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Mechanics questions from Oxford Physics entrance exam.

  1. Oct 24, 2013 #1
    I'm ok with this question up until a3, I have no idea how to get velocity as a function of time from the information available. This question is taken from the Oxford Physics entrance exam. I'm not sure if it's a miss-print, perhaps the questions should be as a function of x, because that seems a lot easier and a similar level to questions from other years. Or perhaps I'm missing something.

    22. A point like object with mass m = 1 kg starts from rest at point x0 = 10 m and moves without any friction under a force F which depends on the coordinate x as illustrated in figure below. The motion is confined to one dimension along x.

    http://theonlinephysicstutor.com/Blog/Entries/2012/7/12_Entry_1_files/shapeimage_2.png [Broken]

    a1 What is its speed at x=0? [2]
    a2 Sketch its kinetic energy as a function of x. [4]
    a3 Sketch its velocity as well as its acceleration as a function of time t. [6]

    Now consider a case when, in addition, a friction force of a magnitude of 1 N is present for x ≥ 0.
    b1 Sketch how the velocity depends on x in that case. [6]
    b2 How many meters this point like object travelled during the time when its position coordinate x was ≥ 0? [2]
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data



    2. Relevant equations



    3. The attempt at a solution
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2013 #2

    pasmith

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    Homework Helper

    You are given the force on the object and told its mass. Thus you have
    [tex]
    ma = F(x)
    [/tex]
    or
    [tex]
    m\ddot x = F(x)
    [/tex]
    You can determine an expression for F(x) from the graph. From there you can hopefully solve the resulting ODE for [itex]x[/itex], and then determine [itex]\dot x[/itex] and [itex]\ddot x[/itex] by differentiation.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Oct 25, 2013 #3
    Surely that will give you acceleration and velocity as a function of displacement not time? Since F and x vary with time i can't see how to make the differential work, in fact I cannot get any equation as a function of time.
     
  5. Oct 25, 2013 #4

    pasmith

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    Homework Helper

    Based on the graph,
    [tex]
    F(x) = \begin{cases}
    -10, & x \geq 0 \\
    -10 - x, & x < 0
    \end{cases}
    [/tex]

    Conveniently [itex]m = 1\,\mathrm{kg}[/itex] so we have
    [tex]
    \frac{d^2x}{dt^2} = \begin{cases}
    -10, & x \geq 0 \\
    -10 - x, & x < 0
    \end{cases}
    [/tex]

    It's not necessary to solve this ODE so long as you recognise this as ballistic motion in [itex]x \geq 0[/itex] and sinusoidal oscillation about [itex]x = -10[/itex] in [itex]x < 0[/itex]. Basically when [itex]x > 0[/itex] the particle behaves as it would under constant gravity, but in [itex]x < 0[/itex] it's suddenly attached to a Hookean spring. Both of these should be covered in either A-level physics or maths/further maths, so should be familiar to someone sitting an Oxford physics entrance paper.

    The difficulty is to patch together ballistic motion in [itex]x > 0[/itex] with sinusoidal motion in [itex]x < 0[/itex] in such a manner that both velocity and acceleration are continuous when the particle is at the origin. This requires finding the times at which [itex]x(t) = 0[/itex]. In fact the motion is periodic in time; this follows from consideration of the KE graph.
     
  6. Oct 25, 2013 #5
    Thanks, that's the part I missed.
     
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