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Physics 211 Lecture Notes

Part 2: Dynamics

A. A. Louro

Fall 2001
2
Contents

1 Forces 1
1.1 An introduction to dynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
1.2 Newtonian mechanics and the concept of force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
1.3 Newton’s three laws of motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
1.4 Forces in nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
1.4.1 Gravity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
1.4.2 Contact forces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
1.5 Applying Newton’s laws: Free-body diagrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
1.6 Apparent weightlessness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
1.7 Elastic forces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1.8 Systems of interacting bodies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

2 Circular motion 11
2.1 Kinematics of circular motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
2.1.1 Uniform circular motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
2.1.2 Non-uniform circular motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
2.2 Forces in circular motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
2.2.1 Uniform circular motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

3 Gravitation 15
3.1 Newton’s “Law of Universal Gravitation” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
3.2 g again . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
3.3 Orbital motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
3.4 Kepler’s Third Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

A “Mass” and “gravitational charge” 19


A.1 What do we mean by mass? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

3
4 CONTENTS
Chapter 1

Forces

1
2 CHAPTER 1. FORCES

1.1 An introduction to dynamics


As we have mentioned before, kinematics is the description of how things move. Given certain
information, we can describe the motion of an object by giving expressions for its position and
velocity as functions of time. That way, we can predict, for example, where an object is going to
be at a given time, as well as how fast it will be moving and in which direction.
To be able to do this, we need to know certain things:

• The initial conditions, that is the position and velocity of the object at some particular
instant, ~r0 and ~v0 ; and

• The acceleration of the object.

It is a basic physical principle that the velocity of an object is only altered if it is interacting with
something else. So, the next step is to determine what the acceleration of an object is, given its
interactions with other objects.

1.2 Newtonian mechanics and the concept of force


Mechanics was put on a solid logical foundation by Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Newton’s pro-
gram was to find a small set of very basic principles on which the science of mechanics could be
constructed, rather like Euclid’s “Elements of geometry” built upon a small set of axioms, or
self-evident truths.
In Newtonian mechanics, objects interact by applying forces to each other. Our intuitive notion
of what a force is, a push or a pull, is sufficient to understand this, provided we allow action at
a distance. The Moon and the Earth interact by pulling on each other with gravitational forces.
Of course, the Moon and the Earth are not in direct contact with each other, but they interact
nevertheless.
One important consideration about forces that is not so intuitive perhaps is that force is a vector
quantity. The magnitude of a force measures how strong it is, and it also has direction: when you
throw a ball, you can throw it hard or gently, and you always throw it in a certain direction. Or
again, the gravitational pull by the Earth on all nearby objects is directed towards the centre of
the Earth.

1.3 Newton’s three laws of motion


The basic principles that Newton found could serve to explain all kinds of motion were three. They
can be illustrated by considering a very simple interaction, of which a simulation may be found
here. Two gliders move on a level airtrack with no friction. These precautions are taken in order to
eliminate all interactions except the one that takes place when the gliders collide. By investigating
1.3. NEWTON’S THREE LAWS OF MOTION 3

their accelerations, that is the change in their velocities over time, during the collision and at other
times when they are apart, you should find results comsistent with Newton’s three laws of motion:

N1: Law of inertia If an object is not interacting with anything, then it moves with constant ve-
locity. For example, before and after the collision, each glider has constant velocity, including
the one that is stationary, since its velocity is zero!

N2: While two objects interact, each one has an acceleration proportional to the force, and inversely
proportional to the mass of the body, a measure of how much matter it contains:

F~
~a =
m

The SI unit of mass is the kilogram (kg). Notice that although we usually think of the
kilogram as a measure of weight, gravity is not involved in its definition. Mass has also been
described as a measure of an object’s “inertia”, that is, its resistance to change in its state
of motion. Newton’s 2nd law shows this: Apply the same force F~ to two bodies, one with a
small mass and the other with a large mass. The one with the large mass will have a smaller
acceleration, that is, a smaller change in tis velocity. We’ll consider some examples of this
situation shortly, after discussing Newton’s 3rd. law.
Newton’s 2nd. law may be read in a couple of different ways. First, it me seen as a prescrip-
tion for calculating the acceleration of an object once we know what forces it is subject to.
Kinematics then takes over and predicts the object’s motion over time given its acceleration.
Second, Newton’s 2nd. law provides with a way of measuring forces: If we observe a tennis
ball with a given mass, and find that it has a certain acceleration, the product of the two
quantities is a measure of the force. It follows that the SI unit of force is kg × m / s2 . This
combination of units is called, not surprisingly, the Newton, abbreviated “N”.

