1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Horizontal force on a pendelum - what drives it upwards?

  1. Mar 22, 2013 #1
    Two questions:

    1) If you have a horizontal force in the x direction on a pendelum supported by a wire, then it will go upwards and in the x-direction. What is the vertical component which drags it upwards?

    Is it the normal force which adjusts itself along the wire to match the horizontal force?

    2) During the act of motion, will the speed be constant if the force isn't too big? Ie, will the normal force adjust itself in such a manner that it matches the horizontal force and gravity in magnitude?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 22, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Yes, if I understand "normal force" to mean "force normal to the motion", this is just the tension force in the wire.

    It should be obvious that this is NOT true. Since the bob of the pendulum is moving in a vertical circle, its height, and so potential energy, changes. By "conservation of energy", its kinetic energy, and so its speed, must change. (And, of course, it has to come to a stop in order to go back the opposite direction.)
  4. Mar 22, 2013 #3
    Gravity acts downwards and the applied force only has an x component: what other force is acting on the pendulum bob? What direction does it act in - so what is its upwards component?

    Initially the pendulum is at rest. What is the speed after 1 second? What about after 0.001 seconds?

    To understand what happens you really need to look at the direction of the forces and the velocity of the pendulum bob. Can you draw vectors to represent the forces at any point in time?
  5. Mar 22, 2013 #4
    I meant while the horizontal force is still active.

    mranchovy: yeah, I'll do that later.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook