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The explanation of this apparently astonishing coincidence is: We defined the center of mass precisely so this is exactly what we would get. Recall that first we defined the momentum of the system:

p CM = j = 1 N d p j d t .

We then concluded that the net external force on the system (if any) changed this momentum:

F = d p CM d t

and then—and here’s the point—we defined an acceleration that would obey Newton’s second law. That is, we demanded that we should be able to write

a = F M

which requires that

a = d 2 d t 2 ( 1 M j = 1 N m j r j ) .

where the quantity inside the parentheses is the center of mass of our system. So, it’s not astonishing that the center of mass obeys Newton’s second law; we defined it so that it would.

Summary

  • An extended object (made up of many objects) has a defined position vector called the center of mass.
  • The center of mass can be thought of, loosely, as the average location of the total mass of the object.
  • The center of mass of an object traces out the trajectory dictated by Newton’s second law, due to the net external force.
  • The internal forces within an extended object cannot alter the momentum of the extended object as a whole.

Conceptual questions

Suppose a fireworks shell explodes, breaking into three large pieces for which air resistance is negligible. How does the explosion affect the motion of the center of mass? How would it be affected if the pieces experienced significantly more air resistance than the intact shell?

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Problems

Three point masses are placed at the corners of a triangle as shown in the figure below.

A right triangle with sides length 3 c m and 4 c m has masses of 100 g at the vertex between the hypotenuse and the 4 c m side, 75 g at the vertex between the hypotenuse and the 3 c m side, and 150 g at the vertex between the the 3 c m side and the 4 c m side.

Find the center of mass of the three-mass system.

With the origin defined to be at the position of the 150-g mass, x CM = −1.23 cm and y CM = 0.69 cm

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Two particles of masses m 1 and m 2 separated by a horizontal distance D are released from the same height h at the same time. Find the vertical position of the center of mass of these two particles at a time before the two particles strike the ground. Assume no air resistance.

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Two particles of masses m 1 and m 2 separated by a horizontal distance D are let go from the same height h at different times. Particle 1 starts at t = 0 , and particle 2 is let go at t = T . Find the vertical position of the center of mass at a time before the first particle strikes the ground. Assume no air resistance.

y CM = { h 2 1 4 g t 2 , t < T h 1 2 g t 2 1 4 g T 2 + 1 2 g t T , t T

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Two particles of masses m 1 and m 2 move uniformly in different circles of radii R 1 and R 2 about origin in the x , y -plane. The x - and y -coordinates of the center of mass and that of particle 1 are given as follows (where length is in meters and t in seconds):
x 1 ( t ) = 4 cos ( 2 t ) , y 1 ( t ) = 4 sin ( 2 t )

and:
x CM ( t ) = 3 cos ( 2 t ) , y CM ( t ) = 3 sin ( 2 t ) .

  1. Find the radius of the circle in which particle 1 moves.
  2. Find the x - and y -coordinates of particle 2 and the radius of the circle this particle moves.
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Two particles of masses m 1 and m 2 move uniformly in different circles of radii R 1 and R 2 about the origin in the x , y -plane. The coordinates of the two particles in meters are given as follows ( z = 0 for both). Here t is in seconds:
x 1 ( t ) = 4 cos ( 2 t ) y 1 ( t ) = 4 sin ( 2 t ) x 2 ( t ) = 2 cos ( 3 t π 2 ) y 2 ( t ) = 2 sin ( 3 t π 2 )

  1. Find the radii of the circles of motion of both particles.
  2. Find the x - and y -coordinates of the center of mass.
  3. Decide if the center of mass moves in a circle by plotting its trajectory.

a. R 1 = 4 m , R 2 = 2 m ; b. X CM = m 1 x 1 + m 2 x 2 m 1 + m 2 , Y CM = m 1 y 1 + m 2 y 2 m 1 + m 2 ; c. yes, with R = 1 m 1 + m 2 16 m 1 2 + 4 m 2 2

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Find the center of mass of a one-meter long rod, made of 50 cm of iron (density 8 g cm 3 ) and 50 cm of aluminum (density 2.7 g cm 3 ).

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Find the center of mass of a rod of length L whose mass density changes from one end to the other quadratically. That is, if the rod is laid out along the x -axis with one end at the origin and the other end at x = L , the density is given by ρ ( x ) = ρ 0 + ( ρ 1 ρ 0 ) ( x L ) 2 , where ρ 0 and ρ 1 are constant values.

x c m = 3 4 L ( ρ 1 + ρ 0 ρ 1 + 2 ρ 0 )

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Find the center of mass of a rectangular block of length a and width b that has a nonuniform density such that when the rectangle is placed in the x , y -plane with one corner at the origin and the block placed in the first quadrant with the two edges along the x - and y -axes, the density is given by ρ ( x , y ) = ρ 0 x , where ρ 0 is a constant.

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Find the center of mass of a rectangular material of length a and width b made up of a material of nonuniform density. The density is such that when the rectangle is placed in the xy -plane, the density is given by ρ ( x , y ) = ρ 0 x y .

