Applications of
Calculus to the
Physical World
TERMINOLOGY
Acceleration: The rate of change of velocity with respect Exponential decay: Decay, or decrease in a quantity,
to time where the rate of change of a quantity is in direct
proportion to the quantity itself. The decay becomes less
At rest: Stationary (zero velocity)
rapid over time
Displacement: The movement of an object in relation to
Rate of change: The change of one variable with respect
its original position
to another variable over time
Exponential growth: Growth, or increase in a quantity,
Velocity: The rate of change of displacement of an object
where the rate of change of a quantity is in direct
with respect to time involving speed and direction
proportional to the quantity itself. The growth becomes
more rapid over time
Chapter 6 Applications of Calculus to the Physical World 219
INTRODUCTION
CALCULUS IS USED IN many situations involving rates of change, such as
physics or economics. This chapter looks at rates of change of a particle in
motion, and exponential growth and decay. Both these types of rates of
change involve calculus.
Rates of Change
The gradient of a straight line measures the rate of change of y with respect to
the change in x.
dQ
The rate of change of a quantity Q with respect to time t is measured by .
dt
EXAMPLES
Solution
(a) B = 2t 4 − t 2 + 2000
Initially, t = 0
` B = 2 (0) 4 − 0 2 + 2000
= 2000
So there are 2000 bacteria initially.
(b) When t = 5,
B = 2 (5)4 − 52 + 2000
= 3225
So there will be 3225 bacteria after 5 hours.
(c) The rate of change is given by the derivative
dB
= 8t 3 − 2t
dt
When t = 5,
dB
= 8 (5)3 − 2 (5)
dt
= 990
So the rate of increase after 5 hours will be 990 bacteria per hour.
Solution
R = 4 + 3t 2
dV
i.e. = 4 + 3t 2 Volume ﬂow rate is
dt the rate of change of
` V = # (4 + 3t 2) dt volume over time.
= 4t + t 3 + C
When t = 0, V = 0
` 0 =0+0+C
=C
` V = 4t + t 3
When t = 12
V = 4 (12) + (12) 3
= 1776 L
So there will be 1776 L of water in the pond after 12 hours.
6.1 Exercises
1. Find a formula for the rate of (c) R = 4π r2 is the rate at which
change in each question. the volume V changes with
(a) h = 20t − 4t 2 radius r
(b) D = 5t 3 + 2t 2 + 1 (d) R = 7 sin t is the rate at which
(c) A = 16x − 2x 2 the distance d of an object
(d) x = 3t 5 − x 4 + 2x − 3 changes over time t
(e) V = e t + 4 (e) R = 8e 2t − 3 is the rate at
(f) S = 3 cos 5θ which the speed s changes over
50 time t.
(g) S = 2π r + 2
r
(h) D = x − 42 3. If h = t 3 − 7t + 5, ﬁnd the rate of
400 change of h when t = 3.
(i) S = 800r + r
4 4. Given f (t) = sin 2t, ﬁnd the rate of
(j) V = π r3
3 π
change when t = .
2. Find an original formula for each 6
question given its rate of change. 5. A particle moves so that its
(a) R = 4t − 12t 2 is the rate at distance x is given by x = 2e 3t .
which the height h of an object Find the exact rate of change
changes over time t when t = 4.
(b) R = 8x3 + 1 is the rate at
6. The volume of water ﬂowing
which the area A of a ﬁgure
through a pipe is given by
changes with side x
V = t2 + 3t. Find the rate at which
the water is ﬂowing when t = 5.
222 Maths In Focus Mathematics HSC Course
7. The rate of change of the angle 14. According to Boyle’s Law, the
sum S of a polygon with n sides is pressure of a gas is given by
a constant 180. If S is 360 when k
the formula P = , where k is a
n = 4, ﬁnd S when n = 7. V
constant and V is the volume of
8. A particle moves so that the the gas. If k = 100 for a certain
rate of change of distance D gas, ﬁnd the rate of change in the
over time t is given by R = 2e t − 1. pressure when V = 20.
