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....

Water in a U-tube

If water is poured into a U-shaped tube as shown in the figure, it can undergo vibrations about equilibrium. The energy of such a vibration is most easily calculated by considering the "turnaround point" when the water has stopped and is about to reverse directions. At this point, it has only potential energy and no kinetic energy, so by calculatings its potential energy we can find the energy of the vibration. This potential energy is the same as the work that would have to be done to take the water out of the right-hand side down to a depth A below the equilibrium level, raise it through a height A, and place it in the left-hand side. The weight of this chunk of water is proportional to A, and so is the height through which it must be lifted, so the energy is proportional to A2.

Last Update: 2009-06-21