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Center of mass

Interactions between parts of a system transfer momentum between the parts, but do not change the total momentum of the system. We can define apoint called the center of mass that serves as an average location of a system of parts.

The center of mass need not necessarily be at a location that is either in or on one of the parts. For example, the center of mass of a pair of heavy rods connected at oneend so as to form a "V" shape is somewhere in space between the two rods.

Having determined the center of mass for a system, we can treat the mass of the system as if it were all concentrated at the center of mass.

Location of the center of mass

For a system composed of two masses, the center of mass lies somewhere on a line between the two masses. The center of mass is a weighted average of the positions of the twomasses.

Facts worth remembering -- Center of mass for two objects

For a pair of masses located at two points along the x-axis, we can write

xcm = (m1*x1/M) + (m2*x2/M)


  • xcm is the x-coordinate of the center of mass
  • m1 and m2 are the values of the two masses
  • x1 and x2 are the locations of the two masses
  • M is the sum of m1 and m2

Multiple masses in three dimensions

When we have multiple masses in three dimensions, the definition of the center of mass is somewhat more complicated.

Facts worth remembering -- Center of mass for many objects

Vector form:

rcm = sum over all i(mi*ri / M)

Component form:

xcm = sum over all i(mi*xi / M)

ycm = sum over all i(mi*yi / M)

zcm = sum over all i(mi*zi / M)


  • Vector form
    • rcm is a position vector describing the location of the center of mass
    • ri are position vectors describing the locations of all the masses
    • mi are masses for i=1, i=2, etc.
  • Component form
    • xcm, ycm, and zcm are the locations of the center of mass along 3-dimensional axes.
    • mi are masses for i=1, i=2, etc.
    • xi, yi, and zi are the locations of the masses along 3-dimensional axes for i=1, i=2, etc.
    • M is the sum of all of the masses

Motion of the center of mass

It can be shown that in an isolated system, the center of mass must move with constant velocity regardless of the motions of the individual particles.

It can be shown that in a non-isolated system, if a net external force acts on a system, the center of mass does not movewith constant velocity. Instead, it moves as if all the mass were concentrated there into a fictitious point particle with all the external forces acting on that point.

Example scenarios

This section contains explanations and computations involving momentum, impulse, action and reaction, andthe conservation of momentum.

Momentum examples

This section contains several examples involving momentum

A sprinter

Use the Google calculator to compute the momentum of a 70-kg sprinter running 30 m/s at 0 degrees.

Answer: 2100 kg*m/s at 0 degrees

A truck

Use the Google calculator to compute the momentum in kg*m/s of a 2205-lb truck traveling 33.6 miles per hour at 0 degrees when the changes listed belowoccur:

  1. Initial momentum
  2. Momentum when velocity is doubled
  3. Momentum at initial velocity when mass is doubled
  4. Momentum when both velocity and mass are doubled

Questions & Answers

what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Mueller Reply
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