N3: Law of action and reaction The glider simulation shows that in the course of a collision,

m1~a1 = −m2~a2

By Newton’s 2nd. law, the left-hand side is the force applied on glider 1 by glider 2, while
the right-hand side is the force applied on glider by glider 1. Newton’s 3rd. law postulates
that each force is equal in magnitude to the other one, and opposite in direction. In Newton’s
own words, “To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
As a consequence of Newton’s 3rd. law, if two objects with dissimilar masses interact with
each other, the one with the larger mass will have the smaller magnitude acceleration. This
is easily seen with the glider simulation; try it!
4 CHAPTER 1. FORCES

1.4 Forces in nature


There are surprisingly few different possible types of interaction between physical objects. Within
the realm of classical physics, we shall consider gravitational, electrical and magnetic forces.
Of these, we shall discuss gravity initially. We will also refer to contact forces later, which are
really electrical interactions between nearby objects.

1.4.1 Gravity
It was Isaac Newton (again!) who proposed that all bodies attract each other with a force that is
proportional to their masses and diminishes in strength with the distance separating them. Specif-
ically, any two masses m1 and m2 separated by a distance r attract each other with a gravitational
force of magnitude |F~g |
m1 m2
|F~g | ∝
r2
In particular, if one of the masses is the Earth itself – let’s call it Me – and the other is an
object of mass m very near the Earth’s surface, so that its distance to the centre of the Earth is
the radius of the Earth, Re , then
Me m
|F~g | ∝
Re2

so that in fact the only variable that |F~ g| depends on is the mass of the object m. We call the
gravitational force on a 1-kg mass the gravitational field at the Earth’s surface, ~g . Then the
force on any mass m is
F~g = m~g
Interestingly, |~g | = 9.8 N/kg. According to Newton’s 2nd. law, for an object in free fall near the
surface of the Earth, only subject to Earth’s gravitational pull,

F~g = m~a ⇒ m~g = m~a

so the numerical value of what we have previously called the acceleration due to gravity is equal to
the value of the gravitational field. This is consequence of a very important assumption, though:
the “mass” that appears in Newton’s 2nd. law is the same as the “mass” that the gravitational
force acts upon. For a further discussion of this, see Appendix A.

1.4.2 Contact forces


When two solid objects come into contact at a common surface, new forces come into play, which
are actually very short-range electrical interactions between the atoms on the surface of the two
bodies.
1.4. FORCES IN NATURE 5

The “normal” force


If every object on the Earth’s surface is being pulled towards the centre of the Earth, why doesn’t
everything continue burrowing down into the Earth?! Clearly, the ground exerts another force that
effectively prevents objects from penetrating into the Earth.
This force is perpendicular to the contact surface. Hence the rather unfortunate label “normal”
force.
The word “normal” comes from the Latin “norma”, meaning a carpenter’s square,
an L-shaped metal piece used as a standard right angle in woodworking. In everyday
speech, we have come to associate the word with “standard”; but in mathematics,
“normal” means “perpendicular”.

Friction forces
The ground can also exert forces on objects along the surface. Although the exact nature of these
forces is not yet well understood, a simple model exists that dates back to the late 1700’s which
gives a reasonably accurate description of how friction forces work.
According to this model, there are two different regimes: One thing to consider is the friction
force that prevents us (up to a point) from moving an object that is stationary, relative to the
contact surface.
Try the following simple experiment: Push sideways on a heavy object, like a couch,
very lightly at first, then gradually increasing your force. You will observe that at first,
nothing happens; the couch stays put. This means that the ground must be applying
to the couch a force equal in magnitude to your push, but in the opposite direction, so
that the net force on the couch is zero, and it doesn’t accelerate. Eventually, however,
as you gradually increase your force, the couch suddenly begins to slide, and as you
continue to push, you feel a considerable resistance.
During the first stage, when the couch remained unmoved, static friction was at work. Experiment
shows that there is an upper limit to the static friction force, which depends on two things:
• the nature of the materials that are in contact: You won’t have to push as hard to get the
couch moving if it’s resting on a smooth, polished surface;
• the force with which the couch presses against the ground, or equivalently, the force by the
ground on the couch. This isn’t necessarily equal to the weight: If the couch is on a sloping
surface, the upper limit to the static friction force only depends on the normal force by the
ground.
We can summarize these two dependencies as follows:

