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Energy lost in toy due to friction?

  1. Aug 22, 2012 #1
    I recently bought a toy that has this magnetic disc riding on a metal rail.

    http://www.fizzicseducation.com.au/online%20store/large%20images/magnet%20rail%20twirler.gif [Broken]

    After letting it gain momentum, I tilted it downwards and let it climb and fall (making U shape paths) and then come to a stop. I observed that it came to a stop rather quickly; maybe after 3 - 4 oscillations. Then I wondered, since energy cannot be destroyed, the only explanation is that kinetic energy in the toy is lost as heat and sound.

    Is it really just that? Just heat and sound? My wife said energy is lost to overcome gravity but I told her gravity is a force and has nothing to do with conversion of energy. Am I right to say that?

    Thanks in advance for any clarifications.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2012 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Gravity is a conservative force, so you are right on that point.

    I think most of the frictional losses come at the ends of the motion. If you watch the spinning, does it stop at the ends before the wheel starts to go the other way? The stopping of the spinning happens because of the friction of the axle on the rails where the linear motion is stopped.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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