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Homework Help: Circular Motion of a carousel

  1. Sep 22, 2013 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data A carousel takes 1.5 min to complete one revolution while rotating at a constant rate. A person rides on the carousel platform at a distance 3.2m from the center.

    (a) From its state of constant rotation, the carousel then uniformly slows to a stop in time (delta t). Produce a diagram qualitatively indicating the rider's position, velocity, and acceleration at an instant during which the carousel slows.

    (b) Produce expressions for the time dependence of the rider's speed and acceleration during the time while the carousel slows.

    2. Relevant equations



    3. The attempt at a solution
    (a) When the carousel slows down the magnitude of the acceleration and the magnitude of the velocity are going to decrease. When it finally stops rotating, the acceleration and velocity will go to zero. Intuition tells me these statements are true, but I don't know how to represent these ideas qualitatively.

    (b)I have attached a image of my approach for this part.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 22, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    There are two accelerations to consider: centripetal and linear. You'll want to show the directions of both on your diagrams, as well as their resultant (they are vectors that you can add for a net acceleration).

    For (b), start by assuming some initial speed for the rider, say Vo. Write an expression that would give velocity V(t) if the velocity goes from Vo to 0 over time Δt. Hint: it's a linear (straight line) relationship for which you know the start and end points.
  4. Sep 22, 2013 #3
    Did you have a chance to look at the diagrams I have attached? I am showing the initial velocity as Vi and then 2 more periods that represent slowing and stopped. Is it close to what you are describing?

    I am confused on how it can be linear if it is moving in a circle. Can you elaborate on that point?
  5. Sep 22, 2013 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, I saw your attachment. It might be better if you were to number the positions and designate the vectors at those locations with subscripts referring to those numbers, like ##a_{c_2}## for the centripetal acceleration at point 2, rather than using Δ (which is usually reserved to mean "change in" some variable). You'll want to place vectors for the velocity and accelerations at each point.

    An object moving in a circle has some speed at any point along its path. While the overall motion may be circular, at any given instant in time that speed is associated with a velocity vector that points in the direction of motion which is tangent to the circle at that point. The speed is just the magnitude of that velocity vector. Speed is a scalar value that does not have any particular direction associated with it.

    The problem states that the rotation rate uniformly slows to a stop over some period of time. That means the speed of the rider also drops uniformly. "Uniformly" is physics-speak for a linear relationship. So the speed is dropping linearly from its initial value down to zero.
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