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This same logic explains the behavior of gyroscopes. [link] shows the two forces acting on a spinning gyroscope. The torque produced is perpendicular to the angular momentum, thus the direction of the torque is changed, but not its magnitude. The gyroscope precesses around a vertical axis, since the torque is always horizontal and perpendicular to L size 12{L} {} . If the gyroscope is not spinning, it acquires angular momentum in the direction of the torque ( L = Δ L size 12{L=ΔL} {} ), and it rotates around a horizontal axis, falling over just as we would expect.

Earth itself acts like a gigantic gyroscope. Its angular momentum is along its axis and points at Polaris, the North Star. But Earth is slowly precessing (once in about 26,000 years) due to the torque of the Sun and the Moon on its nonspherical shape.

In figure a, the gyroscope is rotating in counter clockwise direction. The weight of the gyroscope is acting downward. The supportive force is acting at the base. The line of action of the weight and supportive force are different. The torque is acting along the radius of the horizontal circular part of gyroscope. In figure b, the two vectors L and L plus delta L are shown. The vectors start from a point at the bottom of the figure and terminate at two points on a horizontal dotted circle, directed in counter clockwise direction, at the top of the figure. Another vector delta L starts from the head of vector L and terminates at the head of vector L plus delta L.
As seen in figure (a), the forces on a spinning gyroscope are its weight and the supporting force from the stand. These forces create a horizontal torque on the gyroscope, which create a change in angular momentum Δ L size 12{L} {} that is also horizontal. In figure (b), Δ L size 12{L} {} and L size 12{L} {} add to produce a new angular momentum with the same magnitude, but different direction, so that the gyroscope precesses in the direction shown instead of falling over.

Rotational kinetic energy is associated with angular momentum? Does that mean that rotational kinetic energy is a vector?

No, energy is always a scalar whether motion is involved or not. No form of energy has a direction in space and you can see that rotational kinetic energy does not depend on the direction of motion just as linear kinetic energy is independent of the direction of motion.

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Section summary

  • Torque is perpendicular to the plane formed by r size 12{r} {} and F size 12{F} {} and is the direction your right thumb would point if you curled the fingers of your right hand in the direction of F size 12{F} {} . The direction of the torque is thus the same as that of the angular momentum it produces.
  • The gyroscope precesses around a vertical axis, since the torque is always horizontal and perpendicular to L size 12{L} {} . If the gyroscope is not spinning, it acquires angular momentum in the direction of the torque ( L = Δ L size 12{L=ΔL} {} ), and it rotates about a horizontal axis, falling over just as we would expect.
  • Earth itself acts like a gigantic gyroscope. Its angular momentum is along its axis and points at Polaris, the North Star.

Conceptual questions

While driving his motorcycle at highway speed, a physics student notices that pulling back lightly on the right handlebar tips the cycle to the left and produces a left turn. Explain why this happens.

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Gyroscopes used in guidance systems to indicate directions in space must have an angular momentum that does not change in direction. Yet they are often subjected to large forces and accelerations. How can the direction of their angular momentum be constant when they are accelerated?

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Problem exercises

Integrated Concepts

The axis of Earth makes a 23.5° angle with a direction perpendicular to the plane of Earth’s orbit. As shown in [link] , this axis precesses, making one complete rotation in 25,780 y.

(a) Calculate the change in angular momentum in half this time.

(b) What is the average torque producing this change in angular momentum?

(c) If this torque were created by a single force (it is not) acting at the most effective point on the equator, what would its magnitude be?

In the figure, the Earth’s image is shown. There are two vectors inclined at an angle of twenty three point five degree to the vertical, starting from the centre of the Earth. At the heads of the two vectors there is a circular shape, directed in counter clockwise direction. An angular momentum vector, directed toward left, along its diameter, is shown. The plane of the Earth’s orbit is shown as a horizontal line through its center.
The Earth’s axis slowly precesses, always making an angle of 23.5° with the direction perpendicular to the plane of Earth’s orbit. The change in angular momentum for the two shown positions is quite large, although the magnitude L size 12{L} {} is unchanged.

