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Dynamics is the science of motion which explain how an object moves, in
terms of the forces which change its motion. The greater the force applied, the
higher is the rate of change of speed of the object.


Newtons Laws of Motion

The manner of motion of an object may basically be governed by the three
Newtons Laws of Motion.


First Law
The first law states that every body continues in its state of rest or of uniform
motion in a straight line unless acted on by external forces to change that state.
The first law also means that if the vector sum of the external forces acting on
an object is zero, the velocity v of the object remains constant be it v 0. A
moving object experiencing zero net force is said to be in dynamic equilibrium;
in contrast to an object at rest which is said to be in static equilibrium.
This law indicates the presence of inertia in any body. The inertia of a body is
its reluctance to start moving, and its reluctance to stop after it has begun
moving. For example, a passenger in a moving car will continue in its state of
motion even though the vehicle is stopped suddenly unless an external force
causes it to change that state. The inertia of a body is indicated by its mass. The
greater its mass, the greater is its inertia. Mass is the property of a body which
resists motion.


Second Law
The second law states that the change of momentum per unit time [d(mv)/dt] of
a body is proportional to the applied force (F) and the momentum change takes
place in the direction of the force.
That is:

F d(mv)/dt

For an object of constant mass m

F ma

F = kma

where the product of the mass and velocity is defined as the momentum
possessed by the body. k is a constant.
With SI units, the newton (N) is the unit of force. The newton is defined as the
force which gives a mass of 1 kg an acceleration of 1 m/s2 giving k = 1.
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F = ma

where F is the resultant force

Third Law
The third law states that to every action there is an equal and opposite
For example, a body of mass m placed on a table will experience a reaction of
magnitude mg acting on it by the table in the opposite direction to the
gravitational force.


Weight, W
The weight (W) of a body is the force acting on it by the force of gravity where
W = mg.
Mass is constant everywhere but weight differs according to location. Therefore
a mass of m weights heavier on the earth than in outer space.


Force and Momentum Change (2nd law), Impulse

The momentum of a body is the product of its mass and velocity. If an object
of mass m changes its velocity from u to v in time t when a constant force F acts
on it, then
F = (mv - mu)/t
Ft = mv mu is called the impulse
For example, when a person of mass 50 kg jumps from a height of 5 m, the
force F acting on him is the change in momentum per the time period t between
just before landing where his speed is v and after he completely stops. Let the
time taken for him to come to rest on the ground as 1/10 s.
v = (u2 + 2gs) = (0 + 2 x 10 x 5) = 10 m/s
F = (mv - mu)/t = (50 x 10 - 0)/(1/10) = 5000 N
However, if he flexes his knees so that he increases his stopping time to 1
second, then the force acting on him will be reduced to 500 N.

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Force due to Mass Change

Under certain circumstances where mass is not constant, force is also defined as
the product of the rate of change of mass and the velocity change. That is,
F = dm/dt x ( v 0 ) =
For example, suppose raindrops fall vertically on a roof at a steady rate of 0.2
kg/s. If they have a velocity of 10 m/s just before hitting the roof and then come
to rest subsequently, their velocity change is thus 10 m/s. The force F
experienced by the roof is:
F = 0.2 x 10 = 2 N
Worked Example

A hose ejects water at a speed of 20 cm/s through a hole of area 100 cm2.
If the water strikes a wall normally, calculate the force on the wall in
newtons, assuming the velocity of the water normal to the wall is zero
after collision.
Volume of water striking the wall per second = 100x20 = 2000 cm3.
mass per second striking the wall = 2000 g/s = 2 kg/s
Velocity change of water on striking wall = 0.20 0 = 0.20 m/s
momentum change per second = 2 x 0.2 = 0.4 N = Force


Action and Reaction (3rd law)

Action and reaction forces always occur in pairs. It should be noted that the two
forces act on different bodies. So only one of the forces is used in discussing the
motion of one of the two bodies.
Worked Example







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Figure above shows a truck A pulling a trailer B. The truck engine exerts
a force of 8000N which results in frictional forces of 2000N and 1000N
respectively on B and A. Calculate (a) the acceleration of the truck and
trailer , (b) the tension T in the tow-bar.
For B only,
T - 2000 = 3000a ...(1)
For A only,
8000 - 1000 - T = 1000a (2)

where a = acceleration

(1) + (2),
8000 - 1000 -2000 = 4000a giving a = 5/4 m/s2
From (1),
T = (3000 x 5/4) + 2000 = 5750 N

Worked Examples 1

An object of mass 2.00 kg is attached to the hook of a spring- balance, and

the balance is suspended vertically from the roof of a lift. What is the
reading on the spring-balance when the lift is (a) going up with an
acceleration of 0.2 m/s2, (b) going down with an acceleration of 0.1 m/s2,
(c) ascending with a uniform velocity of 0.15 m/s (g = 10 m/s2).


A car of mass 1000kg is moving up a hill inclined at 300 to the horizontal.

The total frictional force on the car is 1000N. Calculate the force P due to
the engine when the car is (a) accelerating at 2 m/s2, (b) moving with a
steady velocity of 15 m/s.

Let T = tension in the spring-balance; mg = weight of object = 20 N

(a) For going up,
T - mg = ma
T = ma + mg = 2 x 0.2 + 2 x 10 = 20.4 N
(b) For descending
20 - T = ma
T = 20 - ma = 20 - (2 x 0.1) = 19.8 N
(c) When ascending with uniform velocity, a = 0
T = 20 N

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= mg.sin300
= 1000 x 10 x 1/2
= 5000 N

(a) Component of weight along slope

P - 1000 - 5000 = ma = 1000 x 2

P = 8000 N
(b) Since velocity is steady, a = 0;

Resultant force = 0

P = 5000 + 1000 = 6000 N


Conservation of Linear Momentum

The principle of the conservation of linear momentum states that, if no
external forces act on a system of colliding objects, the total (algebraic sum)
momentum of the objects in a given direction before collision is always equal to
the total (algebraic sum) momentum in the same direction after collision.
Whilst the momentum of system is always conserved in interactions between
bodies, some change in kinetic energy always takes place.


Equations of Conservation of Momentum


m = mass of a body, kg
u = its initial velocity, m/s
v = its final velocity, m/s

Case 1





m1u1 +(-m2u2) = m1v1 + m2v2


v1 m2


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Case 2






m1u1+(-m2u2) = (m1 + m2)v

Worked Example

An object A of mass 2 kg is moving with a velocity of 3 m/s and collides

head on with an object B of mass 1 kg moving in the opposite direction
with a velocity of 4 m/s. After collision both objects stick, so that they
move with a common velocity v. Calculate v.
m1u1+(-m2u2) = (m1 + m2)v
(2 x 3) (1 x 4) = (2 + 1)v
2 = 3v v = 2/3 m/s


Elastic and Inelastic Collisions

A perfectly elastic collision is one where the total kinetic energy of the colliding
system before and after collision are always equal. An inelastic collision is one
where the total kinetic energy is not conserved. The kinetic energy for the latter
is normally lost as heat and sound.
Consider an object of mass m travelling at velocity u collides with a stationary
object of mass M. After collision, both masses travel in the same original
direction of m with velocity v and V respectively
Applying the principles of the conservation of momentum and kinetic energy,
we have:
mu + 0 = mv + MV (1)
mu2 + 0 = mv2 + MV2 .. (2)
From (2),
m(u2 v2) = MV2 . (3)
From (1),
m(u v) = MV ..(4)
( 4)

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(u 2 v 2 )
= V
(u v)


u 0 = V v . . (5)

Generally, if the initially velocity of M is u1 in the same direction as m, then

u u1 = V v . . (6)
Equation (6) also means that, for a perfectly elastic collision, the relative
velocity of approach (u u1) is equal to the relative velocity of separation (V
Worked Examples

In a gas a hydrogen molecule, mass 2.00 u and velocity 1.88 x 103 m/s,
collides elastically and head-on with an oxygen molecule, mass 32.0 u and
velocity 405 m/s. Determine (a) the velocity of separation of the two
molecules after the collision, and (b) the velocity of both molecules after
the collision.


velocity of approach = velocity of separation

= 1880 (-405) = 2285 m/s
Let v = velocity of H2 after collision
V = velocity of O2 after collision
V - v = 2285
V = v + 2285
By the principle of conservation of momentum,
(2 x 1880) (32 x 405) = (2 x v) + [32 x (v + 2285)]
37660 12960 = 2v + 32v + 73120
v = -2420 m/s
V = v + 2285 = -2420 + 2285 = -136 m/s


In a motorway accident a car of mass 1200 kg travelling at 40 m/s, runs

into the back of an unloaded lorry of mass 3000 kg travelling at 25 m/s.
How much kinetic energy does the car lose in the crash if both vehicles
stick together?

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Momentum before collision = Momentum after collision
(1200 x 40) + (3000 x 25) = (1200 + 3000) x v
where v is the common speed of car and lorry after the crash
4800 + 75000

= 4200 v
= 29.3 m/s

Kinetic energy before collision = x 1200 x (40)2 = 960,000 J

Kinetic energy after collision = x 1200 x (29.3)2 = 520,000 J
Therefore the car loses 440,000 J in the crash.

Momentum under Explosive Conditions

When a bullet of mass m1 is fired from a rifle of mass m2 with a velocity u, the
rifle recoils with a velocity v. The momentum change for the whole system is
calculated as follows:
Initial momentum = 0
Final momentum = m1u + m2v


m1u + m2v = 0 v = -(m1/ m2)u -ve sign recoil

Worked Examples 2

A bullet of mass 20 g travelling horizontally at 100 m/s, embeds itself in

the centre of a block of wood of mass 1 kg which is suspended by light
vertical strings 1 m in length. Calculate the maximum inclination of the
strings to the vertical. (Assume g = 9.8 m/s2.)


