Experiment 11

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

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

Assuming the angular acceleration due to the resistance is constant. in some sense.  a   1+  f    a /R   2 I exp = m R  (7) assuming the resistive torque is constant. Part II A rough measure of friction in the supports can easily be found. This contribution is negligible.1 . (  f = I  f 21 is approximately true for  f 22 given by (6) when the mass is not attached to the body. the result is 1  g  . if m < < M total 25. Including this torque in the derivation of the experimental moment of inertia. when m 23 is attached to the body. The expression (6) represents. g  . and average value of the angular acceleration due to friction.  a  2 I exp = m R  (5) assuming that friction in the supports is negligible.1 . however. Theory. which connects m 24 to the body. (6) This should be approximately true for the apparatus. the resistive torque will have an additional contribution that is proportional to the tension of the string. In the experimental determination of the moment of inertia. its magnitude is then given by f= 4N T 2 . 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.) According to (7) the validity of (5) rests upon the degree to which the following is true: 3 .) The magnitude of the resistive torque due to friction in the supports is  f = I  f 20.

I exp 27. The result is  = 7. have identical radii. (10) The string attached to the mass m 28 supplies a force which will be applied at each of the three different radii of the body.) The two smaller disks. (8) The percentage deviation between I exp 26 in (5) and the more accurate value. in (7) is then = f x 100% .f a /R <<1 . (Refer to Figure 2. The density of the material from which the body is made is given by the total mass divided by the total volume.76 x 103 kg  m-3 . At several of the radii the string can be attached to the cylinder with some masking tape. 4 . a /R (9) Apparatus o hanger o o o mounted rotational body o vernier caliper string masking tape 50-gram short weight o 200-gram slotted weight o two meter stick o stopwatch The body is made of a metal alloy and consists of four concentric disks. which lie at either end of the axis.

Release the body and measure the time. The timing must be performed very carefully. The body consists of four concentric disks. required for the weight hanger to strike the floor. Number the disks according to Figure 2. measure and record the width.000 meters. position the bottom of the weight hanger so that its vertical distance from the floor is d = 2. Obtain 3 or 4 significant figures. and diameter. (12) 4) Steady the weight hanger.0 grams . of each disk. allowing the string to wrap around the disk without overlapping. Procedure.Figure 2. Using the two meter stick. start the timer exactly when the body is 5 . t . d 30. w 29. Ensure that the string will not slip. Attach the weight hanger to one end and place the 200-gram weight on the hanger. (11) 3) Attach the other end of the string to the rim of one of the disks. Part I 1) Using the vernier caliper. Rotate the body. 2) Cut a piece of string slightly longer than two meters in length. The mass is thus m = 250.

Use SI units. Part II 1) Remove the string from the body. Include the value of  35 in the title of the table. I the 36. they should be included in the title of the table. and moment of inertia of each disk. compute I the 40 for each set of values of R 41 and a 42. Do not permit the string to become tangled in the supports. For each radius. at which a force was applied. Analysis. radius. Procedure. Perform two more trials. 2) Spin the body as fast as possible while still being able to count the revolutions.released and stop it just when the body strikes the floor. Determine and display the average value of I exp 49. Using (4) and (12). 3) Start the time and count the number. using (5) and (11). 5) Repeat the procedure at each of the two other radii. using (2) and (10). and place a small piece of tape on the rim of the largest disk. t 44. Since the values of m 47 and d 48 are constant. Use SI units. Construct a data table that contains the values of R 43. N 31. The data need only be approximate and only one trial is necessary here. compute the acceleration for each value of R 39. Part I Construct a data table that contains the width. diameter. Record the values of N 33 and T 34. Then. Note that the values of m and d are to remain constant. a 45. t 38. The angular velocity will then be comparable to a typical final angular velocity in Part I. Number the disks according to Figure 2. The tape will serve as a reference mark to be used in counting revolutions. and I exp 46. R 37. T 32. (This table should be separate from the table for the theoretical moment of inertia. compute the average value of the time-of-fall. to three significant figures. required for the body to come to rest. The data will then consist of three time-of-fall measurements for each of the three different radii. 6 . Determine and clearly display the value of the total theoretical moment of inertia.) Include both the measured and averaged times-of-fall. of revolutions during the time.

I the I the x 100% . 7 . Report in a table of results the experimental and theoretical values of the moment of inertia and the percentage difference.Find the percentage difference using the equation: I exp .

I exp > I the 58. which one will reach the bottom first? Explain. 6) If a raw egg and a hard-boiled egg are simultaneously released from rest at the top of an incline. giving each approximately the same initial angular velocity. m 55 and the disk. does friction cause I exp < I the 57.  f 50. Spin them. 8 .  53. 4) How does the presence of friction in the supports of the body affect the ideal relationship I exp = I the 56? That is. Describe and explain the difference in their subsequent motions. due to friction. and consequently 2) Derive (6). 5) Place a raw egg and a hard-boiled egg on a smooth horizontal surface. a /R 52. compute and display the approximate value of the angular acceleration. and both subsequently roll without slipping. Questions 1) Draw free body diagrams for derive (5). Include these values in the I exp 54 data table in Part I. For each value of R 51.Analysis. compute the angular acceleration. and the relative measure of the friction. Part II Using (6). 3) Derive (7). Express the result in units of rad/sec2. or I exp = I the 59? Explain.

The position of the center of masses must be calculated. 9 . Physical pendulums shown with their various axes of rotation.Figure 3.

10 .

11 .