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f-

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j ,+.ppfications

of Second-Order l)ifferential Equations

Second-order linear differential equafions have a variety ofapplications in science and
fu this section we explore two of them: the vibration of springs and electric
circuits.

ffifi vinr*i"g Springe

*ry
%.

%
.5
,%,

equilibrium

Ixxr8on

o\$ 'F

restoring force

b
I

".:i
t

lrEUru r

We consider the motion of an object with mass m althe end of a spring that is either vertical (as in Figure 1) or hodzontal on a level surface (as in Figure 2).
In Section 6.5 we discussed Hooke's Iaw, which \$ay\$ rhat if the spring is stretched (or
compressed) r units ftom its nafural length, then it exerts a force that is proportional to x:

: -kx

wherc F is a positive constant (called the spring constant). ff we ignorc aay external resisting forces (due to air resistance or friction) then, by Newton's Second l-aw (force equals
mass times acceleration), we have

d2r
m4:

i-fi

+tr:0
or ^ d2x
dr,

-kx

This is a second-order linear differential equation. Its auxiliary equation is mr2

with rcots r : toti, where o : Jk/*. Thus, the general solution is

.r(r)

Routt

c1

cos

af

c2

k:

sin rrrt

which can also be wriften as

x(t):

where

Acos(ar + 6)

,: Jkfr {frequency}
A: JQ74 (amplirude)
cos

A: *AA

(See Exercise 17.) This grpe

sin 6

: -*

{oisthephaseangle}

of motion is called simple harmonic motion.

HIilPU I A spring with a mass of 2 kg has natural length 0.5 m- A force of 25.6 N is
requircd to maintain it strerched to a length of 0.7 m. If the spring is stretched to a length
of 0.7 m and then released with initiat velocity 0, find the position of the mass at any
time r.
t0tuTl0ll Frcm Hooke's Law, the force required to strctch the spring is
k(O'2)

:25'6

25.6/A.2 : 128. Using this value of the spring constant

in Equation l, we have
so Ic

t, together wth m : 2

d2x
2T * 128'r:0

ffil

x(r)

- .t"*

8t

czsin 8r

t?9il(lTtots 0f 5tt0tD-0tDIt Dtftttf[TtAt t0uAIl0x5

We are given the initial condition that

Therefore,

q:0.2.

r(0)

0.2. But" from Equation 2, x(O)

Differentiating Equation 2, we get

x'(t)

sin 8r

-8cr

:-Fsr.

8cr cos 8r

0, we have

cz:

x(r):Icos8r

ffiffi

ff\$ O"mp"d Yibrationr

@ls?ffis

4*
':-\?,

'*h
'1t,
f :': :t;i:: r :lif

l[:, 4f,,::,{
It::i.,iii",.I

We next consider the motion of a spring that is subject to a &ictional force (in the case of
the horizontal spring of Figure 2) or adamping force (in the case where a vertical spring
moves through a fluid as in Figure 3). An example is the damping force supplied by a
shock absorber in a car or a bicycle.
We assume that the damping force is proportional to the velocity of the mass and acts
in the direction opposite to the motion. (This has been confirme4 at lea\$t approximately,
by some physical experiments") Thus

\$,,.1,'151 ,,,1
l[.: i:.::,;:l:: ].:[

S,,t :::".:'|
NT
\:J.+,

TrcUNt 3

dx

dampingforce:

dt

where c is a positive constant, called the damping consr-nt. Thus, in this casq Newton's
Second Law gives

d2x
*E:

ffi

restoringforce

dampingforce: -kx

dx
- cfr

1^l

dzx dx
,, *fi+,;*kx:o

;_-._,,,_-..-,.-,.-',
ti

i
_...-,.,

Equation 3 is a second-order linear differentialiI equation and its auxiliary equation is

mr2 + cr + t : 0. The roots are

rc

-c + JC=

+*

-c
f2:--_--:--

2m

- j5z=lffi
2m

We need to discuss three cases.

