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University Physics Volume 1

Conceptual Questions

University Physics Volume 1Conceptual Questions

Conceptual Questions

11.1 Rolling Motion


Can a round object released from rest at the top of a frictionless incline undergo rolling motion?


A cylindrical can of radius R is rolling across a horizontal surface without slipping. (a) After one complete revolution of the can, what is the distance that its center of mass has moved? (b) Would this distance be greater or smaller if slipping occurred?


A wheel is released from the top on an incline. Is the wheel most likely to slip if the incline is steep or gently sloped?


Which rolls down an inclined plane faster, a hollow cylinder or a solid sphere? Both have the same mass and radius.


A hollow sphere and a hollow cylinder of the same radius and mass roll up an incline without slipping and have the same initial center of mass velocity. Which object reaches a greater height before stopping?

11.2 Angular Momentum


Can you assign an angular momentum to a particle without first defining a reference point?


For a particle traveling in a straight line, are there any points about which the angular momentum is zero? Assume the line intersects the origin.


Under what conditions does a rigid body have angular momentum but not linear momentum?


If a particle is moving with respect to a chosen origin it has linear momentum. What conditions must exist for this particle’s angular momentum to be zero about the chosen origin?


If you know the velocity of a particle, can you say anything about the particle’s angular momentum?

11.3 Conservation of Angular Momentum


What is the purpose of the small propeller at the back of a helicopter that rotates in the plane perpendicular to the large propeller?


Suppose a child walks from the outer edge of a rotating merry-go-round to the inside. Does the angular velocity of the merry-go-round increase, decrease, or remain the same? Explain your answer. Assume the merry-go-round is spinning without friction.


As the rope of a tethered ball winds around a pole, what happens to the angular velocity of the ball?


Suppose the polar ice sheets broke free and floated toward Earth’s equator without melting. What would happen to Earth’s angular velocity?


Explain why stars spin faster when they collapse.


Competitive divers pull their limbs in and curl up their bodies when they do flips. Just before entering the water, they fully extend their limbs to enter straight down (see below). Explain the effect of both actions on their angular velocities. Also explain the effect on their angular momentum.

A drawing of a diver at several points in a dive, from just after leaving the diving board to just before entering the water. After leaving the board, the diver is in a pike position, with her legs pulled close to her body and omega is large. As she nears the water, she extends her body. She arrives at the water fully extended and vertical, and omega prime is small.

11.4 Precession of a Gyroscope


Gyroscopes used in guidance systems to indicate directions in space must have an angular momentum that does not change in direction. When placed in the vehicle, they are put in a compartment that is separated from the main fuselage, such that changes in the orientation of the fuselage does not affect the orientation of the gyroscope. If the space vehicle is subjected to large forces and accelerations how can the direction of the gyroscopes angular momentum be constant at all times?


Earth precesses about its vertical axis with a period of 26,000 years. Discuss whether Equation 11.12 can be used to calculate the precessional angular velocity of Earth.

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