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Help with a Tension Problem

  1. Sep 23, 2010 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    One 3.6 kg paint bucket is hanging by a cord from another 3.6 kg paint bucket, also hanging by a cord, as shown in the figure . The cords accelerating the buckets, each has a weight of 2.6 N.

    If the two buckets are pulled upward with an acceleration of 1.40 m/s^2 by the upper cord, determine the tension in each cord at the three points of attachment.

    2. Relevant equations


    3. The attempt at a solution

    My attempts have been little, I know how to do this to a degree if it is what the N of the buckets are but not the tension points. I know that there is the downward force of g, and the upward force of the pull. I know that it is accelerating so that means the upward force is higher then the N of the others. I guess you could say that the combined mass is 3.6x2 and the a is 1.4 so the F is (7.2)(1.4) but no clue how that helps.

    So any help on how to understand this would be helpful.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2010 #2
    I'm not sure about this either, but there is an equation for tension.....what was it....well, one such formula is F=mg, where m is mass, and g is gravity (9.8 meters/sec squared). Another one is Tension = g * (m1 * m2) / (m1 + m2) * (1 + sin Theta) or Ft = Fg + m
  4. Sep 24, 2010 #3


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    You'll want to begin by drawing some free body diagrams of the objects in the problem. Keep in mind that in this problem the cords also have weight, so it becomes slightly more complicated than when we assume that the cords have negligible weight.

    Once you have that and can see where the forces are acting, you can isolate bodies and use [tex]\vec{F}_{net}=m\vec{a}_{net}[/tex] to solve for the tensions.
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