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Homework Help: Harmonic oscillator

  1. Dec 10, 2013 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    A harmonic oscillator oscillates with an amplitude A. In one period of oscillation, what is the distance travelled by the oscillator?

    2. Relevant equations

    I'm not sure which equation applies if any?

    3. The attempt at a solution
    My guess was 2A but the answer was 4A.

    I'm sure this is very easy, but can you please point me in the right direction?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 10, 2013 #2


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    Gold Member

    A harmonic oscillator is a system with two degrees of freedom,position and momentum.Any two points within the range of oscillation is passed twice but the state of the oscillator is not the same in the moments that the oscillator is passing that point.In fact the state of the oscillator is uniquely determined by its momentum and position(there maybe other choices too). So only when you reach a point that both position and momentum are the same as a nearly past moment,you can tell one period is finished.
  4. Dec 10, 2013 #3
    I think I understand...
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013
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