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mccoy1

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'Two particles of mass m are connected by three identical springs of relaxed length l and constrained to move longitudinally. What is the potential energy when the two masses are displaced from their equilibrium positions?

What I know: let k = force constant of the strings, x1 and x2 be displacements of the masses, so:

P.E (V) = (k/2)x1^2+(k/2)x2^2 + (I know there is going to be a third term here but I don't know what it's)..

The book says that that third term is (k/2)[x2-x1]^2....how did they derive that? Any insight would be appreciated.

Thanks you all.