|F~s | ≤ µs |N
~| (1.1)
6 CHAPTER 1. FORCES

where F~s is the static friction force and µs is the static friction coefficient, a dimensionless
number generally between 0 and 1. A small µs means the couch is easy to shift, a large µs means
you better get help!
Once the couch begins to slide, the forward motion of the couch is resisted by a kinetic friction
force, which is approximately constant, and equal in magnitude to

|F~k | = µk |N
~| (1.2)

where µk is the kinetic friction coefficient, which also depends on the nature of the two surfaces
in contact, and is usually slightly smaller than µs for the same materials.

1.5 Applying Newton’s laws: Free-body diagrams


Armed with Newton’s laws, we can predict how an object is going to move, by simply observing
how it interacts with its environment. From this, we can deterine what the total force on the body
is, and from Newton’s 2nd. law determine its acceleration; the equations of kinematics allow us to
calculate its trajectory.
In this section, we’ll focus on the first part of this process, determining the total force on an
object. A very useful visual aid is the free-body diagram, where we isolate the object we’re
interested in, and draw all the forces acting on it. Also, to make the work of using Newton’s 2nd.
law easier, we will label all the forces and make a list of the labels we have chosen, so there is no
confusion.
As an example, consider a skier travelling downhill, shown in Figure 1.1. We can represent the
skier with a point: Assuming she is not rotating, the motion of the skier is well represented by a
single point. Figure 1.1 shows the three forces that are acting on the skier, and a listing of the
labels. Notice that in our description of each force, we state explicitly what is applying it. The
only exception to this rule is the gravitational force by the Earth on the skier, which we’ll refer as
the skier’s weight.

1.6 Apparent weightlessness


We have already called “weight” the gravitational force on a mass. So it’s puzzling to see a body
in free fall, floating in its environment as if gravity were suspended. Astronauts, for example, have
to deal with this apparent weightlessness, which can have quite serious physiological effects. And
yet, gravity has not been turned off!
The key is that since all objects in free fall have the same acceleration, two objects falling
together, like an astronaut and the spacecraft, have no acceleration relative to each other. Therefore,
relative to the spacecraft, the astronaut seems to be floating.
Consider a person inside a free-falling elevator. If this subject is standing on a scale, the scale
reading would be zero. In this sense, the person is apparently weightless.
1.7. ELASTIC FORCES 7



 

 

   


 
 

N





 
    
      
y
          F_f F_f : Kinetic friction force by the ground

N : Normal force by the ground

F_g : The skier’s weight


x

F_g

Figure 1.1: Free-body diagram of a skier

Remember that when you stand on the ground, the upward normal force by the ground balances
your weight. If you’re actually standing on a balance, you are applying a downward force on it
equal in magnitude to its force on you (Newton’s 3rd. law). This is what the scale reads. Only
if you are standing on level ground, is this reading equal to your weight. If you are standing on a
scale inside an elevator with vertical acceleration ax (let’s take +x downwards), Newton’s 2nd law
gives
mg − |N~ | = max (1.3)
~ |, which is
(draw a free-body diagram and confirm this). The scale reading is equal to |N
~ | = m(g − ax )
|N (1.4)
~ | = 0. On the other
So for example, if you and the elevator are in free fall, ax = g and therefore |N
hand, if the elevator was accelerating upwards, ax would be negative, and m(g − ax ) > mg: You
would feel heavier.

This leads to a surprising interpretation of what the normal force is: In magnitude,
it’s the apparent weight of a body.

1.7 Elastic forces


If you stretch a spring, it pulls on your hands; if you compress it, it pushes out. The spring exerts
a force that depends on its length, or more precisely, on its extension, the difference between its
present length and its natural length.
8 CHAPTER 1. FORCES

In fact, Robert Hooke found experimentally that the force applied by the spring is proportional
to its extension. (Click here for a nice graphical illustration of this). If we call F~el the force by the
spring, and x its extension, then along the x direction,

Fx = −kx (1.5)

where k is called the elastic constant of the spring, and the − sign indicates that the force is
directed opposite to the extension.

