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Trinity Term
Preliminary Examination in Physics
Paper CP1: PHYSICS 1
Moderations in Physics and Philosophy
Monday 9 June 2014, 2.30 pm 5.00 pm
Time allowed: 2 21 hours

Answer all of Section A and three questions from Section B.

A list of physical constants, mathematical formulae
and conversion factors accompanies this paper.
The numbers in the margin indicate the weight that the Moderators expect to
assign to each part of the question.

Do NOT turn over until told that you may do so.

Section A
1. Two particles with masses m1 and m2 collide elastically and obliquely in the x y
plane. Show that in the centre of mass frame the magnitude of each velocity does not
Show that in the laboratory frame when m1 = m2 and m2 is stationary before
the collision, the particles move at right angles to each other after the collision.


2. A frictionless evacuated tunnel is created from the North to South poles of the
Earth. A mass is released from rest in the tunnel at the surface of the Earth. Derive
an expression for the time it would take to reach the other side of the planet. Take the
Earth to be of uniform density , of radius r0 and give the expression in terms of g,
the acceleration due to gravity at the surface of the Earth. Neglect the effect of other
celestial bodies.
Explain qualitatively how the rotation speed of the Earth would be affected as
the body traverses similar tunnels for diameters other than the North to South poles.


3. Two parallel uniform discs of equal mass are rotating in opposite directions on

a common thin frictionless axle. They have radii r1 and r2 where r1 = r2 / 2. The
magnitude of the discs angular velocities are 1 and 2 where 1 = 22 . The discs
have protruding pins of negligible mass, as shown in the diagram, the orbits of which
intersect. The discs collide elastically via the pins. Evaluate the magnitude of the
angular velocities of the discs immediately after the collision. Assume both the thickness
of the discs and their separation on the axle are negligible.


4. Explain concisely the meaning of the following terms for a mechanical system:
a) Generalised coordinates.
b) Degrees of freedom.
c) Holonomic constraints.



5. Consider two frames of reference, S and S0 , the axes of which are aligned. S0 moves
at speed u along the S x-axis. An object is moving at speed v in the x direction, as
measured in frame S0 . Starting from the Lorentz transformations, derive an expression
for the speed of the object in frame S. What is the maximum rate of separation of any
two objects as measured in the laboratory frame of reference?


The refractive index for a medium is given by n = c/vm , where vm is the speed
of light in the medium and c the speed of light in vacuum. A beam of light passes
along the axis of a tube of water. The water is moving at speed v along the tube in the
opposite direction to the light. By considering the water as a second frame of reference,
show that the effective refractive index n0 in the laboratory frame is given by

n0 ' n 1 +



where n is the refractive index for static water .


6. A train of 100 m proper length travels at a speed 0.99c in the frame of the tracks
on which it is running. It passes through a tunnel of length 90m. Is the train ever
completely inside the tunnel? Explain your answer in both the frame of the railway
tracks and the frame of the train. Also explain how your answers are consistent.


7. A vertical spoked wheel with a rim of mass M is free to rotate about its axle.
The rim is of radius R2 and of negligible thickness. A mass m is attached to one of the
spokes, at a distance R1 below the centre of the axle, as shown in the diagram. Mass
m is displaced from equilibrium by an angle 0 and released. Find an equation which
describes the motion of the mass and for small angles find the period of its oscillation.
Assume the spokes are of negligible mass and that the wheel rotates without friction.





[Turn over]

Section B
8. A rocket of mass m, excluding fuel, with a fuel load of mass M , starts from rest.
The fuel is ejected at speed u0 relative to the rocket. Derive an expression for the final
speed of the rocket after all the fuel has been used. Neglect friction and gravity.


Two rockets, A and B, are initially close together and on the same axis but facing
in opposite directions. Their masses are mA and mB respectively, excluding fuel. Rocket
A has fuel of total mass M which is ejected from the rear at speed u0 . Rocket B has no
fuel. The exhaust from Rocket A is collected by Rocket B without loss. Both rockets
are initially at rest in space and are not affected significantly by gravity or friction.
Derive an expression for the final relative speed of Rockets A and B.


Two rockets in the same initial configuration as above have mB = 2mA and
M = 5mA . Neglecting the flight time of the exhaust between rockets, show that when
the two rockets have the same speed vs that it is given by the expression


vs = u0 ln


A third pair of rockets in the same initial configuration start with M = mA =

mB /2. After consuming 45% of its fuel, Rocket A reverses the direction of its exhaust
and heads back towards Rocket B. Can Rocket A catch Rocket B? Justify your answer.

9. A wheel consists of a circular uniform disk with a circular hole in it. The disc is
of radius R and mass per unit area . The hole is of radius ro and an axle of radius ro
passes through it. The centre of the hole is offset radially from the centre of the disk by
ro . The wheel rotates without friction about the axle. Using the parallel axis theorem,
or otherwise, evaluate an expression for the moment of inertia of the wheel around the
axle. The angular speed of the wheel is , what is its kinetic energy?


The wheel is removed from the axle and rolls without slipping along a flat surface
with the same angular speed. Show that its rotational kinetic energy is less than for
the case of rotation about the axle.


The wheel is placed on a surface sloping at an angle where it rolls without

slipping. It starts from rest with the centre of the hole directly above the centre of the
disk. Neglecting the contribution of the hole to kinetic energy, use the Euler Lagrange
method to show that, with an appropriate choice of coordinate s, the equation of motion
for the wheel can be written in the form
d2 s
+ K1 sin(s) + K2 = 0 ,
dt 2
and evaluate expressions for the constants K1 , K2 and .

clarified from original for tutorial purposes



10. A relativistic particle of mass m1 and energy E collides with a stationary particle
of mass m2 and produces a single new particle of mass M . Derive an expression for M .
The target particle m2 is an electron and the incident particle m1 a positron,
what is the minimum positron energy required to produce a 0 of mass 768 MeV/c2 ?
If instead the positron and electron have momenta of equal magnitude but opposite
directions, what is the energy of the positron at the threshold for 0 production?


An antiproton of energy 35 GeV from a source outside the solar system interacts
with a proton in the upper atmosphere travelling on a trajectory which is radial with
respect to the centre of the Earth. The antiproton annihilates the proton with the
final outcome that two muons each of mass 106 MeV/c2 are produced and nothing else.
The interaction takes negligible time and occurs at a height of 20 km above the Earths
surface. For the case that both muons have the same energy, as measured from the
Earth, what is the probability that they will both reach the surface? The lifetime of a
muon is 2.2 s.


11. The energy E of an object of mass m0 orbiting in the gravitational field of a body
of mass M  m0 is given by the expression
E = m0


GM m0

2m0 r2

Define G, J and r in this equation and derive it.


A satellite moving in a circular orbit of radius r0 around a planet receives an

impulse that increases its kinetic energy by a factor of , where > 1. The impulse
does not change the angular momentum of the satellite relative to the planet. With
the aid of sketches show how this can happen and calculate the distance of closest and
furthest approach from the centre of the planet.


A satellite is launched from a space station. The intended orbit for the satellite is
circular of radius R. The magnitude of the velocity required was correctly set at launch,
but the direction of the launch was in error by an angle in the plane of the intended
orbit. Derive an expression for the maximum separation of the actual and intended