The distance from A to B is the magnitude of the displacement, AB
, which is given by
1.3 Concept of Velocity
It is known that the quantity t r represents the average change in position from time t to , t t +
and this average change in position is called the average velocity of the particle over the time period . t
In the case of motion along a line, the instantaneous velocity is defined as the limit of the average velocity
as t tends to zero; that is:
Velocity =
( ) ( )
0 0
lim lim
t t
t t t
t t
+
=
r r
r
.
The limit on the right hand side of the last equation is the velocity vector ( ) ' , t r that is the first time
derivative of the displacement function. Let us denote the velocity of the particle at time t by ( ) t v , then
we can write
( ) ( )
( )
' .
d t
t t
dt
= =
r
v r
Thus, velocity of a particle is defined as the rate of change of its position with respect to time.
Velocity is the rate of change of displacement with time.
Suppose ( ) , , , x y z x y z = + + = r i j k
then
( )
d d
x y z
dt dt
= = + +
r
v i j k
dx dy dz
dt dt dt
= + + i j k
or
. x y z
= + + v i j k
NOTE: If the origin O is fixed, then the velocity v is called absolute velocity.
1.4 Concept of Speed:
The speed of a particle is defined as the rate of change of distance (along the specified path) with
respect to time. In other words, the speed of a particle is the magnitude of its velocity , v it is
written as v or simply v. Thus,
( ) ( ) ( )
2 2 2
2 1 2 1 2 1
. AB x x y y z z = + +
3
Speed, v .
d
dt
= =
r
v
REMARK: The terms velocity and speed are often confused with one another. A velocity can be
either positive or negative, depending on the direction of motion. From the above discussion on
speed, it follows that a body can never possess a negative speed.
1.5 Concept of Acceleration:
Acceleration is defined as the rate of change of velocity with respect to time. It is denoted by . a
This definition implies that
( ) ( ) ' '' . t t = = a v r
2
2
0
lim .
t
d d d d
t dt dt dt dt
 
