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Classical Mechanics

Assignment #8 Solutions

#1 (5 points) JRT Prob. 9.2

A donut-shaped space station (outer radius R) arranges for artificial

gravity by spinning on the axis of the donut with angular velocity . Sketch

the forces on, and accelerations of, an astronaut standing in the station:

(a) as seen from an inertial frame outside the station, and

(b) as seen in the astronauts personal rest frame (which has a centripetal

acceleration A = 2 R as seen in the inertial frame). What angular

velocity is needed if R = 40 meters and the apparent gravity is to

equal the usual value of about 10 m/s?

(c) What is the percentage difference between the perceived g at a six-foot

astronauts feet (R = 40 m) and at his head (R = 38 m)?

Solution

(a) As seen by inertial observers outside the station, the astronaut has a

centripetal acceleration A = 2 R which is supplied by the normal force

N.

(b) As seen by the crew inside the station, the astronaut is at rest under

the action of two forces, the normal force N and the inertial force

2

mA.

q To simulate normal gravity, we must have A = R = g or

= g/R =0.5 rad/s = 4.8 rpm.

(c) The apparent gravity gapp = 2 R is proportional to R. Thus if we decrease R from 40 m to 38 m, the fractional change in gapp is gapp /gapp =

R/R = 5%.

What are the directions of the centrifugal and Coriolis forces on a

person moving:

1

(b) east on the equator?

(c) south across the equator?

Solution In all cases, is directed through the earths axis from south pole

to north pole. Recall that Fcor = 2mv and Fcf = m( r) .

(a) Fcf is directed south and slightly upward (that is, away from the earths

axis. This assumes that we are near the north pole...exactly at the

north pole, the force is zero). Fcor is directed to the west (this force

deflects objects to the right in the northern hemisphere, which means

to the west when traveling south).

(b) Fcf is directed vertically upward (i.e. away from the earths axis). Fcor

is directed vertically upward as well, since v is east and - at the equator

- is north.

(c) Fcf is directed vertically upward (i.e. away from the earths axis). Fcor

is zero, since v and are oppositely directed.

The derivation of the equation of motion (eq. 9.34 from the text)

for a rotating frame made the assumption that the angular velocity was

6= 0, then there is a third fictitious force on the

constant. Show that if

2

Solution

From (9.31) to (9.32) the derivation is exactly the same whether varies or

not. If varies, then the first time derivative on the right of (9.32) picks up

Specifically, we now have

an extra term involving .

d2 r

dt2

r.

= r + 2 r + ( r) +

(1)

S0

If we multiply both sides by m, the left side becomes F, the net real force,

and we get the equation of motion

mr = F + 2mr + m( r) + mr ,

(2)

Let S be a noninertial frame rotating with constant angular velocity

relative to the inertial frame S0 . Let both frames have the same origin.

(a) Find the Lagrangian L = T U in terms of the coordinates r and r of

S.

(b) Show that the three Lagrange equations reproduce eq. (9.34) exactly.

Solution

(a) The KE evaluated in the inertial frame S0 is T = 12 mv20 = 21 m(v +

r)2 , so the Lagrangian is L = 21 m(r + r)2 U .

(b) The derivatives of L are as follows:

U

L

= m(r + r)

( r)

x

x

x

U

= m(r + r) (0, z , y )

x

U

= m [(r + r) ]x

,

x

(3)

(4)

(5)

where the notation []x indicates the x-component of the vector contained in the brackets. Combined with the corresponding y and z

equations, we have

L

= mr + m( r) + F.

r

(6)

d L

= m(r + r ).

dt r

(7)

mr = F + 2mr + m( r) ,

(8)

I am spinning a bucket of water about its vertical axis with angular

velocity . Show that, once the water has settled in equilibrium (relative to

the bucket), its surface will be a parabola.

Solution

In the rotating frame of the bucket, the water is in equilibrium and its surface

is an equipotential surface for the combined gravitational force (U = mgz)

and centrifugal force (F = m2 and hence U = m2 2 /2). Therefore, the

surface is given by mgz m2 2 /2 = const, or

z=

2 2

+ const,

2g

(9)

A particle of mass m is confined to move, without friction, in a vertical

plane, with axes x horizontal and y vertical. The plane is forced to rotate

with constant angular velocity about the y axis. Find the equations of

4

motion for x and y, solve them, and describe the possible motions.