If D = 10 when t = 0, ﬁnd D when
15. A circular disc expands as it
t = 3.
is heated. The area, in cm2, of
9. For a certain graph, the rate the disc increases according to
of change of y values with the formula A = 4t 2 + t, where
respect to its x values is given t is time in minutes. Find the
by R = 3x 2 − 2x + 1. If the graph rate of increase in the area after
passes through the point (−1, 3), 5 minutes.
ﬁnd its equation.
16. A balloon is inﬂated so that
10. The mass in grams of a melting its increase in volume is at a
iceblock is given by the formula constant rate of 10 cm 3 s − 1 . If its
M = t − 2t 2 + 100, where t is time volume is initially 1 cm3, ﬁnd its
in minutes. Show that the rate volume after 3 s.
at which the iceblock is melting
17. The number of people in
is given by R = 1 − 4t grams per
a certain city is given by
minute and ﬁnd the rate at which
P = 200 000e 0.2t , where t is time
it will be melting after 5 minutes.
in years. Find the rate at which
11. The rate of change in velocity the population of the city will be
over time is given by growing after 5 years.
dy
= 4t + t 2 − t 3. If the initial 18. A radioactive substance has
dt
velocity is 2 cms − 1, ﬁnd the a mass that decreases over
velocity after 15 s. time t according to the formula
M = 200e − 0.1t . Find
12. The rate of ﬂow of water (a) the mass of the substance
into a dam is given by after 20 years, to the nearest gram
R = 500 + 20t Lh− 1 . If there is (b) the rate of its decrease after
15 000 L of water initially in the 20 years.
dam, how much water will there
19. If y = e 4x, show that the rate is
be in the dam after 10 hours?
given by R = 4y.
13. The surface area in cm2 of a
20. Given S = 2e 2t + 3, show that the
balloon being inﬂated is given
rate of change is R = 2 (S − 3).
by S = t3 − 2t2 + 5t + 2, where t is
time in seconds. Find the rate of
increase in the balloon’s surface
area after 8 s.
Chapter 6 Applications of Calculus to the Physical World 223
dQ
= kQ is solved by the equation Q = Ae kt
dt
= e kt ´ e − k 2
= Ae kt
Proof
Initial means ‘at ﬁrst’ when
t = 0. Given Q = Ae kt , suppose the initial quantity is Q 0
i.e. Q = Q 0 when t = 0
Substituting into the equation gives
Q 0 = Ae k ´ 0
= Ae 0
=A
∴ A is the initial quantity.
Sometimes the equation is written as Q = Q 0 e kt .
Malthus was an economist. Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, developed a theory
about population growth that we still use today. His theory states that under ideal conditions,
dN
the birth rate is proportional to the size of the population. That is, = kN (Malthusian Law of
dt
Population Growth).
Malthus was concerned that the growth rate of populations would be higher than the
increase in food supplies, and that people would starve.
Was he right? Is this happening? How could we prove this?
Chapter 6 Applications of Calculus to the Physical World 225
EXAMPLES
Solution
(a) Initially, t = 0
Substituting:
P = 1500e 0.046t
= 1500e 0.046 ´ 0
= 1500e 0
= 1500 (e 0 = 1)
So the initial population is 1500 rabbits.
(b) 2 years = 24 months
So t = 24
Substituting:
P = 1500e 0.046t
= 1500e 0.046 ´ 24
= 1500e 1.104
= 4524.31
So the population after 2 years is 4524 rabbits.
(c) P = 5000
Substituting:
P = 1500e 0.046t
5000 = 1500e 0.046t
5000
= e 0.046t
1500
5000
ln = ln e 0.046t
1500
= 0.046t ln e
= 0.046t (since ln e = 1)
5000
ln
1500
=t
0.046
26.2 = t
So the population reaches 5000 after 26.2 months.
CONTINUED
226 Maths In Focus Mathematics HSC Course
Solution
(a) N = Ae kt
When t = 0, N = 6000
A gives the initial number ` 6000 = Ae 0
of bacteria.
=A
So N = 6000e kt
When t = 8, N = 9000
9000 = 6000e 8k
9000
= e 8k
6000
1 .5 = e 8k
log e 1.5 = log e e 8k
= 8k log e e
= 8k
Don't round k off, but put it in
log e 1.5
=k
the calculator’s memory to use 8
again.
