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Homework Help: Total energy of mass spring system?

  1. May 26, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    We have an object whose mass is 0.7 kg moves with an equation y=0.45cos8.4t.
    Find the general energy

    w=8.4 A=0.45

    2. Relevant equations

    E=mv^2/2 +kA^2/2

    3. The attempt at a solution

    So I found k using w=(k/m)^0.5. And then I found V0 using V0=A*(k/m)^0.5
    and then i found x using F=kx
    Then I found V=V0*(1-x^2/A^2)^0.5
    And then I used E=kA^2/2+mv^2/2

  2. jcsd
  3. May 26, 2012 #2


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    When the object is at 0 displacement and max speed v0, all of its energy is kinetic. Therefore, you can find the total energy of the system by just computing the kinetic energy (1/2)mv0^2 at this instant.

    Alternatively, a quarter of a period later, when the object is at max displacement A and 0 speed, all of the kinetic energy that it had has been converted into elastic potential energy in the spring. Therefore, at this instant, you can compute the total energy of the system simply by computing the elastic potential energy (1/2)kA^2

    Both of these expressions will give you the same answer for the total energy of the system, so you would use one, or the other, but not both.

    The expression for the total system energy at an arbitrary time t is just the sum of the kinetic and potential energy of the mass:

    E = (1/2)kx^2 + (1/2)mv^2

    Where "x" is the position at time t, and "v" is the speed at time t. However, it is easiest to pick a time t where one of these two energy terms is zero, like I did in the two cases above. The first case was for x=0, v=v0. The second case was for x=A, v=0. Do you understand now?

    One more thing. I notice that you used "y" instead of "x" to denote the position of the mass. This suggests to me that the mass is oscillating vertically. If that's true, then you need to consider *gravitational* potential energy as well.
  4. May 26, 2012 #3
    Thank you so much.Now I understand it all :)
    So I guess that now I only have to use w=(k/m)^0.5 and F=kx to find x :)
    Last edited: May 26, 2012
  5. May 26, 2012 #4


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    No, you don't need to find "x" (or "y" in this case). Like I clearly explained above, once you know k and A, you can get the total energy of the system.

    OR, once you know m and v0, you can get the total energy of the system.
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