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Lecture 11

Motion in a plane: Introduction to polar coordinates

So far we have discussed equilibrium of bodies i.e. we have concentrated
only on statics. From this lecture onwards we learn about the motion of
particles and composite bodies and how it is affected by the forces applied
on the system. Thus we are now startin study of dynamics.
!hen we describe the motion of a particle" we specify it by ivin its position
and velocity as a function of time. #ow the motion chanes with time is iven
by the application of $ewton%s II
Law. &ne such particle at position
movin with velocity and acted upon by a force is shown in fiure 1.
The force ives rise to an acceleration . $otice that in eneral the
position" the velocity and the acceleration are not in the same direction.
'ach of these vectors is specified by ivin its component alon a set of
conveniently chosen a(es. For a particle movin in a plane" if we choose the
)artesian coordinate system *(+y a(es, then the position is iven by
specifyin the coordinates *(" y," velocity by its components and
acceleration by its components . These are related by the
These e(pressions are easily enerali-ed to three dimensions by includin
the -+component of the motion also. #owever" in this lecture we will be
focusin on motion in a plane only. !ith these components the equations of
motion to be solved are
)oupled with the initial conditions solutions of these equations provide the
velocity and position of a particle uniquely. #owever" the )artesian system of
coordinates is only one way of describin the motion of a particle. There
arise many situations where describin the motion in some other coordinate
system i.e." components alon some other directions is move
convenient. &ne such coordinate system is polar coordinates. In this lecture
we discuss the use of this system to describe the motion of a particle. To
introduce you to polar coordinates and how their use may ma.e thins easy"
we start with the discussion of a particle in a circle.
)onsider a particle is movin with a constant anular speed in a circle of
radius R centered at the oriin *see fiure /,. Its x and y coordinates are
iven as
with both x and y bein functions of time *see fiure /,.
&n the other hand" if we choose to ive the position of the particle by ivin
its distance r from the oriin and the anle 0 that the line from the oriin to
the particle with (+a(is in the counter+cloc.wise direction" then the
position is iven as
In this coordinate system" r is a constant and 0 a linear function of time.
Thus there is only one variable that varies with time whereas the other one
remains constant. The motion description thus is simpler. These co+
ordinates are .nown as the planar polar coordinates. 1s e(pected"
these coordinates are most useful in describin motion when there is some
sort of a rotational motion. !e will therefore find them useful" for e(ample" in
discussin motion of planets around the sun rotatin bodies and motion of
rotatin ob2ects.
So to start with let us set up the unit vectors is polar co+ordinates * r, ) .
3iven a point " the unit vector is in outward radial direction and has
manitude of unity. The 0 unit vector is also of manitude unity and is
perpendicular to and in the direction of increasin 0 *see fiure 4,.
&bviously the dot product . In term of the unit vectors
in x and y direction these are iven as
1s is clear from these e(pression the direction of and 0 is not fi(ed but
depends on the anle 0. &n the other hand" it does not depend on r. If we
o alon a radius" and 0 remain unchaned as we move *recall that two
parallel vectors of same manitude are equal,. 5ut that is not the case if 0 is
The position a of a particle in polar co+ordinates to iven by writin
1s particle moves about" chanes. 6oes the mean that the velocity
The answer is no. 1s already discussed is a function of " the anle from
the (+a(is. Thus as a particle moves such that the anle 0 chanes with
time" the unit vector also chanes. Its derivative with respect to time is
therefore not -ero. Thus the correct e(pression for is
Let us now calculate . 1s already stated" does not chane as one
moves radically in or out. Thus chanes only if 0 chanes. Let us now
calculate this chane *fiure 7,
1s is clear from the fiure
where the dot on top of a quantity denotes its time derivative. The
e(pression above can also be derived mathematically as follows:

Thus the velocity of a particle is iven as
!e note that the unit vectors in polar coordinates .eep chanin as the
particle moves because they are iven by the particles current position. Thus
even if a particle were movin with a constant velocity" the components of
velocity alon the radial and the directions will chane. Let us calculate the
velocity of a particle movin in a circle with a constant anular speed. For
such a particle
so the velocity is iven as
This is a well .nown result: the velocity of a particle movin in a circle with a
constant anular speed is in the tanential direction and its manitude is
89. #ow about the acceleration in polar coordinates: This is the derivative
of with respect to time. Thus
1s was the case with the unit vector " the unit vector also is a function of
the polar anle 0 and as such chanes as the particle moves about. Thus in
calculatin the acceleration" time derivative of also should be ta.en into
account. From fiure 7 it is clear that
This can also be derived mathematically as
;sin this derivative and the chain rule for differentiation" we et
<ou can see that the e(pression is a little complicated. The comple(ity of the
e(pression arises because the unit vectors are chanin as the particle
moves. <ou can chec. for yourself that for a particle movin with a constant
velocity" the e(pression above will ive -ero acceleration. 6espite little
complicated e(pressions for the acceleration" employin polar coordinates
becomes really useful in situations where motion is circular+li.e as we will
see in two standard e(amples later. Let us first o to one familiar e(ample of
a particle movin in a circle for which r = 8 " . This ives
which is the correct answer for the centripetal acceleration. For this
reason is .nown as the centripetal term. Let us now solve an e(ample of
mechanics usin polar co+ordinates.
Lecture 24
Harmonic oscillator I: Introduction
#avin analy-ed the motion of particles in different situations" let us now
focus on a very special .ind of motion: that of oscillations. This is a very
eneral .ind of motion seen around you: 1 partial movin around the bottom
of a cup" a pendulum swinin" a clamped rod vibratin about its equilibrium
position or a strin vibratin. 1 ood first appro(imation to these motions is
the simple harmonic oscillation. Let us see what does that mean: 1t a stable
equilibrium point" the force on a body is -ero> not only that" as a particle
moves away from equilibrium" its potential enery increases and it is pulled
bac. towards the equilibrium point. Thus around a stable equilibrium point
*for simplicity" let me ta.e one+dimensional motion, the potential
enery can be written as
Since at an equilibrium point" the force F(x
) on the particle vanishes"
Further" because (x) has a minimum at x
" this ives
!ritin I et
and the correspondin equation of motion for a mass m as
1s I will show a little later" the solution of this equation is of the form
and is .nown as the simple harmonic motion. It is the simplest possible
motion about a stable equilibrium point. &f course if k = 0 " the force will
have hiher order dependence on y and the motion becomes more
complicated. Further" even if " if we include hiher order terms" the
resultin motion will become more comple(. It is for this reason that we call
the motion above simple harmonic motion. !e will see that this itself is quite
a rich system. 1 system that performs simple harmonic motion is called a
simple harmonic oscillator. 1 prototype if this system is the sprin+mass
system with k bein the sprin constant and m the mass of the bloc. on the
sprin *fiure 1,.
In these lectures" I will tal. about the motion of this system and how it is
represented by a phasor diaram. I will then introduce dampin into the
system. The simplest dampin is a constant opposin force li.e friction and
ne(t level is a dampin proportional to the velocity. Then I will apply a force
on the system and see the motion of force damped and undamped oscillator.
1lon the way" I will solve many e(amples to show wide applicability of
simple harmonic motion.
To start with let us ta.e our prototype system of mass and sprin with
unstretched lenth of the sprin so that equilibrium distance of the mass
is . $ow when the mass is displaced about by x in the positive direction"
the force is in neative direction so that
This is the eneral equation for simple harmonic oscillator. 8ecall that in
such cases we assume a solution of the form
and substitute it in the equation to et
Since this equation is true for all times" we should have
Thus there are two solution and . 1 eneral solution is then iven
in terms of a linear combination of the two solutions so let us write
Since is real it is clear that . Thus
If we ta.e A = A
+ iA
" where both A
and A
are real then the solution
above the form
which alternatively can be written as
1nother equivalent way of writin the solution is
1 is the ma(imum distance that the mass travels durin a simple harmonic
oscillation. It is .nown as the amplitude of oscillation. The quantity is
.nown as the phase with bein the initial phase. 1ll the bo(ed equations
above are equivalent ways of writin the solution for a harmonic oscillator.
The eneral raph depictin the solution is iven in fiure
Thus A is the ma(imum distance traveled by the bloc. and ives its
initial displacement. The constants C and D or A and are determined by
the initial conditions" i.e. initial displacement and velocity of the mass. In
eneral any two conditions are enouh to determine the constants.
For a displacement
the velocity of the mass is iven by
Thus the ma(imum possible manitude of the velocity is
A . The eneral
displacement and the correspondin velocity of the mass with respect to
time are displayed in fiure 4.
It is clear from the fiure that for a iven displacement" the velocity is such
that when displacement is at its ma(imum or minimum" the velocity is -ero
and when the displacement is -ero" the velocity has the larest manitude.
This is physically clear. !hen the sprin is compressed or stretched to its
ma(imum" the particle is at rest and when the particle passes throuh the
equilibrium point" its speed is at its ma(imum. Let me now solve a few
Lecture 26
Harmonic oscillator III: Forced oscillations
In the previous two lectures" you have learnt about free harmonic oscillator
and damped harmonic oscillator. In this lecture we study what happens
when a harmonic oscillator is sub2ected to a force. The simplest case is
when an oscillator is sub2ected to a constant force F . In that case nothin
much place e(cept that the equilibrium point ets shifted by (F/k). <ou
see an e(ample of it when a mass is attached to a vertical sprin.
Mathematically we write
This can be written as
for an undamped oscillator and
for a damped oscillator. 6efine a new variable so that the equation
reads *I write only the undamped oscillator equation,
This is the equation you are well familiar with. From its solution" that for x is
written as
So the mass oscillates about . I now ta.e up an oscillator sub2ected
to a time+dependent force.
1 eneral time+dependent force F(t) can always be decomposed into its
Fourier components li.e so enerally we study an
oscillator sub2ected to a force of the form. " where
and F is the amplitude of the force. Let me start by first studyin the motion
of an undamped oscillator under such a force.
The equation of motion for an undamped oscillator under a time+periodic
force is
or equivalently
The eneral solution is a combination of homoeneous part of the equation
and a particular solution (
. Thus
#ere you can chec. that
Let me start the oscillator from rest at equilibrium. It starts movin because
of the applied force. The initial conditions then are . ;nder
these conditions the solution comes out to be
So the eneral solution is a combination of motion of two frequencies. The
resultin motion can be represented on a phasor diaram by addin the two
motions vectorially. This shown at t = 0 and two other different times in fiure
1s is clear from the fiure" at t = ?" the net displacement is -ero. 1s the time
proresses" the displacement chanes with the lenth of the rotatin vector
also chanin with time. 1s an illustrative e(ample" I ta.e the
frequency " and two different frequencies" for
the force. The resultin solutions are shown in fiure /.