fttt I

n c2 - 4mk> 0 {overdamping}
11 ilnd 12 are distinct real roots and

In this case

x: cte"t *

c2gtzt

since c, nt, and /r are all positive, we have ,lV=nt

< c, so the roots 4 and 12 given by
Equations 4 must both be negative. This shows tlat x --+ 0 as t --+ cc. Typical grapns oi
x as a function of r are shown in Figure 4. Notie that oscillations do not occur. (It's possible for
9" -u.r to pass through the equilibrium position once, but only once.) This is
because c2 ) 4at means tbat there is a strong darrping force (high-viscosity oit or greasey
compared wifh a weak spring or small mass.
CASI ll
" cz - 4mk: 0 (critical damping)
This case corresponds to equal roots

fl6utI {
Overdamping

fr:

fc

c
2m

rnumiloils 0f sft0xD-0lDn DrfililTnt mu\$mrj

and the solution is give,n by

x: (q *

c2t\s-khny

It is sirnilar to Cas I,

artd typical graphs re.semble ftoee in Figure 4 (see Exercise l2), but
the danping is just sufficient to sullrre\$s vibrations. Any decrease in the viscosity of the
fluid leads to fre vibatims of the following case.

-;=,'

'i,\:

@F=A

ryhere

2m

The solution is given by

,:
5

'IGUIT
Underdmping

co\$ &rf

"-{cfu'x(gr

cz

sin arJ)

We see that there are oscillations &at are damped by tSe factor e-knnb. Since c

0 end

n i'0,wehave -{c/2n') 1g*"-(cl2nb -+ Oast-+ o.Thisimpliesthalr-+0a\$t-)

that is, the motion decays to 0 as tire inqeas6. A t)"ical grryh is shown in Figure 5.

r;

EXttPU 2 Suppose that the spring of Example I is immersd in a fluid with damping
: 4O. Find the position of the mass at any time f if it starts from the equiliposition
brium
and is given a push to start it with an initial velocity of 0.6 m/s.

constant c

1 the mass

is zl

differential equation (3) beomes

dx
*
* l28x:0
, d2x
*i
dr,

dzx
--:;
*
Theauxiliaryequcionis
and

-16,

so tbe motion is

Fgure 6 shfiils the graph of the posititn

fumtion fotlpovedanped m*ion in Exande 2.

so
Since cz

dx
--dt

* &x:

overdarn@ and the solution is

x(t):
r

?-0

0, so

"t"-+'

e * cz:

c2e*re

0. Differcntiating, wc get

x'(t)

-4c1ea'

x'(0)

-4cr

16c24-rc'

- l6c2: 9.6

-crr this gives lzq :0.6 or cr :

0.05. The'rcfore

.r:0-o5(e-a'*e-r6')

&G

ffi

tPPu(All0ilS 0t

ffiff forced Vibrations

suppose tbat" in addition ro the re\$toring force and the damping force, rhe motion of the
spring ir affected by an external folce rG). Then Newton's secood I^aw gives

d2x
*A:

rcstoring force

+ damping force + extemal force

dx

-kx-cV+F(t)
Thus, instead of the homogeneous equation (3), the motiron of the spring is now govemed
s differcntial equation:

by the

following

il

ii'L-.'i

\d'xdxi
^E

iLj

'!-

The motion

* t + kx:
a,

of the slxing can be

F(t)

'''''.'-'"''.'.''''''.,.''-.'.'..'...

determined

'i

commonly

type of external force is a periodic force function

F(r)
In this case, and in the
use the

ffi

Focos

*oo""

rrl

where on*

(c

a:

"/Fn

metrod of undetermined coefficients to show that

x(r)

clcos arl

* czsin ,,rt +

mtd*;Arcos

&,0,

If at : al then the applied frequency reinforces the natural frquency and the rcsult is
vibrations of large amplitude. This is the phenomenon of rcsonance (see Exercise l0).

\$l

Electrlc Ctrcuirs

In Section '1.3 we were able to uss first-order segaratte equations to analyze eleclric cir-

cuits rhat contain a resistor and inductor (see Figure 5 on page 515). Now that we know
how to solve second-order linear equations, we arc in a position to analyze the circuit
shown in Figure 7. It contains m electrromotive force E (supplied by a battery or generator), a resistor R, an inductor r" and a calmcitor c, in seriqs. r the charge on the capacitor
at time t is Q: Q@, then the current is the raie of change or o oim respect
to t: I : dQ/dt.It is known ftrom physics that the voltage arops acrcss tne r3;sisror, inauctor, and capacitor are
FtGUIt 7

RI

LdI
dtC

respectively. Kirchhoff's voltage law says that &e sum of these volfage drops is equal to
the supplied voltage:

,#*Rr+t-E{t)