<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Torque is the analog of force and moment of inertia is the analog of mass. Force and mass are physical quantities that depend on only one factor. For example, mass is related solely to the numbers of atoms of various types in an object. Are torque and moment of inertia similarly simple?

No. Torque depends on three factors: force magnitude, force direction, and point of application. Moment of inertia depends on both mass and its distribution relative to the axis of rotation. So, while the analogies are precise, these rotational quantities depend on more factors.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Section summary

  • The farther the force is applied from the pivot, the greater is the angular acceleration; angular acceleration is inversely proportional to mass.
  • If we exert a force F size 12{F} {} on a point mass m size 12{m} {} that is at a distance r size 12{r} {} from a pivot point and because the force is perpendicular to r size 12{r} {} , an acceleration a = F/m size 12{F} {} is obtained in the direction of F size 12{F} {} . We can rearrange this equation such that
    F = ma , size 12{F} {","}

    and then look for ways to relate this expression to expressions for rotational quantities. We note that a = rα size 12{F} {} , and we substitute this expression into F=ma size 12{F} {} , yielding

    F=mrα size 12{F} {}
  • Torque is the turning effectiveness of a force. In this case, because F size 12{F} {} is perpendicular to r size 12{r} {} , torque is simply τ = rF size 12{F} {} . If we multiply both sides of the equation above by r size 12{r} {} , we get torque on the left-hand side. That is,
    rF = mr 2 α size 12{ ital "rF"= ital "mr" rSup { size 8{2} } α} {}


    τ = mr 2 α . size 12{τ= ital "mr" rSup { size 8{2} } α "." } {}
  • The moment of inertia I size 12{I} {} of an object is the sum of MR 2 size 12{ ital "MR" rSup { size 8{2} } } {} for all the point masses of which it is composed. That is,
    I = mr 2 . size 12{I= sum ital "mr" rSup { size 8{2} } "." } {}
  • The general relationship among torque, moment of inertia, and angular acceleration is
    τ = size 12{τ=Iα} {}


    α = net τ I size 12{α= { { ital "net"`τ} over {I} } cdot } {}

Conceptual questions

The moment of inertia of a long rod spun around an axis through one end perpendicular to its length is ML 2 /3 size 12{"ML" rSup { size 8{2} } "/3"} {} . Why is this moment of inertia greater than it would be if you spun a point mass M at the location of the center of mass of the rod (at L / 2 size 12{L/2} {} )? (That would be ML 2 /4 size 12{"ML" rSup { size 8{2} } "/4"} {} .)

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Why is the moment of inertia of a hoop that has a mass M and a radius R greater than the moment of inertia of a disk that has the same mass and radius? Why is the moment of inertia of a spherical shell that has a mass M and a radius R greater than that of a solid sphere that has the same mass and radius?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Give an example in which a small force exerts a large torque. Give another example in which a large force exerts a small torque.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

While reducing the mass of a racing bike, the greatest benefit is realized from reducing the mass of the tires and wheel rims. Why does this allow a racer to achieve greater accelerations than would an identical reduction in the mass of the bicycle’s frame?

The given figure shows a racing bicycle leaning on a door.
The image shows a side view of a racing bicycle. Can you see evidence in the design of the wheels on this racing bicycle that their moment of inertia has been purposely reduced? (credit: Jesús Rodriguez)
Got questions? Get instant answers now!

A ball slides up a frictionless ramp. It is then rolled without slipping and with the same initial velocity up another frictionless ramp (with the same slope angle). In which case does it reach a greater height, and why?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!


This problem considers additional aspects of example Calculating the Effect of Mass Distribution on a Merry-Go-Round . (a) How long does it take the father to give the merry-go-round an angular velocity of 1.50 rad/s? (b) How many revolutions must he go through to generate this velocity? (c) If he exerts a slowing force of 300 N at a radius of 1.35 m, how long would it take him to stop them?

(a) 0.338 s

(b) 0.0403 rev

(c) 0.313 s

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Questions & Answers

does the force in a system result in the energy transfer?
Lebatam Reply
full meaning of GPS system
Anaele Reply
how to prove that Newton's law of universal gravitation F = GmM ______ R²
Kaka Reply
sir dose it apply to the human system
Olubukola Reply
prove that the centrimental force Fc= M1V² _________ r
Kaka Reply
prove that centripetal force Fc = MV² ______ r
how lesers can transmit information
mitul Reply
griffts bridge derivative
Ganesh Reply
below me
please explain; when a glass rod is rubbed with silk, it becomes positive and the silk becomes negative- yet both attracts dust. does dust have third types of charge that is attracted to both positive and negative
Timothy Reply
what is a conductor
below me
why below you
no....I said below me ...... nothing below .....ok?
dust particles contains both positive and negative charge particles
corona charge can verify
when pressure increases the temperature remain what?
Ibrahim Reply
remains the temperature
what is frequency
Mbionyi Reply
define precision briefly
Sujitha Reply
CT scanners do not detect details smaller than about 0.5 mm. Is this limitation due to the wavelength of x rays? Explain.
hope this helps
what's critical angle
Mahmud Reply
The Critical Angle Derivation So the critical angle is defined as the angle of incidence that provides an angle of refraction of 90-degrees. Make particular note that the critical angle is an angle of incidence value. For the water-air boundary, the critical angle is 48.6-degrees.
dude.....next time Google it
okay whatever
pls who can give the definition of relative density?
the ratio of the density of a substance to the density of a standard, usually water for a liquid or solid, and air for a gas.
What is momentum
aliyu Reply
mass ×velocity
it is the product of mass ×velocity of an object
how do I highlight a sentence]p? I select the sentence but get options like copy or web search but no highlight. tks. src
Sean Reply
then you can edit your work anyway you want
Practice Key Terms 3

Get the best College physics course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'College physics' conversation and receive update notifications?