1.8 Systems of interacting bodies


So far, we have looked at how single bodies are affected by forces. But a “single body” may in
fact be composed of several units linked together, which interact among themselves as well as with
their environment. Some examples of systems of bodies are

• the atoms in a large, “macroscopic” object.

Exercise 1.8.1 Estimate how many atoms fit on the head of a pin. Data: The volume
occupied by an atom of iron is about 10−29 m3 , and the head of a pin has a volume of about
1 mm3 .

• a train

• the solar system

• a galaxy.

Consider for example the cart and horse shown in Figure 1.2. Only the horizontal forces are shown.
F~hc is the force applied by the horse to the cart; the cart pulls on the horse with F~ch . The horse is
propelled forward by the external force F~ (originating outside the system, applied by the ground).
N2 applied to the horse in the horizontal direction (x) gives

|F~ | − |F~ch | = mh ax (1.6)

and applied to the cart it gives


|F~hc | = mc ax (1.7)
Notice that since the horse and the cart are llinked together, they both have the same acceleration
along x, ax .
N3 gives an additional equation:
|F~ch | = |F~hc | (1.8)
1.8. SYSTEMS OF INTERACTING BODIES 9

F_hc F
F_ch

Figure 1.2: Cart and horse.

Adding the two equations from N2 gives

|F~ | = (mc + mh )ax (1.9)

which is the same thing as N2 applied to the horse-and-cart system as a whole. As for the internal
forces F~ch and F~hc , they can be obtained from equation 1.7 and N3:
mc
|F~ch | = |F~hc | = ax (1.10)
mc + mh
10 CHAPTER 1. FORCES
Chapter 2

Circular motion

11
12 CHAPTER 2. CIRCULAR MOTION

2.1 Kinematics of circular motion


2.1.1 Uniform circular motion
Click on this link to see an animation of an object in a circular orbit, moving with constant speed.
In a coordinate system with the origin at the centre of the circle, its position at any instant of time
is (see Figure 2.1:
x = r cos(θ) (2.1)
y = r sin(θ) (2.2)
and since θ varies with time as the object goes round the circle, as
y

θ
x
x

Figure 2.1: Coordinates of an object in circular motion.


θ= t = ωt (2.3)
T
so
x = r cos(ωt) (2.4)
y = r sin(ωt) (2.5)
2.1. KINEMATICS OF CIRCULAR MOTION 13

Notice that each coordinate behaves like a 1-dimensional simple harmonic oscillator! (Click here
to see this in action).
To get the components of the velocity and the acceleration of this object, we have to take time
derivatives. Earlier, we saw that
d
(cos(ωt)) = −ω sin(ωt) (2.6)
dt
d
(sin(ωt)) = ω cos(ωt) (2.7)
dt
so
dx
vx = = −ωr sin(ωt) (2.8)
dt
dy
vy = = ωr cos(ωt) (2.9)
dt
and
dvx
ax = = −ω 2 r cos(ωt) (2.10)
dt
dvx
ay = = −ω 2 r sin(ωt) (2.11)
dt
Comparing this with equations (2.4) and (2.5) above, we see that

ax = −ω 2 x (2.12)
2
ay = −ω y (2.13)

or even more succinctly in vector form,

~a = −ω 2~r (2.14)

where ~r is the position vector of the object.


Notice that the acceleration vector points in the opposite direction to the position
vector, namely towards the centre of the circle. The magnitude of the acceleration is

|~a| = ω 2 r (2.15)

We can also write the acceleration in terms of the speed by noting that
2π 2πr
ω= ⇒ ωr = = |~v | (2.16)
T T
so that
|~v |2
|~a| = (2.17)
r
14 CHAPTER 2. CIRCULAR MOTION

2.1.2 Non-uniform circular motion


An object could move in a circle, but not with constant speed. It could be speeding up, or slowing
down. In that case, in addition to the acceleration towards the centre of the circle that we just
saw, or “centripetal” acceleration, it would have a component of the acceleration in the direction
in which it’s moving, tangent to the circle. The first component is the radial acceleration, and the
second is the tangential acceleration. See Figure 2.2.

a_t

a_r

Figure 2.2: Radial and tangential components of the acceleration.