= = = =

\
v v r r
a
Note: Acceleration is a vector quantity.
Worked Example 1.1
The displacement, r , of a particle is given by ( )
2
6 3 1 . t t t = + + r i j k Find its velocity, speed
and acceleration at (i) any time, (ii) t = 3 seconds.
Solution:
( )
2
6 3 1 . t t t = + + r i j k
a) Velocity, , v is given by
6 2 3 .
d
t
dt
= = +
r
v i j k
At t = 3,
( ) 6 2 3 3
6 6 3
= +
= +
v i j k
i j k
Speed at any time t is given by
( ) ( ) ( )
2 2 2
2
v = 6 2 3
6 2 3
4 45.
t
t
t
= +
= + +
= +
v i j k
At t = 3, speed is
( )
2
v 4 3 45
189.
= +
=
c) Acceleration is given by
( )
6 2 3
2
d d
t
dt dt
= = +
=
v
a i j k
j
which is also the acceleration at t = 3.
4
Self Assessment Questions
1. What do you understand by the following terms: Position, Velocity, Acceleration and
Speed of an object?
2. The displacement of a particle is given by
( ) ( ) ( )
2 2
3 1 2 3 2 5 . t t t t = + + + r i j k Find
the velocity, speed and acceleration at
i. any time;
ii. t = 2.
3. The displacement vector, r of a moving particle is given by
5
sin cos 4 .
t
t t e = + r i j k
Find its velocity, speed and acceleration at
i. any time
ii. . 0 = t
4. The displacement of a particle is given by
( )
2 3
2 1 8 3 . t t t t = + + + r i j k Find its velocity,
speed and acceleration at time t = 3.
5. The position vector of a particle is ( ) cos sin . t t t t = + + r i j k
Find its velocity, speed and
acceleration at any time t.
5
MAT113 Elementary Mechanics
Unit 2
NEWTONS LAWS OF MOTION AND APPLICATIONS TO SIMPLE PROBLEMS
Introduction
Sir Isaac Newton (16421727), who was one of the chief founders of the Calculus, stated three
laws governing the motion of a body. Newtons second law of motion gave rise to the
universally accepted formula:
F = ma
where F is the force acting on a particle of constant mass so as to move with an acceleration, a.
This law of motion is applicable to vertical motion under gravity and the motion of projectiles. In
this unit, we shall discuss motion of particles projected vertically upwards, and the motion of
particles falling freely from given locations.
2.1 Newtons Laws of Motion and Implications
FIRST LAW: A body at rest remains at rest and a body in motion moves in a straight line with
constant velocity, unless acted upon by some external force.
SECOND LAW: The rate of change of the linear momentum of a body is proportional to the
resultant external force that acts on the body.
THIRD LAW: Action and reaction are equal and opposite. Alternatively, To every action,
there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The first law is straightforward in meaning. Generally, an object at rest does not begin to move
on its own. For such an object to move there must be resultant force acting on it. Even with the
presence of the resultant force, the object tends to resist the motion. Again, an object in motion
with a constant speed in a straight line does not stop or change direction of motion on its own
accord. For such an object to stop, or change direction of motion, there must be resultant force
acting on it.
The second law is expressed in terms of momentum, and the linear momentum of a particle is
defined as the product of its mass by its velocity, or mv . We consider the position of the body
as described by its position or displacement vector, r . The velocity, v, will then be defined as:
,
d
dt
=
r
v
The second law can now be stated in the form,
( )
,
d m
dt
v
F
Here, Fdenotes the resultant force.
If m is independent of time t
( )
,
d m d
m
dt dt
=
v v
Newton's second law can now be stated in the form: The mass times the acceleration is
proportional to the force:
6
,
d
m
dt
v
F
From the proportion, we now get the equation,
,
d
m
dt
=
v
F
where is a physical constant. The value of depends on the units used.
Suppose we chose the units of mass, length, and time arbitrarily, as in Physics, the socalled
"absolute unit of force" is that unit which makes =1 in Newton's Equation, so that:
,
d
m
dt
=
v
F
or
.
d
m
dt
=
v
F
Recall that / d dt v is the acceleration, a and so an alternative form of Newtons second law is:
. m = F a
It can also be shown without any difficulty that:
2
2
.
d
m
dt
=
r
F
The force in Newtons second law refers to the resultant force. If there are many forces acting on
an object, the vector sum of those forces is the force that produces acceleration.
.
ext
F m =
a
When mass is in kilograms and acceleration is in m/s
2
, the unit of force is in Newtons
(N).
One Newton is equal to the force required to accelerate one kilogram of mass at one
meter/second/second.
The third law, too, is selfexplanatory. Consider, for example, two particles of unequal
mass, connected by a spring, the mass of which is negligible. Then the pull (or push) of the
spring on the one particle is equal and opposite to its pull (or push) on the other particle. In other
words, if a body A exerts a force on a body B, then the body B exerts an equal and opposite force
on body A. According to Newton, whenever objects A and B interact with each other, they exert
forces upon each other. When you sit in your chair, your body exerts a downward force on the
chair and the chair exerts an upward force on your body. There are two forces resulting from
this interaction  a force on the chair and a force on your body. These two forces are called action
and reaction forces.
Worked Example 2.1:
Due to a force field, a particle of mass 5 units moves along a space curve whose position vector
is given as a function of time t by
( ) ( )
3 4 2 2
2 3 8 12 . t t t t t = + + + + + r i j k
Find (a) the velocity, (b) the momentum, (c) the acceleration and (d) the force field at any time t.
7
Solution:
(a) Velocity,
( ) ( )
2 3
6 1 12 2 24
d
t t t t
dt
= = + + + +
r
v j j k
(b) Momentum,
( ) ( )
2 3
5 30 5 60 10 120 P m t t t t = = = + + + + v v i j k
(c) Acceleration,
( )
2
12 36 2 24
d
t t
dt
= = + + +
v
a i j k
(d) Force,
( )
2
60 180 10 120 . m t t = = + + + F a i j k
Alternatively,
( )
2
60 180 10 120 .
d
t t
dt
= = + + +
P
F i j k
2.2 Particle projected vertically upwards
