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Newtonian Mechanics
Most problems have moved to:
Additional Problems:
(a) Imagine that the earth were of uniform density and that a tunnel was
drilled along a diameter. If an object were dropped into the tunnel, show
that it would oscillate with a period equal to the period of a satellite orbiting
the earth just at the surface.
(b) Find the gravitational acceleration at a point P, a distance x from the
surface of a spherical object of radius R. The object has density . Inside
the object is a spherical cavity of radius R/4. The center of this cavity is
situated a distance R/4 beyond the center of the large sphere C, on the line
from P to C.

Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
Newton's law of gravity, Newtons 2nd law, the principle of superposition,
uniform circular motion
Why do they apply?
In part (a) the acceleration of the of the objects is due to the gravitational

force. The gravitational force on a object in the tunnel, a distance r from

the center is in the r direction and its magnitude is found using Gauss
law. [(
g/m) = -4G, for a spherical mass distribution. 4r2(Fg/m) =
4GMinside, (Fg/m) = GMinside/r2. Here Fg/m is the gravitational force per unit
mass.] For part (b) we can use the principle of superposition. We compute
the acceleration due to a sphere with radius R without a hole and subtract
the acceleration due to a sphere with radius R/4 at the location of the hole.
How do they apply?
(a) For the object of mass m in the tunnel F = (4/3)Gmr, with =
3M/(4R3). M and R are the mass and radius of the planet, respectively.
For an object moving in the tunnel we therefore have F = -kr, k =(
The force on the object obeys Hooke's law. The object will oscillate with
angular frequency = (k/m)1/2 = ((4/3)G)1/2.
Its period is T = 2/ = (3/G)1/2 = 2(R3/GM)1/2.
For a satellite orbiting just above the surface we have
GMms/R2 = msv2/R = msR2, 2 = GM/R3, T = 2/ = 2(R3/GM)1/2.
The object in the tunnel and the satellite have the same period.
Details of the calculation:
(b) a = G(4/3)2R3/(x + R)2 - G(4/3)2(R/4)3/(x + 5R/4)2.
The direction of a is towards the center of the sphere.

A hole is drilled straight through the earth, passing through its center. The mass of the
Earth is M = 6*1024 kg and its radius is R = 6400 km; G = 6.67*10-11 Nm2/kg2.
(a) Find the force on a particle of mass m as function of its distance r from the center.
Assume that the density of the Earth is constant.
(b) Write the differential equation for the motion of the particle.
(c) If you drop the particle in the hole, what is the period of its motion? Make a
numerical estimate.
(d) What is this type of motion called?
Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
Newton's law of gravity, Newtons 2nd law
Why do they apply?
Assume a tunnel is bored through the center of the Earth. The gravitational
force on a test particle of mass m in the tunnel, a distance r from the center
is in the r direction and its magnitude is found using Gauss law.

How do they apply?
(a) F4r2 = m4G(4/3)r3, F = (4/3)Gmr = GmMr/R3.
(b) For a particle moving in the tunnel we therefore have F = -kr, k =
GmM/R3. The force on the particle obeys Hooke's law.
The differential equation for the motion is d2z/dt2 = -(k/m)z, where z is the
axis of a coordinate system centered at the center of the earth and pointing
along the drilled tunnel.
Details of the calculation:
(c) The particle will oscillate with angular frequency = (k/m)1/2 =
Its period is T = 2/ = 5085s = 85min.
(d) This type of motion is called simple harmonic motion.

A uniform circular disk of radius a and mass nm rotates without friction about a
fixed axis through its center. Initially, an insect of mass m is at the lowest
point of the disk and the system is at rest. The insect begins to crawl along the
circumference of the disk with a velocity V relative to the disk and at any time
is at an angle relative to the vertical line through the axis of the disk.
(a) Find the initial value of d/dt.
(b) The insect continues to crawl at a constant speed relative to the disk.
Show that, if the insect is to reach the top of the disk, that V2 > 8(n + 2)ga/n2.


Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:

= dL/dt
Why do they apply?
The disk can rotate freely about an horizontal axis. In a gravity-free
environment the total angular momentum of the disk-insect system would be
conserved. With gravity, the weight of the insect exerts a torque about the
axis of rotation for 0.
How do they apply?
(a) Let the x-axis point out of the page. = dL/dt = (-i)mgasin.
L = ma2(d/dt)i + I0(d/dt - V/a)i

At t = 0, = 0 and L = 0. (d/dt) = -(I0/ma2)(d/dt - V/a).

(d/dt)(1 + n/2) = Vn/(2a), (d/dt) = Vn/[(n+2)a] = 0.
Details of the calculation:
(b) = dL/dt
-mgasin = ma2(d2/dt2) + (nma2/2)(d2/dt2)
(d2/dt2) = -2gsin/[(n+2)a]
(d/dt) = -2gsin/[(n+2)a]
(d/dt) = (d/d)(d/dt), d/dt = (d/d)
d = (d/dt)d = -2gsind/[(n+2)a]

For the insect to reach the top we need

i.e. f must be a real number.

This requires 4g/[(n+2)a] < 2V2n2/[(n+2)2a2], V2 > 8(n+2)ga/n2.

Newtonian Mechanics
*** Three right, homogeneous cylinders have equal lengths, diameters, and
weights. Two of these are placed side-by-side in contact with a horizontal
surface, and the third is placed upon the other two with its axis parallel to the
axes of the other two. The diagram shows the vertical plane containing one set
of the three cylinder ends. The coefficient of friction between all contacting
surfaces is 0.15.

(a) Is the stack stable?

(b) If the stack collapses, it does so by what mechanism?
Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
Static friction: fmax = N, N = normal force
Static equilibrium: F = 0, = 0, for a stable stack.
Newtons 2nd law: F = dp/dt, = dL/dt for an unstable stack.
Why do they apply?

The diagram shows the forces acting on a bottom cylinder. The frictional
force acts on the rim, tangential to the rim, and therefore can result in a
torque. In static equilibrium the total force and the total torque about the
CM must be zero.
How do they apply?
F = Fxi + Fyj. Fx = Fscos(60o) - f2sin(60o) - f1. Fy = FW - W - Fssin(60o) f2cos(60o).
In equilibrium FW = (3/2)W.
Fy = (1/2)W - Fssin(60o) - f2cos(60o) = 0. Fssin(60o) + f2cos(60o) = (1/2)W.
= k(f2 - f1)a, where a is the radius of the cylinder.
Details of the calculation:
(a) The stack is stable if Fx = 0 and = 0. = 0 --> f1 = f2 = f.
Fx = 0 --> Fscos(60o) - fsin(60o) - f = 0,
We need f = Fscos(60o)/(1 + sin(60o)) = 0.2679 Fs > Fs.
The stack therefore is not stable.
(b) When f2 takes on its maximum value, 0.15Fs, we have
Fy = (1/2)W - Fssin(60o) - 0.15Fscos(60o) = 0, Fs = 0.5313W = 0.3542FW.
Fx = Fscos(60o) - 0.15Fssin(60o) - f1 = 0.3542FWcos(60o) - 0.15*0.3542FWsin(60o)
- f1.
Fx is zero when f1 = 0.1311 FW. This is much less that the maximum value for
f1, f1max = FW = 0.15FW.
So when f2 takes on its maximum value Fx is still 0. But 0 since f2 = 0.15Fs
= 0.053FW and f1 = 0.1311FW.
Therefore the middle cylinder will drop and the other cylinders will roll

Suppose a particle of unit mass (m = 1) to move in a double-well potential V(x)
= (x2 - x02)2, as illustrated in the figure.

