# How Do You Calculate Energy Dissipated by Drag Force in AP Physics C Mechanics?

• kpachla
In summary, the resistive motion problem on the AP exam is asking for the energy dissipated by drag over a free fall. The student can integrate over quadratic drag, but first has to solve a differential equation for a free fall with drag. Once they know the answer, it's easy, but it's not the AP-level stuff.
kpachla
Hi All -

2nd year in my teaching career and already I'm teaching an AP C: Mechanics course! As I'm creating my midterm for my students, I'm looking at AP Free Response questions to give them practice for the real thing. As we're only 8 units in, my selections are limited to Work, Energy, Dynamics, and Kinematics essentially. That said, I've found what I find to be a great resistive motion problem.

The exam is on AP's website http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/repository/physics_c_m_00.pdf".

My problem is concerning the last part of Question 2 in the Mechanics section. It reads "Determine the energy dissipated by the drag force during the fall if the ball is released at height h and reaches its terminal speed before hitting the ground, in terms of the given quantities and fundamental constants"

I can easily see how my students would produce the answer of "Energy dissipated is what would be predicted by conservation of energy - what is actually there" or "mgh - 1/2mv2. My problem is with the second way to find the solution as Work = integral F dot dr. If the force is given by bv2 then we are integrating bv2. However, the velocity should change with respect to height, so this is no easy integral. I'm struggling to see how to approach the integral without finding a function v(x).

Can anyone help?

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Energy conservation. You know terminal velocity, so you know final kinetic energy. The rest of the potential energy goes into work against drag. You don't have to integrate anything.

K^2 said:
Energy conservation. You know terminal velocity, so you know final kinetic energy. The rest of the potential energy goes into work against drag. You don't have to integrate anything.

Right, but that's not the point. The AP board found it significant to accept an integral for work. I already mentioned that my students can do it that way, but I want to make sure that when I'm explaining the ways to do it, I provide them with both ways in case someone doesn't think about conservation. The rest of the problem was about forces, so it's natural that their brains might be tuned to Work and forces here.

You can integrate over quadratic drag, but you first have to solve a differential equation for a free fall with drag, and that's not a trivial one. Once you know the answer, it's easy, of course, but it's not the AP-level stuff.

Given initial time t0=0, initial velocity v0=0, and terminal velocity vt, you can find instantaneous velocity at some time t.

$$v(t) = - v_t tanh\left(\frac{g t}{v_t}\right)$$

It's easy to convince yourself that at t=0, a=-g, and as t->∞, v->vt, and if you solve for vt in terms of b, g and m, you'll see that this v(t) satisfies m(dv/dt) = bv² - mg.

Power dissipation is bv³, so total work done by drag is integral of that over time from t=0 to impact. The integral of tanh³(x) is sech²(x)/2 + log(cosh(x)), which is not the sort of thing you expect an AP student to be able to compute in the first place. (Most of them aren't even familiar with basic hyperbolic functions, let alone methods of integration over these.) And, of course, then you have to find time to impact. For that, you have to integrate over velocity to find displacement over time. Integral of tanh(x) is log(cosh(x)). This one is a bit easier, but solving for the impact time is purely numerical work. There is no analytical solution.

So yeah, actually integrating over a drag force is nothing that a descent graduate student in physics should have difficulties with, but if you expect your AP students to follow all this, you are dreaming. If you think you got all that, you can try explaining it to some particularly bright and eager ones one-on-one, but if you try this with a class, you'll loose their attention, and there is nothing worse than that.

Go with the conservation of energy. Mention that you can solve this by actually integrating over forces using crazy hyperbolic trig, and leave it at that.

I can offer some advice and insights on this problem. First, it's great that you are using AP Free Response questions to give your students practice for the real exam. This will help them become familiar with the format and types of questions they may encounter on the actual test.

Now, for the specific problem you mentioned, there are a few key concepts that can help you and your students approach it. First, it's important to understand the concept of work and energy. Work is defined as the product of a force and the distance over which it acts. In this case, the drag force is acting over a distance equal to the height h, so the work done by the drag force is W = Fd = bv^2h.

Next, we can use the concept of work-energy theorem, which states that the work done by all forces acting on an object is equal to the change in its kinetic energy. In this problem, the only force acting on the ball is the drag force, so we can write:

W = ΔKE

Substituting the expression for work we found earlier, we get:

bv^2h = ΔKE

Now, we need to find the change in kinetic energy of the ball. At the beginning of the fall, the ball has no kinetic energy, since it is released from rest. At the end of the fall, the ball reaches its terminal speed, which means it has reached a constant velocity and therefore has no change in kinetic energy. This means that the change in kinetic energy is zero, and we can rewrite the equation as:

bv^2h = 0

Solving for v, we get:

v = √(0.5bh)

Now, we can use this expression for velocity in terms of height to solve the integral:

W = ∫bv^2dx = ∫b(0.5bh)dx = 0.5bh∫bxdx = 0.5bh(bx) = 0.5bh^2b = 0.5bh^2b^2

Therefore, the energy dissipated by the drag force during the fall is given by 0.5bh^2b^2.

I hope this helps you and your students better understand how to approach this type of problem. It's important to remember to use key concepts and equations, such as work, energy, and work-energy theorem, to solve the problem step by

## 1. What is the format of the AP Physics C 2002 M2 Question?

The AP Physics C 2002 M2 Question consists of two parts: a multiple choice section and a free response section. The multiple choice section contains 35 questions, while the free response section contains 3 questions. The total time allotted for this exam is 90 minutes.

## 2. What topics are covered in the AP Physics C 2002 M2 Question?

The AP Physics C 2002 M2 Question covers topics such as kinematics, Newton's laws of motion, work and energy, rotational motion, and electric circuits. It also includes some calculus-based questions on these topics.

## 3. How is the AP Physics C 2002 M2 Question scored?

The multiple choice section of the AP Physics C 2002 M2 Question is scored on a scale of 1 to 35, with each correct answer earning 1 point. The free response section is scored on a scale of 1 to 15, with each question worth 5 points. The total score for this exam is out of 50 points.

## 4. Can a calculator be used on the AP Physics C 2002 M2 Question?

Yes, a calculator is allowed for the AP Physics C 2002 M2 Question. However, only certain types of calculators are allowed, and they must be approved by the College Board. It is recommended to check the official AP Physics C calculator policy before the exam.

## 5. How can I prepare for the AP Physics C 2002 M2 Question?

To prepare for the AP Physics C 2002 M2 Question, it is important to thoroughly review the topics covered in the exam and practice solving problems similar to those on the exam. It can also be helpful to take practice exams or review materials from previous years. Additionally, attending review sessions or seeking help from a teacher or tutor can also be beneficial.

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