# Finding maximum height of a string before it goes slack

• green-beans
In summary, the problem involves a suspended mass subject to air resistance and the goal is to find the largest value of h such that the string never becomes slack. Using the given equations and attempting a solution, the characteristic equation was found to have 2 complex roots which led to the general solution x(t) = e^(-μt)(Acos(νt) + Bsin(νt)). Setting the initial conditions x(0) = h and x'(0) = 0, the coefficients A and B were found to be -h and -μh/ν respectively. However, it is unclear how to determine the greatest value of h in this solution and whether the condition for the string to never become slack means that x
green-beans

## Homework Statement

A mass m is suspended by a light elastic string. When the mass remains at rest it is at a point 0, which is a distance a + b below the point from which the string is suspended from the ceiling, where a is the natural length of the string. The mass is pulled down a distance h below 0 and released from rest. The moving mass is subject to air resistance of magnitude cv per unit mass, where c is a positive constant and v is the speed of the mass.
Show that if bc2 < 4g then the largest value of h such that the string never becomes slack is h = be(πµ/ν), where µ = c/2 and ν = 1/2√{(4g/b) − c2}.

## Homework Equations

I deduced the differential equation of motion in terms of the displacement x of the mass below 0 (until the string goes slack) to be x'' + cx' + (g/b)x = 0.

## The Attempt at a Solution

bc2 < 4g occurs when the characteristic equation has 2 complex roots λ = (-c/2) ± i{√|c2 - 4g/b|}/2
So, the solution would be
x=e(-c/2)t*(Asin{1/2*√|c2-4g/b|}t + Bcos{1/2*√|c2-4g/b|}t)
Then I tried differentiating the expression and setting first derivative to zero to find the maximum value of x but it did not work as I could not even solve the equation. Also I do not quite understand where π in the answer came from.
I would appreciate if someone could give me some direction on how to do this question.

Thanks!

green-beans said:

## Homework Statement

A mass m is suspended by a light elastic string. When the mass remains at rest it is at a point 0, which is a distance a + b below the point from which the string is suspended from the ceiling, where a is the natural length of the string. The mass is pulled down a distance h below 0 and released from rest. The moving mass is subject to air resistance of magnitude cv per unit mass, where c is a positive constant and v is the speed of the mass.
Show that if bc2 < 4g then the largest value of h such that the string never becomes slack is h = be(πµ/ν), where µ = c/2 and ν = 1/2√{(4g/b) − c2}.

## Homework Equations

I deduced the differential equation of motion in terms of the displacement x of the mass below 0 (until the string goes slack) to be x'' + cx' + (g/b)x = 0.

## The Attempt at a Solution

bc2 < 4g occurs when the characteristic equation has 2 complex roots λ = (-c/2) ± i{√|c2 - 4g/b|}/2
So, the solution would be
x=e(-c/2)t*(Asin{1/2*√|c2-4g/b|}t + Bcos{1/2*√|c2-4g/b|}t)
Then I tried differentiating the expression and setting first derivative to zero to find the maximum value of x but it did not work as I could not even solve the equation. Also I do not quite understand where π in the answer came from.
I would appreciate if someone could give me some direction on how to do this question.

Thanks!

I think what you have is correct. It must be simpler to set ##\nu =## the complicated expression you get from solving the quadratic. This keeps the algebra simpler.

The next step is to find the coefficients ##A## and ##B##. Why not use the initial conditions ##x(0) = \dot{x}(0) = 0##?

Last edited:
PeroK said:
I think what you have is correct. It must be simpler to set ##\nu =## the complicated expression you get from solving the quadratic. This keeps the algebra simpler.

The next step is to find the coefficients ##A## and ##B##. Why not use the initial conditions ##x(0) = \dot{x}(0) = 0##?
Thank you for your reply! However, I keep on getting that A and B are zero if I use that x(0)=x'(0)=0 and this reduces the whole equation to 0 which is impossible.

You have to define where ##x=0## is. I figured ##x=0## when length of string is ##a+b## ( Ah, the problem statement says so ). That way ##x(0) = -h,\ \ \dot x(0)=0 ## makes more sense.

I think we need to define mathematically what the condition "the string never becomes slack" means. Does it mean (as I assume) that ##x(t)\leq b## because since the system will do oscillation around the point O, if the displacement becomes greater than b then the string will become(at a certain time point) less than its natural size which I suppose that's what slack means.

green-beans said:
Thank you for your reply! However, I keep on getting that A and B are zero if I use that x(0)=x'(0)=0 and this reduces the whole equation to 0 which is impossible.

Apologies, it should be, of course, ##x(0) = h## and ##\dot{x}(0) = 0##.

The other point is that even if you had not been given the definitions of ##\mu## and ##\nu## you should have done this yourself. Once you have solved the characteristic equation, you should have set:

##\lambda = -\mu \pm i\nu##

Or, something similar. Then your general solution is:

##x(t) = e^{-\mu t}(A\cos(\nu t) + B\sin(\nu t))##

Which is much easier to work with, clearer to read and quicker to type into Latex.

PeroK said:
Apologies, it should be, of course, ##x(0) = h## and ##\dot{x}(0) = 0##.

The other point is that even if you had not been given the definitions of ##\mu## and ##\nu## you should have done this yourself. Once you have solved the characteristic equation, you should have set:

##\lambda = -\mu \pm i\nu##

Or, something similar. Then your general solution is:

##x(t) = e^{-\mu t}(A\cos(\nu t) + B\sin(\nu t))##

Which is much easier to work with, clearer to read and quicker to type into Latex.

Should not ##x(0) = - h## since the mass starts below 0? Also I obtained that A = -h and B= -μh/nu but I don't quite understand how I can now find the greatest value of h. Also, since the string never becomes slack, does it mean that x(t) < 0?

green-beans said:
Should not ##x(0) = - h## since the mass starts below 0? Also I obtained that A = -h and B= -μh/nu but I don't quite understand how I can now find the greatest value of h. Also, since the string never becomes slack, does it mean that x(t) < 0?

I took downwards to be the positive direction. ##x(0) = -h## will work just as well, as it's the same general solution either way.

The solution will be damped SHM. The mass will move upwards. What is the key factor when it reaches its highest point?

PS The string will go slack if it reaches its natural length of ##a##.

PeroK said:
I took downwards to be the positive direction. ##x(0) = -h## will work just as well, as it's the same general solution either way.

The solution will be damped SHM. The mass will move upwards. What is the key factor when it reaches its highest point?

PS The string will go slack if it reaches its natural length of ##a##.

Thank you for your reply! At the highest point its velocity should become 0 so it will not go slack, is it right? If so I will need to solve v=0 as far as I understand. If yes, I then get that sin(nu)t *([μ2h/nu + h (nu)) = 0 but I cannot still see where the given expression for h comes from.

green-beans said:
Thank you for your reply! At the highest point its velocity should become 0 so it will not go slack, is it right? If so I will need to solve v=0 as far as I understand. If yes, I then get that sin(nu)t *([μ2h/nu + h (nu)) = 0 but I cannot still see where the given expression for h comes from.

Well, there's only one way that that expression is 0!

PeroK said:
Well, there's only one way that that expression is 0!

Yes, of course, it's when t=pi/nu. However, to obtain the answer from what I got it must be that (x(pi/nu)) = b which I don't quite understand why.

green-beans said:
Yes, of course, it's when t=pi/nu. However, to obtain the answer from what I got it must be that (x(pi/nu)) = b which I don't quite understand why.

The natural length of the string is ##a##. It is stretched to a length ##a+b## by the mass ##m##. This is the point ##x = 0##. The string is then stretched to a length of ##a+b+h## (that's why I thought ##x(0) = h## was more natural than ##x(0) = -h##, but no matter).

The mass rebounds to its highest point at ##t = \frac{\pi}{\nu}##. If ##x( \frac{\pi}{\nu}) > b## (using your directions), then the mass has rebounded beyond the natural length of the string, which has gone slack (and, in fact, in this case the equations and solution are no longer valid). So, ##x(\frac{\pi}{\nu}) = b## is the maximum rebound.

That's the logic of the question.

PeroK said:
The natural length of the string is ##a##. It is stretched to a length ##a+b## by the mass ##m##. This is the point ##x = 0##. The string is then stretched to a length of ##a+b+h## (that's why I thought ##x(0) = h## was more natural than ##x(0) = -h##, but no matter).

The mass rebounds to its highest point at ##t = \frac{\pi}{\nu}##. If ##x( \frac{\pi}{\nu}) > b## (using your directions), then the mass has rebounded beyond the natural length of the string, which has gone slack (and, in fact, in this case the equations and solution are no longer valid). So, ##x(\frac{\pi}{\nu}) = b## is the maximum rebound.

That's the logic of the question.

Oh right, this makes sense! Thank you so much - I now understand it :)

## 1. How do you determine the maximum height of a string before it goes slack?

The maximum height of a string before it goes slack can be determined by using the formula h = v2sin2θ/2g, where h is the maximum height, v is the initial velocity, θ is the angle of projection, and g is the acceleration due to gravity.

## 2. Does the weight of the string affect the maximum height it can reach before going slack?

Yes, the weight of the string does affect the maximum height it can reach before going slack. The heavier the string, the lower the maximum height it can reach due to the increased force of gravity acting on it.

## 3. Can you calculate the maximum height of a string without knowing its initial velocity?

No, the initial velocity is a crucial factor in calculating the maximum height of a string. Without this information, the maximum height cannot be accurately determined.

## 4. How does air resistance affect the maximum height of a string?

Air resistance can decrease the maximum height of a string by slowing down its vertical velocity. However, in most cases, the impact of air resistance on a string is minimal and can be ignored in calculations.

## 5. Is there a limit to the maximum height a string can reach before going slack?

Yes, there is a limit to the maximum height a string can reach before going slack. This limit is determined by the strength and elasticity of the string itself. Once the string reaches its maximum tension, it will begin to stretch and eventually go slack, unable to support any additional weight.

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