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# Precession of top

Euler Equations
Euler Angles
HEAVY Symmetrical Top

1

I 0
0

2
0

0
3

is switched off

z; L 3 z

..(1)

## As no torque acting, the top continues

to spin indefinitely about the same axis
with angular velocity

Gravity ON
Lets turn on the gravity causing a torque (make it weak..how?)

N R Mg

KEY Points:
Magnitude is RMgsin and direction normal to z and
axis of the top
Existence of N indicates that L STARTS to change
Change of L implies starts to change. Components
x and y cease to be zero, though small as torque is
weak and eq (1) remains a good approx.
L changes in direction but not in magnitude

L 3 z

Precession
Changing the arguments to mathematical expressions:

LN

z R Mg
3

Rz M gz
MgR z z

dz MgR

z z
dt 3

?????

Simple Physics

## If z is a unit vector fixed in the body,

then its rate of change, as seen from
a fixed frame is:

dz
z
dt
The top-axis rotates about the

dz MgR

dt
3

z z

## vertical with angular velocity

given by the bracketed term.
This is precession. Note
is in the denominator ! !

Consequence
The earth spins on its axis, much like a spinning top & the
axis of spin is inclined at an angle 230 from the normal to
the earths orbit around the sun. Because of earths bulge

at the equator, sun & moon exert small torques on earth &
the torques cause earths axis to precess slowly (one full
turn in 26000 yrs), tracing out a cone of angle 230 around

## the normal to the orbital plane precession of equinoxes

Euler Equations
The Euler equations are the equations of motion of a rotating
body like motion of a top
KEY:
Before we launch Eulers equation, there is a complication we
must now face up. To take advantage of principal axes, we like
to use those as our coordinate axes. But they are fixed in the
body and they rotate with the body and therefore noninertial !!
The way out is the following relation:

d
dt

fix

dt

rot

Euler Equations
d
dt

fix

dt

rot

dL

dt

x, y, z

fix

dL

dt

rot

## The Euler equation

Principal Axes

L1 I11 ;

L2 I 22

x

L 1
I
1 1

rot

2
I 22

L3 I 33
z

3
I 33

1 x
2 y
3 z

Euler Equations
Combining:

N1 I 1 1 I 3 I 2 23
N 2 I 2 2 I 1 I 3 31
N 3 I 3 3 I 2 I 1 12

## These are Euler equations for a rigid body

Torque-free motion
For torque-free motion

I 1 1 I 3 I 2 23
I 2 2 I 1 I 3 31
I 3 3 I 2 I 1 12

Consider:
a) I 1

I2 I3

## b) Body happens to rotate about one principal axis

say z-prime at t = 0 1 2 0 at t = 0

The Consequence
I 1 1 I 3 I 2 23
I 2 2 I 1 I 3 31
I 3 3 I 2 I 1 12

## Under the above-mentioned conditions, rhs of Euler eq 0.

This means, all components of remain constant. In other
words if the body starts rotating about one principal axis, it
will continue to do so with constant angular velocity
Q. If you give a tiny kick to the rigid body, what happens ????
use 3rd Euler eq. and consider small values of 1, 2

The Consequence
I 1 1 I 2 I 3 3 2
I 2 2 I 3 I 1 3 1

I 3 I 2 I 3 I 1 2
1
3 1
I1I 2

## Motion is stable against small disturbances as long as the

bracketed term is positive i.e. for the cases when I 3 I 1 , I 2

Transformation
The transformation from one coordinate system to another can
be represented by a matrix equation:

X X
Body system

Fixed system

The rotation matrix completely describes the relative orientation of the two
systems. For a rigid body, contains three independent angles, (,,).
We will see sequence of three rotations about three different axes allows to
take us from fixed axis to body axis

Euler Angles
Z

## ON: Intersection of XOY and XOY planes

and hence perpendicular to ZOZ
This is called line of nodes

The Steps
Step 1: Rotate system about Z axis by
Z

## This takes OX to ON:

X

cos sin 0

sin cos 0
0

0
1

The Steps
Step 2: Rotate the body thro about the new X, i.e. ON. OZ OZ
Z

0
1

0 cos
0 sin

sin
cos

The Steps
Step 3: Rotate about new Z axis i.e. about OZ by . ON OX and we
have come to the body system
Z

cos

sin
0

sin
cos
0

X X
X

0
1

## Angular Vel in terms of Euler

Angles
We express the angular velocities x , y , z (about body
axes) in terms of , , . Cosines of the angles between the
components is given below:
Z

cos
sin
0
sin sin sin cos cos
0
0
1

Components
The components of these angular velocities along the body
set axes are:

y sin cos sin
z cos

## 1. Symmetry axis is z-prime and is one

of the principal axes.

## 2. Since one point is fixed, configuration

of top is completely specified by the
Euler angles
Y

## 3. The distance of the CG on the axis of

symmetry from the fixed point is l
X

## Axes drawn in green color correspond to

body axes

Rotational Angles

## Rotn. about z prime Spin

of z-prime about z
Precession
keeping constant

## Rise/fall of symmetry axis wrt

the change in nutation

Solution
We take the Lagrangian route:

1
1
2
2
T I 1 x y I 3 z2 I 1 I 2 I 3
2
2
1 2
1
2
2
2
I 1 sin I 3 cos
2
2
...........1

V mgl cos

1 2
1
2
2
2

## L I 1 sin I 3 cos mgl cos

2
2
.......2

The Lagrangian

1 2
1
2
2
2
L I 1 sin I 3 cos mgl cos
2
2
Clearly, L is cyclic in and and does not depend on t explicitly
L
p
I1 sin 2 I 3 cos cos b

L
p
I 3 cos a

1 2
1
2
2
2
H I1 sin I 3 cos mgl cos E
2
2

Top Motion
A general rotational motion of the top is a combination of those
motions.in terms of a and b, we have

b a cos

..............3
2
I 1 sin
This means that if is known as a function of time, and hence
will be determined

## We now eliminate and from the above equations, write

u=cos and make little rearrangements,

Final Equations
2

au
2
E
a
2mglu
2
1 u 2

u

I1
I1 I1 I1 I 3

## To make it look neater, we substitute:

2mgl
b I 1 ; a I 1 ; 2 E I 1 a I 1 I 3 ;

I1
2

u u u 1 u 2
2

du
dt ;
f u

f u u 1 u u
2

Comments

du
dt ;
f u

f u u 1 u 2 u

## Unfortunately this integration cannot solved analytically.

f(u) is cubic in u and the integral is known as an elliptic
function which can be obtained by computation.
We are not going to do any computation. Instead we try to have
general idea of the shape of the things:

Looking into it

f u u 1 u 2 u

u=cos

## As u=cos , it lies between +1 and -1 but for the moment we

forget that & consider for all values of u
a) As u , f(u) as the dominating term is +u3
b) When u = 1, only 2nd term in f(u) survives so that f(u) < 0,
unless

## consistent with a) & b), one gets two possible plots of

f(u) as a function of u

Plots

du
dt ;
f u

f u u 1 u 2 u

## Fig 2 corresponds to realizable motion but fig 1 is NOT

Hint f(u) must be non-negative in the domain where u
corresponds to real
f(u) has two zeros at u1 and u2 and between these values
of u (within 1), f u is real
So the motion will be limited between the corresponding
value of , i.e. 1 cos 1 u1 & 2 cos 1 u2 nutation

Apparent conclusion
Lets rewrite some useful equations;

du
dt ;
f u

b a cos
; I 3 cos a
2
I 1 sin

## In principle, the problem is solved. 1st eq is integrated numerically,

with given values of the constants , , and . Thus one has
again by
known as a function of t. Using this, 2nd eq yields
and suffices to determine
computation . Knowledge of
from the 3rd eq, so that , & are known for different times.

## Some Interesting Physics

1) Top starts with only spin, no nutation or precession

0 and 0
b I1 ; a I1 ;

b a cos

b au0 u 0 u0
2
I 1 sin
Initial value of u
2

(Unless u0 = 0)

u 2 u u 1 u 2

u0 u u0 u 1 u 2
2

More Physics
PE << KE (or equivalently total E) FAST TOP

I1
V mgl cos mgl
2
2
2 2
1
a
I
2
1
T I 3

2
2I3
2I3

I1
I 12 2
2 I1

2
2
2I3
I3
I1 I 3 1

## but not a big number

Fast Top

u u0 u u0 u 1 u 2
2

vanishes for
Obviously, u

## u u0. Let it vanish for u1 also.

0 u0 u1 u0 u1 1 u12
2

1u
u u

2
1

u1 u0
2

## nutational motion takes place within

a very small region of

## Fast Top continues.

Without much error, one can write,

1 u 2 1 u02 sin 2 0

u u0 u u0 u 1 u
2

u0 u u0 u sin 2 0
2

sin

sin
0
2
0
u0 u

2
2
2
4

4
sin
sin

2
2
u u
u u
2
2
4
2

4
sin

2
2
2
u u u
42
4
d
sin

2
2
u u u u
2
4
dt

## This is just the equation for SHM telling us u varies harmonically

about the mean value u^bar with period 2/. The time period of
the nutation motion is given by:

2I 1
T
I 3 z

I 3 cos a
a I1

Conclusion
2I 1
T
I 3 z
1. For the fast top, nutation is a SHM with small spread of value
of u.
2. T varies inversely as spin velocity. If latter is large, T will be small
correspondingly. Thus the nutational range is small and takes
place rapidly so one would hardly be able to observe it. One then
would think that there is no nutation at all and the motion is termed
it as pseudo-regular precession.

## The Sleeping Top

Top starts with its axis vertical u0 = 1 and continues
SLEEPING TOP

u u u 1 u 2
2

1 u 2 1 u
2

## u = 1 is a double root of f(u) = 0 and then the question is how

f(u) vs u curve would look like..????

f(u) vs u curve

One can argue that curve II not curve I is the sleeping top

Argument

With curve I, 3rd root of f(u) corresponds to real , say 1, so the top may
have a nutational motion between 1 and 0 but for curve II 3rd root give an
imaginary and f(u)>0 only for u=1 so the motion is restricted to u=1,
there is no nutation, nor even at precession but simply the top goes on
spinning with its axis vertical. Such a motion is called a sleeping motion

Mathematical Condition
Condition: 3rd root of f(u)=0 must occur at u1>1

2
u 2 1 u 2 1 u

2
1 u1
2

I 32 2 4 mgl
z 2
I1
I1

4 mglI 1
Condition to sleep: z
I 32

Wake up
Q. Does a top wake up some time?
A. The top does wake up. This is because the frictional
force cause a dissipation of the KE so that spin velocity

## goes on decreasing and ultimately crosses the critical

value 4 mglI 1 I 32 . The sleeping motion can then no
longer go on, nutation and precession set in

Problem
Find the torque needed to rotate a rectangular plate of length
b and breadth a about a diagonal with constant

b
x x y y 0 z

x
.x x . y y
a
y

1 0 2

M b 2 a 2 ab
N3 0
z
2
2
12 a b

a
a2 b2

b
a2 b2