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Homework Help: Drag (Unit Analysis)

  1. Sep 29, 2008 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    A marble of mass m falls through a fluid and is subject to the drag force F=-Av, where v is the velocity of the marble. The marble will reach a terminal speed given by v=(mg)/A. Use dimensional analysis to estimate how long it will take to reach the terminal speed. (Hint: A characteristic "time" can be constructed from A, g, and m.)

    3. The attempt at a solution
    The units on A are F/v= (kg/s).
    The units on g are m/(s^2).
    The units on m are kg.

    However, g is the only value with meters, so I don't know how I'm supposed to combine them and get time, unless it's just m/A, but then why did the book give a hint about using g? Thanks for the help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2008 #2
  4. Sep 30, 2008 #3


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    Yeah, the characteristic time, [tex]\tau[/tex], is, as you astutely noted, m/A. But this is derived from the terminal velocity (a function of m, g, and A) and the acceleration of gravity, g. So use dimensional analysis to find [tex]\tau[/tex] by combining ,in some fashion, terminal velocity and g.
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