0.0507 Z k
So N = 6000e 0.0507t .
(b) When t = 48, (48 hours in 2 days)
N = 6000e 0.0507 # 48
= 68 344
So there will be 68 344 bacteria after 2 days.
dN
(c) Rate: = 6000 (0.0507e 0.0507t )
dt
= 304.1e 0.0507t
When t = 48,
The rate of growth is the dN
derivative. = 304.1e 0.0507 # 48
dt
= 3464
So after 2 days the rate of growth will be 3464 bacteria per hour.
Another method:
dN
= kN
dt
= 0.0507N
When t = 48, N = 68 344
dN
= 0.0507 ´ 68 344 = 3464
dt
Chapter 6 Applications of Calculus to the Physical World 227
Solution
Q = Ae kt
When t = 0, Q = 50
` 50 = Ae 0
=A
So Q = 50e kt
When t = 2, Q = 35
35 = 50e 2k
35
= e 2k
50
0 .7 = e 2k
log e 0.7 = log e e 2k
= 2k log e e
= 2k Notice that k is negative
for decay. You could use
log e 0.7
=k the formula Q = Ae − kt
2 for decay. What would
− 0.1783 Z k k be?
So Q = 50e − 0.1783t
When t = 25
Q = 50e − 0.1783 # 25
Z 0.579
So there will be 0.579 grams, or 579 mg, left after 25 years.
228 Maths In Focus Mathematics HSC Course
6.2 Exercises
Class Investigation
Research other issues, relating to growth and decay, that affect our
environment.
Displacement
Velocity
Acceleration
dv d dx d2 x
a= = c m= 2 .
dt dt dt dt
..
Acceleration can also be written as x.
Acceleration can be positive or negative, according to which direction it is
in. If the acceleration is to the right, it is positive. If the acceleration is to the
left, it is negative.
If the acceleration is in the same direction as the velocity, the particle
is speeding up (accelerating). If the acceleration is in the opposite direction
from the velocity, the particle is slowing down (decelerating).
If the object is travelling at a constant velocity, there is no acceleration.
That is, a = 0.
Motion graphs
You can describe the velocity of a particle by looking at the gradient function
of a displacement graph. The acceleration is the gradient function of a velocity
graph.
Chapter 6 Applications of Calculus to the Physical World 233
EXAMPLES
1. The graph below shows the displacement of a particle from the origin
as it moves in a straight line.
Solution
dx
(a) (i) When the particle is at rest, velocity is zero. i.e. = 0.
dt
So the particle is at rest at the stationary points t 3 and t 5 .
(ii) The particle is at the origin when x = 0, i.e. on the taxis. So the
particle is at the origin at t2, t4 and t 6 .
(b) The greatest velocity is at t4 (the curve is at its steepest). Notice that
this is where there is a point of inﬂexion.
t
t1 t2
CONTINUED
234 Maths In Focus Mathematics HSC Course
Solution
dx
(a) The velocity is the rate of change of displacement, or . By noting
dt
where the gradient of the tangent is positive, negative and zero, we draw
the velocity graph.
+
+
+
+
+
t
t1 t2
 +
 +
0
t
t1 t2
d2 x
(b) Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity, or . By noting where
dt 2
the gradient of the tangent is positive, negative and zero, we draw the
acceleration graph.
Chapter 6 Applications of Calculus to the Physical World 235
+
t
t1 t2
+
t
t1 t2
t
t1 t2 t3 t4 t5
CONTINUED
236 Maths In Focus Mathematics HSC Course
Solution
(a) For 0 − t 1 and between t3 and t5, the velocity is negative (below the
dx
taxis), so the displacement has < 0.
dt
Between t1 and t3, and all points > t5, the velocity is positive (above
dx
the taxis), so the displacement has > 0.
dt
dx
At t1, t3 and t5, the velocity is zero, so = 0 and there is a
dt
stationary point.
v
+ +
+
+ +
+
0 0 0
t
t1 t2 t3 t4 t5
 

 
 
Notice that at t1 and t5, LHS < 0 and RHS > 0 so they are minimum
turning points.
At t3, LHS > 0 and RHS < 0 so it is a maximum turning point.
Here is one graph that could describe the shape of the displacement.
x
t
t1 t2 t3 t4 t5
(c) You can’t tell when the particle is at the origin as the graph is not
accurate. For example, the graph in (a) is at the origin at t4 and another
point to the right of t5. However, when sketching displacement from
the velocity (or the original function given the gradient or derivative
function) there are many possible graphs, forming a family of graphs.
x
t
t1 t2 t3 t4 t5
Notice that these cross the taxis at various places, so we can’t tell
where the displacement graph shows the particle at the origin.
6.3 Exercises
1. The graphs at right and overleaf (a) x
show the displacement of an
object. Sketch the graphs for
velocity and acceleration.
t
238 Maths In Focus Mathematics HSC Course
(d)
t
t1 t2 t3 t4 t5 t6
(c)
(a)
(e)
Displacement x
. dx
Velocity x =
dt
dv d 2 x
Acceleration px = = 2
dt dt
240 Maths In Focus Mathematics HSC Course
EXAMPLES
Solution
dx
(a) At rest means that the velocity c m is zero.
dt
dx
= 4 − 2t
dt
dx
When =0
dt
4 – 2t = 0
4 = 2t
2=t
So the particle is at rest after 2 seconds.
dx
Notice that there is a stationary point at = 0, so the particle turns
dt
around at this time.
(b) Initially, when t = 0:
x = 4(0) − 0 2
=0
So the particle is at the origin.
After 3 seconds, t = 3:
x = 4(3) − 3 2
=3
So the particle is 3 cm from the origin.
However, after 2 seconds, the particle turns around, so it hasn’t
simply moved from the origin to 3 cm away. We need to ﬁnd where
it is when it turns around.
When t = 2:
x = 4 (2) − 2 2
=4
So the particle is 4 cm from the origin.
The particle moves from the origin (x = 0) to 4 cm away in the ﬁrst
2 seconds, so it has travelled 4 cm.
It then turns and goes back to 3 cm from the origin. So in the 3rd
second it travels 1 cm back.
Chapter 6 Applications of Calculus to the Physical World 241
0 1 2 3 4 5
Solution
(a) dx
v=
dt
= − 2t + 2
Initially, t = 0
` v = − 2 (0) + 2
=2
So the initial velocity is 2 cms− 1.
d2 x
(b) a = 2
dt
=−2
∴ the particle has a constant acceleration of − 2 cms− 2.
(c) At the origin x = 0
i.e. − t2 + 2t + 3 = 0
− (t + 1)(t − 3) = 0 A time of –1 does
not exist.
` t = − 1 or 3
So the particle will be at the origin after 3 s.
(d) For maximum displacement,
dx
=0
dt
− 2t + 2 = 0
2 = 2t
1=t
(Maximum displacement occurs when t = 1.)
When t = 1,
x = − (1) 2 + 2 (1) + 3
=4
So maximum displacement is 4 cm.
CONTINUED
242 Maths In Focus Mathematics HSC Course
(e)
Solution
ds
(b) v =
dt
= 6 cos 2t
When the particle is at rest
v=0
i.e. 6 cos 2t = 0
cos 2t = 0
π 3π 5π
2t = , , ,...
2 2 2
π 3π 5π
` t= , , ,...
4 4 4
Chapter 6 Applications of Calculus to the Physical World 243
(c) x = 1 + 3 sin 2t
π
When t =
4
π
x = 1 + 3 sin
2
= 1 + 3 (1)
=4
3π
When t =
4
3π
x = 1 + 3 sin
2
= 1 + 3 (− 1)
= −2
5π 7π
Similarly, when t = , , …, x moves between 4 m and –2 m from
4 4
the origin.
Investigation
6.4 Exercises
1. The displacement of a particle is 2. A particle is moving such that
given by x = t 3 − 9t cm, where t is its displacement is given by
time in seconds. s = 2t 2 − 8t + 3, where s is in
(a) Find the velocity of the metres and t is in seconds.
particle after 3 s. (a) Find the initial velocity.