Consider the motion of this particle in imaginary time. (Make a change of

variable t -i and consider to be the new time variable.)
(a) Show that this transformation is equivalent to inversion of the potential for
the classical trajectories. (Potential wells become potential barriers, and viceversa).
(b) Show that x() = x0tanh(2x0) is a solution for classical trajectories of this
system and interpret physically the corresponding motion.
Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
F = dp/dt = mdv/dt = -
V. Here d2x/dt2 = -dV(x)/dx. Change of variable.
Why do they apply?
We are asked to find the equation of motion for the system and then
transform it by making a change of variable.
How do they apply?
(a) The equation of motion is d2x/dt2 = -4x(x2 - x02).
Let = it, then d2x/d 2 = 4x(x2 - x02) = -d(-V)/dx = -dV'/dx.
d2x/d 2 = 4x(x2 - x02) is the equation of motion after a change of variable. We
would have obtained an equation of the same form if we would have inverted
the potential.
Details of the calculation:
(b) Let x() = x0tanh(2x0). Then dx/d = x02x0sech2(2x0).
d2x/d 2 = 2x022sech(2x0)(-sech(2x0)tanh(2x0)2x0
= 4x03tanh(2x0)(tanh2(2x0) - 1) = 4(x3 - xx02) = 4x(x2 - x02).
x() = x0tanh(2x0) is a specific solution to the equation of motion of the
Interpretation of this solution.

As = 0, x() = 0, dx/d = 2x02. The particle is moving through the stable

equilibrium point of the inverted potential.
For very large tanh(2x0) --> 1 and x --> x0. So x cannot become greater
than x0.
The particle starts at very large negative on one of the hills of the inverted
potential, moves through the equilibrium point at = 0, and ends up on the
other hill at very large positive .

Two identical springs with spring constant k = 1N/m and equilibrium length l =
0.25m are connected by a middle string of length L = (3/8)m and support a
weight w = 0.5N. Two strings of length 1m are loosely connected as shown.
Find the position of the weight below the support and show that it moves up
when the middle string is cut.

Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
Hooke's law: F = -kx, k = spring constant

Why do they apply?

Consider two isolated springs constants k.
Connect them in series. The effective spring constant is k' = k/2. (The same
force produces twice the displacement.)
Connect them in parallel The effective spring constant is k'' = 2k. (The same
force produces half the displacement.)
How do they apply?
Let the length of the unstretched springs be l(m).
The distance from the support to the weight w in case (a) is
d(m) = 2l + 3/8m + w/k' = 2l + 3/8m + 1m = (1/2 +3/8 +1)m = (15/8)m
The distance from the support to the weight w in case (b) is
d'(m) = l + 1m + w/k'' = (1/4 + 1 + 1/4)m = (12/8)m
d - d' = (3/8)m, d > d'.
Details of the calculation:

A uniform ladder of length 2a and mass M is made of aluminum, so that its
electrical resistance is R between its ends. The ladder is leaning against a
wall, with an initial angle of 60o relative to the horizontal. The wall and floor
are frictionless and have negligible electrical resistance. A constant magnetic
field B is directed into the plane of the paper.

(a) Find the differential equation of motion of the ladder.

(b) Show explicitly that the action of the magnetic field on the ladder is always
such as to slow down the fall of the ladder. Consider separately the two cases
in which the ladder makes an angle of more than 45o with the horizontal and
less than 45o with the horizontal respectively.
Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
Newtons laws, the Lorentz force, the flux rule
Why do they apply?
As long as the ladder remains in contact with the wall, the wall and the ladder form a
circuit. If the magnetic flux through this circuit changes, an emf will be induced and a
current will flow. The magnetic field then exerts a force on the current carrying ladder.
How do they apply?

(a) As long as the ladder remains in contact with the wall, we have the constraints
x = acos and y = asin for the coordinates of the CM.
If no magnetic field is present, then the total force on the ladder is
Fx = F1 = Md2x/dt2 and Fy = F2 - Mg = Md2y/dt2.
We have
F1 = Md2x/dt2
F2 = Md2y/dt2 + Mg.
F1 and F2 are forces of constraint which exert a torque = -k about the CM of the
= aF1sin - aF2cos = Id2/dt2.
(Note the definitions are made such that if is positive d2/dt2 is positive.)
Here I = Ma2/3 is the moment of inertia of the ladder about an axis through its CM
parallel to the z-axis.

Using the equations of constraints we find dx/dt and dy/dt in terms of d/dt.
dx/dt = -asin(d/dt), d2x/dt2 = -acos(d/dt)2 - asin(d2/dt2).
dy/dt = acos(d/dt), d2y/dt2 = -asin(d/dt)2 + acos(d2/dt2).
Inserting equations (i) and (ii) into (iii) we now can obtain the equation of motion for
= aM(-acos(d/dt)2 - asin(d2/dt2))sin
-a(g-asin(d/dt)2 + acos(d2/dt2))cos.
(1/3)d2/dt2 = -d2/dt2 -( g/a)cos.
d2/dt2 = -(3g/4a)cos.
This is the equation of motion as long as the board remains in contact with the wall.
(b) If a magnetic field is present, and a current is flowing through the circuit, there will
be an additional force acting on the ladder. Assume that B = -Bk and a current is
flowing clockwise through the circuit.

Fmag = Il B.
Fmag = I2aB(sini + cosj).
The magnetic force on the ladder produces no torque.
When the ladder is moving, we can find the induced emf and therefore the induced
current I using the flux rule.
I = /R, = -dF/dt.
F = BA, A = 2a2cossin = a2sin2 is the area of the current loop.
The direction of the current is given by Lenzs rule.
I = 2Ba2cos2(d/dt)/R. For decreasing I flows counterclockwise if > 45o and

clockwise if < 45o.

We now have
Fx = F1 + I2aBsin = Md2x/dt2, F1 = Md2x/dt2 - I2aBsin
Fy = F2 - Mg + I2aBcos = Md y/dt , F2 = Md y/dt + Mg - I2aBcos .
I = 2Ba2cos2(d/dt)/R.
Inserting the new equations (i) and (ii) into equation (iii) yields the equations of
Details of the calculation:
The new terms in (i) and (ii) change the torque by
= -aI2aBsinsin + aI2aBcoscos = -2IBa2(sin2 - cos2) = 2IBa2cos2.
= 4B2a4[(d/dt)/R]cos2(2) < 0.
The equation of motion for becomes
d2/dt2 = -(3g/4a)cos. - (12/M)B2a2[(d/dt)/R]cos2(2).
The magnitude of d2/dt2 is smaller when a magnetic field is present, the field slows
the fall of the ladder.

Newtonian Mechanics
A rocket of initial mass m0 is shot vertically upward. Assume the motion occurs
under constant gravitational acceleration g, and that the initial velocity of the
rocket on the surface of the earth is zero. The rocket expels 1/100 of its initial
mass per second for 50 seconds. The exhaust velocity is 2000m/s relative to
the rocket. What is the maximum height reached by the rocket? Neglect
Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
Motion in one dimension, Newton's 2nd law, F = dp/dt, dp = p(t + dt) - p(t)
Why do they apply?
Choose a coordinate axis with the positive direction upward. The system
consists of the rocket body and the fuel. The speed of small amount of fuel
dm decreases by -v' in the time interval dt. In the same time interval the
speed of the rocket and the remaining fuel increases by dv. The total
momentum change of the system in the time interval dt therefore is
dp = p(t + dt) - p(t) = (m - dm)(v + dv) + dm(v - v') - mv = mdv + dmv' (only
first order terms are retained).
By Newton's 2nd law dp/dt is equal to the external force F = -mg.

How do they apply?

-mg = m(dv/dt) + (dm/dt)v'
Here dm/dt = - km0, k = 1/100s. Therefore dv/dt = -g + km0v'/m, with v' =
For 0 < t < 50s we have m = m0 - km0t. Therefore
dv/dt = -g + km0v'/(m0 - km0t) = -g + kv'/(1 - kt).
At time t = 50s the fuel is used up and the rocket becomes a projectile
Details of the calculation:
For t < 50s, dv/dt = -g + kv'/(1 - kt).
Let t' = 1 - kt. Then dv/dt' = g/k - v'/t'. We can integrate to find v(t').

