the direction of the drag force is opposite the direction of the velocity.
For most oscillators, velocity-dependent drag forces are the main cause of en-
ergy dissipation. In the presence of drag, the equation of motion for the cart in
Figure 15.36 becomes
. (15.35)
where k is the spring constant and mthe mass of the cart. When we write the x com-
ponents of the velocity and the acceleration as time derivatives of x, Equation
15.35 can be written in the form
. (15.36)
As long as the damping is not too large, the solution to this differential equation
is a sinusoidally varying function whose amplitude decreases with time. The solu-
tion, given here without proof, is
, (15.37)
͚
F
x
ϭ F
c
scx
ϩ F
d
acx
ϭ Ϫkx Ϫ bv
x
ϭ ma
x
F
÷
d
ao
ϭ Ϫbv
÷
m
d
2
x
dt
2
ϩ b
dx
dt
ϩ kx ϭ 0
x(t) ϭ Ae
Ϫbt͞2m
sin(␻
d
t ϩ ␾
i
)
30 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Quantitative Tools
x
x x x
x
t
b = 0
t t t
t
(a)
(c)
Ae
−bt/2m
(d) (e)
(b)
b = 0.025 m ω
b = 0.1 m ω b = 0.25 m ω b = 0.5 m ω
Mazur: An Introduction to the New Physics
PH Network Graphics Fig. 16.28
1st Pass 1999-11-1
Nested file: n/a
Figure 15.37 Damped simple
harmonic motion for various
values of the damping coeffi-
cient b not so large as to pre-
vent oscillations.
where the angular frequency of the damped oscillator is given by
. (15.38)
Figure 15.37 shows oscillations for various values of the damping coefficient
b. For b = 0, there is no damping, which means and . In this
case, Eq. 15.37 is identical to Eq. 15.6, the equation for position of an undamped sim-
ple harmonic oscillator. For light damping (small b), the second term in the square
root in Eq. 15.38 is negligible, and the damping does not affect the angular frequen-
cy of the oscillation: . As Figure 15.37 shows, however, damping decreases
the amplitude of the oscillation with each swing. Mathematically, this is expressed
by the exponential (Appendix ••) factor in Eq. 15.37, which makes the am-
plitude at any given instant equal to , where x
max
is the time-depen-
dent amplitude of the damped oscillator and A is the (constant) amplitude of the
undamped system. In the figure, this decreasing amplitude is indicated by the
dashed exponential curves, called the envelope of the oscillation. The stronger the
damping, the faster the amplitude decreases. For very large damping, oscillations
cease to occur and the system just returns to the equilibrium position. Such a sys-
tem is said to be overdamped.
The ratio m/b has units of time, and it is customary to call this ratio the time con-
stant . (Even though the symbol for time constant is the same as that for
torque, there is no relation between the two.) With this simplification, the decreas-
ing amplitude can be written
. (15.39)
The mechanical energy of the oscillator, which is proportional to the square of the
amplitude (Eq. 15.17), thus decreases as
, (15.40)
where is the initial mechanical energy. Equation 15.40 shows that
after a time interval equal to the time constant, so that t = t, the energy has de-
creased to of its initial value; only about one third of the ini-
tial energy remains. During each time interval of duration t, the energy again
decreases by factor e
–1
. After two time constants, for instance, only about 10% of
the initial energy remains.
Because oscillation periods vary widely, it is often convenient to express the
time constant t in terms of the period T so that we know after how many cycles
(rather than seconds) the energy has decreased by a certain factor. In terms of cy-
cles the decay of the oscillation can be characterized by the quality factor, defined
as
. (15.41)
The quality factor is measured in radians — if Q = 2␲, then t = T, and so the en-
ergy decays by a factor of e
–1
in one cycle. When Q= 1000(2␲), then it takes 1000
cycles for the energy to decay by a factor of e
–1
. A high Q implies that .
e
Ϫ␶͞␶
ϭ e
Ϫ1
Ϸ 0.37


