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Moment of Inertia

A rigid body composed of concentric disks is constrained to rotate about

its axis of symmetry. The moment of inertia is found by two methods and the

results are compared.

In the first method, the moment of inertia is

determined theoretically by applying the formula for the moment of inertia of

a single disk to each of four disks, and adding the results. In the second

method, the moment of inertia is determined experimentally by measuring

the acceleration produced by a constant torque on the body.

The experimental determination of the moment of inertia is only valid if

friction is negligible. In Part II of the experiment, an estimate of the angular

acceleration due to friction is obtained.

The validity of the above

approximation is the examined.

Theory, Part I

The moment of inertia of a homogeneous disk about the axis of

symmetry is

2

I disk = 12 M R ,

**where M 1 is the mass of the disk and R 2 is the radius. The moment of
**

inertia of a rigid system of concentric disks is then

I = 12 M 1 R12 + 12 M 2 R 22 + = 12 M i Ri2 ,

(1)

where the sum extends over all disks, each of which has mass M i 3 and radius

Ri 4. If the mass density, 5, is uniform (i.e., constant throughout the body),

the mass of each disk is given by

2

M i = V i = wi Ri ,

**where V i 6 is the volume of the disk and wi 7 is the width. Substituting this
**

into (1), the moment of inertia of each disk is then

1

m acceleration of 16 is given by Ri 12. The experimental value of the moment of inertia can be found by exerting a constant torque on the body. R 10. (Refer to Figure 1. 2 (2) and the total theoretical moment of inertia is I the = 2 wi Ri4 . Figure 1. t 15. A mass. the during a time. is attached to a string which is wrapped around the body at some radius. the moment of inertia is deter(4) mined by 2 . of a= 2d t 2 . Experimental determination moment of inertia. m 9. then the moment of inertia of the body can be computed. d 14.Ii = 4 wi Ri . (3) If the density together with the width and the radius of each disk are known. The moment of inertia determined in this manner will be referred to as the theoretical value ( I the 8).) R 11 will be one of the disk radii. Once the value of the acceleration is known. If m 13 is released from rest and falls a distance.

its magnitude is then given by f= 4N T 2 .) The magnitude of the resistive torque due to friction in the supports is f = I f 20. in some sense.) According to (7) the validity of (5) rests upon the degree to which the following is true: 3 . Assuming the angular acceleration due to the resistance is constant. Part II A rough measure of friction in the supports can easily be found. (6) This should be approximately true for the apparatus. however. the resistive torque will have an additional contribution that is proportional to the tension of the string. if m < < M total 25. Including this torque in the derivation of the experimental moment of inertia.1 . and average value of the angular acceleration due to friction. Suppose the body (without the mass m 17) is initially spun and N 18 revolutions occur during the time T 19 required for the body to come to rest. Theory. ( f = I f 21 is approximately true for f 22 given by (6) when the mass is not attached to the body.1 . In the experimental determination of the moment of inertia. when m 23 is attached to the body. The expression (6) represents. which connects m 24 to the body. g . a 2 I exp = m R (5) assuming that friction in the supports is negligible. the result is 1 g . a 1+ f a /R 2 I exp = m R (7) assuming the resistive torque is constant. This contribution is negligible.

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