Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Homework Help: Angular Acceleration (I don't see HOW I can be wrong?)

  1. Nov 25, 2008 #1
    My friend in introductory physics came to me for help today. He has a test on angular momentum, acceleration etc. I figured, with me in upper-division physics courses, I'd be able to help him out. Well, I guess I was dead wrong. In half an hour I couldn't figure out a SINGLE THING. I don't see how my answers could be wrong. Everything I tried did not line up with that his professors answers were.

    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    We have a horizontal board of length 2.4 meters and mass 1.8 kg connected on the left side to a pivot point, and was suspended by some string at the other side. The string is cut, and we are to find the initial angular acceleration of the board. Sounds easy enough... as the initial acceleration is just due to gravity, the only force now acting on the board.

    2. Relevant equations

    A lot of formulas were provided, a tangential = r*a angular, t=I(angular a) t=rF. Standard equations for angular rotation.

    3. The attempt at a solution

    At first I tried simple a tangential = r a angular. I used g for the tangential acceleration and the r I used was both the full length of the board, and the cm length (l/2). Either way, I didn't get the 6.13 rad/s that the answer supposedly was.

    Next I tried using I(a)=rF, where F is due to gravity, the r was at the cm length. The I was 1/3ML^2, where L is the length of the board, M is the mass of the board (1.8 kg). I STILL did not get the correct answer.

    I'm out of ideas now, and even though this isn't my class, I still want to know why can't I get basic physics right? It's times like these that I feel like I've learned absolutely nothing as a physics major over the two-three years I've been in the department.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 25, 2008 #2
    Isn't it just the torque divided by the moment of inertia? I think the torque is (gML)/2 and the moment is (ML^2)/3 which would give 3g/2L as the answer.
  4. Nov 26, 2008 #3
    Yes, 3g/2L it is.
  5. Nov 26, 2008 #4

    Doc Al

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Gravity is not the only force on the board--you still have a force from the pivot. Accordingly, the acceleration of the center of mass does not equal g.
    This won't work, for reasons stated above.
    This is perfectly correct, so you must have made an error somewhere.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook