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MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Department of Physics
Physics 8.01

Fall 2012

Problem Set 5 Work and Kinetic Energy Solutions


Problem 1: Work Done by Forces
a) Two people push in opposite directions on a block that sits atop a frictionless surface
(The soles of their shoes are glued to the frictionless surface). If the block, originally at
rest at point P, moves to the right without rotating and ends up at rest at point Q, describe
qualitatively how much work is done on the block by person 1 relative to that done by
person 2?

Solution: Initially the block is at rest. After the pushing has ended, the block ends at rest,
so the change in kinetic energy is zero. From the work-kinetic energy theorem, this
implies that the total work done on the block is zero. The total work done on the block is
the sum of the work done on the block by each person. Since the block moves to the
right, person who pushes the block to the right does a positive work, and the person
pushing to the left does negative work. Since the total is zero, the magnitude of the work
done by each person is equal.
b) Suppose a ping-pong ball and a bowling ball are rolling toward you. Both have the
same momentum, and you exert the same force to stop each. How do the distances
needed to stop them compare? Explain your reasoning.
Answer 3.
The kinetic energy of an object can be written as K = p 2 / 2m . Because the ping pong
ball and the bowling ball have the same momentum, the kinetic energy of the less
massive ping pong ball is greater than the kinetic energy of the more massive bowling
ball. You must do work on an object to change its kinetic energy. If you exert a constant
force, then the work done is the product of the force with the displacement of the point of
application of the force. Since the work done on an object is equal to the change in
kinetic energy, the ping pong ball has a greater change in kinetic energy in order to bring
it to a stop, so the you need a longer distance to stop the ping pong ball.

Alternative Solution: Both the initial momentum and the force acting on the two objects
are equal. Therefore the initial velocity and the acceleration of the ping-pong ball
isgreater than the bowling ball by the ratio of the bowling ball mass to the ping-pong ball
mass.
m p v0, p = mb v0,b = px
m p a p = mb ab = Fx

Since both the force acting on each object and the change in momentum is the same, the
impulse acting on each ball is the same. Therefore, the time interval it takes to stop each
object is the same. Since the displacement is equal to
a !t #
"
!x = % vx ,0 $ x & !t
2 (
'
The ratio
!x p mb
=
!xb m p
hence the ping-pong has the greater displacement.

Problem 2: Kinetic Energy and Work

A tetherball of mass m is attached to a post of radius b by a string. Initially it is a


distance r0 from the center of the post and it is moving tangentially with a speed v0 .
Ignore gravity and any dissipative forces.
a) Suppose the string passes through a hole in the center of the post at the top and is
gradually shortened by drawing it through the hole (figure above left). Until the
ball hits the post, is the kinetic energy of the ball constant? Explain your
reasoning.
Answer: Since the path of the ball is not circular, a small displacement of the ball has a
radial component inward so the dot product between the force by the rope on the ball
with the displacement is non-zero hence the work done by the force is not zero. Therefore
the kinetic energy of the ball changes.

.
b) Now suppose that the string wraps around the outside of the post (figure above
right). Until the ball hits the post, is the kinetic energy of the ball constant?
Explain your reasoning.

Answer A small displacement of the ball is always perpendicular to string since at each
instant in time the ball undergoes an instantaneous circular motion about the string
contact point with pole. Therefore the dot product between the force by the rope on the
ball with the displacement is zero hence the work done by the force is zero. Therefore
the kinetic energy of the ball does not change.

Problem 3: An object of mass m = 4.0 kg , starting from rest, slides down an inclined
plane of length l = 3.0 m . The plane is inclined by an angle of ! = 300 to the ground. The
coefficient of kinetic friction k = 0.2 . At the bottom of the plane, the mass slides along
a rough surface with a coefficient of kinetic friction k (x) = (0.05 m !1 )x until it comes to
rest. The goal of this problem is to find out how far the object slides along the rough
surface.

a) What is the work done by the friction force while the mass is sliding down the
inclined plane? Is this positive or negative?
b) What is the work done by the gravitational force while the mass is sliding down
the inclined plane? Is this positive or negative?
c) What is the kinetic energy of the mass just at the bottom of the inclined plane?
d) What is the work done by the friction force while the mass is sliding along the
ground? Is this positive or negative?
e) How far does the object slide along the rough surface?
Solution:
a) While the object is sliding down the inclined plane the kinetic energy is increasing due
to the positive work done on the object by the gravitational force and the negative work
(smaller in magnitude) done by friction force. As the object slides along the level surface,
the (negative) work done by the friction force slows the object down. We will use the
work-kinetic energy theorem to calculate the change in kinetic energy for each stage. The
free body diagram on the inclined plane and on the level surface are shown below.

Choose a coordinate system with the origin at the top of the inclined plane and the
positive x-direction pointing down the inclined plane. Then the work done by the friction
force is
! ! x0 =l
Wfriction = $ F " dr = $ Fx dx = #( k )inclined Nl = #( k )inclined mg cos ! l < 0
x0 = 0

Wfriction = !(0.2)(4.0 kg)(9.8m " s-2 )(3.0 m)(cos(30o ) = !20.4 J


Note that the normal force is determined from Newtons Second Law applied to the
normal direction to the inclined plane.

