# MOMENT OF INERTIA IN DETAIL

* As noted earlier, the initial definition of moment of inertia:

-- was only for the simple mass on a rod, and was not exactly true for other cases. Let's consider a more complicated example, where the object whose moment of inertia we want to calculate has several different masses of different size, each at a different distance from the axis of rotation of the object. This leads to a more general definition for moment of inertia:
_________________________________________________________________________ moment_of_inertia = SUM( mass * radius^2 ) _________________________________________________________________________

In simple terms, the moment of inertia of the entire object is the sum of the moments of inertia of its components. If the object had three different masses, each at a different distance from the axis of rotation, then the moment of inertia of the object is:

Let's consider more specific examples, such as a barbell with weights connected by a rod. Ignoring little details like the weight of the rod, if each weight has a mass Mi and the rod has a length L = 2 * R, then its moment of inertia for rotation around the midpoint of the rod is:
2 * Mi * ( L/2 )^2 Ms * R^2 = 2 * Mi * R^2

If we designate the sum of the mass of the weights as Ms, then this becomes If we have a pair of rods of length L = 2 * R joined in a cross, with weights with mass Mi at each end of the rods, then the moment of inertia for rotation around the center of the cross is:
4 * Mi * R^2

-- or once again:
Ms * R^2

In fact, this moment of inertia also applies to any thin ring or hollow thin cylinder rotating around its axis. They're exactly the same as the barbell in this respect because we still have a mass at a particular radius, and it makes no difference if it's two individual masses or a continuous ring. Calculating moments of inertia for other objects generally requires more math than is appropriate in this document, but a short list of the moments of inertia of a few different objects of mass M will help give a better feel for the concept.

* The concept of moment of inertia makes a certain amount of intuitive sense. Suppose Dexter has two cylindrical masses. they don't have to have the same diameter or the same mass. If Dexter drops drop these two cylinders from the same height. The relative sizes of the two cylinders don't matter any more than it does for dropping them. and its angular acceleration is lower for a given force. the solid cylinder will always beat the hollow cylinder. Now if Dexter rolls these two objects down a plane. Similarly. it's much easier to rotate a barbell if the weights are close together on the bar instead of at the ends. once again they'll reach the bottom at the same time. In other cases. if the ramp is very slick. The longer the pole. it's not as intuitive. ignoring drag they'll hit the ground at the same time. Incidentally. as emphasized in the last chapter. she might carry a long pole held tightly in her hands to provide balance. one in the form of a hollow cylinder and the other in the form of a solid cylinder. If he were to put these two cylinders on end on top of a ramp and let them slide down. For example. and more it prevents Deedee from tipping over. because the force required to get them to move . the greater its moment of inertia. if Deedee is walking a tightrope. This is because the hollow cylinder has a greater moment of inertia.

is proportional to the mass. Mass Moment of Inertia of a Solid Rod Mass Moment of Inertia of a Solid Cylinder Mass Moment of Inertia of a Rectangular Prism . but the hollow cylinder just can't get rolling as fast as the solid cylinder.

Mass Moment of Inertia of a Hollow Cylinder Mass Moment of Inertia of a Solid Sphere .

Mass Moment of Inertia of a Solid Cone .