Solution

As seen in a frame rotating with the system, there are four forces acting on

the mass: its weight mg

y, the centrifugal force m2 x

x, the normal force

FN of the confining plane, and the Coriolis force Fcor . The last two both act

in the z direction (normal to the plane); this is because the masss velocity

only has x- and y-components, whereas has only a y component. Since

the mass is confined to the plane, the Coriolis and normal forces must cancel.

Meanwhile, the equations of motion in x and y are

x = 2 x and y = g,

(10)

with solutions

1

and y = y0 + vy0 t gt2 .

(11)

2

The second equation tells us that the vertical motion of the mass is simply

that of a body in free fall. For the horizontal motion, the mass might initially

move inward toward the axis of rotation (depending on the initial conditions

that determine A and B), but it will eventually move outward - at an exponentially increasing rate - due to the centrifugal force. An exception is the

case where the initial conditions produce A = 0. Here, the particle moves inward, with a speed that continuously slows down because of the (increasingly

weaker) centrifugal force, approching the y axis asymptotically as t .

x = Aet + Bet

Consider a frictionless puck on a horizontal turntable that is rotating

counterclockwise with angular velocity .

(a) Write down Newtons second law for the coordinates x and y of the puck

as seen by me, standing on the turntable (ignore the earths rotation).

(b) Solve the two equations by the trick of writing = x + iy and guessing

a solution of the form = eit . Write down the general solution.

(c) At time t = 0, I push the puck from position r0 = (x0 , 0) with velocity

v0 = (vx0 , vyo ). Show that

x(t) = (x0 + vxo t) cos t + (vy0 + x0 )t sin t

y(t) = (x0 + vxo t) sin t + (vy0 + x0 )t cos t.

5

(12)

(13)

(d) Describe and sketch the behaviour of the puck for large values of t.

Solution

(a) The net real force is zero, so we have to consider only the centrifugal

and Coriolis forces. Therefore,

m

r = Fcf + Fcor = m( r) + 2mr .

(14)

easily found, and the equation of motion becomes

r = 2 (x, y, 0) + 2(y,

x,

0),

(15)

x = 2 x + 2y

and y = 2 y 2x.

(16)

(b) If we multiply the equation for y by i and add it to that for x, we find

that = 2 2i.

Guessing a solution of the form = eit , we

see that this guess is a solution if and only if satisfies the equation

2 = 2 2, or ( )2 = 0. This has just the one solution

= . As we saw in the oscillations chapter (section 5.4), the general

solution is

(t) = eit (C1 + C2 t).

(17)

(c) The initial conditions imply that (0) = x0 and 0 = vx0 + ivy0 , while

from part (b) we see that (0) = C1 and 0 = C2 iC1 . This gives

two equations for C1 and C2 , which are solved to give

(t) = eit [x0 + vx0 t + i(vy0 + x0 )t] .

(18)

Taking real and imaginary parts, we obtain the x(t) and y(t) shown

above.

(d) For t sufficiently large we can neglect the terms that do not contain a

factor of t. In this case, the equations of motion become

x(t) = t(B1 cos t + B2 sin t) and y(t) = t(B1 sin t + B2 cos t)

(19)

6

eq. (5.10), then these become

B12 + B22 as in

(20)

Without the factor of t, the puck would just move in a clockwise circle

of radius A. The factor of t means that this circle grows at a constant

rate, and the puck actually moves in a spiral orbit as shown below.

#8 (5 points)

A puck slides with speed v on a very large, frictionless sheet of ice.

The surface is level, in the sense that it is orthogonal to geff at all points

(and therefore, we can neglect the centrifugal force and consider only the

Coriolis force). Show that the puck moves in a circle, as seen in the earths

rotating frame. Calculate the radius of the circle (note that wed need a very

large ice sheet in order to complete the entire circle). What is the angular

velocity of the circular motion? Assume that the radius of the circle is small

compared to the radius of the earth.

Solution

The Coriolis force is Fcor = 2mv . The assumption that the radius of

the circle is small compared to the radius of the earth implies that, although

the puck is moving, its colatitude is approximately constant. The component of Fcor that lies along the ice surface is ft,cor = 2mv( cos ); by the

definition of the cross product, it is perpendicular to the direction of motion.

The component of Fcor that lies normal to the ice surface is irrelevant; all it

7

puck to the ice (if there was some friction involved then this change to the

normal force would be important, but thats not the case here).