Let t1' = 1 - kt1, t0' = 1. v(t1) = -gt1 - v'ln(1 - kt1).

At time t1 the height of the rocket is
h(t1) = 2*105m [(1 - t1/100)ln(1 - t1/100) + t1/100] - (1/2)gt12 (t1 in seconds).
v(t1) = -gt1 - 2000m/s ln(1 - t1/100).
At t1 = 50s we have h(t1) = 18422m, v(t1) = 896m/s.
The rocket gains an additional height h, where mgh = (1/2)mv2(50s).
h = 40918m. The maximum height reached is 59340m.

Moisture condenses at the constant rate units of mass per unit time on a
falling raindrop. If the drop falls from rest and has initial mass M, find the
distance it has fallen in time t. Neglect air resistance.
Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
Newton's 2nd law: F = dp/dt, dp = mdv + vdm
Why do they apply?
The system consists of the moisture, with zero momentum. and the rain drop
with momentum p. In a time interval dt a small amount dm of the moisture
receives an impulse vdm. In the same time interval the velocity of the drop
changes by dv. The total momentum change of the system is dp = mdv +
How do they apply?
Choose a coordinate system such that the z-axis points downward and F =
mgk. The problem then is a one-dimensional problem.

p = mv, dp/dt = mdv/dt + vdm/dt = mg. dv/dt = g - (v/m) = g - (v/(m0 +

Details of the calculation:
Let t' = m0 - t. Then dv/dt' = g/ - v/t'.
[Look at the equation dx/dt + nx/t = B. If B = 0, the solution is x(t) = At-n. It
can be found by simply integrating
dx/x = -ndt/t. With B not equal to zero we are looking for a solution dx/dt =
constant, x/t = constant. We need x = ct with c = B/(n+1).
The differential equation dx/dt + nx/t = B therefore has the general solution
x = At-n + Bt/(n+1).]
For our problem we therefore have
v(t') = At'-1 + (gt'/(2)).
v(t) = A/(m0 + t) + g(m0 + t)/(2).
v(0) = 0 --> A = -gm02/(2). Therefore v(t) = g(m0 + t)/(2) - gm02/[(2)(m0
+ t)].
Distance fallen in time t: d(t) = m0m0+t[At'-1 + (gt'/(2))]dt' = Aln(t')|m0m0+t +

A trainload of empty, non leaking coal cars is accelerating in an easterly
direction due to a constant force F. It starts to rain, and the rain has a velocity
which has a horizontal component v0, in a westerly direction. The rain fills the
cars at a constant rate of mass units per unit time. Under these conditions
the train will reach a maximum velocity. Find the maximum velocity and
express it in terms of F, v0, and .
Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
Newton's 2nd law, F = dp/dt, dp = p(t+dt) - p(t)
Why do they apply?
Assume the train moves into the x-direction. its mass is m(t) = m0 + t.
In a small time interval t its momentum changes by p = Pafter - Pbefore = mv
+ m(v + v0)
dp = mdv + dmv + dmv0.
How do they apply?
F = mdv/dt + (dm/dt)(v + v0) = (m0 + t)dv/dt + (v + v0).
dv/dt = F/(m0 + t) - (v + v0)/(m0 + t).
Let t' = m0 + t. dv/dt = dv/dt'. dv/dt' = (F/ - (v + v0))/t'.
Let V = F/ - (v + v0), then dV = -dv.
dV/dt' = -V/t'. dV/V = dt'/t'. V(t') = B/t'. B is a constant which depends on
the initial conditions.
F/ - v(t) - v0) = B/(m0 + t). v(t) = F/ - v0 - B/(m0 + t).

vmax = F/ - v0.
Details of the calculation:

A uniform chain of length 4l and mass density is held so half of it is coiled up
in a heap at the edge of a smooth table while the other half is hanging as
shown. It is supported at a point A, which is at the same vertical height as the

The chain is released from rest.

(a) With what speed does the last link leave the table?

You may assume that all motion occurs in a single vertical line.
(b) What force is exerted on the chain at point A, immediately prior to the
instant when the chain first becomes vertical?
Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
Newtons 2nd law
Why do they apply?
The system consists of the part of the chain that is coiled up, the part that is
falling, and the part that is hanging at rest. In a small time interval dt the
momentum of the system changes because a small amount dm1 of the coiled up
chain receives an impulse dm1v and starts falling, a small amount of the falling
chain dm2 receives an impulse -dm2v and stops falling and the section m that is
falling speeds up (mdv). The forces acting on the uncoiled parts of the chain
are gravity and the force from the support.
How do they apply?
(a) Let us picture each link of the chain as a box.

At time t: p = yv. Here y = m. dp/dt = y(dv/dt) + y(dv/dt). dy/dt = v/2.

The falling links travel a distance equal to the length of two links while the
length of the chain y only increases by the length of one link. The force on the
part of the chain that is not coiled up is
F = 2yg - Fs (gravity + force from the support).
Let Fs = F1 + yg, then F = yg - F1. F1 provides the impulse that stops dm2.
F1 = y(dv/dt) =v2/2.
F = dp/dt. yg - F1 = v2/2 + y(dv/dt). yg = v2 + y(dv/dt). ydv/dt +v2 =
Details of the calculation:
We want to solve this differential equation for v(y). We want to find v(2l). We
have to eliminate t from the equation.
dy/dt = v/2. d/dt = (v/2)d/dy. (vy/2)dv/dy +v2 = yg. (y/4)dv2/dy +v2 = gy.
dv2/dy = -4v2/y + 4g.
Try v2 = ay + b/y4. Then dv2/dy = a - 4b/y5 = -4v2/y + 5a. Therefore a = 4g/5.
v2(l) = 0 --> al + b/l4 = 0, b = -al5.
v2(2l) = a2l -al5/(16l4) = =al(2 - 1/16) = al*31/16 = gl*31/20.

p = (y - y1)v, dp/dt = vdy/dt - vdy1/dt +(y - y1)dv/dt.

dy/dt = v/2 dy1/dt = y.
F = (y - y1)g - F1 = (y - y1)g - v2/2.
F = dp/dt --> (y - y1)g - v2/2 = v2/2 + (y - y1)dv/dt.
dv/dt = g, dy/dt = v/2, (v/2)dv/dy = g, dv2/dy = 4g.
v2(4l) - v2(2l) = 4g*2l = 8gl.
v2(4l) = gl*31/20 + 8gl = 191/20.
F1(4l) = v2(2l)/2 = gl*191/40.
Fs = 4gl + gl*191/40 = gl*351/40 = total force exerted by the support.

Small Oscillations
Most problems have moved to:
Additional Problems:

Two masses, 1kg and 2kg, are fixed horizontally to fixed side supports with
springs as shown below. The masses are constrained to move along the
horizontal line. From their equilibrium position m1 is given a displacement L to
the right, while m2 is held fixed. At t=0 they are released from rest. Give the
equation for the positions of m1 and m2 as a function of time.


A symmetric, linear, triatomic molecule can be represented as in the following

If only motion in the x-direction is allowed, the Hamiltonian is the sum of the
kinetic energy T and the potential energy V, where V = (1/2)k(x2-x1-b)2 +
(1/2)k(x3-x2-b)2, with k the spring constant and b the equilibrium separation.
(a) Write Hamiltons equations of motion for the molecule.
(b) Assume that displacements from equilibrium are proportional to exp(it).
Express Hamiltons equations in matrix form (i.e., a 33 matrix multiplying a 3component column vector), and solve for the normal mode frequencies
(c) Discuss the nature of the three normal modes, showing the motions of the
three atoms for each mode.

A linear system of N-1 spheres of mass M and two fixed end spheres (of infinite mass)
are connected by springs of spring constant k as shown.

