Lectures on Physics has been derived from Benjamin Crowell's Light and Matter series of free introductory textbooks on physics. See the editorial for more information....

Homework Problems

The graph shows the motion of a car stuck in stop-and-go freeway traffic. (a) If you only knew how far the car had gone during this entire time period, what would you think its velocity was? (b) What is the car's maximum velocity?


(a) Let θ be the latitude of a point on the Earth's surface. Derive an algebra equation for the distance, L, traveled by that point during one rotation of the Earth about its axis, i.e. over one day, expressed in terms of L, θ, and R, the radius of the earth. Check: Your equation should give L = 0 for the North Pole. (b) At what speed is Fullerton, at latitude θ = 34, moving with the rotation of the Earth about its axis? Give your answer in units of mi/h. [See the table in the back of the book for the relevant data.]
A person is parachute jumping. During the time between when she leaps out of the plane and when she opens her chute, her altitude is given by the equation

y = (10000 m) - (50 m/s) [t + (5.0 s)e-t/5.0 s] .

Find her velocity at t = 7.0 s. (This can be done on a calculator, without knowing calculus.) Because of air resistance, her velocity does not increase at a steady rate as it would for an object falling in vacuum.


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A light-year is a unit of distance used in astronomy, and defined as the distance light travels in one year. The speed of light is 3.0108 m/s. Find how many meters there are in one light-year, expressing your answer in scientific notation.
Solution, p. 276
You're standing in a freight train, and have no way to see out. If you have to lean to stay on your feet, what, if anything, does that tell you about the train's velocity? Explain.
Solution, p. 276
A honeybee's position as a function of time is given by x = 10t - t3, where t is in seconds and x in meters. What is its velocity at t = 3.0 s?

The figure shows the motion of a point on the rim of a rolling wheel. (The shape is called a cycloid.) Suppose bug A is riding on the rim of the wheel on a bicycle that is rolling, while bug B is on the spinning wheel of a bike that is sitting upside down on the floor. Bug A is moving along a cycloid, while bug B is moving in a circle. Both wheels are doing the same number of revolutions per minute. Which bug has a harder time holding on, or do they find it equally difficult?


Solution, p. 276

Peanut plants fold up their leaves at night. Estimate the top speed of the tip of one of the leaves shown in the figure, expressing your result in scientific notation in SI units.


(a) Translate the following information into symbols, using the notation with two subscripts introduced in section 2.5. Eowyn is riding on her horse at a velocity of 11 m/s. She twists around in her saddle and fires an arrow backward. Her bow fires arrows at 25 m/s. (b) Find the speed of the arrow relative to the ground.
10 Our full discussion of two- and three-dimensional motion is postponed until the second half of the book, but here is a chance to use a little mathematical creativity in anticipation of that generalization. Suppose a ship is sailing east at a certain speed v, and a passenger is walking across the deck at the same speed v, so that his track across the deck is perpendicular to the ship's center-line. What is his speed relative to the water, and in what direction is he moving relative to the water?
Solution, p. 276
11 Freddi Fish(TM) has a position as a function of time given by x = a/(b + t2). Find her maximum speed.
12 Driving along in your car, you take your foot off the gas, and your speedometer shows a reduction in speed. Describe a frame of reference in which your car was speeding up during that same period of time. (The frame of reference should be defined by an observer who, although perhaps in motion relative to the earth, is not changing her own speed or direction of motion.)
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The figure shows the motion of a bluefin tuna, as measured by a radio tag (Block et al., Nature, v. 434, p. 1121, 2005), over the course of several years. Until this study, it had been believed that the populations of the fish in the eastern and western Atlantic were separate, but this particular fish was observed to cross the entire Atlantic Ocean, from Virginia to Ireland. Points A, B, and C show a period of one month, during which the fish made the most rapid progress. Estimate its speed during that month, in units of kilometers per hour.

Galileo's contradiction of Aristotle had serious consequences. He was interrogated by the Church authorities and convicted of teaching that the earth went around the sun as a matter of fact and not, as he had promised previously, as a mere mathematical hypothesis. He was placed under permanent house arrest, and forbidden to write about or teach his theories. Immediately after being forced to recant his claim that the earth revolved around the sun, the old man is said to have muttered defiantly "and yet it does move." The story is dramatic, but there are some omissions in the commonly taught heroic version. There was a rumor that the Simplicio character represented the Pope. Also, some of the ideas Galileo advocated had controversial religious overtones. He believed in the existence of atoms, and atomism was thought by some people to contradict the Church's doctrine of transubstantiation, which said that in the Catholic mass, the blessing of the bread and wine literally transformed them into the flesh and blood of Christ. His support for a cosmology in which the earth circled the sun was also disreputable because one of its supporters, Giordano Bruno, had also proposed a bizarre synthesis of Christianity with the ancient Egyptian religion.




Last Update: 2010-11-11