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Experiment 2

Kater’s Pendulum
Apparatus: Kater’s Pendulum with attachable weights, stop-watch, meter scale. Purpose of experiment: To determine an accurate value for acceleration due to grvity ( g ) in the lab. Basic Methodology: To use compund pedulum’s time period and a fixed pedulum length and calculate g. Time period and fixed length can be measured with relatively better accuracy compared to the length of simple pendulm where one needs to know the length between point of suspension to the centre of mass of the bob.

I Introduction
In simplest case one determines g from the measurement of the time period of a simple pendulum. In ideal case one needs to make a point-mass pendulum connected in a weightless string to fixed point support. Practically this is difficult condition to acieve. Henry Kater devised a method in the early nineteenth century. In his method, he constructed a compound pendulum, which he oscillated about a knife-edge, then turned upside down and oscillated about a knife-edge on the other side of the center of mass (CM). If the two periods are made equal by adjusting the weights on the pendulum, g can be determined from only the period and the distance between the two knife edges. Essentialy, use of the parallel axis theorem for the moment of inertia of a rigid body allows us to avoid approximating a point mass on a massless string. When the period of the pendulum is identical when swung from either pivot point, the equation for g is identical to that of a simple pendulum with length equal to the distance between the pivot points. Since this length is measurable to a high degree of accuracy, this permits a very precise determination of the local value of g. This method was used in the 1930’s to determine the value of g in Washington as 9.80080 ± 0.00003 m/s2 , which is accurate to within 1/1000th of a percent. The gravity exerts a torque, τ , on the compound pendulum τ = M gd. sin θ, (1)

where M is the mass of the object, θ is the deviation from the vertical, and d is the distance from the center of mass to the point about which it is oscillated. The negative sign comes from the fact that in this case gravity is a restoring force. But τ = I0 α, where I0 is moment of inertia about the point of 2 θ oscillation and α is the angular acceleration (= d 2 ). dt d2 θ + dt2 M gd I0 . sin θ = 0, (2)

when oscillations are of small angels then sinθ = θand we can write d2 θ + dt2 which has a solution as θ = θmax sin The time period for this oscillation is T = 2π I0 . M gd (5) M gd I0 .t. (4) M gd I0 .θ = 0, (3)



We know from the parallel axis theorem that the moment of inertia of an object about an axis parallel to an axis through its center can be written as I0 = IC + M R 2 , (6) where IC is the moment of inertia about center of mass, R is the distance from the axis of I0 to the center of mass. Taking I 1 as the moment of inertia about K1 and I2 as the moment of inertia about K2 , we can get T 1 = 2π and T 2 = 2π
2 IC + M l2 , M gl2 2 IC + M l1 , M gl1



If the weights on the pendulum can be adjusted such that T1 = T2 , then 2 2 IC + M l1 IC + M l2 = , l1 l2 and IC (l1 − l2 ) = M l1 l2 (l1 − l2 ), or I C = M l 1 l2 , So now we get T1 = T 2 = T = 2π l1 + l2 = 2π g L , g

(9) (10) (11)


We see that l1 and l2 individually have disappeared and only the sum L occurs in the equation. So if the masses are adjusted such that the two time periods are very nearly the same, then g will be determined primarily by the sum of the periods and the distance between the two knife-edges with weak dependence on the differences in the lengths and periods. The distance between the two knife-edges, can be measured to a fraction of a millimeter. By solving equation (7) and (8) for IC , equating the results, and expressing the final result in terms of the differences and sums of the distances l1 , l2 and periods T1 , T2 we can arrive at 8π 2 (13) g = T 2 +T 2 2 2 . T1 −T2 1 2 l1 +l2 + l1 −l2 If T1 ∼ T2 and l1 − l2 is large, then the second term in the denominator will be extremely small, allowing us to determine g to a very high level of accuracy. 2

Experiment 2. Kater’s Pendulum


II Experiment
Procedure 1. Determine the middle point of the rod and fix the smaller metal weight W there. Fix the wooden weight W1 near one end of the Katers pendulum (5 cm from end 1) and the knife edge K1 just below it (at a distance of about 2 cm). 2. Adjust the metallic weight W2 and the knife edge K2 at the other end (end 2) of the pendulum with the same symmetry. The metallic and wooden weights are placed at different ends to eliminate viscous drag of air and to make the centre of mass (CM) asymmetrical about the knife edges. Screw all the five tightly. 3. Knife edges must be sharp, horizontal and parallel to each other so that the oscillations are confined to a vertical plane. Suspend the pendulum vertically about K1 . Set it oscillating with amplitude of about 4-5 degrees for the motion to remain simple harmonic. Note the time for 30 oscillations using a stop watch. 4. Now suspend the pendulum vertically about K2 and repeat step 3. This time will be quite different from that about K1 . 5. Keep moving K1 and K2 towards W by small distance (say 1 cm) and repeat steps 3 and 4 till the difference in time about K1 and K2 is less than one second. 6. Now, move the weight W and repeat step 5 to reduce the time difference to about 0.5 second. 7. The apparatus is ready to record the measurements. Suspend the pendulum about K1 and K2 vertically and record the time taken for 30 oscillations. Repeat this 5 times each. 8. Remove the pendulum from support and place it horizontally on a wedge. Balance it and find the CM of the system. 9. Measure the distances l1 and l2 from CM to the knife edges K1 and K2 . 10. Complete your lab report, upload it and disassemble the apparatus before leaving the lab.

III Exercises and Viva Questions
1. What are the dominant sources of uncertainty in your calculations of g and the corrections to it? 2. How is the accuracy of this experiment dependent on the size of the pendulum? What would you have to do to get results of the same quality for a pendulum 1/10 the length?

1. An Introduction to Mechanics, Denial Kleppner and Robert J. Kolenkow, Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Limited, New Delhi, 2007.