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# Statics Assignment 2:

Center of Gravity
and
Moments of Inertia
Christopher Cruz
300805892

Introduction
Center of Gravity is the point through which the resultant of the weight of all the particles of the
body acts. Finding the center of gravity mathematically involves taking the average or mean
distribution of the weight of the object. Note, free rotation of an object is always around its center of
gravity and that an object will tip over when the center of gravity lies outside the supporting base of the
object. Also, the greatest force is applied through the center of gravity. Center of gravity may be
expressed in terms of meters (m) in SI units and feet (ft) in imperial or US units.
The Moment of Inertia of a rigid body gives the torque needed for wanted angular acceleration
around a rotational axis. The body's mass distribution and the axis chosen are what the moment of
inertia depends on. The sum of the moments of inertia of its component subsystems is the moment of
inertia of a composite system. Moment of inertia may be expressed in terms of kilogram-square meters
(kgm2) in SI units and pound-square feet (lbmft2) in imperial or US units.
Center of Gravity
The center of gravity can be found experimentally. Called the plumb line technique, by hanging it at
several points and marking it down with a vertical line, where every vertical line crosses together is
where its center of gravity is. For example:

Although this only works for relatively flat objects. It does not work as well with complicated 3D
objects.
Torque exerted by the weight of a system is the same as if it's total weight were located at the center of
gravity, calculation of the center of gravity is based on this. This point is the average or mean of the
distribution of the moment arms of the object.
The calculation of the center of gravity of an object involves the sums of the weights times their
separations from a starting point divided by the total weight of the object.
In the case of a highly irregular object, the weights can consist of individual particles or even atoms.
Calculus is then used to integrate the product of these weights and the differential separations.
If the object is made up of regular parts, such as squares or circles, you can use the fact that each has a
CG at its geometric center. This is seen in the illustration below:

The center of gravity in the illustration is at the following separation from the arbitrary zero-point:
CG = (aM + bN + cP)/(M + N + P)
For example, if:
a = 2 ft
b = 8 ft
c = 16 ft
M = 2 lb
N = 4 lb
P = 8 lb
CG = (2*2 + 8*4 + 16*8)/(2 + 4+ 8)
CG = 164/14
CG = 11.7 ft
We'll now switch the focus from straight-line motion to rotational motion. Rotational motion is
not so different than linear motion, because a circle is just a straight line that is curled. Four
equations is used to solve rotational kinematics problems.
If you spin a wheel, and look at how fast a point on the wheel is spinning, the answer depends on
how far away the point is from the center. Velocity, displacement, or acceleration, aren't the most
convenient things to use when you're dealing with rotation; their rotational equivalents should be
used. The equivalent variables for rotation are angular displacement ; angular velocity , and
angular acceleration . All the angular variables are related to the straight-line variables by a
factor of r, the distance from the center of rotation to the point you're interested in.

Although points at different distances from the center of a rotating wheel have different velocities, they
all have the same angular velocity, so they all go around the same number of revolutions per minute,
and the same number of radians per second. Angles are generally measured in radians, which is the
most convenient unit to work with.

The straight-line motion kinematics equations apply for constant acceleration, so it follows that the
rotational kinematics equations apply when the angular acceleration is constant. The rotational
equations should look the same as linear equations:

Example:
Imagine a ferris-wheel that is rotating at the rate of 1 revolution every 8 seconds. The operator of the
wheel decides to bring it to a stop, and puts on the brake; the brake produces a constant deceleration of
(a) If your seat on the ferris wheel is 4.2 m from the center of the wheel, what is your speed when the
wheel is turning at a constant rate, before the brake is applied?
(b) How long does it take before the ferris wheel comes to a stop?
(c) How many revolutions does the wheel make while it is coming to a stop?
(d) How far do you travel while the wheel is slowing down?
(a) The wheel is rotating at a rate of 1 revolution every 8 seconds, or 0.125 rev/s. This is the initial
angular velocity. It is often most convenient to work with angular velocity in units of radians/s; doing
the conversion gives:
Your speed is simply this angular velocity multiplied by your distance from the center of the wheel:
(b) We've calculated the initial angular velocity, the final angular velocity is zero, and the angular
acceleration is -0.11 rad/s2. This allows the stopping time to be found:
(c) To find the number of revolutions the wheel undergoes in this 7.14 seconds, one way to do it is to
use the equation:
This can be converted to revolutions:
(d) To figure out the distance you traveled while the wheel was slowing down. the angular
displacement (in radians) can be converted to a displacement by multiplying by r:

Moments of Inertia
Moment of inertia I is defined as the ratio of the angular momentum L of a system to its angular
velocity around a principal axis:
If the angular momentum of a system is constant, then as the moment of inertia gets smaller, the
angular velocity must increase.
If the shape of the body does not change, then its moment of inertia appears in Newton's law of motion
as the ratio of an applied torque on a body to the angular acceleration around a principal axis:
For a simple pendulum, the formula for the moment of inertia I in terms of the mass m of the pendulum
and its distance r from the pivot point:

The moment of inertia all depends on the mass m of the body and its geometric shape defined by the
distance r to the axis or rotation.
For a compound pendulum:

The moment of inertia of two objects rotating about the same axis, the combined moment of inertia is
the sum of the two individual moments of inertia.
By suspending a complex system from three points to make a trifilar pendulum, around its vertical axis,
the moment of inertia of a complex system can be measured. A trifilar pendulum is a platform
supported by three wires designed to oscillate in torsion around its vertical centroidal axis.

Conclusion
Where all the weight of an object appears to be concentrated is the center of gravity. The
average distribution of the weight of the object is this point. Through experiments, the center of gravity
of an object can be found. At the center of gravity is where free rotation is found. If the center of
gravity lies outside the object's support, the object will tip over. Also, through the center of gravity is
where the greatest force is applied.
The moment of inertia is a calculation of the required force to rotate an object. The value can be
manipulated to either increase or decrease inertia. By increasing the radius from the axis of rotation, the
moment of inertia increases thus slowing down the speed of rotation. Alternatively, by decreasing the
radius of rotation, the moment of inertia decreases thus speeding up the speed of rotation.

References
http://www.school-for-champions.com/science/gravity_center.htm#.VSr7d2jF_Is
http://physics.bu.edu/~duffy/py105/Rotationalkin.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moment_of_inertia