The equilibrium positions are given by xn0 = na. Let xn = xn0+un. Note that u0 = uN = 0.

(a) Write down the Hamiltonian of the system.

(b) Determine the equations of motion for the nth sphere (1 n N-1).
(c) Assume a solution of the form xn(t) = exp(it)[Aeikan + Be-ikan] and determine the
values of k allowed by the boundary conditions.
(d) How many independent values of k are there?
(e) From the equation of motion, determine the frequency k associated with the
allowed k-values.
(f) Introduce normal coordinates Pk and Qk and write the Hamiltonian in terms of
them (without proof or derivation).
Student solution:

Small Oscillations
Consider six equal masses constrained to move on a circle of fixed radius and
connected by identical springs of spring constant k.
(a) Find the normal mode frequencies of the system for small displacement of
the masses.
(b) Find the (time dependent) displacement of the masses from each normal
mode. Give a physical description of the motion of the masses for normal modes
with the highest and lowest frequencies.


A set of coupled masses is constrained to move on a circular path. The chain
consists of four light masses m alternating with four heavy masses M, joined by
identical springs with force constant k. The equilibrium spacing (measured along
the circumference of the circle), between two adjacent masses is a/2.
(a) Calculate the (coupled) equations of motion for the nth light mass m and the
nth heavy mass M. Consider forces due to adjacent masses only.
(b) Solve these equations of motion for the oscillatory normal modes of the
(c) Briefly indicate the motion associated with each of the allowed frequencies.

Small Oscillations
A double pendulum, which consists of a mass m suspended by a massless
string of length l, from which is suspended another such string and mass,

moves in the x-y plane.

(a) Write the Lagrangian of the system.
(b) For small oscillations, i.e. 1,2<<1, derive the equations for the motion.
(c) Find the normal frequencies.
Note: For the sake of uniformity of notation, use 0= (g/l)1/2 as the frequency
of a single pendulum.

Student solution:

A mass less string is stretched with constant tension between fixed supports
separated by a distance 3a. Two identical masses are attached as shown in the
diagram. The motion of each mass is constrained to one transverse degree of
freedom (along the x-axis).
(a) Calculate the potential energy of the system for arbitrary elongations x1 and
x2 of the two masses.
(b) Consider small transverse oscillations (xI<<a) and find the normal mode
frequencies and the normal mode eigenvectors of this system.
(c) Describe the motion represented by these solutions.


A mass is hung from a fixed support by a spring of constant k whose relaxed

length is
A second equal mass is hung from the first mass by an
identical spring. Find the six normal coordinates and the corresponding
frequencies for small vibrations of this system from its equilibrium position.
Each spring exerts a force only along the line joining its two ends, but may pivot
freely in any direction at its ends.

Consider a "molecule" made up of three equal masses m connected by three
equal springs with spring constant k. The equilibrium position is an equilateral
triangle. Consider only motion in the plane of this triangle. Find all the normal
modes for motion in this plane.

Rigid Body Motion

Most problems have moved to:

Additional Problems:
A uniform rectangular door of mass m with sides a and b (b > a) and negligible
thickness rotates with constant angular velocity about a diagonal. Ignore
gravity. Show that the torque || = m(b2 - a2)ab2/(12(b2 + a2)) must be
applied to keep the axis of rotation fixed.

Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
Rigid body motion, Euler's equations
Why do they apply?
Euler's equation for the motion of a rigid body in a force field are

They give us the relationships between torque, angular acceleration and

angular velocity about the principal axes.
How do they apply?

1 = x = cos. 2 = y = -sin. 3 = z = 0. d1/dt = d2/dt = d3/dt

cos = b/(a2 + b2)1/2, sin = a/(a2 + b2)1/2, I1 = Ma2/12, I2 = Mb2/12, I1 = M(a2
3 = z = (I3 - I1)12 = -(M/12)(b2 - a2)2ab/(a2 + b2).
Details of the calculation:

A uniform thin wheel of mass m is attached to a massless axle, so that the axle
is along the symmetry axis. The system now is caused to rotate about the end
point of the axle, which is fixed in space. This axle is described by the Eulerian
angles and with respect to the direction of the total angular momentum L,
and the spinning of the rigid body is described by . Now consider the physics
of the situation in a coordinate system P attached to the axle with the same
and , but with = 0. (See figure.) Notice that the system is now neither an
inertial system nor a rigid body system.
(a) What is Euler's equation of motion expressed in terms of the coordinate
system P?
(b) Show that the total angular momentum L is conserved.
(c) Show that the symmetry axis and precess about L in the same plane.
(d) Show that tan = (1/2)tan , where = angle between the symmetry axis
and .
(e) Show that d/dt = ( sin)/sin .

Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
Euler's equations, dL/dt|rotating + L = , = 0 --> L = constant
Why do they apply?
We assume that the system is located in free space, there is no gravitational
force acting on the system and the torque is zero. L is constant and the
(X,Y,Z) system is fixed in space. The (x.y.z) system can have angular velocity
in the (X,Y,Z) system, and the disk has angular velocity k in the (x.y.z)
system. The rotating coordinate system P (i.e. the (x.y.z) system) is not a
body fixed system, but its axes are principal axes. We therefore have Lx =
x, Ly = y, Lz = z, where the components are with respect to the P system.
We have Ix = Iy = (1/2)Iz.
How do they apply?
= + . We are adding angular velocity vectors.
From geometry we have: x = x = d/dt, y = y = sin d/dt, z = z +
= sin d/dt + .
Lx = Ixd/dt, Ly = Iysin d/dt, Lz = Iz(sin d/dt + ).
Details of the calculation:
(a) Euler's equations are:
Ixdx/dt + (Iz - Ix)yz = 0, Ixdy/dt + (Ix - Iz)zx = 0, Izdz/dt = 0.
Ixdx/dt + Ixyz = 0, Ixdy/dt - Ixzx = 0, dz/dt = 0.
Remember: Ix = Iy = (1/2)Iz.

(b) = 0 --> L = constant.

(c) Ly = Lsin, Lz = Lcos, Lx = 0. y = Lsin/Ix, z = Lcos/(2Ix), x = 0.
In the P system the components of L and are constant. L and are
constant vectors in the x-y plane. This plane rotates with constant angular
velocity d/dt about the Z-axis.
Ly = Lsin = Ix sin d/dt. d/dt = L/Ix.
(d) tan = y/z = (Lsin/Ix)/(Lcos/(2Ix)) = 2 tan.
(e) y = sin d/dt, d/dt = y/sin = sin/sin.

Suppose a uniform wheel of radius R, thickness d, and mass M is rotating with
uniform angular speed about an axis that passes through its center of mass
but makes an angle with a line perpendicular to the wheel. Find the angular
momentum of the wheel and the torque on the axis.

Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
Rigid body motion, Euler's equations
Why do they apply?
Euler's equations give us the relationships between torque, angular
acceleration and angular velocity about the principal axes.
How do they apply?
Orient the body-fixed coordinate system so that the z-axis is perpendicular to
the wheel, and lies in the yz-plane. Then x = sin, y = 0, z = cos.
Euler's equations are
Ixdx/dt + (Iz - Iy)yz = x, Iydy/dt + (Ix - Iz)zx = y, Izdz/dt + (Iy - Ix)xy
= z.
dx/dt = dy/dt = dz/dt = 0. y = 0.
(Ix - Iz)zx = y, (Ix - Iz)2sincos = y, [(Ix - Iz)2(sin2)/2]j = = torque on
the axis.
Details of the calculation:

L = iIxsin + kIzcos. Here i and k refer to the body fixed axis.

For a cylinder of radius R, height d, and mass M we have:
Iz = M/(r2d)-d/2d/2dz0R2r3dr = MR2/2,
Ix = M/(r2d)-d/2d/2dz02d0Rrdr(r2sin2 + z2) = Md2/12 + MR2/4 = Iy.