(b) Find the acceleration after 2 s. (b) Show that acceleration is
(c) Show that the particle is constant and ﬁnd its value.
initially at the origin, and ﬁnd (c) Find the displacement after 5 s.
any other times that the particle (d) Find when the particle will be
will be at the origin. at rest.
(d) Find after what time the (e) What will the particle’s
acceleration will be 30 cms − 2 . displacement be at that time?
(f) Sketch the graph of the
displacement against time.
244 Maths In Focus Mathematics HSC Course
3. A projectile is ﬁred into the air (d) Find the times when the
and its height in metres is given pendulum will be at rest.
by h = 40t − 5t 2 + 4, where t is in (e) What will the displacement
seconds. be at these times?
(a) Find the initial height. (f) When will there be zero
(b) Find the initial velocity. displacement?
(c) Find the height after 1 s. (g) Show that acceleration
(d) What is the maximum height a = − 4x.
of the projectile?
7. An object is travelling along a
(e) Sketch the graph of the
straight line over time t seconds,
height against time.
with displacement according to
4. The displacement in cm after the formula x = t 3 + 6t 2 − 2t + 1 m.
time t s of a particle moving (a) Find the equations of its
in a straight line is given by velocity and acceleration.
x = 2 − t − t 2. (b) What will its displacement be
(a) Find the initial displacement. after 5 s?
(b) Find when the particle will be (c) What will its velocity be
at the origin. after 5 s?
(c) Find the displacement (d) Find its acceleration after 5 s.
after 2 s.
8. The displacement, in centimetres,
(d) How far will the particle
of a body is given by x = (4t − 3)5 ,
move in the ﬁrst 2 seconds?
where t is time in seconds.
(e) Find its velocity after 3 s. .
(a) Find equations for velocity x
..
5. The equation for displacement of and acceleration x .
. ..
a particle is given by x = e 2t + 1 m (b) Find the values of x, x and x
after time t seconds. after 1 s.
(a) Find the initial velocity. (c) Describe the motion of the
(b) Find the exact acceleration body after 1 s.
after 1 s.
9. The displacement of a particle, in
(c) Show that the acceleration is
metres, over time t seconds
always double the velocity.
1
(d) Sketch the graph of velocity is s = ut + gt 2, where u = 5 and
2
over time t. g = − 10.
(a) Find the equation of the
6. The displacement of a pendulum
velocity of the particle.
is given by x = cos 2t cm after
(b) Find the velocity after 10 s.
time t seconds.
(c) Show that the acceleration is
(a) Find the equation for the
equal to g.
velocity of the pendulum.
(b) Find the equation for its 10. The displacement in metres after
acceleration. 2t − 5
t seconds is given by s = .
(c) Find the initial displacement. 3t + 1
Find the equations for velocity
and acceleration.
Chapter 6 Applications of Calculus to the Physical World 245
x = # v dt
v = # a dt
EXAMPLES
Solution
x = # v dt
= # (3t 2 + 2t + 1) dt
= t3 + t2 + t + C
Initially means t = 0
When t = 0, x = − 2
` − 2 = 03 + 02 + 0 + C
=C
` x = t3 + t2 + t − 2
When t = 5,
x = 53 + 52 + 5 − 2
= 125 + 25 + 5 − 2
= 153
So after 5 s the particle will be 153 cm to the right of the origin.
Chapter 6 Applications of Calculus to the Physical World 247
2
2. The acceleration of a particle is given by a = 6 − ms − 2. If the
(t + 1) 2
particle is initially at rest 1 m to the right of the origin, ﬁnd its exact
displacement after 9 s.
Solution
v= # a dt
= # e 6 − (t +21) 2 o dt
When t = 9
x = 3 (9) 2 + 2 loge (9 + 1) − 2 (9) + 1
= 243 + 2 loge 10 − 18 + 1
= 226 + 2 loge 10
= 2 (113 + loge 10)
6.5 Exercises
1. The velocity of a particle is given a velocity of 4 ms− 1, ﬁnd the
by v = 3t2 − 5 cms− 1. If the particle equation of the height of the
is at the origin initially, ﬁnd its projectile.
displacement after 3 s.
