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Torque and Angular Acceleration

Learning Goal: To understand and apply the formula τ =Iɑ to rigid objects rotating about a fixed axis.

To find the acceleration ɑ of a particle of mass m, we use Newton’s second law: , where  is the net force acting on the particle.

To find the angular acceleration ɑ of a rigid object rotating about a fixed axis, we can use a similar formula: τnet = Iɑ, where τnet =Στ is the net torque acting on the object and I is its moment of inertia.

In this problem, you will practice applying this formula to several situations involving angular acceleration. In all of these situations, two objects of masses m1 and m2 are attached to a seesaw. The seesaw is made of a bar that has length l and is pivoted so that it is free to rotate in the vertical plane without friction.Assume that the pivot is attached tot he center of the bar.

You are to find the angular acceleration of the seesaw when it is set in motion from the horizontal position. In all cases, assume that m1>m2.

A) Assume that the mass of the swing bar, as shown in the figure, is negligible.  

Find the magnitude of the angular acceleration ɑ of the seesaw.


α = 

B) In what direction will the seesaw rotate, and what will the sign of the angular acceleration be?

=> The rotation is in the counterclockwise direction and the angular acceleration is positive.

C) Now consider a similar situation, except that now the swing bar itself has mass mbar.

Find the magnitude of the angular acceleration α of the seesaw.



D) In what direction will the seesaw rotate and what will the sign of the angular acceleration be?

=> The rotation is in the counterclockwise direction and the angular acceleration is positive.

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  7. part E

    Express your answer in terms of some or all of the quantities m1, m2, mbar, l, as well as the acceleration due to gravity g. Enter the absolute value function as abs(). For instance, enter abs(x*y) for |xy|.

    alpha= g(6m1−12m2−3mbar)/(m1+4m2+mbar)⋅2l

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