1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Homework Help: Trouble understanding aspect of SHM

  1. Sep 15, 2013 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    When deriving the basic equations for SHM, you get the
    [tex]a_c = /omega^2 A[/tex]
    and then continue on to derive
    [tex]a_x = -a_c cos/theta [/tex]
    I was wondering where the negative sign came from in the equation above. I don't see the need for it, the x component of the centripetal acceleration seems to point in the same direction as the acceleration "projected onto a diameter" already.

    ps why aren't my latex commands for omega and theta not working?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 15, 2013 #2
    I think you need to provide some of the steps, if I am to be of any use. However, I am guessing it's from differentiating cosine twice?
  4. Sep 15, 2013 #3
    That is correct. However I was wondering if anybody knew offhand why the sign on the projected acceleration is the opposite sign of the centripetal acceleration
  5. Sep 15, 2013 #4
    I think it is because, it is described as a standing wave. If you look at the formula and imagine a spring going up and down. It will start by falling (since else it can't bounce up again), so of course the acceleration must be negative.

    Then look at your cosine function, which gives a positive result until it reaches Pi/2, at that point it reaches the bottom, and it will start to bounce upwards again, and thus the entire expression gives a positive result, since the cosine becomes negative. It could be helpful to look at the cosine function, while reading this somewhat "bad" explanation, but I hope you get it :-)
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted