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com 1

• Series combination, R = r1 + r2

rr

• Parallel combination, R = 1 2 .

r1 + r2

We shall see how the law of parallel combination (or series) can be generally

thought of in the case of mechanical systems where the masses are combined in

different ways. This can make our calculation easy. We can quickly get the answers

(without solving the problem actually) in some cases at least.

T Tension T = (m1 + m2 ) g

This is like a series combination of two

m1 g masses, m1 and m2 .

m2 g

mm

T = 2 1 2 g = 2Mg

m1 + m2

Here we can think of M to be the parallel combination

of two masses m1 and m 2 or the reduced mass or

T centre of mass as talked in Rigid body Mechanics.

m1 g Therefore, the tension in the string is as if due to the

sum of two equivalent masses:

T = Mg + Mg

m2 g

m

If we have m1 = m2 , M = and thus T = mg ; this can

2

be verified by usual calculation.

Basic course in Mechanics: Abhijit Kar Gupta, e-mail: kg.abhi@gmail.com 2

m1

m2

α β

Note that when we put α = 90 o and β = 90 o we get

back the Atwood’s machine case: T = 2Mg

mm

T = 1 2 g = Mg

m1 + m2

The above formula can be viewed as

T = Mg. sin 90 o + Mg. sin 0 o = Mg

= Mg (1 + sin θ )

θ

Basic course in Mechanics: Abhijit Kar Gupta, e-mail: kg.abhi@gmail.com 3

Analogy can be drawn in other cases also. For example, the combination of torsional

rigidities and the combination of capacitors etc.

Interestingly, the spring‐mass system where two masses m1 and m 2 are attached with a

spring of spring‐constant k :

m2

M

m1 Time period, T = 2π , where

k

m1 m2

M =

m1 + m2

and to find out tricks how one can find solutions in some cases without actually

solving the problem. Try yourself more…

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