N ! mg cos" = 0
b) The work done by the gravitational force is just

Wgrav = !mg(h f ! h0 )
note that (h f ! h0 ) = -l sin " . So the work done by the gravitation force is

Wgrav = mgl sin! > 0


The magnitude of this work is

Wgrav = (4.0 kg)(9.8 m ! s-2 )(3.0 m)(sin(30o ) = 58.8 J


c) The total work is

Wtotal = Wgrav + Wfriction = mgl(sin ! " ( k )inclined cos! )


Wtotal = 58.8 J " 20.4 J = 38.4 J
The change in kinetic energy is just equal to the final kinetic energy at the bottom of the
incline because the started from rest,
1
!K = mv 2 bottom
2
So the work-kinetic energy theorem Wtotal = !K becomes
mgl(sin ! " ( k )inclined cos! ) =

1 2
mv bottom = 38.4 J
2

e) Choose a coordinate system with the origin at the base of the inclined plane and the
positive x-direction pointing in the direction the object moves along the plane. The

normal force on the object is determined from Newtons Second Law applied to the
normal direction to the plane.
N ! mg = 0
Then the work done by the friction force is

Wfriction

x0 = d
! ! x0 = d
= " F ! d r = " Fx dx = " (0.05 m #1 )Nx dx
x0 =0

Wfriction

x0 =0

d
d2
#1
= #(0.05 m )N
= #(0.05 m )mg
<0
2
2
#1

f) The change in kinetic energy is just equal to the kinetic energy at the bottom of the
incline plane because the object comes to rest
1
!K = " mv 2 bottom
2

So the work-kinetic energy theorem Wtotal = !K becomes

1
d2
! mv 2bottom = !(0.05 m !1 )mg
2
2
However we have already determined this kinetic energy so this last equation becomes

!mgl(sin " ! ( k )inclined cos" ) = !(0.05 m !1 )mg

d2
2

we can now solve for the distance it traveled before it came to rest along the horizontal

d=

2(mgl(sin ! " ( k )inclined cos! ))


"1

(0.05 m )mg

2(38.4 J)
= 6.3 m
(0.05 m )(4.0 kg)(9.8m # s-2 )
"1

Note: If we consider the entire motion from the release at the top of the inclined plane to
coming to rest on the horizontal, then the total change in kinetic energy is zero and

0 = !K = Wtotal = Wgrav + (Wfriction )inclined + (Wfriction )horizontal


Thus

0 = mgl sin ! " mgl( k )inclined cos! " (0.05 m "1 )mg

d2
2

which leads to the identical expression for the distance traveled on the horizontal before
coming to rest.

Problem 4: Asteroid about Sun

An asteroid of mass m is in a non-circular closed orbit about the sun. Initially it is a


distance ri from the sun, with speed vi . What is the change in the kinetic energy of the
asteroid when it is a distance is r f , from the sun?
Solution: We shall use the work-kinetic energy theorem,
W = !K " K f # K i =

1
1
mv f 2 # mvi 2
2
2

The work done by the gravitational force is the line integral


rf !
!
W = " Fg ! dr .
ri

Lets choose polar coordinates.

The gravitational force between the sun and the asteroid is given by
!
Gmsun m
r .
Fg = !
r2

As the asteroid moves, the infinitesimal displacement is tangent to the path and is given
in polar coordinates by

!
dr = dr r + rd!

The work done by the gravitational force on the body is given by the line integral
rf !
rf
!
Gmsun m
r " (dr r + rd! ) .
W = $ Fg " dr = $ #
2
ri
ri
r

Note that because r ! = 0 and r ! r = 1 , only the radial part of the displacement
contributes to the work done by the gravitational force,
W = !"

rf

ri

Gmsun m
dr .
r2

Upon evaluation of this integral, we have for the work

W = #(

rf

ri

r
! 1 1"
Gmsun m
Gmsun m f
dr
=
= Gmsun m $ # % .
2
$r r %
r
r
ri
i '
& f

Using the work-kinetic energy theorem, the change in kinetic energy is

! 1 1"
#K = Gmsun m % $ & .
%r r &
i (
' f
The final kinetic energy of the asteroid is then

! 1 1"
1
1
mv f 2 = + mvi 2 + Gmsun m $ # %
$r r %
2
2
i '
& f
Lets check our result by considering the case that the asteroid is moving closer to the
sun, rf < ri , hence 1 / rf > 1 / ri . Thus the work done by gravitational force on the asteroid
is positive,
! 1 1"
W = Gmsun m $ # % > 0 .
$r r %
0 '
& f
and the kinetic energy of the asteroid increases as we expect for a body moving closer to
the sun.

Problem 5 Work Done by a Several Forces A block of mass m slides along a


horizontal table with speed v0 . At x = 0 it hits a spring with spring constant k and
begins to experience a friction force. The coefficient of friction is given by . How far
did the spring compress when the block first momentarily comes to rest.

