# Precession Tilt Angle: Exploring Physics of Spinning Top

• dangus
In summary, the tilt angle of a spinning top is determined by its initial conditions and can be changed by applying a force perpendicular to both gravity and the axis of rotation. Additionally, the tilt angle can also be changed by shaking the support surface in resonance with the precession frequency. This concept also applies to the precession of a spinning proton in a magnetic field.
dangus
Im trying to understand the physics of the precession of a spinning top. What determines the tilt angle (the angle the top is tilted off the vertical axis)?

dangus said:
What determines the tilt angle?
If there is no friction, tilt angle is determined by initial condition only and remains constant. If there is friction, it decays.

K^2 said:
If there is no friction, tilt angle is determined by initial condition only and remains constant. If there is friction, it decays.

Thank you for the quick reply. I have a couple quick follow up question: If I have a spinning top in a frictionless environment set at a tilt angle θ and I wished to apply a force to increase this tilt angle how would I do that?

Instinctively I would want to apply an additional force downwards in the direction of gravity. It is my understanding, however, that the downwards torquing force of gravity is what creates the precession motion in the first place and that changing its magnitude (by adding an additional force downwards) would change the precession frequency not the tilt angle. Is this correct? How then should I apply a force to change the tilt angle?

Im also curious about precession and how it relates to the motion of a spinning proton in a magnetic field. Since the tilt angle is determined by initial conditions, what determines the tilt angle of a precessing proton?

Thank you

Yes, your understanding is correct. To change the tilt angle, you must apply force along or against the direction of prrecession. In other words, a force that's perpendicular both to gravity and to the axis of rotation. To see which increases the tilt angle and which decreases, find direction of the torque.

There is another very creative way to change tilt angle. You can shake the support surface in resonance with precession frequency. It will effectively do the same thing as above, but in some situations, can be a lot easier to achieve mechanically.

## 1. What is precession tilt angle?

The precession tilt angle refers to the angle at which a spinning top is tilted from its vertical axis as it precesses, or rotates, around a fixed point. It is a measure of the tilt or deviation from the vertical axis.

## 2. How is precession tilt angle related to the physics of spinning tops?

The precession tilt angle is related to the physics of spinning tops because it is a result of the interaction between the top's mass, angular momentum, and the force of gravity. Understanding the precession tilt angle helps us better understand the principles of rotational motion and angular momentum in physics.

## 3. What factors affect the precession tilt angle of a spinning top?

The precession tilt angle of a spinning top is affected by several factors, including the top's mass, shape, and rotational speed, as well as the strength and direction of the force of gravity. The surface on which the top is spinning can also play a role in determining the precession tilt angle.

## 4. How does the precession tilt angle change over time?

The precession tilt angle of a spinning top will typically decrease over time as the top loses energy and slows down. This is due to the effects of friction and air resistance, which cause the top to lose rotational speed and eventually stop precessing.

## 5. How is the precession tilt angle used in other areas of science?

The concept of the precession tilt angle is used in various fields of science, including astronomy, geology, and engineering. In astronomy, it is used to describe the tilt of a planet's axis of rotation, while in geology it can be used to study the Earth's changing magnetic field. In engineering, understanding the precession tilt angle is important for designing stable structures and machines that involve rotational motion.

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