So you see from the fiure above that the ma(imum displacement of
oscillations .eeps chanin. This is what I had inferred from the phasor
diaram also. The motion is still periodic and reminds us of the phenomena
of beats.
Interestin is the case when . #owever" I cannot put it directly in the
formula become we are dividin by . So we have to ta.e the
limit . Let me substitute in the formula or and
ta.e . This leads to
Thus the displacement .eeps on increasin with time oscillatin with the
frequency of the oscillator. This is the phenomena of resonance. The
correspondin plot of displacement is shown in fiure 4.

Forced oscillations of an ndam!ed at resonance
Figure 3
#avin discussed forced oscillations for undamped oscillator" we now move
on to study a damped oscillator movin under the influence of a periodic
force. The equation of motion then is
1s earlier" the eneral solution of this equation is oin to the sum of the
homoenous and inhomoeneous part. So
1s the time proresses will ma.e the homoeneous solution die down
so finally the only solution remainin will be
This is .nown as the steady state solution. &bviously it does not depend on
the initial conditions. Let us now find this solution.
For the equation of motion
I assume a steady state solution of the form 5ut when substituted in
the equation" this will ive rise to a term containin because of in
the equation. So a eneral solution should be of the form.
!hen substituted in the equation" this leads to
These equations ive
So the eneral solution is
Thus after reachin steady state" the displacement las behind the applied
force by an anle with and oscillates with an amplitude
The oscillation frequency of steady+state solutions is obviously equal to the
frequency of the applied force. 1 typical displacement and its shift with
respect to the applied force are shown in fiure 7.
1s far as ettin the steady state solution for a forced damped oscillator is
concerned" we are done. !hat we need to do now is to analy-e the solution
in different situations.
First of all we notice that irrespective of whether the system is lihtly damped
or heavily damped" it will always oscillate under an applied time+periodic
force. Let us first consider the case of liht dampin and see how the
amplitude varies with the applied frequency. The amplitude as a function of
9 is iven as
This amplitude oes to as . This is nothin but the stretch of
the sprin under a constant force. For very lare frequencies . In
between the amplitude has a ma(imum at as is easily seen. So in this
case" the amplitude as a function of frequency loo.s as shown in fiure @ for
two different values of .
It is clear from the fiure that the amplitude is ma(imum around
which reminds us of the phenomenon of resonance for undamped oscillator.
For lare values the pea. shifts to the left *lower frequency,.
For heavy dampin * A , we do not see any amplitude ma(imum
near but the system has lare amplitude for low frequencies. 1
schematic plot of amplitude as a function of frequency loo.s li.e fiure B. It is
evident that only for low frequencies the system oscillates with reasonable
!hat about the phase of the system with respect to the applied force: I
leave this as an e(ercise for you to plot the phase of displacement as a
function of frequency.