Mechanics Notes 2008 Units

All units in science are derived from seven base units. These are: kilogram (kg), metre (m), second (s), ampere (A), mole (mol), kelvin (K) and candela (cd). eg: Speed is calculated as distance (measured in metres) divided by time (measured in seconds). Thus speed is measured in metres per second (ms-1)

Prefixes are used with units to make the numbers more manageable. For example: giga (G) means x 109 e.g. 1 GHz = 109 Hz mega (M) means x 106 kilo (k) means x 103 milli (m) means x 10-3 e.g. 1 mA = 10-3 A micro (  means x 10-6 ) nano (n) means x 10-9

Vectors and Scalars
A scalar is a quantity that has magnitude (i.e. size) only - e.g. energy, distance, speed, mass, density, etc. A vector is a quantity that has both magnitude and direction - e.g. force, displacement, velocity, etc.

Displacement, Velocity and Acceleration
Displacement s (in m) is distance in a particular direction - i.e. it is a vector. Velocity v (in ms-1) is defined as rate of change of displacement. i.e. velocity = (change in displacement)/(time taken for change)


v=   s/ t


Thus, it follows that v is the gradient of a graph of s against t - as shown below:

as shown below: .e. constant) acceleration is an important special case. a=  v/ t REMEMBER! Thus.e. acceleration = (change in velocity)/(time taken for change) i.Acceleration a (in ms-2) is defined as rate of change of velocity.81 ms-2.e. it follows that a is the gradient of a graph of v against t . and is equal to 9.i. For constant acceleration. For example. it is a straight line.B. the acceleration due to gravity near the earth's surface is uniform. the velocity-time has a constant gradient . The area under a v-t curve is the distance travelled: Uniform Acceleration Uniform ( shown below: N.e. i.

Suppose also that s is the displacement after time t. Newton's Second Law of Motion is effectively expressed by the equation: F = ma REMEMBER! where a is the acceleration (in ms-2) of a body of mass m (in kg) which has a force F (in N) applied to it. as shown below: The following equations can be used: v = u + at s = ut + / at 1 2 2 2 2 v = u + 2as s = / (u + v)t 1 2 Newton's Second Law Provided mass is constant. Gravitational Field Strength Gravitational field strength g (in Nkg-1) is defined by the equation: g = F/m REMEMBER! where F is the force (in N) on a body of mass m (in kg) in a gravitational field. g = 9. .81 Nkg-1 near the earth's surface.t graph increases with time. the gradient of an s . Since v increases with time.

as shown in the example below: . i. as shown below: In the simple case shown above. The force vectors must form a closed triangle.e: W = mg Vector Addition It is a simple matter to add scalars . the vectors are represented as arrows drawn to scale and placed in order.g. However.e. If the 2 vectors are not at right angles it is possible to add them by doing a scale drawing. the 2 vectors are at right angles .F is also known as the weight W of the body. 1 kg + 5 kg = 6 kg. The angle that the 5 N vector makes with the 3 N vector is the angle whose tan is 4/3 (i. Therefore g = W/m i. with vectors. end to end.e.e. sum2 = 32 + 42 = 25. The resultant has the same effect as the 2 vectors put together. therefore sum = 5 N. The sum of 2 (or more) vectors is often called the resultant. you also have to take the direction into account. as shown below: If a body is in equilibrium the sum of the forces on it must = 0. To add Pythagoras' Theorem can be used: i. 53 degrees).e.

vertical and horizontal) rather than one vector which is neither vertical nor horizontal. (The tension T has been replaced by its components.g. . i.Resolving Vectors Resolving a vector means finding 2 vectors at right angles that have the same effect as the original vector. They must add together to give the original vector.) Since the body is in equilibrium: Tsin = F Tcos = W The above equations can be used to solve the problem. The reason for doing this is that it is often easier to solve a problem using 2 vectors at right angles (e. as shown below: Fx = Fcos  Fy = Fsin The 2 vectors at right angles are called the components of the original vector. The example below illustrates the use of components.e.

Work When a force F (in N) moves a body through a distance  (in m) the work done  (in J) s W on the body is given by the following equation: W = F s Sometimes the force F is not in the same direction as the displacement s.e. increases.p.) is the energy a body has because it is in a gravitational field.with different equations to calculate the energy in each case: Gravitational potential energy (g. In a uniform .e.p. If a body has energy it can move something with a force. i. as shown in the example below: In this case the work done is given by the formula: W = F scos  where  is the angle between F and  s. There are different forms of energy . Energy Energy (in J) is the capacity to do work.e. When one mass is moved further away from another mass its g.

= gain of k. Conservation of Energy "Energy can change form (be transferred)." For example.. i. but cannot be created or destroyed.e.p. . it loses gravitational potential energy.. Loss of g.e.... when a body falls under gravity.e.... but gains the same amount of kinetic energy (assuming no energy is converted to heat through air resistance).81 Nkg-1 near the earth's surface).e. as shown below . i. Kinetic energy Ek (in J) is the energy a body has because it is in motion. mgh = 1/2mv2 . Ek is given by the formula: Ek = 1/2mv2 REMEMBER! where m is the mass of the body (in kg) and v is its velocity (in ms-1).gravitational field (such as that near the earth's surface) the increase in gravitational energy  Egrav (in J) when a mass m (in kg) is raised through a height h (in m) is given by the formula:  Egrav = mg h REMEMBER! where g is the gravitational field strength (9.

e. i.Power Power P (in watts W) is defined as the rate at which work is done.i.39 Therefore: t = 4. The simplest type of situation is shown below: Suppose we want to calculate the range . This is the same as the time the projectile would have taken to drop vertically through a . P=  W/ t where W is the work done (or energy transferred) (in J) and t is the time taken (in s).81) = 20. whereas there is no horizontal acceleration . W = Fs (see above) Therefore P also = Fs/t = Fv (force x velocity). h = 100 m and g = 9. Vertical motion: u = 0 (initial vertical velocity = 0 since the projectile is initially travelling horizontally) a = g = 9.B.81 x t2 Therefore: t2 = 100/(1/2 x 9.52 s N.e.and V = 20 ms-1. the horizontal component of the velocity is constant.) Use: s = ut + 1/2at2 Therefore: 100 = 0 + 1/2 x 9.81 ms-2. Projectiles The key to solving projectile problems is: (1) to treat the vertical and horizontal components of the motion separately and (2) to remember that the vertical motion is uniformly accelerated.81 ms-2 s = 100 m t = time of flight = ? (It is usually a good idea to calculate the time of flight.

that we want to calculate the range . Horizontal motion: Range = horizontal speed x time of flight (There is no horizontal acceleration because there is no horizontal force . Vcos and Vsin.32 .B. "Upwards is +ve and downwards is -ve" was chosen .12 s Horizontal motion: .if you neglect air resistance.4. but you have to start by working out the horizontal and vertical components of the projectile's initial velocity .32t .height of 100 m. Since the initial velocity is upwards and the acceleration due to gravity is downwards.1/2 x 9.32t . Suppose.905t = 0 Therefore: t = 15.32 .but the opposite choice would have worked just as well. s = ut + 1/2at2 Therefore: 0 = 15.905t) = 0 Therefore: either t = 0 (neglect this solution!) or 15.905 = 3.4. a choice about signs had to be made.i.81 x t2 = 15.32/4.81 ms-1 s = 0 (the final vertical displacement = 0) t = time of flight = ? N.e.52 = 90.32 ms-1 a = -g = -9. Vertical motion: u = +20sin50 = +15. again.905t2 Therefore: t(15.4.4 m The situation shown below can be dealt with using a similar method.) Therefore: range = 20 x 4.and that V = 20 ms-1 and  = 50 degrees.

86 x 3.12 = 40.Range = 20cos50 x time of flight = 12.1 m .