(a) 5 . 64 × 10 33 kg m 2 /s size 12{5 "." "65" times "10" rSup { size 8{"33"} } `"kg" "." m rSup { size 8{2} } "/s"} {}

(b) 1 . 39 × 10 22 N m size 12{1 "." "39" times "10" rSup { size 8{"22"} } `N cdot m} {}

(c) 2 . 17 × 10 15 N size 12{2 "." "18" times "10" rSup { size 8{"15"} } `N} {}

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Questions & Answers

explain how a light wave can be propagated in accordance with the principal of reversibility
Chibuzo Reply
what is the meaning of musical instruments
Chibuzo
the definition of photon
Bright Reply
8kg of a hot liquid initial T is 90°© is missed with another liquid 3kg at 20° calculate e équilibrium T
Balki Reply
8kg of a hot liquid initial T is 90°© is missed with another liquid 3kg at 20° calculate e équilibrium T
Balki
answer plz
Bright
what are the products when acid and base mixed?
Austin
salt and water
Gift
What's this place about?
michael
@Austin your answer should be SALT and WATER
michael
salts and water
Roben
i guess salt and water
Chibuzo
what work done
Dennis Reply
work done is the product of force and distance moved in the direction of force
Gift
Work done = force (F) * distance (D)
abdulsalam
what is resounance
Abdul
y
Tracy
explain the three laws of isaac Newton with the reference
glory Reply
1st law ; a body will continue to stay at a state of rest or continue to move at a uniform motion on a straight line unless an external force is been acted upon
Austine
3rd law; in every action there is an equal or opposite reaction
Austine
2nd law: F=ma
Austine
why am i not having access to the Link in your exemples /figures ?
Augustine Reply
what is circut
hasiya Reply
newtons law of motion
hasiya
First law:In an inertial frame of reference, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force.
Manan
a circuit is an electric part Wich is linked by a wire
Chibuzo
is the ability to do work
Adjah Reply
Energy
Nwany
u from
Hejreen
any body online hain
Hejreen
ability to do work is energy
Irshad
energy
Chibuzo
what is energy
Mercy Reply
energy is ability of the capacity to doing work
shafiu
what is vector
mosco Reply
A quantity that has both magnitude and direction
Donaldo
can a body with out mass float in space
mosco
Is the quantity that has both magnitude and direction
Amoah
Yes it can float in space,e.g.polyethene has no mass that's why it can float in space
Amoah
that's my suggestion,any other explanation can be given also,thanks
Amoah
A charge of 1.6*10^-6C is placed in a uniform electric field in a density 2*5^10Nc^-1, what is the magnitude of the electric force exerted on the charge?
Omotosho Reply
what's phenomena
Enoch Reply
Phenomena is an observable fact or event.
Love
Prove that 1/d+1/v=1/f
James Reply
What interference
Moyinoluwa Reply
What is a polarized light called?
Moyinoluwa
what is a half life
Mama Reply
the time taken for a radioactive element to decay by half of its original mass
ken
what is radioactive element
mohammed
Half of the total time required by a radioactive nuclear atom to totally disintegrate
Justice
radioactive elements are those with unstable nuclei(ie have protons more than neutrons, or neutrons more than protons
Justice
in other words, the radioactive atom or elements have unequal number of protons to neutrons.
Justice
state the laws of refraction
Fabian
state laws of reflection
Fabian
Why does a bicycle rider bends towards the corner when is turning?
Mac
When do we say that the stone thrown vertically up wards accelerate negatively?
Mac
Give two importance of insulator placed between plates of a capacitor.
Mac
Macho had a shoe with a big sole moving in mudy Road, shanitah had a shoe with a small sole. Give reasons for those two cases.
Mac
Practice Key Terms 1

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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