ϭ
1
2
m␻
2


2
E(t) ϭ
1
2
m␻
2
x
2
max
ϭ (
1
2
m␻
2
A
2
)e
Ϫt͞␶
ϭ E
o
e
Ϫt͞␶
x
max
(t) ϭ Ae
Ϫt͞2␶
␶ ϵ m͞b
x
max
x
max
ϭ Ae
Ϫbt͞2m
e
Ϫbt͞2m

d
Ϸ ␻
o

d
ϭ ␻ e
Ϫbt͞2m
ϭ 1

d
ϭ ͱ
k
m
Ϫ
b
2
4m
2
ϭ ͱ␻
2
Ϫ
΂
b
2m
΃
2

d
Q ϵ ␻␶ ϭ 2␲



d
Ϸ ␻
o
[(H1F)] 31
For mechanical oscillators with low friction (piano strings, tuning forks), Qcan be
as large as a few thousand, meaning the oscillator executes thousands of oscilla-
tions before its energy decreases by a factor e
–1
. A bell with a large Q“rings” longer
than one with a small Q.
15.18 A tuning fork that sounds the tone musicians call middle C oscillates
at a frequency f = 263 Hz. If the amplitude of the fork’s oscillation decreas-
es by a factor 3 in 4.0 s, what are (a) the time constant of the oscillation and
(b) the quality factor?
32 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Quantitative Tools
Chapter glossary 33
Chapter glossary
( SI units of physical quantities are given in parentheses)
Angular frequency ␻ (s
–1
): A positive scalar equal to
the rotational speed of a rotating object whose projec-
tion produces an oscillation of frequency f, so that
. (15.4)
Amplitude A (m): A positive scalar equal to the mag-
nitude of the maximum displacement in a periodic mo-
tion.
Damped oscillation: Oscillation whose amplitude de-
creases over time due to dissipation of energy.
Fourier’s theorem: Any periodic function with period
T can be written as a sum of sinusoidal functions of
frequency , where n is a positive integer.
Frequency f (Hz): A positive scalar equal to the num-
ber of cycles per second of a periodic motion. The fre-
quency is the inverse of the period
. (15.2)
Fundamental frequency f
1
(Hz): Frequency of the first
term (n = 1) in the sum of sinusoidal functions of fre-
quency that add up to describe a periodic
function.
Harmonic: Term in a sum of sinusoidal functions used
to describe periodic functions. The lowest frequency
term is called the first harmonic. The other terms are
called higher harmonics.
Hertz (Hz): Derived SI unit of frequency: 1 Hz 1
s
–1
.
Oscillation: Periodic back-and-forth motion. Also
called vibration.
Periodic motion: Any motion that repeats itself at reg-
ular time intervals, called the period T of the motion.
Phase (unitless): A scalar specifying the time-de-
pendent argument of the sine function describing sim-
ple harmonic motion:

ϵ
f
n
ϭ n͞T
␻ ϭ 2␲f
f
n
ϭ n͞T
f ϵ 1͞T
(15.5)
The constant , the initial phase, specifies the phase at
t = 0.
Phasor: Rotating arrow whose component on a vertical
axis traces out a simple harmonic motion.
Reference circle: Circle traced out by the tip of a pha-
sor.
Simple harmonic motion: Motion for which the dis-
placement is a sinusoidally varying function of time
given by
. (15.6)
where Ais the amplitude, ␻ the angular frequency, and
the initial phase of the motion. The period T of a
simple harmonic oscillator is independent of the ampli-
tude A.
Simple harmonic oscillator equation: Equation satis-
fied by any system that undergoes simple harmonic
motion:
(15.10)
where x represents some sort of displacement and u is
the angular frequency of the oscillation. Any such sys-
tem is called a simple harmonic oscillator.
Spectrum: Graph showing the squares of the amplitude
A of the simple harmonic components of a periodic
function versus frequency f. The spectrum provides a
visual display of the frequency content of the function.
Time constant ␶ (s): A scalar giving the interval over
which the energy of a damped simple harmonic oscil-
lator is reduced by a factor 1/e.
Vibration: See oscillation.

i

i
d
2
x
dt
2
ϭ Ϫ␻
2
x,
␾( t) ϭ ␻t ϩ ␾
i
.
x(t) ϭ A sin(␻t ϩ ␾
i
)
Mazur: An Introduction to the New Physics
PH Network Graphics Fig. Sol.16.05
1st Pass 1999-11-1
Nested file: n/a
t
t
screen
x
x
1
x
2
ω

v
Figure S15.5
34 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Solutions
Mazur: An Introduction to the New Physics
PH Network Graphics Fig. Sol.16.01
1st Pass 1999-10-27
Nested file: n/a