Fig. 2.1
Let AB be a horizontal line, point O the origin, and i and j unit vectors acting horizontally and
vertically respectively as shown in the Fig. 2.1. A particle P of mass m kg is thrown vertically
upwards from O with initial velocity um/s. Let OP = r
F r
Remark: The unit of work is Joule (J) or Newtonmetre (Nm).
Worked Example 3.1:
Find the work done in moving a particle from A(3, 4, 2) to B(1, 5, 6) by a force
5 2 4 . = + F i j k
Solution:
Work done is W = F r ,
where AB OB OA = = r
( ) ( ) 1, 5, 6 3, 4, 2 = r
4 8 . = + + i j k
Thus,
( ) ( )
5 2 4 4 8 W = + + + i j k i j k
20 2 32 = +
= 10 Nm
Worked Example 3.2:
Calculate the work done by a force
2 2
x y = + F i j in moving a particle from the point A(0, 0) to
the point B(1, 2) along the curve
2
2 . y x =
Solution:
Work done by the force is given by
B
A
W d =
F r
Let , x y z = + + r i j k then . d dx dy dz = + + r i j k
Thus,
( ) ( )
( )
( ) 1,2
2 2
0,0
B
A
W d x y dx dy dz = = + + +
F r i j i j k
( )
( )
( ) 1,2
2 2
0,0
W x dx y dy = +
( )
( ) 1,2
3 3
0,0
1 1
3 3
x y
(
= +
(
1 2
3 3
0 0
1 1
3 3
x y
( (
= +
( (
=
1 8
3 3
+
= 3 Nm
3.2 Power
Power, denoted by P, is the time rate of doing work on a particle.
For a constant force F, power P is obtained by
17
( )
.
d
dW
P
dt dt
= =
F r
i.e.,
d
P
dt
=
r
F
. P = F v
Thus, it has been shown that if F is the constant force acting on a particle and v is the velocity
of the particle, then the power applied to the particle is given by
. P = F v
Note: Unit of Power is Newtonmetre per second (Nm/s) or Joule per second (J/s).
If the force F varies with time, then
P
t t
= =
F r r
F
or
P = F v
Now,
P
t t
=
v
F
As t approaches zero, we have
0 0
lim lim
t t
P
t t
=
v
F
which is equivalent to
dP d
dt dt
=
v
F
Integrating both sides with respect to t leads to
. P d =
F v
3.3 ENERGY
Energy is work capable of being done. Basically, there are two forms of energy, namely Kinetic
energy and Potential energy. Kinetic energy is the work done in moving a particle from one point
to another while Potential energy is energy due to position in a conservative force field.
3.3.1 KINETIC ENERGY
Kinetic energy (K.E.) is defined as the work done against a system of forces acting on the
particle in such a way that the speed of the particle is reduced to zero. This is the energy a
moving particle has because of its motion; it depends on the particles mass and speed.
With reference to Fig. 3.2, work done from by F in moving a particle from A to B (as already
shown) is
B
A
W d =
F r
Let us denote the Kinetic energy by T, then the negative work done is
B
A
T W d = =
F r
18
B
A
d
T m d
dt
=
v
r
Since ,
d
dt
=
r
v it follows that . d dt = r v
Thus,
B
A
d
T m dt
dt
=
v
v
which simplifies to
B
A
T m d =
v v
Recall that
( ) 2
d d
dt dt
=
v
v v v
such that
( ) ( )
2
1 1
v
2 2
d d d = = v v v v
Hence,
( )
2
1
v
2
B
A
T m d =
v 0
2
v v
1
v
2
B
A
T m
=
=
( =
2
1
v
2
T m =
Note: Unit of kinetic energy is Newtonmetre (Nm) or Joule (J)
3.3.2 POTENTIAL ENERGY
Potential energy (P.E.) is energy that is stored and waiting to be used later. It can also be
described as the energy acquired by a body by virtue of its position or state. The P.E. possessed
by a body by virtue of its height above the ground level is known as Gravitational P.E., denoted
by . For a body of mass m which is held at a height h above the ground, it can be shown that
. mgh =
The term potential energy implies that the object has the potential, or capability, of either gaining
kinetic energy or doing work when it is released from some point under the influence of a
conservative force exerted on the object by some other member of the system.
3.3.3 CONSERVATIVE FORCE
We defined the work done by a force F in moving a particle along a path (say a space
curve C) from an initial point A
to a final point B, as the integral of the component of the force
tangent to the path with respect to the displacement of the point of contact of the force and the
object, that is,
B
A
W d =
F r
19
Generally, force F varies along the curve C regardless of the coordinates of A and B. However,
there are some cases in nature in which W depends only on the points A and B, and not on the
nature of the curve C. Such a force is called a conservative force. A conservative force can now
be defined as a force which moves a particle from one point to another point in such a way that
the work done is independent on the path taken. The work done by a conservative force in going
around a closed path is zero, that is, if C is a closed curve, then
0.
C
W d = =
F r
The point that is being made here is that whenever the work done by a force in moving an object
from an initial point to a final point is independent of the path, the force is called a conservative
force.
Conservative forces, therefore, have two important properties:
1. A force is conservative if the work it does on a particle moving between any two points is
independent of the path taken by the particle.
2. The work done by a conservative force on a particle moving through any closed path is zero.
(A closed path is one in which the beginning and end points are identical.)
The gravitational force is one example of a conservative force, and the force that a spring exerts
on any object attached to the spring is another.
3.3.4 PRINCIPLE OF CONSERVATION OF ENERGY
An object held at some height h above the floor has no K.E. However, as we learned earlier, the
gravitational P.E. of the objectEarth system is equal to mgh. If the object is dropped, it falls to
the floor; as it falls, its speed and thus its kinetic energy increase, while the P.E. of the system
decreases. If factors such as air resistance are ignored, whatever P.E. the system loses as the
object moves downward appears as K.E. of the object. In other words, the sum of the kinetic and
potential energiesthe total mechanical energy Eremains constant. This is an example of the
principle of conservation.
The principle of conservation of energy states that: In a conservative field, the total energy
remains constant.
That is,
constant. T + =
Recall that,
2
1
v
2
T m = and
mgh =
Thus,
2
1
v constant.
2
m mgh + =
SelfAssessment Questions:
1. Explain the following terms and express their mathematical formulae: (a) Work (b) Power (c)
Energy
2. Prove that if F is the force acting on a particle and v is the velocity of the particle, then the
power applied to the particle is given by . P = F v
20
3. A particle of constant mass m kg moves in space under the influence of a force F Newtons.
Assuming that at times
1
t and
2
t the velocities
1
v and
2
v respectively, prove that the work done
is the change in kinetic energy.
4. Particles of masses 2 kg, 3 kg and 1 kg have position vectors:
( ) ( ) ( )
2 2 2 3 2
1 2 3
1 3 , 1 3 , 2 3 t t t t t t t t = + + + = + + + = + + r i j k r i j k r i j k
respectively. If distances are measured in metres, calculate the kinetic energy of the system at
. sec 3 onds t =
5.Forces of magnitudes 5, 9 and 10 Newtons acting in the directions of 3 4 , 7 4 4 + + i j i j k and
3 4 + j k cause a particle of mass 3 kg to be displaced from the point (3, 4, 2) to (1, 5, 6).
Calculate the work done.
21
Unit 4: Momentum, Impulse and Collisions
4.1 Momentum
The momentum of a particle depends on two quantities, namely mass and velocity of the particle.
Momentum c ca an n b be e l li in ne ea ar r o or r a an ng gu ul la ar r. L Li in ne ea ar r m mo om me en nt tu um m d de ea al ls s w wi it th h i is ss su ue es s s su uc ch h a as s c co ol ll li is si io on ns s, , e e. .g g. .
b bi il ll li ia ar rd d b ba al ll ls s a an nd d c co ol ll li is si io on ns s w wh hi il le e a an ng gu ul la ar r m mo om me en nt tu um m d de ea al ls s w wi it th h r ro ot ta at ti io on n o of f p pl la an ne et ts s a an nd d satellites
that move in elliptical orbits.
Note: Momentum has the properties of both magnitude and direction. It is therefore a
vector quantity.
4.1.1Linear Momentum:
The linear momentum, P, of a particle of mass m is defined as the product of its mass m
and its velocity v. We have
. m = P v
For a system of n particles,
, 1, 2,..., .
i i
m i n = =
P v
Since mass is measured in kg, and velocity in ms
1
, the unit of measuring linear
momentum is therefore kgms
1
or Newtonseconds (Ns).
Worked Example 4.1:
A particle of mass 5 kg has position vector
( )
2 2
1 3 . t t t = + + + r i j k Calculate its linear momentum
at time t = 3 seconds.
Solution:
The linear momentum is given by
. m = P v
where
2 3 2 .
d
t t
dt
= = + +
r
v i j k
So,
( )
5 2 3 2 . 10 15 10 . t t t t = + + = + + P i j k i j k
At time t = 3,
( )
30 15 30 Ns. t t = + + P i j k
4.1.2 Angular Momentum
We will first define the moment of a force (details will be discussed in subsequent unit) which
the concept of angular momentum entails.
The moment of a force about a point is defined as having a magnitude equal to the product of the
magnitude of the force and the perpendicular distance from the point to the line of action of the
force. In terms of vector, the moment of a force F about a point O is defined as the cross product
,
O
= M r F
where r is the vector joining point O to P, the point of application of the force vector (see Fig.
4.1)
22
Fig. 4.1
The magnitude of
O
M is torque which is a measure of the turning effect produced by the force.
Fig. 4.2
If a system of n forces pass through the point P (see Fig. 4.2), then the total moment of the
system about O is
1 2
...
O n
= + + + M r F r F r F
( )
1 2
...
n
= + + + r F F F
i
=
r F
If we denote the resultant of the forces
i
F by R, then we write
.
O
= M r R
We now define angular momentum as follows.
Definition: The angular momentum of a particle about point O is defined as the moment of the
particles linear momentum about O. It is denoted by
O
H . Thus,
r .
O
m = H v
For a system of n particles, the total angular momentum is given by
r
F
O
P
r
2
F
O
P
1
F
3
F
4
F
23
r .
O i i i
m =
H v
Worked Example 4.2:
Due to a force field, a particle of mass 5 kg moves along a space curve whose position vector is
( ) ( )
3 4 2
2 3 8 . t t t t t = + + + + r i j k
Find the angular momentum at t = 2 seconds.
Solution:
( ) ( )
2 3
6 1 12 2
d
t t t
dt
= = + + +
r
v i j k
Thus, the angular momentum of the particle is
r .
O
m = H v
At t = 2, 18 60 2 , = + r i j k
25 100 = + v i j k
So,
( ) ( )
18 60 2 75 500 5
O
= + + H i j k i j k
18 60 2
75 500 5
=
i j k
700 60 4500 = + i j k
4.2 Impulse
Let a particle of mass m kg move along a curve AB (see Fig. 4.1). At time
1
, t t = the particle is at
the point P and moves with velocity
1
1
. ms
v At time
2
, t t = the particle is at point Q and has
velocity
1
2
. ms
v From Newtons second law of motion which states that: The rate of change of
the linear momentum of a body is proportional to the resultant external force that acts on the
body, we have
( )
( ) , the constant of proportionality being unity .
d m
dt
=
v
F
For the movement of the particle from P to Q, we have
( )
2 2
1 1
t
t
d
m dt dt
dt
=
v
v
v F
which gives
( )
2
1
2 1
t
t
m dt =
v v F
If time taken from P to Q is very short, that is, as Q approaches P, the quantity
( )
2 1
I m = v v
is called the impulse of the motion. In fact, impulse is defined as the change in linear momentum
since
1 2
and m m v v
are momenta at P and Q respectively.
24
If the force acting on the particle is constant, we have
( )
2 2
1 1
2 1
t t
t t
m dt dt = =
v v F F
i.e,
( )
2 1 2 1
. I m m t t = = v v F
On the other hand, if the force varies with time, then the integral
( )
2
1
2 1
t
t
m dt =
v v F
can be evaluated only when F is known.
Note: Impulse is measured in Newtonseconds (Ns). Alternatively, it is measured in kgms
1
(same as that of momentum).
Worked Example 4.2
A force F given by
2
5 20 t t = + F i j k Newtons acts on a particle of mass m kg from t = 2
to t = 5 seconds. Calculate the impulse exerted by the force.
Solution:
2
1
t
t
I dt =
F
( )
5
2
2
5 20 I t t dt = +
i j k
5
2 3
2
5 1
20
2 3
t t t
(
= +
(
i j k
( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
2 3 2 3 5 1 5 1
5 20 5 5 2 20 2 2
2 3 2 3
   
