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PHY401/PHY401A/SE314/PSO314A: Classical Mechanics

(2014: Summer Course)
Instructor: Sagar Chakraborty, Department of Physics, I.I.T. Kanpur
Home Assignment # 1 Total Marks: N.A.
1. Consider two cartesian coordinate systems whose z-axes and origins coincide. Suppose one coordinate system
say, (x

, y

, z

) is being rotated by a constant angular frequency about z-axis w.r.t. the other coordinate
system say, (x, y, z).
(a) Find primed coordinates in terms of the unprimed ones.
(b) Consider there is an unforced particle of unit mass in unprimed frame. Write down Newtons second law
of motion for the particle. Find out the expression of the pseudoforces by writing the Newtons second law
in the primed frame by using the transformation law between the primed and the unprimed coordinates.
(assume: t = t

.)
(c) Repeat the problem assuming is a function of time.
2. Consider a mass M at position X acts gravitationally on a test mass m at position x. Of course, as you know,
m x =
GMm
|Xx|
3
(Xx) . (1)
Show that this Newtons law of motion is symmetric under
(a) space translation,
(b) rotation of the coordinate system,
(c) time translation,
(d) Galilean transformation,
(e) time reversal,
(f) mirror reection symmetry (mirror passing through mass M).
3. In the following equation of simple harmonic oscillator
m x +
2
x = 0 , (2)
(a) is the force acting on the mass m conservative? Why/why not?
(b) Due to time translation symmetry, what is the conserved quantity? Verify your answer.
(c) Find x in terms of the constant of motion and x. Integrate it to nd x as a function of t.
(d) By solving equation (2) using any other known method, compare the result with what you have found in
immediately preceding question (c).
4. Find a constant of motion in the following simple nonlinear system
x + x
3
= 0 . (3)
Use that constant of motion to reduce the order of the dierential equation and express the solution as an
explicit integration. Hence, nd out the time-period of the oscillations in terms of gamma function.
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5. Use calculus of variations for the following problems.
(a) In a three dimensional space, nd out the equation of curve passing between two xed points (x
1
, 0, z
1
)
and (x
2
, 0, z
2
) and revolving about z-axis such that the surface thus generated has minimum area among
any other curve chosen with the same end points.
(b) Find the equation for the shape of a string joining two points in a vertical plane, along which a bead
frictionlessly falling from rest under gravity moves from the higher to the lower point in the least time.
(c) Geodesics are the shortest path between points in the space. Find geodesics on a sphere of radius a. (Hint:
You may want to use spherical-polar coordinates for this problem.)
6. Consider a test particle of mass m moving under the inuence of a xed centre of force (taken as the origin of
the coordinate system). Supposed the force is derivable from a potential V which is explicit function of only
the magnitude of the radial distance r from the origin.
(a) Find dl/dt where l is the angular momentum of the particle.
(b) Write down equations of motion for the particle in cylindrical coordinates.
(c) Find out the expressions for total energy (E) and magnitude of total angular momentum (l) in cylindrical
coordinates and verify that they are constants of motion.
(d) Using dE/dt = 0 and dl/dt = 0, arrive at
r =

2
m

E V
l
2
2mr
2

,

=
l
mr
2
.
7. Prove that Laplace-Runge-Lenz vector A p l mkr/r for a particle of mass m in a Keplerian central force
(kr/r
3
) is related to the total energy E and the magnitude of the angular momentum l via following two
relations: (i) A = mk

1 + 2El
2
/mk
2
and (ii) A
2
= m
2
k
2
+ 2mEl
2
. Also verify

A = 0.
8. A particle of unit mass moving along a straight line in positive x-direction is under the action of a drag force
F = (a x + b x
2
) x; (a, b R).
(a) Is the force conservative? If yes, please nd out a potential.
(b) Write down Newtons equation of motion and rewrite it as two rst order ordinary dierential equations.
(c) With v x, note v = av bv
2
.
i. Find the xed points (say, v

) and their linear stability properties.

ii. When a = 0, what does linear stability analysis tell you? Use graphical method to conclude about the
nature of stability of the xed point(s).
iii. Non-dimensionalize the equation for v. Show that there is only one independent non-dimensional
parameter (say r)? Plot a bifurcation diagram: v

vs r, where v

is, of course, non-dimensionalized

v

.
9. Use Newtons laws of motion to show that a simple pendulum, consisting of a point mass m attached at the
lower end of a massless string of length l (which is xed at ceiling at the upper end) oscillating in a xed vertical
x z plane (acceleration due to gravity g = g z is acting vertically downwards), obeys equation of motion of
the form:

(t) +
2
sin (t) = 0 . (4)
[Hint: Recognise as tan
1
(x/z).]
10. Suppose due to presence of air drag the equation of motion for a simple pendulum becomes

+ k

+
2
sin = 0 ; k > 0 . (5)
Consider the overdamped limit

(t) k

when one can approximate the preceding equation with a rst order
ODE:

= a sin ; a
2
/k > 0 . (6)
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(a) What is the phase space for the problem?
(b) What are the xed points? Using both analytical and numerical techniques, nd out which ones are linearly
stable and which ones are linearly unstable?
(c) Solve equation (6) exactly for any initial condition and use it to verify the results you have found above
for this problem.