# Help with algebra in a physics problem

by JoshHolloway
Tags: algebra, physics
 P: 222 I don't need help with the physics, it is simply the algebra that I can't figure out in this problem. Here am where I am at: $$-m_{1} a + \mu ( m_{1} g \cos \theta ) + m_{1} g \sin \theta = \frac{\m_{2} a +m_{2} g \cos \theta }{ \cos \theta }$$ I need to solve for a. How the heck do I do this? How can I factor the a's into just one a?
P: 666
 Quote by JoshHolloway I don't need help with the physics, it is simply the algebra that I can't figure out in this problem. Here am where I am at: $$-m_{1} a + \mu ( m_{1} g \cos \theta ) + m_{1} g \sin \theta = \frac{\m_{2} a + m_{2} g \cos \theta }{ \cos \theta }$$ I need to solve for a. How the heck do I do this? How can I factor the a's into just one a?
My suggestion is to multiply both sides by cosθ, thereby eliminating any fractions. From there, rearrange terms so that any term with an a in it is on one side, and everything else is on another. Now you can factor an a out of this and solve.

Alex
 P: 222 in the fraction it is supposed to say m2, not just a subscript two. I don't know what I did wrong. And I did that. Here I will show you how far I have gotten past that. Just a few minutes...
 P: 222 Help with algebra in a physics problem $$\cos \theta [-m_{1} a + \mu ( m_{1} g \cos \theta ) + m_{1} g \sin \theta] = m_{2} a +m_{2} g \cos \theta$$
P: 666
 Quote by JoshHolloway $$\cos \theta [-m_{1} a + \mu ( m_{1} g \cos \theta ) + m_{1} g \sin \theta] = m_{2} a +m_{2} g \cos \theta$$
That's step 1. Now distribute the cosine and put all of the terms containing an a in them on one side. Tell me what you get.

Alex
 P: 222 alright just one moment....
 P: 222 $$-m_{1} a \cos \theta + \mu ( m_{1} g \cos ^2 \theta ) + m_{1} g \sin \theta \cos \theta = m_{2} a +m_{2} g \cos \theta$$
 P: 222 I distributed, now one moment and I will attempt to do the second step you said. By the way this is REALLY helping.
 P: 222 $$\mu ( m_{1} g \cos ^2 \theta ) + m_{1} g \sin \theta \cos \theta - m_{2} g \cos \theta = m_{1} a \cos \theta + m_{2} a$$
 P: 222 $$\mu ( m_{1} g \cos ^2 \theta ) + m_{1} g \sin \theta \cos \theta - m_{2} g \cos \theta = a (m_{1} \cos \theta + m_{2})$$
 P: 222 You are a godsend! Thanks alot friend.
P: 666
 Quote by JoshHolloway You are a godsend! Thanks alot friend.