= + +
 
\ \
i j k i j k
105 117
140 .
2 3
Ns
 
= +

\
i j k
4.3 Principle of Conservation of Linear Momentum
It has been shown that the linear momentum of a system of particles is given by
. m =
P v
By Newtons second law of motion, we have
, where is the total resultant external force.
i
d
dt
= =
P
R R F
So, we have
( )
.
i
d m
dt
=
v
F
which can be expressed as
( )
i
d m
dt
=
v
F
Integrating both sides with respect to t gives:
25
( )
i
d m
dt dt
dt
=
v
F
( )
2
1
t
i
t
d m dt =
v
u
v F
where
and u v
are the initial and final velocities of the ith particle.
This leads to
2
1
t
i
t
m m dt =
v u F
When the sum of external forces acting on the system of particle is zero, (i.e. R = 0), the above
linear impulsemomentum equation simplifies to
0 m m =
v u
Thus,
. m m =
u v
where
1
represents the total linear momentum at time m t
u and m
=
=
=


\



\

=
.
2
sin
2 2
0
max
g
v
y
=
(maximum height)
Time of flight, T
The projectile returns to the horizontal xaxis when y = 0, i.e., when the height is zero. So,
equation (5.7) gives
( ) gT v T
gT T v
2
1
0
2
2
1
0
sin
sin 0
=
=
giving
0 = T or gT v
2
1
0
sin =
Hence,
.
sin 2
, 0
0
g
v
T
= (5.9)
But T = 0 is the time at the point of projection, hence the flight time is given by
.
sin 2
0
g
v
T
=
Range
The range, R is the distance OA. To find the range, we take the expression for flight time and
substitute it into the equation for x, i.e. (5.6) as follows:
g
v
g
v
g
v
v
T v R x
2 sin
cos sin 2
cos
sin 2
cos
2
0
2
0
0
0
0
=
=


\

=
= =
(since . 2 sin cos sin 2 = )
.
2 sin
2
g
u
R
=
31
Since g and
2
u are positive quantities, then the range is maximum when . 1 2 sin =
Then,
( )
2
1 sin 2
1
= =
giving . 45
4
0
or
=
Range is maximum when the launch angle is . 45
0
The Trajectory
The two equations (5.6) and (5.7) are the parametric equations to the trajectory. The xyequation
to the trajectory is found by eliminating t between equations (5.6) and (5.7).
From (5.6), we have
.
cos
0
v
x
t =
Substituting this value of t into (3.7) yields
( ) .
cos 2
1
sin
cos
2
0 0
0


\



\

=
v
x
g
v
x
v y
This simplifies to
( ) . tan
cos 2
2
2 2
0
x x
v
g
y
+


\

=
which is of the form c bx ax y + + =
2
, being the general form of the equation of a parabola.
Note: If we start somewhere besides the origin, the parametric equations become:
cos
0 0
t v x x + =
2
2
1
0 0
sin gt t v y y + =
Review Questions:
1. A projectile is fired with an initial speed
0
v km/h at an angle
0
with respect to the
horizontal. Neglect air resistance and
(i) derive a formula for the maximum height H, that the projectile reaches.
(ii) derive a formula for the horizontal range R, of the projectile.
(iii) At what angle is the range a maximum?
(iv) if
0
v = 30 km/h and = 15
0
, calculate the numerical value of R.
(v) Prove that the trajectory of a projectile is a parabola (neglect air resistance). Hint: the
general form of a parabola is given by .
2
c bx ax y + + =
2. A projectile travels with initial speed 25 m/s an angle of projection 60
0
. If g = 9.8 m/s
2
,
calculate the a) time of flight b) range and c) maximum height.
32
Unit 6: Simple Harmonic Motion
Simple Harmonic Motion:
Simple Harmonic Motion (SHM) is a typical type of oscillatory or periodic motion. It can be
defined in any of the following ways:
i. A particle is said to be travelling with linear SHM if it moves in a straight line in such a
way that its linear acceleration is always directed towards a fixed point on the line and is
directly proportional to the linear displacement from that fixed point.
ii. A particle is said to move with angular SHM if it oscillates on a circular arc with angular
acceleration which is directly proportional to the angular displacement from a fixed line
and always directed towards that fixed line.
Examples of such motion include:
i. The motion of planets around the sun;
ii. The motion of an oscillating pendulum;
iii. The upanddown movement of a bob attached to a spring;
iv. Vibration of a plucked guitar string;
v. Movement of a floating cylinder;
vi. Low amplitudes waves in air, water, etc.
Mathematical expression:
1. Linear Simple Harmonic Motion:
Let O be a fixed point on the straight line and let P be a particle on the line, also let x be the
distance of the particle from O at any time t; x is positive to right and negative to left. The linear
acceleration of P is
2
2
d x
dt
in the direction of . OP
But, by definition, the acceleration, a, of P is directly proportional to x and towards O. Using
2
n
as the proportionality constant, we have that
2
a n x = (
2
n is a positive constant) in the direction
of . PO
The acceleration is pointing in the opposite direction of the motion.
Thus, we write
2
2
2
d x
n x
dt
= (Motion along xaxis)
which is equivalent to
2
2
2
0.
d x
x
dt
+ =
This differential equation is the basic equation of linear SHM.
Mathematical Derivations: We now proceed to obtain another four equations of motion
involving , , and . a v x t solve the equation to obtain the instantaneous velocity of the simple
harmonic motion and the instantaneous displacement of the body from its equilibrium.
33
From
2
2
d x d dx
dt dt dt
 
=

\
dx d dx
dt dx dt
 
=

\
dv
v
dx
= since
dx
v
dt
 
=

\
, v = velocity
Using this result in the differential form of the equation of motion of the body, we have
2
0
dv
v x
dx
+ =
or
2
dv
v x
dx
=
i.e.
2 2
1
2
d
v x
dx
 