A rigid body of arbitrary shape has moments of inertia I1, I2, and I3 about its
three principal (body-fixed) axes. It is set into motion such that its angular
momentum L and its kinetic energy T satisfy the relation L2 = 2I1T. No external
forces are present. Let 1, 2, and 3 be the components of the angular
velocity about the principal axes.
(a) What is the general relationship between L2, the moment of inertia tensor,
and the angular velocity? What is the corresponding expression for T?
(b) Write the differential equations describing the behavior of the rigid body.
Divide one equation by another to eliminate one of the components of .
Integrate the resulting equations to obtain relationships among the various
components of .
(c) Use the results of part (b) to integrate the differential equations of
motion. In particular obtain a closed form expression for 1(t).
(d) Let 1(0) = 0 and sketch a graph of 1(t) and 2(t).

A rigid, symmetrical spaceship is shaped in the form of a cone with a uniform
density. The height of the cone is h, the radius of the base is r, and the total
mass is m1. Being suspended in outer space without any external forces acting
on it, the space ship has a center of mass velocity v and angular momentum L
not quite parallel to the symmetry axis. Thus it experiences precession.
(a) Calculate the principal moments of inertia of the spaceship in terms of h,
r, and m1.
(b) Show that the symmetry axis rotates in space about the fixed direction of
the angular momentum L.
(c) The spaceship makes a soft landing onto a stationary space station
consisting of a very thin, uniform disk of radius R and mass m2. The tip of the
conic section touches the outside edge of the disk. After this totally inelastic
collision, describe the motion of the compound object.

Concepts, principles, relations that apply to the problem:
The parallel axes theorem, conservation of energy and angular momentum
Why do they apply?
We want to find the moments of inertia of a symmetric top about the
principal axes through the center of mass. Using the parallel axes theorem
makes the calculation of I1 and I2 easier. We first find the moments of
inertia about the primed axes and then use the principal axes theorem to
find the moments of inertia about the unprimed axes.
How do they apply?
Details of the calculation:

Student solution:

Rigid Body Motion

Consider a right triangular lamina of areal density , with one edge of length a
along the x-axis and another edge of length b along the y-axis, as shown in the

(a) Find the center of mass (X,Y,Z) in this coordinate system.

(b) Find the components of the inertia tensor in this coordinate system.
(c) Transform the inertia tensor to principal axes, giving the angle between
the principal axes and those shown in the diagram, and find the three moments
of inertia in the principal axes system.
(d) Show that the parallel axis theorem applies to the inertia tensor, and find
the moments of inertia about the center of mass.

The expression for the angular momentum of a rigid body is

for a body made up of point masses, mk, situated at points rk relative to an

origin of the coordinates at P.

(a) From this expression obtain the general expression for the inertia tensor I.
(b) Show that I is symmetric.
(c) A thin disk of mass M and radius a lies with its center at O, and its axis in
the y-z plane at 45o to the y-axis. Find the inertia tensor in the given (x,y,z)
coordinate system.
(d) If the disk is constrained to rotate about the z-axis with an angular velocity
, find the angular momentum vector L in the (x,y,z) coordinate system.


A top of mass M is spinning about a fixed point under gravity, and its axis is
but the angular velocity around its axis 3 is insufficient
for stability in that position. The Lagrangian for a top is
where , , and are the

usual Euler angles, I1 and I3 are the moments of inertia about their respective
axes, N is the line of nodes, and l is the distance from the point of the top O to
the center of mass C .
(a) Derive all the first integrals of the motion and evaluate them in terms of
the given initial conditions.

(b) Show that the head will descend to an angle given by

(c) Show that the time dependence of this is given by the solution of
You do not need to solve for (t).


A thin rectangular solid of sides 6a and 8a rotates freely in space.
(a) Find the moments of inertia along the three principal axes going through its
center of mass.
(b) Give the Euler equations for this system and use them to describe
qualitatively the subsequent rotational motion of the object in the 3 cases
when the initial angular velocity is almost, but not exactly, parallel to each
of the principal axes.


Motion in a Non-Inertial Frame

On the surface of the earth an object is given an initial speed v on a friction
less surface at latitude . Show that the object will move in a circle and find
the radius of the circle for velocities small enough that the radius is much
smaller than the earth radius.

(a) Assume that in the northern hemisphere a stone is dropped from a height
h. What is its eastward deflection upon landing to first order?

(b) Now assume that the stone is thrown upward at an initial velocity v0, so
Show that it has a westward deflection upon landing four
times as big as the eastward deflection of the falling stone.


Two equal mass particles are connected by a spring and are executing simple
harmonic motion when they are placed in a horizontal, frictionless open pipe
rotating at a constant angular velocity about a vertical axis through its
midpoint. The midpoint of the spring is initially at the midpoint of the pipe,
but neither the particles nor the spring are attached to the pipe.
(a) Find the maximum angular velocity for which the particles stay in the pipe.
(b) Assume (a) is satisfied and the particles stay in the pipe. Find their
positions as a function of time.

The magnetic moment vector, (t), of a point particle of mass m, charge q,
and no intrinsic spin is proportional to its angular momentum vector, (t)=L(t).
(a) Evaluate the gyromagnetic ratio, , in the case of circular motion at
constant angular velocity =(r(t)v(t))/r(t)| 2, where r is the radius of the
circle and v is the velocity of the particle.
(b) By considering the torque produced by a magnetic field on a charged
particle, write down the equation of motion for the magnetic moment vector
of the particle.
(c) Solve this equation for H=H0k, where H0 is constant in space and time.
Describe your solution verbally.
(d) Solve this equation for the case H(t)=H0k+H1[icost+jsint] in a laboratory
frame (i,j,k). Describe the solution verbally. (Hint: The relation between the
time derivative of any vector G in a coordinate frame in the laboratory and in a
frame rotating with respect to the lab frame with fixed angular velocity is
. Find the equation of motion for the magnetic moment
(t) in a coordinate system rotating with the magnetic field.)


A particle of mass m moves in the x-y plane, along a symmetric, frictionless,
concave curve. The trajectory length along this curve is denoted by s. A uniform
gravitational field acts in the negative y-direction. The particle is to move along
this curve with simple harmonic motion with angular frequency , and the angle of
displacement of m from the y-axis is not limited to small values. Find the locus of
the curve of the motion in terms of the given parameters.
Hint: Let be the angle between the normal to the curve and the vertical
direction. Find x and y of the curve as a function of .


When a particle of mass m oscillates about its equilibrium position on a frictionless
circular track, simple harmonic motion occurs for small oscillations. If we define
the position of the particle by the arc length s, then

If the displacement is not small, restriction to the circular orbit will not result in
simple harmonic motion. Suppose a track of non-circular shape is used to make the
motion simple harmonic even for large oscillations. Using
the parametric equations of the trajectory x() and y().



A time-dependent force F(t) of finite duration acts on an one-dimensional simple

harmonic oscillator of mass m and resonant frequency . Show that the equation of
motion can be written as
show that the energy transferred to the oscillator in the limit t can be written
where the oscillator is initially at rest and
equilibrium. Finally, for the force F=F0 for 0<t<t0 and 0 for all other times, where F0
is a constant, find the duration t0 of the force that transfers maximum energy to
the oscillator.

Special Theory of Relativity

Most problems have moved to:

A fixed center of force at the origin repels a particle of mass m with a force
whose magnitude is k/r2. The particles kinetic energy at a large distance from
the origin is E0 and may have values between 0 and . In the absence of a force
the particle would move along the line given by y = 0, x = b. With the assumed
force, what will be the distance of closest approach, a, to the origin when the
particle is treated relativistically? Show that your result reduces to the obvious
answer if k = 0, that a =k/E0 for a head-on collision where b = 0 and that your
result reduces to the nonrelativistic result

when E0 <<

A relativistic particle is launched at the origin (0,0) with initial momentum
P(0) = (Px(0),Py(0)), with Px(0) > 0 and Py(0) > 0, and is subject to a constant
force pointing in the negative y direction.
(a) Solve the equations of motion.
(b) Determine the time T at which the particle reaches the x-axis again (i.e.
y(T) = 0).
(c) Find the trajectory of the particle, i.e. y = y(x).