F
ps
c

F
tc
c

F
sc
c

F
Ec
G

F
cs
c
Figure S15.1
Solutions
15.1 (a) Two forces are exerted on the spring — one by
the cart, the other by the post — and three forces are
exerted on the cart: one by the spring, one by Earth, and
one by the track. Figure S15.1 shows the free-body dia-
grams during compression (when the spring is stretched,
the direction is reversed for the two horizontal forces in
the diagram). (b) None; the only forces that have a
nonzero displacement along their line of action are the
contact forces between the spring and the cart, but these
are internal forces and so do no work on the system. (c)
The contact force exerted by the cart on the spring
points in the same direction as the force displacement,
and so the work done by this force on the spring is pos-
itive. This makes sense because, as the spring is com-
pressed, its elastic potential energy increases. (d) The
force exerted by the spring on the cart is directed in the
direction opposite the force displacement, and so the
work done by this force on the cart is negative. Because
and the force displacement is the same for
both forces, the work done by the spring on the cart is
the negative of that done by the cart on the spring.
15.2 (a) Negative. Just before reaching the position
where the spring is maximally stretched, the velocity
is positive (points left) and just afterwards, it is nega-
tive (points right). So the change in velocity and the
acceleration are both negative. (b) It is largest where
the curvature of the x(t) curve is largest, when the
spring is maximally stretched or compressed at the in-
stants represented in Figures 15.2a, 15.2e, and 15.2i. It
is smallest (zero), when the cart is at the equilibrium
position at the instants represented in Figures 15.2c
and 15.2g.
15.3 (a) a: tangential component of gravitational force;
F
÷
c
cs
ϭ ϪF
÷
c
sc
b: vertical component of elastic force in ruler, c: tan-
gential component of gravitational force, d:vertical
component of elastic force in string. (b) gravitational
potential energy in a and c; elastic potential energy in
b and d.
15.4 (a) Factor of 4. From Chapter 9 you know that
the potential energy of a spring is proportional to the
square of the displacement from the equilibrium posi-
tion. So if the spring is compressed twice as much the
initial potential energy is four times as much. The ini-
tial kinetic energy is zero and so the energy is four
times as large. (b) The initial compression determines
the amplitude, and so the energy in the oscillator is pro-
portional to the square of the amplitude.
15.5 (a) Upward, see Figure S15.5. (b) Downward.
The two shaded regions in Figure S15.5 indicate that
the shadow moves over increasingly smaller distances
Ax during a given time interval At until it reaches the
top. In other words, the shadow slows down. This
means that the direction of the acceleration vector is
opposite to that of the velocity vector.
15.6 (a) A pure sinusoidal function requires just a sin-
gle term in the Fourier series, and so the spectrum con-
sists of a single peak at frequency f = 1/T. The peak
height A, is the square of the amplitude of the func-
tion. (b) As T increases, f = 1/T decreases, and the sin-
gle peak in the spectrum shifts to a lower frequency.
15.7 (a) At x = x
o
and for large x, ⌺F
x
= 0, and so these
are equilibrium positions. Only the position at x
o
is a
stable equilibrium position. (At very large x, the equi-
librium is unstable as the object will tend to accelerate
Solutions 35
TABLE S15.8
Small angle approximation
polar angle ␪ polar angle ␪
in degrees in radians sin ␪ error (%)
1 0.0174533 0.0174524 0.0051
5 0.0872665 0.0871557 0.1270
10 0.1745329 0.1736482 0.5095
20 0.3490659 0.3420201 2.0600
in the negative x direction.) (b) The shape of the curve
tells you that the magnitude of the restoring force is
larger for a negative displacement from x
o
than for a
equal positive displacement.
15.8 If you did not set your calculator to work with
radians before getting the five values, you might have
concluded that the small-angle approximation
is not correct! Because angles are really ra-
tios of arc lengths and radii (Section 11.4),
applies only if is expressed in radians. Thus your first
step is to convert each angle from degrees to radians,
then (with your calculator set at “rad”) get the sine val-
ues. As Table S15.8 shows, the approximation is correct
to better than 1% up to rotational positions corre-
sponding to polar angles of 10°.
15.9 (a) If the length of the pendulum is increased, the
displacement of the pendulum bob for a given angle
increases, but the restoring force remains the same. So
the restoring force for a given displacement is smaller
and thus the period is longer (for a mathematical proof
see Example 15.6). (b) The lower acceleration due to
gravity on the Moon decreases the restoring force ex-
erted on the pendulum, and so the period is increased.
(c) Neither mass nor the spring constant is affected by
the smaller gravitational attraction on the Moon, and
so the object’s period is the same on the Moon and on
Earth.
15.10 (a) x positive, v
x
positive, a
x
negative. (b) x neg-
ative, v
x
negative, a
x
positive.
15.11 (a) Substituting the maximum displacement x =
Ainto Eq. 15.15, you get U= . (b) Yes; at max-
1
2
m␻
2
A
2
sin ␪ Ϸ ␪
sin ␪ Ϸ ␪

imum displacement, K = 0 so and E = U.
15.12 (a) Yes. The velocity is given by the derivative of
Eq. 15.6, as Eq. 15.7 shows. Because , substi-
tuting t = 0 into Eq. 15.25 gives = 0. (b)
No. In Figure 15.26, for example, the cart moves to the
left (negative x component of the velocity) even after
crossing the position x = 0. Only after reaching x = –A
does the cart turn around and the x component of the
velocity become positive.
15.13 (a) Because cart 2 remains in place after the first
collision, the carts collide again when cart 1 returns to
its initial position at x = –15 mm. Because the sine func-
tion is symmetric about the maximum, this occurs after
a time interval twice as long as that required to reach
maximum compression. So t = 2(0.17 s) = 0.34 s. (b) Im-
mediately after the second collision, cart 1 has zero ve-
locity and then begins a new oscillation with an
amplitude of 15 mm. Cart 2 moves away to the right at
a constant speed of 0.10 m/s.
15.14 If the block is lifted above x
eq
, Eq. 2 remains
valid — the only difference now is that x – x
eq
is nega-
tive because x is on the other side of x
eq
. The vector
sum of the forces is then positive, reflecting the fact
that the restoring force is now downward.
15.15 Decreasing the radius of the disk reduces its ro-
tational inertia (which means it rotates more easily).
Decreasing I increases ␻ (Eq. 15.29) and hence f in-
creases (Eq. 15.4).
15.16 No. The oscillating rod experiment determines
the acceleration due to gravity g, not G. The two are
related (Eq. 13.4, ), but the relationship
contains Earth’s mass, which cannot be determined in-
dependently. [As you may remember, Earth’s mass is
determined from G, which is measured in the
g ϭ Gm
E
͞R
2
E
v
x
ϭ cos ␲͞2

i
ϭ ␲͞2
Mazur: An Introduction to the New Physics
PH Network Graphics Fig. Sol.16.09
1st Pass 1999-11-1
Nested file: n/a
string
displacement


equilibrium position
part 2
⌬y
1
2
l
y
x
l'
1
2
FF
12x
c

FF
32x
c

FF
12y
c

FF
32y
c


→ →
→ →
F
12
c

F
32
c
Figure S15.9
36 CHAPTER 15 Periodic motion Solutions
Mazur: An Introduction to the New Physics
PH Network Graphics Fig. S.16.18
1st Pass 1999-11-1
Nested file: n/a
(a) (b)
a = 0

F
sb
c

F
sb
c

F
Eb
G

F
Eb
G

→ →
a
Figure S15.17
Cavendish experiment (Section 13.5), not the other
way around, see Example 13.3.]
15.17 Larger. The upward acceleration effectively in-
creases g, which means an object in your hand feels
heavier. If g increases, the frequency of the pendulum
increases too (Example 15.6). An alternative way to
see that f increases is to look at the free-body diagrams
for the pendulum bob in an elevator at rest (Figure
S15.17a) and in an elevator that is accelerating up (Fig-
ure S15.17b). For the elevator at rest (or moving at con-
stant velocity), the upward vertical component of the
tensile force exerted by the string on the bob and the
downward force of gravity add approximately to zero
(neglecting the small vertical acceleration due to the
pendulum motion). When the elevator accelerates up-
ward, the tensile force exerted by the string on the bob
must increase so that the vertical component of
becomes larger than the gravitational force. This caus-
es the pendulum bob to accelerate along with the ele-
vator. If becomes larger, however, the horizontal
component also increases, and so the restoring force
F
÷
c
sb
F
÷
c
sb
for a given displacement increases, which increases f.
15.18 (a) The time-varying amplitude is given by
, where Ais the initial amplitude. If the
amplitude decreases by a factor 3, x
max
/A = 1/3 and so
. Taking the natural logarithm (Ap-
pendix ••) of both sides, you get =
ln(1/3) = –1.1, = (–2.0 s)/(–1.1) = 1.8 s. (b)
(263 Hz)(1.8 s) = 3.0 × 10
3
.
x
max
ϭ Ae
Ϫt͞2␶
2␲f ␶ ϭ 2␲
␶ Q ϭ ␻␶ ϭ
Ϫ(4.0 s)͞2␶
e
Ϫ(4.0 s)͞2␶
ϭ 1͞3

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