Solution:
From the model given for the frictional force, we could find the non-conservative work
done, which is the same as the loss of mechanical energy, if we knew the position x f
where the block first comes to rest. The most direct (and easiest) way to find x f is to use
the work-energy theorem,
x= x f

Fx dx = !K " K f # K i =

x =0

1
1
mv f 2 # mv0 2
2
2

Since we are trying to find the distance that the object moved when it first becomes to
rest, we have that v f = 0 , so the work-kinetic energy theorem becomes
x= x f

Fx dx =

x =0

1
mv0 2 .
2

There are two forces acting on the block, friction and the spring force. The x-component
of these forces are given by
Fx = Fx ,spring + Fx , friciton = !kx ! mg .

So the work done on the object is


x= x f

W=

"

x= x f

Fx dx =

x =0
xf

"

x= x f

Fx,spring dx +

x =0
xf

= ! " kx dx ! " mg dx
0

1
= ! kx f 2 ! mgx f
2

"

Fx,friction dx

x =0

(1)

Applying the work energy theorem yields


1
1
! k x 2f ! mgx f = ! mv02
2
2

We can rearrange this as


x 2f +

(2)

2 mg
m
x f ! v02 = 0 .
k
k

The solution of this quadratic equation is given by


2

" mg %
mg
m
xf = !
$
+ v02
'
k
k
# k &
Note that we have assumed that x f > 0 , therefore we need to choose the positive square
root,
2

" mg %
mg
m
xf = !
+ $
+ v02 .
'
k
k
# k &
It is worth checking that the above result is dimensionally correct. Recall that Hookes
law states that F = !kx , so mg / k has the dimensions of length. Similarly mv02 has
the dimensions of energy or force times distance. So
squared.

m 2
v has the dimensions of length
k 0

Problem 6 Sticky Pendulum A simple pendulum consists of a bob of mass m1 that is


suspended from a pivot by a string of length l and negligible mass. The bob is pulled out
and released from a height h0 as measured from the bobs lowest point directly under the
pivot point and then swings downward in a circular orbit as shown in the figure below. At
the bottom of the swing, the bob collides with a block of mass m2 that is initially at rest
on a frictionless table. Assume that there is no friction at the pivot point.

a) What is the work done by the gravitational force on the bob from the instant when the
bob is released to the instant just before the collision?
b) How much work does the tension force do as the bob moves in a circular path?
c) What is the speed of the bob at the bottom of the swing immediately before the
collision?
d) Suppose the bob and block stick together after the collision. What is the speed of the
combined system immediately after the collision?
e) What is the tension in the string immediately after the collision?
f) What is the change in kinetic energy of the block and bob due to the collision? What
is the ratio of the change in kinetic energy to the kinetic energy before the collision?
Solution:
a) Choose a coordinate system with the origin at the bottom of the swing as shown
!
in the figure below. The gravitational force is mg = !mgj . The displacement is
!
dr = dx i + dy j . Therefore the work done by the gravitational force is
f

! !
W = " mg ! d r = " #mgj ! (dx i + dy $ j) = #mg
g

y$= y f

"

y $ = yi

dy $ = #mg( y f # yi ) = mgh0

b) The tension force does zero work because it is perpendicular to the displacement of the
bob.
c) We can use the work energy theorem, W g = !K , noting that the bob started from rest

m1 g h0 =

1
m v2
2 1 1, b

(3)

Therefore the speed of the bob at the low point of the swing just before the collision,

v1, b = 2 g h0 .

(4)

d) Consider the bob and the block as the system. Although tension in the string and the
gravitation force are now acting as external forces, both are particular to the motion of the
bob and block during the collision. If we additionally assume that the collision is nearly
instantaneous, then the momentum is constant in the direction of the bobs motion,

m1 v1, b = (m1 + m2 ) va ,

(5)

where va is the speed of the bob and block immediately after the collision. Therefore
m1
v .
m1 + m2 1, b

(6)

m1
2gh0 .
m1 + m2

(7)

va =

Using Eq. (4) in Eq. (6) yields


va =

d) We show the free body force diagram immediately after the collision. Newtons
Second Law becomes
v2
!T + 4m1 g = !4m1 a
(8)
l
Therefore substitute Eq. (7) into Eq. (8) and solve for the tension in the string
immediately after the collision

!
$
2h0
m12
T = 4m1 g # 1 +
l (m1 + m2 )2 &%
"

(9)

e) The change in kinetic energy of the bob and block due to the collision in part c) is
given by

1
1
2
!K = K after " K before = 4m1va2 " m1v1,b
.
2
2

(10)

Using Eq. (7), and (4) in Eq. (10) yields


1
1
2
!K = K after " K before = 4m1va2 " m1v1,b
2
2
2
# 4m12
&
2m1m1 2gh0 1
!K =
"
m
2gh
=
m
gh
"
1
%
(
1
0
1
0
2
(m1 + m2 )2 2
$ (m1 + m2 )
'

(11)

The kinetic energy before the collision was m1 gh0 , and so the ratio of the change in
kinetic energy to the kinetic energy before the collision is

# 4m12
&
!K
.
=%
"
1
K before $ (m1 + m2 )2 ('

(12)