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Force Exerted by a Wedge Supporting a Sphere

  1. Nov 13, 2011 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    A solid sphere of radius R and mass M is placed in a wedge. The inner surfaces of the wedge are frictionless. Determine force exerted at point A and point B.

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I'm pretty baffled about how to apply these equations to this situation. I would say to use some torque and the given angles to determine what force is applied. However, the forces are applied parallel to the distance traveled, so there is no torque from that.

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 13, 2011 #2
    This is a statics problem. Don't worry about torque. The sphere isn't moving so sum of the forces in the x and y direction is 0. Let the center of the sphere be (0,0) you must find the coordinates for pt A and B. Draw a horizontal line through the origin (0,0). My guess is that the angle between the horizontal line and OB is beta and the angle between the horizontal line and OA is Alpha. Convince yourself of that by basic geometry relationships. Draw a free body of the sphere and sum of the forces in the x and y directions equal 0.

    This problem is a little ugly with the geometry but doable.
  4. Nov 13, 2011 #3
    You need to have the upwards forces from A and B add to give the downwards force of gravity, also the horizontal components of the forces from A and B must be equal. There's two equations with two unknowns :)
  5. Nov 14, 2011 #4
    Actually alpha and beta are the angles at the bottom. And I'm clueless as to how to use those angles to do the necessary trigonometry to find the components of A and B.
  6. Nov 14, 2011 #5
    The angle from the corner of the wedge to A to the center of the ball is [itex]\frac{\pi}{2}[/itex] as is the angle from the corner to B to the center.
  7. Nov 14, 2011 #6
    I realize that alpha and beta are the angles at the bottom. Might they also be the angles from a horizontal line through the origin and OA and OB? You will need to do some geometry to confirm that. The coordinates for B are (Rcosβ, -Rsinβ) Do you know why? Same process for A.
  8. Nov 14, 2011 #7
    I thought that too. But sadly, alpha and beta aren't equal to each other.
  9. Nov 14, 2011 #8
    But the wedge is tangent to the ball at the points of contact so the angles are right angles.
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