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Homework Help: Force from potential equation

  1. Mar 9, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    A particle is trapped in a potential well described by U(x)= 1.8 x²-b where U is in joules, x is in meters, and b = 4.5 J.

    Find the force on the particle when it's at x = 2.8m
    Find the force on the particle when it's at x = 0 m
    Find the force on the particle when it's at x = -1.4 m.

    2. Relevant equations

    F(x) = -dU(x) / dx

    3. The attempt at a solution

    so I just differentiated U(x), slapped a negative sign, and ended up with F(x) = 3.6x

    Plugged in 2.8m, ended up with -10.08, and it ain't right. Any ideas why? I'm thinking it might have to do with the phrase "potential well".
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2009 #2
    Never mind :blushing:

    F(x) = U(x) / x

    edit: (never mind)² by using this, part B came out correct, (the answer would be zero), but it doesn't make sense. By plugging zero in there, you're dividing by zero, which is ILLEGAL. so i guess im back here for help, lol.

    edit: (never mind)³ /sigh the way i had it originally was correct, but online I put in the wrong number of significant figures. oh well.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
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