( 2 a 3 , 2 b 3 )

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A cube of side a is cut out of another cube of side b as shown in the figure below.

A large cube of side b has a cube of side a cut out of its bottom left front corner.

Find the location of the center of mass of the structure. ( Hint: Think of the missing part as a negative mass overlapping a positive mass.)

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Find the center of mass of cone of uniform density that has a radius R at the base, height h , and mass M . Let the origin be at the center of the base of the cone and have + z going through the cone vertex.

( x CM , y CM , z CM ) = ( 0,0 , h / 4 )

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Find the center of mass of a thin wire of mass m and length L bent in a semicircular shape. Let the origin be at the center of the semicircle and have the wire arc from the + x axis, cross the + y axis, and terminate at the − x axis.

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Find the center of mass of a uniform thin semicircular plate of radius R . Let the origin be at the center of the semicircle, the plate arc from the + x axis to the −x axis, and the z axis be perpendicular to the plate.

( x CM , y CM , z CM ) = ( 0 , 4 R / ( 3 π ) , 0 )

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Find the center of mass of a sphere of mass M and radius R and a cylinder of mass m , radius r , and height h arranged as shown below.

Figure a has a sphere on top of a vertical cylinder. Figure b has a sphere centered on top of a horizontal cylinder.

Express your answers in a coordinate system that has the origin at the center of the cylinder.

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Questions & Answers

definition of inertia
philip Reply
the reluctance of a body to start moving when it is at rest and to stop moving when it is in motion
charles
An inherent property by virtue of which the body remains in its pure state or initial state
Kushal
why current is not a vector quantity , whereas it have magnitude as well as direction.
Aniket Reply
why
daniel
the flow of current is not current
fitzgerald
what is binomial theorem
Tollum Reply
hello are you ready to ask aquestion?
Saadaq Reply
what is binary operations
Tollum
What is the formula to calculat parallel forces that acts in opposite direction?
Martan Reply
position, velocity and acceleration of vector
Manuel Reply
hi
peter
hi
daniel
hi
Vedisha
*a plane flies with a velocity of 1000km/hr in a direction North60degree east.find it effective velocity in the easterly and northerly direction.*
imam
hello
Lydia
hello Lydia.
Sackson
What is momentum
isijola
hello
Saadaq
A rail way truck of mass 2400kg is hung onto a stationary trunk on a level track and collides with it at 4.7m|s. After collision the two trunk move together with a common speed of 1.2m|s. Calculate the mass of the stationary trunk
Ekuri Reply
I need the solving for this question
philip
is the eye the same like the camera
EDWIN Reply
I can't understand
Suraia
same here please
Josh
I think the question is that ,,, the working principal of eye and camera same or not?
Sardar
yes i think is same as the camera
muhammad
what are the dimensions of surface tension
samsfavor
why is the "_" sign used for a wave to the right instead of to the left?
MUNGWA Reply
why classical mechanics is necessary for graduate students?
khyam Reply
classical mechanics?
Victor
principle of superposition?
Naveen Reply
principle of superposition allows us to find the electric field on a charge by finding the x and y components
Kidus
Two Masses,m and 2m,approach each along a path at right angles to each other .After collision,they stick together and move off at 2m/s at angle 37° to the original direction of the mass m. What where the initial speeds of the two particles
MB
2m & m initial velocity 1.8m/s & 4.8m/s respectively,apply conservation of linear momentum in two perpendicular directions.
Shubhrant
A body on circular orbit makes an angular displacement given by teta(t)=2(t)+5(t)+5.if time t is in seconds calculate the angular velocity at t=2s
MB
2+5+0=7sec differentiate above equation w.r.t time, as angular velocity is rate of change of angular displacement.
Shubhrant
Ok i got a question I'm not asking how gravity works. I would like to know why gravity works. like why is gravity the way it is. What is the true nature of gravity?
Daniel Reply
gravity pulls towards a mass...like every object is pulled towards earth
Ashok
An automobile traveling with an initial velocity of 25m/s is accelerated to 35m/s in 6s,the wheel of the automobile is 80cm in diameter. find * The angular acceleration
Goodness Reply
(10/6) ÷0.4=4.167 per sec
Shubhrant
what is the formula for pressure?
Goodness Reply
force/area
Kidus
force is newtom
Kidus
and area is meter squared
Kidus
so in SI units pressure is N/m^2
Kidus
In customary United States units pressure is lb/in^2. pound per square inch
Kidus
who is Newton?
John Reply
scientist
Jeevan
a scientist
Peter
that discovered law of motion
Peter
ok
John
but who is Isaac newton?
John
a postmodernist would say that he did not discover them, he made them up and they're not actually a reality in itself, but a mere construct by which we decided to observe the word around us
elo
how?
Qhoshe
Besides his work on universal gravitation (gravity), Newton developed the 3 laws of motion which form the basic principles of modern physics. His discovery of calculus led the way to more powerful methods of solving mathematical problems. His work in optics included the study of white light and
Daniel
and the color spectrum
Daniel
Practice Key Terms 4

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Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 1. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12031/1.5
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