Because the Coriolis force is perpendicular to the direction of motion,

it can do no work on the puck, and therefore, by the work-KE theorem, the

pucks KE - and thus its speed - cannot change. Since the mass, the colatitude, and are all constant, that means ft,cor = 2mv( cos ) is constant.

But, a constant force that is always perpendicular to the motion of a particle

always produces a circular path. But what is the radius of this circle? We

find r using Newtons 2nd law in the radial direction (of the pucks circular motion, that is), accounting for the centripetal acceleration due to the

uniform circular motion:

mv 2

v

F = ma 2mv( cos ) =

.

r=

r

2 cos

(21)

=

v

= 2 cos .

r

(22)

To get a rough idea of the size of the circle, when = 45 and v = 1 m/s,

we have r 10 km. This (and the lack of a zero-friction ice sheet) explains

why its impossible to actually witness this effect.

In section 9.8, we used a method of successive approximations to find

the orbit of an object that is dropped from rest, correct to first order in the

earths angular velocity . Show in the same way that if an object is thrown

with initial velocity v0 from a point O on the earths surface at colatitude ,

then to first order in its orbit is

1

x = vx0 t + (vy0 cos vz0 sin )t2 + gt3 sin

3

y = vy0 t (vx0 cos )t2

1

z = vz0 t gt2 + (vx0 sin )t2 .

2

Solution

8

(23)

(24)

(25)

The equations of motion are given in eq. (9.53) from the text:

x = 2(y cos z sin )

y = 2x cos

z = g + 2x sin .

(26)

(27)

(28)

x = 0,

y = 0,

z = g.

(29)

For an initial velocity v0 = (vx0 , vy0 , vz0 ) and initial position r0 = (0, 0, 0)

(the object is thrown from the origin O), these equations have the familiar

solutions

1

(30)

x = vx0 t, y = vy0 t, z = vz0 t gt2 .

2

Differentiating once, we get

x = vx0 ,

y = vy0 ,

z = vz0 gt.

(31)

x = 2(vy0 cos vz0 sin ) + 2gt sin

y = 2vx0 cos

z = g + 2vx0 sin .

(32)

(33)

(34)

Integrating these equations twice, and applying the proper constants of integration (the starting velocity and position components), we get

1

x = vx0 t + (vy0 cos vz0 sin )t2 + gt3 sin

3

y = vy0 t (vx0 cos )t2

1

z = vz0 t gt2 + (vx0 sin )t2 ,

2

as required.

9

(35)

(36)

(37)

the ground at colatitude . Use the solution of the previous question to

show that the ball will return to the ground a distance (4v03 sin )/(3g 2 )

to the west of its launch point.

(b) Estimate the size of this effect on the equator if v0 = 40 m/s.

(c) Sketch the balls orbit as seen from the north (by an observer fixed to

the earth). Compare with the orbit of a ball dropped from a point above

the equator, and explain why the Coriolis effect moves the dropped ball

to the east, but the vertically thrown ball to the west.

Solution

(a) Since the ball is thrown vertically upward, we have vxo = vyo = 0 and

vz0 = v0 . The trajectory give by the equations in the previous question

is

1

1

x = sin (v0 gt)t2 , y = 0, z = v0 t gt2 .

(38)

3

2

We see that the ball does not stray in the north-south (y) direction (at

least to first order in ), but it does move in the east-west (x) direction.

The time for the ball to return to the ground is found by setting z = 0,

resulting in tgr = 2v0 /g (the other solution, t = 0, is the starting time,

at which the ball is also on the ground. This is irrelevant.) Substituting

this value into the x equation, we find xgr = (4v03 sin )/(3g 2 ). This

must be negative (since 0 ), meaning that the deflection is in

the x direction, i.e. to the west.

(b) The westerly displacement is maximum at the equator, where sin = 1.

The displacement is

4v03

4 (7.3 105 ) (40)3

=

0.065 m.

3g 2

3 (9.8)2

(39)

(c) On the upward journey, the Coriolis force accelerates the ball to the

west, and on the downward journey to the east. Thus, vx starts from

zero, increases (to the west) as the ball climbs, and decreases back to

zero by the time the ball lands. Throughout the trip, vx is to the west,

so the ball lands to the west of its starting position. On the other

hand, the dropped ball starts with vx = 0 at the top, and its whole

10

throughout. Thus, vx is to the east at all times, and the ball lands to

the east of the initial position. Figures are below.

11

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