A disc P of mass mp, sliding on a horizontal friction-free surface, collides

with a stationary disc Q of mass mq.



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Figure above shows Fp, the force exerted on P by Q, and Fq, the force
exerted on Q by P.
(a) State, in words, the relation between Fp and Fq.
(b) The discs are in contact for time t. Write down expressions, in terms
of Fp and t, for: (i) the loss of momentum of P; (ii) Hence show how
the principle of conservation of momentum applies in this situation.
(c) A bullet of mass 0.05 kg moving at a speed of 300 m/s enters a
stationary block of wood of mass 2.5 kg and becomes embedded in it.
The block is freely suspended as shown below.

300 m/s

0.05 kg

2.5 kg

Calculate (i) the speed of the block immediately after the impact; (ii)
the kinetic energy lost from the system as a result of the impact.

A bullet is propelled along the barrel of a rifle by a propellant which

produces an approximately constant pressure on the base of the bullet.
(a) The barrel is 0.80 m long and has a cross-sectional area of 4.5 x 10-5
m2. The mean pressure exerted by the propellant is 1.7 x 108 Pa.
Neglect atmospheric pressure. Calculate the work done on the bullet
by the propellant.
(b) The bullet has a mass of 0.05 kg. Calculate the speed of the bullet as
it leaves the barrel. Assume that all energy of the propellant is
transferred to the bullet.
(c) The rifle has a mass of 12 kg. Calculate the recoil speed of the rifle
immediately after firing. Neglect any external forces which act on
the rifle.


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v = velocity of block and bullet after collision

M = mass of block + bullet

By conservation of momentum,
(1 + 0.02)v = 0.02 x 100
v = 2/1.02 = 1.96 m/s


Consider motion of the system in the vertical direction.

Using v2 = u2 + 2as where v = 0, a = -g,

u2 = 2gh
h = (1.96)2 / (2x9.8) = 0.196

cos = (1 0.196)/1 = 0.804

= 370

(a) Fp is equal and opposite to Fq

(b) (i) Loss of momentum of P = Fpt
Gain of momentum of Q = Fpt
(ii) Loss of momentum of P is equal to gain of momentum of Q, so
total momentum remains constant.
(c) (i)

0.05 x 300 = 2.55v

v = 5.9 m/s

(ii) Loss of energy = 0.05 x 3002/2 2.55 x 5.92/2

= 2250 44 = 2200 J

(a) Work done = 1.7 x 108 X 4.5 x 10-5 x 0.8 = 6120 J


mu2 = 6120
u = (6120 x 2 / 0.05)
= 494.8 m/s

(c) Let M = mass of rifle; m = mass of bullet; u = speed of bullet

v = recoil speed of rifle
0 = Mv + mu
v = - (mu/M) = - (0.05 X 495)/12 = 2.1 m/s

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Assignment 4

The mass of gas emitted from the rear of a toy rocket is initially 0.1 kg/s.
If the speed of the gas relative to the rocket is 50 m/s, and the mass of the
rocket is 2 kg, what is the initial acceleration of the rocket? [ 2.5 m/s2 ]


A hose directs a horizontal jet of water, moving with a velocity of 20 m/s,

on to a vertical wall. The cross-sectional area of the jet is 5 x 10-4 m2. If
the density of water is 1000 kg/m3, calculate the force on the wall
assuming the water is brought to rest there.
[ 200 N ]


In a nuclear collision, an alpha-particle A of mass 4 units is incident with a

velocity v horizontally on a stationary helium nucleus B of 4 mass units.
After collision, A moves with a velocity v/2 in the direction BC making at
an angle of 600 with AB upwards and the helium nucleus moves along BD
making an angle of with AB downwards. Calculate the velocity of
v ; 300 ]
rebound of the helium nucleus along BD and angle .


A proton of mass 1.6 x 10-27 kg travelling with a velocity of 3 x 107 m/s

collides with a nucleus of an oxygen atom of mass 2.56 x 10-26 kg (which
may be assumed to be at rest initially) and rebounds in a direction at 900 to
its incident path. Calculate the velocity and direction of motion of the
recoil oxygen nucleus, assuming the collision is elastic and neglecting the
relativistic increase of mass.
[ 2.57 x 106 m/s at 43.20 ]


A bullet of mass 0.020 kg is fired horizontally at 150 m/s at a wooden

block of mass 2.0 kg resting on a smooth horizontal plane. The bullet
passes through the block and emerges undeviated with a velocity of 90
m/s. Calculate: (a) the velocity acquired by the block, (b) the total kinetic
energy before and after penetration and account for their difference.
[ 0.60 m/s; 225 J & 81.4 J ]


A helicopter of total mass 1000 kg is able to remain in a stationary

position by imparting a uniform downward velocity to a cylinder of air
below it of effective diameter 6 m. Assuming the density of air to be 1.2
kg/m3, calculate the downward velocity given to the air. [ 17.2 m/s ]

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