NOTE: Give all answers for the laboratory frame.


Consider a thin rod of length d and constant linear mass density . The rod is
assumed to remain straight at all times, and to be unstretchable. The rod is
rotated about its center such that the endpoints moving tangentially at v ~ c.

Show that the total energy of the rod E and its angular momentum J are

related by

Scattering, Frame Transformations

Show that in a nuclear reaction of the type below

the nuclear disintegration energy (Q value) is given by

where the kinetic energies Ei are << Mic2 and M3 represents the light particle.

(a) Show that in elastic collisions between two particles m1 and m2, with one
particle initially at rest, the fractional energy loss of the moving particle is

given by

where is the scattering angle in the center of mass frame.
(b) What is the maximum amount of energy lost by a 1 eV electron in an elastic
collision with a helium atom?

A fixed force center scatters a particle of mass m and initial velocity u0

according to the force law F(r)=k/r3. Determine the differential scattering

cross section.

A particle of mass m moves under a central repulsive force F(r)=km/r3. At its
distance of closest approach r0 it has speed v0.
(a) Find the orbital equation r() for the particle motion, evaluating constants in
terms of r0 and v0.
(b) Find the impact parameter and the total angular deflection, assuming the
particle approaches from large r.

(c) Sketch the particle trajectory, indicating the impact parameter and total
deflection calculated in part (b).

An excited, very heavy, non-relativistic particle traveling at speed v0, in the zdirection decays by emitting a light particle of mass m (also non-relativistic) at a

precise speed vc, at an angle c, in the rest frame of the emitter.

(a) At what corresponding angle L does an emitted particle of a corresponding
speed vL emerge in the laboratory frame?
(b) If the angular distribution of such events is isotropic in the rest frame of the
emitter, i.e. if all angles of emission c are equally probable in the rest frame of
the emitter, what is the angular distribution in the laboratory frame?
[ Translation: if the number of emitted particles emitted at angles between c ,
and c+dc in the projectile rest frame is independent of c, what fraction of the
total number of emitted particles is emitted between L and L+ dL in the
laboratory frame? ]
Give a formula for the laboratory frame angular distribution in terms of the
isotropic distribution
terms of vL, vc, v0, and L.

a constant in the rest frame of the emitter; and in

(c) Show that when v0>vc there is a maximum angle of emission L, which is given
by sinLmax=vc/v0.
[NOTE that you can derive the answer to part (c) even if you have not been able to
answer parts (a) and (b).]
(d) Make a qualitative sketch


What happens to this cross section near

Lagrangian Mechanics
Most problems have moved to:
Additional Problems:
An infinitely long rod is being rotated in a vertical plane at a constant angular
velocity about a fixed horizontal axis (the z-axis) passing through the origin.
The angular velocity is maintained at the value for all times by an external
agent. At t = 0 the rod passes through zero-inclination, i.e., = 0 at t = 0
where is the angle the rod makes with the x-axis. There is a mass m on the
rod. The mass' coordinates and velocity components at t=0 are
where g is the acceleration due to gravity. The mass m is free to slide along
the rod. Neglect friction. Hint: Recall that in plane polar coordinates the unit
are not constant.
(a) Find an expression for r(t), the radial coordinate of the mass, which holds
as long as the mass remains on the rod.
(b) Show that r(t) > r(0) for small t (t >0).
(c) There is a component of the mass' weight acting down the inclined rod, but
no force component acting up the rod. With this in mind, explain why the mass
begins moving farther out along the rod instead of down the rod.


A massless rod of length R is caused to rotate about one end in the x-y
horizontal plane at constant angular frequency . A massless string of length s
is tied to the other end of the rod, and a point mass m is attached to the far
end of the string.
I. At time t = 0, both the rod and the string lie on the x-axis, and m is given a
velocity (R + s) along the y-axis.
A. Which of the following are conserved in the motion that follows, and
(a) Linear momentum p
(b) Energy E
(c) Angular momentum L
B. Find the trajectory as a function of time.
II. Suppose that the mass is given an initial velocity that is in the y-direction,
but slightly different from (R + s) in magnitude. Show that the mass will
execute simple harmonic motion about a line, which is an extension of the
rod. Find the frequency of the oscillation. Use the small angle approximation


Consider a system consisting of a mass m, a spring, and a rigid, massless lever
arm of length L with one end fixed at the origin. The spring has unstretched
length l0 with force constant k and joins mass m with the lever arm. The entire
assembly rests on a frictionless surface.

(a) Calculate the Lagrangian function in terms of the lengths L and l and the
angles and and their derivatives.
(b) Now impose the additional constraints that = /2. (One can do this by
making m move in a track attached to L.) Obtain the equation of motion for
this constrained system
(c) Consider the case where

. Describe the motion of m.

A massless wire rotates about the z-axis with constant angular speed and a
constant angle of inclination . A particle of mass m is free to slide without
friction along the wire. Let r be the distance of m from the fixed midpoint of
the wire and let a uniform gravitational field act in the negative z-direction.
(a) Obtain the Lagrangian of the system.
(b) Obtain the equations of motion.

(c) Show that the solution is

(d) Let

and r=r0 at t=0 and show that the particle moves up or down

along the wire depending on whether r0 is greater or smaller than


Consider a particle constrained to move on the surface of a cone of half angle
. The particle is subject to a gravitational field. Take the apex of the cone
to be the origin, with its symmetry axis along the z-axis. By choosing the
cylindrical coordinates r and as the generalized coordinates, use Lagranges
equations to

(a) show that the angular momentum about the z-axis is constant in magnitude,
(b) derive the equation of motion for the r coordinate.

Two particles of mass m and M are connected by a light, inextensible string of
length L, which passes through a smooth hole in a smooth horizontal table.
The mass M is suspended below the table, and the mass m rests on the table
with an initial distance r0 from the hole. A gravitational field g acts on this
system. The mass m starts out with speed v0 on the table initially at right
angles to the string.

(a) Find, but do not solve, the equations of motion for m and M, if M moves
only in a vertical line.
(b) Assume initial conditions were such that equilibrium nearly held and solve
Solve the equations of motion for
for the equilibrium distance re, when
small departures from equilibrium. Describe this motion.
(c) What effect would inclusion of the Coriolis force on m have on the motion?
Include a discussion of the possible changes in the path of the motion and a
comparison of the magnitude of the Coriolis force and the gravitational force,
assuming that v0 is 1000m/s.

The bearing of a rigid pendulum of mass m is forced to rotate uniformly with
angular velocity . The angle between the rotation axis and the pendulum is
called . Neglect the inertia of the bearing and of the rod connecting it to the
mass. Neglect friction. Include the effects of the uniform force of gravity.

(a) Find the differential equation for .

(b) At what rotation rate c, does the stationary point at =0 become unstable?
(c) For >c what is the stable equilibrium value of ?
(d) What is the frequency of small oscillations about this point?


Lagrangian Mechanics
Consider the problem of a charged particle moving in an electric field
superimposed on a magnetic field. The force on the particle is given by F=V+(e/c)(vH). Assume a constant magnetic field in the z-direction, so that H
= H0k.
(a) What are the rectangular equations of motion?
(b) Assume the Lagrangian to be of the form
(c) Determine the Hamiltonian and the canonical equations of motion.
(d) Are there terms beyond the total energy in the Hamiltonian? If yes, what
does their existence imply?