2.2 Forces in circular motion


2.2.1 Uniform circular motion
According to Newton’s 2nd. law, if an object has an acceleration in a certain direction, there is a
force in that direction. So if the acceleration of an object in uniform circular motion is towards the
centre, it must be produced by a force pointing towards the centre of the circle.
Examples abound. For instance, consider a stone of mass m being whirled around on the end of
a string of length l at speed |~v |. The force on the stone is provided by the string, and its magnitude
is
|~v |2
|F~ | = m (2.18)
l
Chapter 3

Gravitation

15
16 CHAPTER 3. GRAVITATION

3.1 Newton’s “Law of Universal Gravitation”


Another of Newton’s triumphs was his law of universal gravitation’, which set down the precise
form of the gravitational attraction between any two bodies of masses m1 and m2 :
m1 m2
|F~g | = G (3.1)
r2
Here r is the distance between the centres1 , and G is the gravitational constant, which has been
notoriously hard to measure, approximately 6.67 × 1011 in SI units.
Because the force diminishes in magnitude with the square of the distance, it is said to follow
an inverse-square law.

3.2 g again
At the surface of the Earth (mass Me ), a small object of mass m is eesentially at a distance
Re =Earth’s radius from the centre of the planet. The gravitational pull by the Earth is

GMe
|F~g | = m (3.2)
Re2

The factor multiplying m is the gravitational field at the surface of the Earth, g.

3.3 Orbital motion


In the solar system, planets, asteroids, and comets orbit the Sun, while moons and artificial satellites
orbit the planets. Johannes Kepler (1571 - 1630) used very precise measurements of the orbits of
several planets made by Tycho Brahe to determine that the orbits were in fact elliptical, with
the Sun at one focus of the ellipse. To a very good approximation, though, the orbits are nearly
circular, and this is the approximation we shall make here.

3.4 Kepler’s Third Law


Kepler’s findings about planetary motion are synthesized in three empirical “laws”. The third one
relates the orbital period to the radius of the orbit. We will show here how this relation follows
from the law of gravitation.
Call the mass of the Sun MS and the mass of a planet m; the orbital radius is r and the period
T . The magnitude of the mutual gravitational force between the Sun and the planet is given by
1
Strictly, the centres of mass. If the bodies are spheres, for example, this coincides with the geometrical centre.
More on this later.
3.4. KEPLER’S THIRD LAW 17

equation (3.1), and according to Newton’s 2nd. law,

MS m v2
G = m (3.3)
r2 r
where v is the speed of the planet as it orbits the Sun. If we assume this speed is constant, it
follows that
2πr
v= (3.4)
T
so
4π 2 r2
MS m 2
G 2 =m T (3.5)
r r
which can be reduced to

T =√ r−3/2 (3.6)
GMS
This is Kepler’s 3rd. law (K3). In fact, Newton derived his law of universal gravitation by reasoning
in a similar way from Kepler’s 3rd. law, in the more general case of an elliptical orbit. (See the
simulation at http://www.phas.ucalgary.ca/physlets/kepler3.htm).
Although we have derived K3 for the special case of planets orbiting the Sun, it can be gener-
alized to any satellites with a common parent body, e.g. satellites of the Earth.
Notice also that if T and r can be measured independently, the mass of the parent body can
be determined from the constant in K3. It is interesting to note that historically, G was measured
by Henry Cavendish about a century after Newton presented his law, precisely for the purpose of
“weighing the Earth”, as it was the last vital piece of information missing from equation (3.6).
18 CHAPTER 3. GRAVITATION
Appendix A

“Mass” and “gravitational charge”

19
20 APPENDIX A. “MASS” AND “GRAVITATIONAL CHARGE”

A.1 What do we mean by mass?


We have rather carelessly used the word “mass” in two different contexts, which are really inde-
pendent of each other:

1. We first used the word “mass” in the context of Newton’s 2nd. law, which says that when
two bodies interact, while they exert equal magnitude forces on each other, the acceleration
of each one is inversely proportional to the amount of matter it contains, which we called its
mass;

2. On the other hand, Newton tells us that the gravitational force between two bodies is pro-
portional to their masses. This need not be so; the gravitational force could be proportional
to some other property. Indeed, the electrical force between two objects is proportional to
their “electric charge”, which has nothing to do with their mass.

Strictly speaking, we should say that the gravitational force is proportional to the interacting
objects’ “gravitational charge”; and it is a remarkable fact that the “gravitational charge” is the
same thing as the “mass” in Newton’s 2nd. law.

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