=

\
Integrating both sides wrt x yields
2 2 2
1
1 1
2 2
v x c = +
So when t = 0, x = A and v = 0 (where a is the distance)
2 2
1
1
0
2
A c = +
2 2
1
1
.
2
c A =
Thus,
( )
2 2 2 2
v A x =
( )
2 2
v A x =
Since the direction of velocity is always opposing the motion, we have
( )
2 2
v A x =
Therefore,
( )
2 2
dx
A x
dt
=
It follows that
( )
2 2
1 dt
dx
A x
=
which gives
( )
1
2 2
cos where is a constant
x
t c c
A
= +
When t = 0, x=A, we have
1
2 2
0 cos 1 0. c c
= + =
34
Thus,
1
cos
x
t
A
=
( ) cos x A t = (instantaneous displacement of the body from the equilibrium position)
( ) ( ) sin v A t =
( ) ( )
2
cos a A t =
Note that:
When ,
2
t v A
= = . The body continues along the straight line and its velocity, 0 v = when
t = and . x A = It then returns towards 0, and arrives at 0 when
3
2
t
= with zero velocity.
The motion is then repeated, and continues indefinitely unless it is destroyed by a frictional force
of some kind. The displacement time and velocity time graphs are shown below:
35
where A is called the amplitude of the motion (the maximum value of the displacement without
regard to sign);
36
Time
2
is called the period of the oscillation (this is the time required to complete one cycle
a complete oscillation from one extreme point to the other and back again). It is usually denoted
by T.
The frequency, denoted by f, is the number of cycles per second.
1
, f
T
= so .
2
f
=
The term simple harmonic motion is not limited to motion in a straight line, and can be applied
to the variation of any variable quantity which satisfies a differential relation of the type
considered. Examples include simple pendulum, loaded testtube in a liquid, mass on a spring.
Worked Example
A particle is moving with simple harmonic motion of period 4 about a centre O; it passes
through a point distance 10 m from O with the velocity 5m/sec away from O. Find the time
which elapses before it next passes through this point.
Solution:
Since period T =
2
4
= ,
1
2
=
From
( )
2 2 2 2
v A x = ,
( )
2 2 2
1
5 5
4
A =
5 5 A m =
Therefore, we have that
( ) cos x A t =
5 5 cos
2
t
x
 
=

\
When
2
10, cos
2 5
t
x = =
1
2
2 cos , 0,1, 2,...
2 5
t
n n
 
= =

\
So the shortest time between instants when the particles is in this position is given by
1 1
2 2
cos , 2cos .
2 5 5
t
t
   