9. A particle is accelerating
2. A particle has velocity given by according to the equation
dx a = (3t + 1)2 ms− 2. If the particle
= 2t − 3 ms − 1. After 3 s the
dt is initially at rest 2 m to the
particle is at the origin. Find its left of 0, ﬁnd its displacement
displacement after 7 s. after 4 s.
3. The velocity of a particle is given 10. The velocity of a particle is given
by v = 4 − 3t cms − 1. If the particle by v = e t − 1 ms − 1. If the particle
is 5 cm from the origin after 2 s, is initially 3 m to the right of
ﬁnd the displacement after 7 s. the origin, ﬁnd its exact position
4. The velocity of a particle is given after 5 s.
by v = 8t3 − 3t2 cms− 1. If the 11. A particle accelerates according
particle is initially at the origin, to the equation a = − e 2t . If the
ﬁnd particle has initial velocity
(a) its acceleration after 5 s of zero cms− 1 and initial
(b) its displacement after 3 s displacement of − 1 cm, ﬁnd its
(c) when it will be at the origin displacement after 4 s, to the
again. nearest centimetre.
5. The velocity of a particle is given 12. The acceleration of a particle
by x: = 3e3t cms− 1. Given that the is given by a = − 9 sin 3t cms− 2.
particle is initially 2 cm to the If the initial velocity is 5 cms− 1
right of the origin, ﬁnd its exact and the particle is 3 cm to the
displacement after 1 s. left of the origin, ﬁnd the exact
6. A particle has a constant displacement after π s.
acceleration of 12 ms− 2. If the 13. The velocity of a particle is given
particle has a velocity of 2 ms− 1 t
and is 3 m from the origin after by x: = 2 ms − 1. If the particle
t +3
5 s, ﬁnd its displacement after 10 s.
is initially at the origin, ﬁnd its
7. The acceleration of an object is displacement after 10 s, correct to
given by 6t + 4 cms− 2. The particle 2 decimal places.
is initially at rest at the origin. Find
14. The acceleration of an object is
(a) its velocity after 5 s
given by a = e 3t ms − 2. If initially
(b) its displacement after 5 s.
the object is at the origin
8. A projectile is accelerating at a with velocity − 2 ms − 1, ﬁnd its
constant rate of − 9.8 ms− 2. If displacement after 3 seconds,
it is initially 2 m high and has correct to 3 signiﬁcant ﬁgures.
Chapter 6 Applications of Calculus to the Physical World 249
Test Yourself 6
1. A particle moves so that its displacement 8. The acceleration of a particle is
..
after t seconds is x = 4t 2 − 5t 3 metres. Find x = 6t − 12 ms− 2 . The particle is initially
(a) its initial displacement, velocity and at rest 3 metres to the left of the origin.
acceleration (a) Find the
(b) when the particle is at the origin (i) acceleration
(c) its maximum displacement. (ii) velocity
(iii) displacement after 5 seconds.
2. The velocity of a particle is given by
(b) Describe the motion of the particle
V = 6t − 12t2 ms− 1 . Find its displacement
after 5 seconds.
and acceleration after 3 seconds if it is
initially 5 m to the right of the origin. 9. The graph below shows the displacement
of a particle.
3. A city doubles its population in 25 years.
If it is growing exponentially, when will
it triple its population?
12. The height of a ball is h = 20t − 5t2 metres 14. The graph below shows the velocity of a
after t seconds. particle.
(a) Find the height after 1 s.
(b) What is the maximum height of
the ball?
(c) What is the time of ﬂight of the ball?
Challenge Exercise 6
1. (a) Find an equation for the 3. (a) Find an equation for the
displacement of a particle from the displacement of a particle from the
origin if its acceleration is given by origin if its acceleration is given by
dv dv
= 6 cos 3t cms − 2 and initially the = − 16 cos 4t cms− 2 and initially the
dt dt
particle is at rest 2 cm to the right of the particle is at rest 1 cm to the right of the
origin. origin.
(b) Write the acceleration of the particle (b) Find the exact velocity of the particle
in terms of x. when it is 0.5 cm from the origin.
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