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Roller coaster and Potential Energy

  1. Oct 8, 2008 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    A 1000 kg roller coaser train is intially at the top of a rise, at point A. It then moves 135 ft, at an angle of 40 degrees below the horizontal, to a lower point B.
    Choose the train at point B to be the zero configuration for gravitational potential energy. Find the potential energy of the roller coaster-Earth system at points A and B, and the change in potential energy as the coaster moves.


    2. Relevant equations
    Ug=mgy


    3. The attempt at a solution
    Y at Point A=86.8 m
    Ug= 850640 Kj

    This isn't the right answer, so where am I going wrong?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2008 #2

    Doc Al

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    Staff: Mentor

    Check your units. Kj = 1000 Joules.
     
  4. Oct 8, 2008 #3
    That still does not give me the right answer even if I divide by 1000.
     
  5. Oct 8, 2008 #4

    CompuChip

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    Actually, if you'll allow me to nitpick a bit:
    The unit is Joules (J), the prefix k(ilo) is written in lower case; therefore kilojoule is abbreviated kJ instead of Kj.
     
  6. Oct 8, 2008 #5
    My bad! Either way, I don't get the right answer though :)
     
  7. Oct 8, 2008 #6

    Doc Al

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    When you input your answer, do you also input your units? (No need to divide by 1000. The kJ was a mistake on your part.)

    The problem asked for three answers. Did you input them all?
     
  8. Oct 8, 2008 #7
    135 ft is not 86 m. More like 45m. Try to convert properly.
    Good Luck
     
  9. Oct 8, 2008 #8

    Doc Al

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    He wasn't converting, he was finding the vertical component. (He should have converted first.)

    Good catch though: The distance was given in feet, not meters. D'oh! :uhh:
     
  10. Oct 8, 2008 #9
    A, sorry. 86 is 135*Sin(40). I did not think about this.

    Then this is the mistake (besides the units).
    You don't need to do this (find component). 135 ft is the height, if I read the problem right. The angle doesn't matter.
     
  11. Oct 8, 2008 #10

    Doc Al

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    That's not the way I read it.
    That sounds like it moved 135 ft at an angle of 40 degrees below the horizontal.

    We'll find out soon enough when the OP corrects the feet vs. meters error. :wink:
     
  12. Oct 8, 2008 #11
    Yes, you are right. I did not focus enough...
     
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