Fnet = m*a
FG = m*g
The Attempt at a Solution
I'm so confused about this problem and I still can't solve it after weeks.
The initial distance of the workers is irrelevant. If I treat the workers and the platform as a single system, then I don't have to worry about normal forces because they are internal forces. On my force body diagram, I have the tension force on the workers and platform due to the rope, f (two of them), and the weight force of the workers and the platform (together) as the external forces acting on the system:
(m + m + 0.5*m)*a = 2*f - (m + m + 0.5*m)*g
So the acceleration of the workers and the platform should be:
a = (2*f - (m + m + 0.5*m)*g)/(m + m + 0.5*m)
But the question doesn't allow you to enter "g", which suggests that the workers and the platform's weight is irrelevant. I don't understand why though. And what am I doing wrong? This is so frustrating. I have been trying to figure this problem out for weeks.