A particle constrained to move on a spherical surface of radius R is projected
horizontally from a point at the level of the center so that its angular velocity
relative to the axis is . If 2R>>g, show that its depth z below the level of the
center is given approximately by

Student solution:

Suppose that the magnetic field in a circular particle accelerator is
symmetrical about a vertical z-axis, so that in cylindrical polar coordinates
B(,,z)=Bz(,z)k+B(,z)h, where k and h are unit vectors in the z and
directions, respectively. In this case B=
A, where A = A(,z)m, and m is a
unit vector in the direction. The Lagrangian for a particle of charge e and
, where c is the
mass m in the field B is
speed of light. Find two constants of the non-relativistic motion. Next
investigate the stability of the orbital motion in the following way. Assume the
particle is still moving non-relativistically and is confined to the z=0 plane. Let
=a+ , where a is a constant radius, and is a very small change from a. Find
the equation of motion for , making suitable approximations along the way.
Under what conditions will the motion be stable, though possibly oscillatory, in

(a) Show that two Lagrangians L1 and L2, which differ only by the total
derivative of a function of q and t, i.e.
motion for q.

, describe the same

(b) Find the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian of a pendulum consisting of a mass m

attached to a massless rigid rod AB of length l free to move in a vertical plane.
The end A of the rod is forced to move vertically, so that its displacement from
the fixed point O is a given function of time (t). Gravity acts vertically
(c) Show that the vertical acceleration of the point A,
, has the same
effect on the equation of motion as a time varying gravitational field.


(a) Derive the (Euler)-Lagrange equation of motion for a one-dimensional
system from a variational requirement (Hamiltons Principle) on the time
integral of the Lagrangian

, where q is a generalized coordinate and

(b) Consider the pendulum illustrated in the figure with l the length of the
string, m the mass of the ball, Fg the gravitational force, and the angular
displacement. (You may assume the string to be of fixed length and negligible
mass). Use Lagranges equation to derive an equation of motion that neglects
terms of order 3 and higher.
(c) The preceding example corresponds to harmonic motion if the amount of
displacement is suitably restricted. Suppose that instead the periodic motion
occurs in a one-dimensional potential that is not necessarily harmonic. Derive
a general expression for the period of the motion in this case.

Student solution:

Lagrangian Mechanics
In a dynamical system with two degrees of freedom, the kinetic energy is

, and the potential energy is V = c + dq2, where a, b, c,

and d are constants. Show that the value of q2 as a function of time is given by
an equation of the form (q2-k)(q2+2k)2 = h(t-t0)2 where h, k, and t0 are

A uniform hoop of mass m and radius r rolls without slipping on a fixed cylinder
of radius R as shown in the figure. The only external force is that of gravity. If

the hoop starts rolling from rest on top of the big cylinder, find by the method
of Lagrange multipliers the point at which the hoop falls off the cylinder.


A particle is constrained to move on the surface of a sphere of radius R0
centered about the origin (0,0,0) in the usual Cartesian coordinates x,y,z. A
two-dimensional harmonic oscillator potential is applied in the y-z plane:
V(x,y,z)=(1/2)k(y2+z2). The Lagrangian may be written as

where v=(dx/dt,dy/dt,dz/dt), r = (x2+y2+z2)1/2, m is the mass of the particle, k

is the spring constant and is the respective Lagrange multiplier for the
constraint that r=R0. r=(x,y,z) is the particles position vector.
(a) Find the equations of motion for the system.
(b) For the initial conditions r(0)=(0,0,R0), v(0)=(0,R0,0), find the complete
solution for r(t) and , for all t.

A square consists of four equal length (2a) rods joined together by frictionless
pivots. Rods AB and BC are uniform and of mass m, rod CD is massless while
rod AD is massless except for a mass 2m concentrated at its midpoint. An
impulse acts at point A directed along the line defined by AC. Find the ratio of
the initial velocities of points C and A, i.e. (Vc/Va). (The moment of inertia of
a uniform rod of mass m, length 2a, about a perpendicular axis through its mass
center is (1/3)ma2.)


Six equal, uniform rods, fastened at their ends by frictionless pivots, form a
regular hexagon and lie on a frictionless surface. A blow is given at a right
angle to the midpoint of one of them, so that it begins to slide with velocity u.
Show that the opposite rod begins to move with velocity v=u/10.


A bead slides without friction on a wire in the shape of a cycloid with equations
x=(-sin), y=(1+cos), 0<<2.

Use the Lagrangian method to find the equation of motion and show that the
equation is of the form
(d2u/dt2)+(g/4)u=0, where u=cos(/2).
Student solution:

A bead of unit mass m=1 slides from rest at a point O(x=0, y=0) without friction
on a wire in a vertical plane (x,y) to a point A(x=0, y=2b) under the influence
of gravity along the positive x direction. If the total time taken is a minimum,
(a) prove that the curve is of the form
(b) Find the reaction force by the curve on the bead as a function of .


Motion in a Central Potential

Most problems have moved to:

A mass m moves in a central force field. The force is
, where f(r) = -kr
and k > 0.
For part (a) assume the mass moves at a constant speed in a circular path of
radius R.
(a) Calculate the angular velocity of the mass and show that its energy E is E =
kR .

For parts (b) and (c) consider the more general case in which the motion is not
(b) Write an expression for the energy of the mass. Solve the resulting

differential equation for r(t).

(c) Calculate the maximum and minimum values of r(t) and show that E
=(1/2)k(r2max + r2min).

A particle moves in two dimensions under the influence of a central force
determined by the potential V(r) = arp + brq. Find the powers p and q which make
it possible to achieve a spiral orbit r = c2, with c a constant.


A particle of mass m is acted on by an attractive force whose potential is given

by V r-4. It is incident from infinity with an initial velocity v. Sketch the
effective potential of the particle Ueff(r). Find the total cross section for capture
of the particle.

Motion in a Central Potential

(a) A planet is moving in an elliptical orbit in the central gravitational field of

the sun. If e is the eccentricity of the ellipse, show that the ratio of the
maximum and minimum speeds of the planet is given by (1+e)/(1-e).
(b) Now let the planet move in a circular orbit, and assume a comet to be
moving about the sun in a parabolic orbit. Show that if the comet crosses the
orbit of the planet, the speed of the comet at the crossing point is
times that
which the planet would have at the crossing point. (Assume no collision occurs
between the comet and the planet.)

A body moves in an elliptical orbit of eccentricity e under the action of a central
force directed towards one focus. When the body is at the pericenter, the center

of force is transferred to the other focus. Show that the eccentricity of the new
orbit is e(3+e)/(1-e).

The equation for the closed and bounded orbit solution of a single particle
moving in
the presence of an attractive inverse square force is

where a is the semi-major axis and e is the eccentricity. Prove that an inverse
square law force (-k/r2) leads to

where E is the total energy of the particle and l is its angular momentum.

A point like comet of mass m moves in the gravitational field of a sun with mass
M and Radius R. What is the total cross section for the comet to crash on the

A star of mass M and radius R is moving with velocity v through a cloud of
particles of density . If all the particles which collide with the star are trapped
by it, show that the mass of the star will increase at a rate

Student solution:

Find the maximum time a comet (C) of mass m following a parabolic trajectory
around the Sun (S) can spend within the orbit of the Earth (E). Assume that the
Earths orbit is circular and in the same plane as that of the comet.

Motion in a Central Potential

A particle of mass m moves in a plane under the influence of a central force of
potential V(r) and also of a linear viscous drag -mk(dr/dt). Set up Lagrange's

equations of motion in plane polar coordinates and show that the angular
momentum decays exponentially.

A particle of mass m moves in a circle of radius R under the influence of a
central attractive force

(a) Determine the conditions on the constant a, such that the circular motion
will be stable.
(b) Compute the frequency of small radial oscillations about this circular

A particle of mass m is moving in a central potential U(r) = -(/r), > 0. The
motion is in a plane. Each point of the orbit is described by two coordinates, r and
(a) Give an expression for r as a function of .
(b) Describe the orbits for different values of the total energy E.
(c) Find the period for a circular orbit of radius R. Is the orbit stable?
(d) What is the period of oscillations about this orbit?

A mass m, which is attached to the end of a string, moves on a frictionless,
horizontal table. The string passes through a hole in the table under which it is
pulled to make it taut. Initially, the mass moves in a circle of radius R and has
kinetic energy E0. The string is then slowly pulled until the radius of the circle is
halved. Calculate the work done and compare it to E0.

Student solution:

Hamilton's Equations, Canonical Transformations

In a problem with one degree of freedom, a particle of mass m is subject to a
force F(x,t)=F0t. The force is derivable from a potential.

(a) Find the potential energy of the particle and the Lagrangian and
Hamiltonian of the particle.
(b) Solve Hamilton's equations of motion.

(a) Write the Hamiltonian H(p,q,t) in terms of the Lagrangian


are the ith generalized coordinate, velocity, and momentum,

respectively. Derive the canonical equations of Hamilton from this definition
of Lagrange's equations.
(b) A particle moving in a central force field has a Lagrangian given by
. Find the Hamiltonian in terms of pr, p , r,
and . Find the velocity dependent force represented by this Lagrangian.

(a) If the Hamiltonian of a system is given by
the corresponding Lagrangian.
(b) If a system has a Lagrangian
the Hamiltonian can be written

with = constant, find

show that

Consider a mechanical system with one coordinate q(t) and Lagrangian
L(q,dq/dt). Show that the Euler-Lagrange equation for the system implies
Hamiltons equations

where H(p,q) is the Hamiltonian of the system.
Student solution:

Hamilton's Equations, Canonical Transformations


Given is the Lagrangian

(a) Find the Hamiltonian.

(b) Find the generator of the canonical transformation that converts this
Hamiltonian into the form P2/2m+(1/2)kQ2. Use Poisson brackets to verify
explicitly that the transformation is canonical.

A point mass m is constrained to move along a straight massless rod, which rotates
with given angular velocity around an axis fixed in space and perpendicular to
the rod. Let q be a linear coordinate along the rod with q=0 at the axis of rotation.
The point mass is bound to q=0 by a harmonic force Fq=-m02q, where 0 is the
vibrational frequency when the rod does not rotate.
(a) Write the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian function for this system and show that,

, the solutions to the canonical equations of motion are

, with

are constants of integration and

, where 0 and A

(b) Show that the transformation from generalized coordinates q and p to and A
(or its inverse), which is implied by the result of part (a), is a canonical

transformation, and find the generating function F1=F1(q, ,t).

(c) Now consider the case that
Find a suitable new Hamiltonian in the
coordinates and A and develop the equations of motion for and A.

A mass moves without friction on a plane, subject to the force F=ke . At t=0, =0,
r=r0 0,
(a) Write down the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian functions, L an H.
(b) State the Poisson bracket condition on a constant of motion and use the
condition to determine whether or not pr is a constant of motion.
(c) Find
(d) It is proposed that the problem may be simplified by transforming q , p to
coordinates Q=e , P=p . Show whether or not this is a canonical transformation.

The set of equations

defines a canonical transformation for the dynamical system with the Hamiltonian

(a) Find the transformed Hamilton function K.
(b) Solve Hamilton's equations of motion for the transformed Hamiltonian K, and
hence for the original system.
(c) Explain the physical meaning of 1, 2, P1, P2, Q1, Q2.

A set of generalized coordinates, (q1,p1), (q2,p2) is transformed to a new set
(Q1,P1), (Q2,P2) through
Q1=q12, P1=P1(q1,p1,q2,p2)
Q2=q1+q2, P2=P2(q1,p1,q2,p2).
(a) Find the most general expression for P1 and P2 if the transformation is

(b) Show that a particular choice will reduce



(c) Solve Hamilton's equations in terms of the new variables.


Consider the transformation from the canonical position and momentum
variables q and p to a new set of variables Q and P given by Q=qep, P=qe-p,
where and are constants. For which values of and is this a canonical
transformation? Obtain a generating function for the canonical transformation.

The Hamilton-Jacobi Theory, Action-Angle

Solve the Hamilton-Jacobi differential equation for a particle moving in a uniform
gravitational field.

The one dimensional motion of a mass m subject to a gravitational force F=-mgj is
described by the relativistic Hamiltonian
mass is released from rest at y=0.

. At t=0 the

(a) Write the Hamilton-Jacobi equation and solve it for y(t) for t0.
Hint: In setting up the Hamilton-Jacobi equation, the substitution made for the
relativistic momentum p is the same as the one used for the non-relativistic
momentum in the non-relativistic case.

(b) Show that in the non-relativistic limit, i.e., when gt<<c, the answer to part (a)
reduces to -gt2 as expected.

A particle of mass m moves in the potential


(a) Using the Hamilton-Jacobi equation and the characteristic function W, find t as
a function of x; assume that x=0 and
at t=0.
(b) Sketch the motion of the particle in the p - x phase space. Show the
trajectories, or phase space paths, for energy E>>a, E>a, E=a, and E<a.

Consider an one-dimensional harmonic oscillator of mass m.
(a) Write the Hamiltonian.
(b) Write the corresponding Hamilton-Jacobi equation.
(c) Use the Hamilton-Jacobi method to obtain the motion of the oscillator

(a) Use the Hamilton-Jacobi theory and separation of variables to examine
the 3-D motion of a particle in a central force field.
(b) Set up the action integrals and determine whether any of the variables
are cyclic.

The Hamilton-Jacobi Theory, Action-Angle

Consider the two-dimensional motion of a particle of mass m with a potential

energy U(x,y)=(1/2)k1x2+(1/2)k2y2.
(a) Write down the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian functions, L an H.
(b) Find the Hamilton-Jacobi differential equation in terms of the principle
function S(x,y,1,2,t).
(c) Find the general solution of the Hamilton-Jacobi equation defined in (b).

Consider a particle with mass m in one dimension. It is subject to a timedependent force F(t),

, which is assumed to be independent of the

canonical coordinates (x,p) and derivable from an external potential.

(a) Find the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian for this system.
(b) Give the Hamilton-Jacobi equation.
(c) Solve the Hamilton-Jacobi equation using the following separable "Ansatz" for
Hamilton's principal function S(t,x,)=A(t)x+B(t). Express A(t) and B(t) in terms of
integrals over the arbitrary function F(t). Determine in S from the initial
conditions x(0)=p(0)=0.
(d) Solve the integrals in part c for the following example: F(t)=F0sin t.


Consider a particle with mass m in one dimension moving in a periodic potential.

V(x)=V(x +na), n=-,,-2,-1,0,1,2,,, with

(a) Give the Hamiltonian of the system and sketch trajectories in phase space for
three different energies: E<V0, E=V0, and E>V0.
(b) Calculate the action variable J(E), and the angle variable (x,E) for E>V0.
(c) Express the Hamiltonian in terms of J and in the limit EV0.

In a one-dimensional problem a particle (m=1) moves in a potential
, x>0, V(x)= , x<0.
(a) How does V(x) behave as x0 and as x? Does the potential have maxima
and minima in the region x>0?
(b) For what values of the energy is finite motion possible?
(c) Find xmin and xmax as a function of E for finite motion.
(d) Find the period of the motion in terms of a definite integral.

Consider a simple, conservative, mechanical system with a single degree of
freedom and Hamiltonian function H=p2/2m+U(q). U(q) has a single minimum,
located at q=0, and rises monotonically to infinity as q .
(a) Derive a simple expression for the frequency (cycles per unit time) of the
motion as a function of the total energy, (E).
(b) Show that can be written as =E/J, where J is the action integral for the
(c) Verify the results in parts a and b for the case of the harmonic oscillator.