= =
 
\ \
Exercise:
A particle is moving with simple harmonic motion of period 4about a centre O, it passes
through a point distance 8m from O with the velocity 4.5 /sec away from O. Find the time which
elapses before it next passes through this point.
37
The term simple harmonic motion is not limited to motion in a straight line, and can be applied
to the variation of any variable quantity which satisfies a differential relation of the type
considered. Examples include simple pendulum, loaded testtube in a liquid, mass on a spring.
References / Suggested Further Reading Lists:
1. Theoretical Mechanics by Spiegel, M. R.; Schaum Publishing Co., New York; 1967
2. Textbook of Dynamics by F. Chorlton; Ellis Horwood Ltd, England; 1977
3. Mechanics by W. F. Osgood; Macmillan Company, New York; 1949
4. Advanced Engineering Mathematics (8
th
Edition) by Erwin Kreyszig; John Wiley & Sons, Inc,
New York; 2004
5. Classical Mechanics (5
th
Edition) by T.W.B. Kibble & F.H. Berkshire; Longman, 2004
6. Lecture Notes on Analytical Dynamics from University of Ilorin, Ilorin (2000)
7. Lecture Notes on Elementary Mechanics from Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria (2009
2012)
38
4.4 Collision (Impact) of Smooth Spheres
The term collision represents an event during which two particles come close to each other and
interact by means of forces.
Impact occurs when two bodies collide during a very short time period, causing large impulsive
forces to be exerted between the bodies. Common examples of impact are a hammer striking a
nail, a bat striking a ball and the impact of a bullet into an object. The line of impact (also called
the line of centres) is a line through the mass centres of the colliding particles.
In general, there are two types of impact: Direct and indirect impact.
Direct or Central impact occurs when the directions of motion of the two colliding particles are
along the line of impact.
Indirect or Oblique impact occurs when the direction of motion of one or both of the particles
is at an angle to the line of impact.
Direct or Central Impact:
Direct impact happens when the velocities of the two objects are along the line of impact (recall
that the line of impact is a line joining the centres of the two particles). Let us consider two
spheres of small radii of masses m1 and m2 respectively. Suppose
1
u ,
2
u and
1
v ,
2
v are their
velocities before and after impact respectively. Direct impact occurs when the velocities
1
u ,
2
u ,
1
v and
2
v are parallel to the line of impact.
1
u
2
u
39
Once the particles contact, they may deform if they are nonrigid. In any case, energy is
transferred between the two particles.
There are two primary laws used when solving impact problems. They are as follows:
1. Law of Conservation of linear momentum: (Earlier stated)
2. Newtons law of restitution (Also known as Newtons collision rule):
The relative velocity of the spheres along the line of centres immediately after impact is
e times the relative velocity before impact.
That is,
( )
( )
2 1
2 1
v v
,
u u
e
=
n
n
where
n is a unit vector parallel to the line of centres of the two bodies.
In most problems, the initial velocities of the particles,
1
u and
2
u , are known, and it is necessary
to determine the final velocities,
1
v and
2
v . So the first equation used is the conservation of
linear momentum, applied along the line of impact:
1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
. m m m m + = + u u v v
This provides one equation, but there are usually two unknowns,
1
v and
2
v . So another
equation is needed. The Newtons law of restitution is used to develop this equation, which
involves the coefficient of restitution, denoted by e.
The coefficient of restitution, e, is the ratio of the particles relative separation velocity after
impact, (v
B
)
2
(v
A
)
2
, to the particles relative approach velocity before impact, (v
A
)
1
(v
B
)
1
. The
coefficient of restitution is also an indicator of the energy lost during the impact.
The equation defining the coefficient of restitution, e, is
Coefficient of Restitution:
In general, e has a value between zero and one. The two limiting conditions can be considered:
Elastic impact (e = 1): In a perfectly elastic collision, no energy is lost and the relative
separation velocity equals the relative approach velocity of the particles. In practical
situations, this condition cannot be achieved.
Plastic impact (e = 0): In a plastic impact, the relative separation velocity is zero. The
particles stick together and move with a common velocity after the impact. For example,
bullet fired into a block of wood. Such bodies are said to be perfectly inelastic.
Experiments show that:
e = 0.2 for wood on wood;
1
v
2
v
40
e = 0.4 for steel on concrete;
e = 0.9 for steel on steel.
Types of Collision
In an elastic collision, momentum and kinetic energy are conserved.
Perfectly elastic collisions occur on a microscopic level.
In macroscopic collisions, only approximately elastic collisions actually occur.
Generally some energy is lost to deformation, sound, etc.
These collisions are described by the isolated system model for both energy and
momentum.
There must be no transformation of kinetic energy into other types of energy within the
system.
In an inelastic collision, kinetic energy is not conserved, although momentum is still conserved.
If the objects stick together after the collision, it is a perfectly inelastic collision.
In an inelastic collision, some kinetic energy is lost, but the objects do not stick
together.
Elastic and perfectly inelastic collisions are limiting cases, most actual collisions fall in between
these two types.
Momentum is conserved in all collisions
Energy Losses Loss of Kinetic Energy
Once the particles velocities before and after the collision have been determined, the energy loss
during the collision can be calculated on the basis of the difference in the particles kinetic
energy. The energy loss is
U
12
= T
2
 T
1
where T
i
= 0.5m
i
(v
i
)
2
Earlier, it has been pointed out that the collision or impact of two bodies is a direct application of
conservation of linear momentum. When a body strikes a fixed surface, the impact produced
causes the momentum of the body to be destroyed where it undergoes compression thereby alters
its shape. This is followed by time of restitution, time taken by a colliding body to regain its
original shape and momentum. The ratio of the momentum after impact to the momentum before
impact is known as coefficient of restitution (or elasticity), denoted by e.
The foregoing theory is mostly applicable to the impact of spheres on smooth surfaces or
on each other, so that the impulse during compression and restitution is normal to the surface.
The two laws used for impact of bodies are stated below:
Remarks:
1. If
41
4. A bullet of mass 15 g is fired into a stationary block of wood of mass 0.75 kg with speed 8
m/s. Use the principle of conservation of linear momentum to find the resultant speed of the two
objects.
5. A particle A of mass 3m kg moves with speed 5 m/s and collides directly with another particle
B, at rest and of mass m kg. If B then moves with speed 4 m/s, find:
(i) the speed of A after collision;
(ii) the coefficient of restitution; and
(iii) the loss in kinetic energy due to the collision.
6. Suppose two perfectly elastic spheres of masses m and 2m collide directly. Show that there is
no loss in kinetic energy due to the impact.
7. Two perfectly elastic bodies of masses 3 kg and 2 kg collide directly, with initial speeds 5 m/s
and 10 m/s respectively. Calculate their speeds after impact and the loss in kinetic energy.