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PHY301 : Assignment 6

1. (a) Consider longitudinal oscillation of N mass points connected with un-

streteched springs as shown in the figure. Assume that all the masses
m are equal with equal equilibrium separation a and that all the springs
are massless with identical force constants k. Let i with i = 1, ...., N
denote the displacement from equilibrium of the ith mass along the axis
of the system. Write down the Lagrangian for the system. Assuming that
the two ends are fixed, write down the equations of motion.

m k

(b) Now consider transverse oscillation of N identical mass points m, equally

spaced on a stretched massless string as shown in the figure. At equilib-
rium, the string has a constant uniform tension , with adjacent particles
separated by a distance a. Treat only small transverse motion in the plane,
where the displacements i with i = 1, ..., N serve as generalized coordi-
nates. Write down the Lagrangian and again with fixed end-points find
the equation of motion. Are the equations of motion of the same form as
above ?

2 a

(c) Find the normal modes for the second case.

2. A thin hoop of radius R and mass M oscillates in its own plane with one point
of the hoop fixed. Attached to the hoop is a point mass M constrained to move
without friction along the hoop. The system is in a uniform gravitatiobal field
g. Consider only small oscillations.
1/2 2g 1/2
(a) Show that the normal mode frequencies are 1 = 21 2g

, 2 = R
(b) Find the normal mode eigenvectors. Sketch the motion.
(c) Construct the modal matrix.
(d) Find the normal coordinates and show that they diagonalize the Lagrangian.
3. A double pendulum with equal lengths and different masses m1 and m2 performs
small oscillations in a plane. Introduce the transverse displacements of the first
particle from the vertical 1 and of the second particle from the first particle 2 .

(a) Show that the Lagrangian is given by
1 1 g
L = m1 1 2 + m2 (1 + 2 )2 [(m1 + m2 )12 + m2 22 ]
2 2 2l

(b) Derive the normal-mode frequencies 2 = (g/l)(1 y)1 , where y =

[m2 (m1 + m2 )1 ]1/2 .
(c) Construct the normal mode eigenvectors and describe the motions. Show
that these reproduce the expected behavior for large and small values of
m1 /m2 .
(d) Find the modal matrix and demonstrate explicitly that it diagonalizes the
matrices M and K.
(e) Construct the normal coordinates.
(f) Assume that m1  m2 . If the upper mass is displaced slightly from the
vertical and released from rest, show that the subsequent motion is such
that at regular intervals one pendulum is stationary and the other oscillates
with maximum amplitude.

4. N identical particles with masses m are connected by N + 1 identical mass-

less springs with force constants k and fixed endpoints. In the original static
configuration each spring is stretched from its equilibrium length a0 to a new
length a. Construct the Lagrangian for general small oscillations in a plane and
show that the longitudinal and transverse modes decouple. Discuss how the
frequencies depend on a a0 . Discuss and interpret the behavior for a < a0 .

5. An idealized linear classical water molecule consists of three particles in a line

connected by equal springs and constrained to move along the line joining them.
The outer two particles 1 and 3 have equal masses and the central one has
mass , and the spring constant is k.

(a) Find the normal modes (describe them) and normal frequencies.
(b) Write down the general solution.
(c) Write down the solution with initial conditions x1 (0) = A/, x3 (0) = 0
and x = 0 for all .