# NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Fall 2017 Classical Mechanics

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1 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Fall 2017 Classical Mechanics You may solve ALL FOUR problems, if you choose. Only the THREE BEST PROBLEM GRADES count towards your score. Total points on each problem = 40. Total possible score = 120. Problem 1. Two equal masses (m) are constrained to move without friction, the first on the positive x axis and the second on the positive y axis. They are attached to two identical springs (force constant k and natural length L) whose other ends are attached to the origin. In addition, the two masses are connected to each other by a third spring of force constant k. The length of the third spring is chosen so that the system is in equilibrium with all three springs at their relaxed natural lengths. Use coordinate x as the displacement of the first mass from equilibrium and coordinate y as the displacement of the second mass from equilibrium. m k k k m (a) Find the Lagrangian of the system. [12 points] (b) Find the equations of motion of the system, assuming small displacements. [10 points] (c) Solve for the normal frequencies, and find and describe the corresponding normal modes. [18 points] Problem 2. Consider a rocket that has mass m(t) and velocity v(t) at time t. It gains speed by expelling propellant at constant velocity v ex relative to the rocket. The amount of propellant expelled between times t and t + dt can therefore be written as dm(t). The rocket starts with initial velocity v 0 and initial mass m 0 (including the propellant). (a) Ignoring gravity, write down the equation relating the momenta of the rocket+propellant system at times t and t + dt. [5 points] (b) Use the result from part (a) to find the velocity of the rocket v as a function of v 0, v ex, m 0, and m. [10 points] (c) Redo part (a) but now assuming that the rocket is rising vertically in a uniform gravitational field with acceleration g, and that the rate at which the rocket loses mass is a constant value k = dm/dt. [10 points] (d) Use the result of part (c) to find both the velocity and height of the rocket as a function of t, v 0, v ex, m 0, and k. [15 points]

2 Problem 3. Consider a particle of mass m moving in a three-dimensional central potential V (r) = k/(r a), where k and a are fixed positive constants. Let the angular momentum of the particle be l. (a) Find the differential equation of motion for r, the radial coordinate of the particle. [8 points] (b) Derive an algebraic equation for the possible values of the radius r c of a circular orbit. (You do not need to solve the equation.) [12 points] (c) Consider a small perturbation of a circular orbit, r = r c + ǫ. Find a linearized differential equation for ǫ, written in terms of r c, a, and k (with l eliminated). Use it to show that circular orbits are stable if either r c < a or r c > Na, where N is a certain integer that you will find. [12 points] (d) Using graphical methods, show that the equation for a circular orbit that you found in part (b) has either one or three solutions, depending on whether l 2 /mak is smaller or larger than a certain rational number that you will find. [8 points] Problem 4. A thin rod of length L and mass M is suspended in a uniform gravitational field of acceleration g from a fixed frictionless pivot point P. The rod is struck midway along its length by a small lump of clay with mass m moving horizontally at a high speed v. The lump sticks to the middle of the rod after the collision. P m v M (a) Find the angular velocity ω 0 of the rod immediately after the collision. [Hint: at the moment of the collision, the total energy of the rod and the clay lump is not conserved, but there is another conserved quantity.] [14 points] (b) Find an expression for the minimum speed v = v crit that will result in the rod making a complete circle around the pivot point. [13 points] (c) For a given v > v crit, find an expression for the time needed for for the rod to make the complete circle around the pivot point. You should leave your answer in terms of a definite integral. [13 points]

3 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Spring 2017 Classical Mechanics You may solve ALL FOUR problems, if you choose. Only the THREE BEST PROBLEM GRADES count towards your score. Total points on each problem = 40. Total possible score = 120. Problem 1. Three masses m 1, m 2, and m 3 are suspended as shown in a uniform gravitational field with acceleration g. Masses m 1 and m 3 are connected by an unstretchable string which moves over a massless pully whose center does not move. Mass m 2 is suspended from mass m 1 by a spring with constant k and unstretched length L. Call x and z the heights of masses m 1 and m 2, respectively, as shown. z x m 1 m 2 k m 3 (a) Find the Lagrangian of the system, using x and y = z x L as your configuration variables. [10 points] (b) Find the equations of motion of the system. [10 points] (c) Solve for the relative motion of the masses m 1 and m 2, and in particular find the angular frequency of oscillation [10 points] (d) What is the oscillation frequency if m 1 m 2, m 3? Show using your answer above and/or physical arguments. [5 points] (e) What is the oscillation frequency if m 2 m 1, m 3? Show using your answer above and/or physical arguments. [5 points] Problem 2. A point particle of mass M 1 approaches a massive sphere of radius R and mass M 2. The two masses attract each other according to Newton s law of gravitation. When very far away from each other, M 1 has initial speed v 0 while the sphere M 2 is initially at rest. (a) If the initial impact parameter distance is b, find the distance of closest approach of the centers of the two objects. [20 points] (b) Find the cross-section for the two objects to collide. [12 points] (c) Give your answers and physical explanations for the limits v 0 0 and v 0. [8 points]

4 Problem 3. A thin rod of length l and mass M is supported at one end by a smooth floor on which it slides without friction. The rod falls in a uniform gravitational field with acceleration g, starting from rest with an initial angle θ 0 relative to the horizontal, as shown. θ 0 (a) Find the Lagrangian for the system. [10 points] (b) Find the Hamiltonian for the system. [6 points] (c) Find the time needed for the rod to fall to the floor. You may leave your answer in terms of a definite integral. [18 points] (d) How far does the lower end of the rod move during this time? [6 points] Problem 4. A water drop falls vertically in a uniform gravitational field g, growing by accretion of much smaller micro-droplets of water in the atmosphere. The micro-droplets have negligible velocity and air resistance is neglected. As the falling drop grows, it maintains a perfectly spherical shape, with radius we will call R. The mass density of water is a constant ρ, and the density of the micro-droplets (per volume of atmosphere) is ǫρ, so that the mass of the falling drop increases at a rate given by its speed multiplied by (ǫρ)(πr 2 ). (a) Find a relation between the speed of the falling water drop and the time derivative of its size, and use it to show that R(t) obeys the differential equation d 2 R dt 2 + n R ( ) 2 dr = C, dt where n is a certain integer that you will determine, and C is a constant that you will find in terms of the given quantities. [20 points] (b) Find a general relation for the downward acceleration of the drop in terms of g, ǫ, and the instantaneous values of its speed v and radius R. [8 points] (c) Starting from the results found in part (a), try a power law solution of the form R = At α, and solve for the constants A and α, to show that for large t the downward acceleration of the drop approaches the constant g/n, where N is another integer that you will determine. [12 points]

5 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Fall 2016 Classical Mechanics You may solve ALL FOUR problems, if you choose. PROBLEM GRADES count towards your score. Total points on each problem = 40. Total possible score = 120. Only the THREE BEST Problem 1. Object 1 (mass m) is attached to object 2 (mass 3m) by a spring of unstretched length L and spring constant k. As shown in the figure, the two masses are constrained to move on a circle with radius R. The spring is also constrained to be on the circle. Ignore gravity and friction. 3m θ 2 m R θ 1 (a) Find the kinetic energy of the system in terms of the coordinates θ 1 and θ 2. [6 points] (b) Find the potential energy of the system in terms of the coordinates θ 1 and θ 2. [6 points] (c) Find the Lagrangian of the system. [2 points] (d) Find the two Lagrange equations of motion for coordinates θ 1 and θ 2. [9 points] (e) Use the equations of motion to find the general solution for the motion of the two objects. [9 points] (f) At time t = 0, both masses are at rest, θ 2 = 0, and the spring is at twice its natural, unstretched length. Find the subsequent motion. [8 points]

6 Problem 2. A point particle of mass m moves subject to a 3-dimensional central potential: V (r) = k r n where k and n are positive constants. (a) If the particle has angular momentum L, what is the radius R for which the orbit is circular? [10 points] (b) Suppose the motion is close to the circular orbit mentioned in part (a). Writing r(t) = R + δr(t) and assuming that δr(t) is small, find an equation of motion for δr(t). Write your equation in a form that does not involve the angular momentum L. [15 points] (c) Solve this equation for δr. For what values of n are the circular orbits stable? [15 points] Problem 3. A point particle of mass m is fixed to the bottom end of a thin wire suspended from a fixed point on the ceiling. The thin wire has total mass M and length L. The acceleration due to gravity is g. At time t = 0, the point m is given a very small tap. (a) Find the tension in the wire and the speed of waves in the wire as a function of y, the distance from m. [16 points] (b) Find the total time needed for the perturbation to reach the top end of the wire (the ceiling). [24 points] Problem 4. A uniform solid spherical ball of mass M and radius R rests on a horizontal surface. Assume a constant coefficient of friction µ (this means that the frictional force is equal to the normal force multiplied by µ). The acceleration due to gravity is g. At time t = 0, the ball is struck impulsively on center, causing it to go instantaneously from rest to a horizontal speed v 0 with no initial rotation. (a) Find the horizontal speed, and the angular velocity of the ball about its center, as a function of t. [16 points] (b) Find the distance travelled by the ball until it begins to roll without slipping. [24 points] [Hint: the moment of inertia of the sphere about its center is 2 5 MR2.]

7 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Spring 2016 Classical Mechanics Do ONLY THREE out of the four problems. Total points on each problem = 40. Problem 1. Two masses m 1 and m 2 are attached via a massless spring of natural (unstretched) length L and spring constant k, as shown in the figure. The masses are freely falling in a uniform gravitational field with acceleration g. The mass m 1 is located vertically above the mass m 2, with heights x and y respectively, and all motion is vertical. At time t=0, mass m 1 is at height x 0 and traveling vertically downward with velocity v 0, and mass m 2 is at height y 0 and is at rest. The masses are initially a distance L apart (x 0 y 0 = L), so that the spring is neither compressed nor stretched. m 1 L at time t = 0 x m 2 y (a) Write down the Lagrangian for the system in terms of x and y. [8 points] (b) Redefine the coordinates in terms of the center of mass of the system and the relative coordinate between the masses. [8 points] (c) Rewrite the Lagrangian in terms of the new coordinates and find the equations of motion. [8 points] (d) Solve the equations of motion for the new coordinates for all times t > 0. [8 points] (e) Rewrite the solution of the equations of motion in terms of the original coordinates x and y for all times t > 0. [8 points]

8 Problem 2. A massless string of length L passes through a hole in a horizontal table. A point pass M at one end of the string moves frictionlessly on the table (i.e. with two degrees of freedom), and another point mass m hangs vertically from the other end. The system is in a uniform gravitational field with acceleration g. M g m (a) Write the Lagrangian for the system. [13 points] (b) Suppose the mass M on the table initially has a speed v. Under what conditions will the hanging mass remain stationary? [13 points] (c) Starting from the situation in part (b), the hanging mass is pulled down very slightly and then released. Compute the angular frequency of the subsequent oscillatory motion of the hanging mass. [14 points] Problem 3. A table consists of a horizontal thin uniform circular disk of radius R and mass M, supported on its rim by three thin vertical legs that are equidistant from each other. The acceleration due to gravity is g. (a) Suppose two of the legs are suddenly removed. Find the force exerted by the third leg on the table top immediately after. [20 points] (b) Suppose instead that just one of the legs is suddenly removed. Find the force exerted by each of the remaining two legs immediately after. [20 points] Possibly useful information: for a thin solid disk of mass M and radius R, the three principal moments of inertia about its center are: 1 4 MR2, 1 4 MR2, and 1 2 MR2.

9 Problem 4. A uniform string of length L undergoes small transverse oscillations. The tension of the string is T and the mass per unit length is µ. The equilibrium position of the string lies along the x axis and the transverse displacement at time t is restricted to the y direction and is denoted by y(x, t). One end of the string, at x = 0, is fixed, so that y(0, t) = 0 for all t. The other end of the string is attached to a point particle of mass m that is free to move frictionlessly in the y direction at fixed x = L. Neglect gravity. y x m (a) Write down the wave equation for small amplitude displacements y(x, t), and express the velocity of propagation of transverse waves in terms of T and µ. (For this part only, you may obtain the answers just by using dimensional analysis to supplement your memory, if you wish.) [6 points] (b) Show that the boundary condition for the mass m at x = L for small displacements has the form: C y x = 2 y, (at x = L) t2 where C is a constant that you will determine in terms of the given quantities. [12 points] (c) Use the boundary condition above to obtain a transcendental equation that implicitly determines the wavenumbers k of the normal modes of the system. Show graphically that there are an infinite number of solutions. [16 points] (d) For each of the extreme cases m = 0 and m =, use your answer to part (c) to solve for the allowed wavenumbers k for the normal modes. [6 points] L

10 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Fall 2015 Classical Mechanics Do ONLY THREE out of the four problems. Total points on each problem = 40. ω P φ m Problem 1. Consider a circular disc of radius R as shown above. The disc is forced to rotate counterclockwise about its center at a constant angular velocity ω. A pendulum with mass m and length L hangs from a point P on the edge of the disc. There is a uniform gravitation field with acceleration g pointing down. At time t = 0, the point P is at its highest point. (a) Find the position and velocity of the point P as a function of time. (4 points) (b) Find the Lagrangian for the system in terms of the configuration variable φ, which is the angle made by the pendulum with the vertical. Simplify the result so that each term has at most one trigonometric function. [The following identities might be useful: sin(a + B) = sin A cos B + cos A sin B and cos(a + B) = cos A cos B sin A sin B.] (14 points) (c) Find the equation of motion for φ. (12 points) (d) If the pendulum mass m is instantaneously at rest directly below the center of the disc (and P ) at time t = 0, find the subsequent motion of φ for small t, as an expansion up to and including terms of order t 3. [Hints for part (d): try a solution of the form φ = a 0 + a 1 t + a 2 t 2 + a 3 t To find the correct result, sine functions need only be expanded to linear order in their arguments.] (10 points)

11 θ m Problem 2 A simple pendulum (string length L and mass m) is freely swinging in a plane under the gravitational force, mg, directed downward, as shown above. (a) Find the equation of motion of this pendulum. Do not assume that θ is small. [4 points] (b) Show that this non-linear differential equation can be approximated by a linear differential equation (simple harmonic oscillator) under a certain condition. What is the condition, and what is the period T 0 of this approximated simple harmonic oscillator? [4 points] (c) For the non-linear differential equation in part (a), suppose that the motion is such that the maximum angular displacement is θ = θ 0. Find the angular velocity dθ/dt as a function of θ. Write your answer in terms of g, L, θ 0, and θ. [16 points] (d) Now suppose that θ = 0 at time t = 0. Note that θ = θ 0 (the maximum angular deviation) at time t = T/4, where T is the period of the non-linear oscillation. Find an expression for T in terms of θ 0 and T 0 [the period found in part (b)], in the form of an expansion in sin(θ 0 /2). Keep terms up to and including second order in that expansion. [16 points] [Hints for part (d): You may find it useful to replace cosines using the formula cos(θ) = 1 2 sin 2 (θ/2). You may then find it useful to write sin(θ/2) = sin(θ 0 /2) sin φ, which defines a new variable φ. Finally, the expansion 1/ 1 x 2 = 1 + x 2 / may be useful.]

12 Problem 3 Two identical thin uniform rods, each of length d and mass m, are hinged together at the point A. The rod on the left has one end hinged at the fixed point O, while the end B of the other rod slides freely along the horizontal x axis. The system is in a uniform vertical gravitational field with acceleration g. All motion is frictionless. y A O φ B x (a) Find the total kinetic energy of the system. You should find the result: T = md 2 φ2 (a + b sin φ + c sin 2 φ) where a, b and c are constant numbers that you will determine. (Exactly one of a, b, and c is 0.) [25 points] (b) Suppose the system is at rest at time t = 0 with φ = φ 0. What is the velocity of the hinge A when it hits the horizontal x axis? [15 points] Problem 4. Consider a particle of mass m scattering from a central potential V = k/r n, where k and n are positive constants. The particle approaches from very far away with a non-zero impact parameter b and initial velocity v 0. (a) Show that for the particle to have a chance at hitting the origin (r = 0), it is necessary that n is greater than or equal to a certain number that you will determine. [15 points] (b) Now taking n = 4, show that a necessary and sufficient condition for the particle to hit the origin is that b < b crit, where b crit is a quantity that you will determine in terms of k, v 0, and m. [20 points] (c) Still taking n = 4, what is the cross section for particles to hit the origin? [5 points]

13 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Spring 2015 Classical Mechanics Do ONLY THREE out of the four problems. Total points on each problem = 40. Problem 1. Consider a stationary inclined plane ramp with a fixed angle θ, with three blocks with equal masses M attached by a spring of constant k and a string over a fixed pulley at the top of the ramp, as shown below. The positions of the blocks are described by the distances x(t) (the distance from the pulley to the higher block on the ramp) and y(t) (the extension of the spring), as shown. The system is in a uniform graviational field of acceleration g. The unstretched length of the spring is 0, and the pulley is massless. x y θ (a) [12 points] Find the Lagrangian and the equations of motion of the system. (b) [20 points] The two blocks on the ramp are released from rest at the top with x = y = 0 at time t = 0. Find the motions of the blocks as a function of time. (c) [8 points] The choice θ = 30 degrees has a special significance, which should be apparent in the results of part (b). What is it? Problem 2. A bead of mass m moves without friction along a fixed horizontal line. A thin rod of length a and total mass M (uniformly distributed along its length) hangs from the bead, attached by a very short massless string. The rod is constrained to swing in the plane of the page. The system is in a uniform gravitational field with acceleration g downwards. m M (a) [20 points] Find the Lagrangian of the system and the equations of motion. (b) [20 points] Find the normal modes and corresponding frequencies of small oscillations.

14 Problem 3. Consider a rocket with total initial mass m. Exactly half of m is fuel, which is expelled from the rocket at a constant rate k (mass per unit time) and with speed u with respect to the rocket. There is a uniform gravitational field g downwards, and the motion of the rocket is entirely vertical. Let the height of the rocket as a function of time be x(t). The rocket is at rest on the ground (at x = 0) and begins expelling fuel at time t = 0. (a) [16 points] Find a differential equation satisfied by the height of the rocket. (b) [6 points] Find the condition on m, k, u, g for the rocket to lift off immediately at t = 0, and the condition for the rocket to lift off at all (at any t). (c) [18 points] Assuming that the rocket takes off immediately at t = 0, find expressions for the height and speed of the rocket at the moment when it runs out of fuel. Write your answers as algebraic expressions in terms of only the quantities m, k, u, g. The following indefinite integral may or may not be useful: ln(1 az)dz = (z 1/a) ln(1 az) z. Problem 4. (where m M) is: The force of attraction between a star of mass M and a planet of mass m F = a r 2 + 3bl2 r 4 where l is the angular momentum of the planet and a, b are both positive constants. [Note: this does approximate the force of attraction between a planet and a black hole, in the nonrelativistic limit, with a = GMm.] (a) [15 points] Under what conditions is a stable circular orbit possible? Give the radius of the stable circular orbit in terms of the given parameters (M, m, a, b, l). (b) [15 points] What is the smallest radius possible for any circular orbit as a function of a and b, allowing for arbitrary l? (Hint: this occurs in the limit of very large l.) Is this circular orbit stable or unstable? (c) [10 points] If the planet travels in a slightly non-circular orbit about a stable radius, find an expression for the angular frequency of small radial oscillations.

15 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Fall 2014 Classical Mechanics Do ONLY THREE out of the four problems. Total points on each problem = 40. Problem 1. Consider a galaxy consisting of a very large number N of identical stars, each of mass m, distributed uniformly as a very thin disk with radius R. The galaxy also has a concentric spherical halo of dark matter, with a finite but very large radius and uniform mass density ρ. The stars only interact gravitationally with the dark matter and each other. (a) If the star orbits are perfectly circular, find the speed v and the angular momentum l (about the center of the galaxy) for each star, as a function of the star s distance from the center r and N, m, R, ρ, and G (Newton s constant). [14 points] (b) Now consider star orbits that can be non-circular. The equation of motion of r for each star with angular momentum l is the same as that of an equivalent 1-dimensional problem. For that problem, find the effective potential as a function of r. Your answer may depend on N, m, R, ρ, G, and l. [13 points] (c) Consider a star with a nearly circular orbit r(t) = r 0 + ǫ(t), where r 0 is constant and ǫ(t) is very small. Find an expression for the frequency of oscillations for ǫ. [13 points] Problem 2. A solid cube with side 2a has mass M uniformly distributed throughout its volume. It rotates frictionlessly on a fixed horizontal axis which passes through the centers of two opposite sides. A point mass m is attached to one corner of the cube. There is a constant downward gravitational field with acceleration g. (a) Find the Lagrangian and the corresponding equation of motion for the system. [16 points] (b) Find the frequency of small oscillations when the mass m is near its lowest point. [10 points] (c) If the mass m is held at the same height as the axis of rotation, and then released, how much time will it take to reach its lowest point? You may leave your answer in terms of a definite integral over a single variable. [14 points] g a m

16 Problem 3. Consider a system of two masses m and three identical springs with spring constant k between two stationary walls as shown. At equilibrium, the lengths of the springs are a, and if they were unstretched their lengths would be b. Consider only longitudinal motions (along the axis of the springs). m m k k k (a) Find the Lagrangian and Lagrange s equations for the system. [14 points] (b) Find the normal-mode frequencies of vibration and the eigenvectors. [13 points] (c) Suppose that at time t = 0 the mass on the left is displaced from equilibrium by a distance X to the right, while the mass on the right is not displaced, and both masses are at rest. Compute the motion of the left mass for t > 0. [13 points] Problem 4. A speeding train car of mass M, moving with speed v, is to be stopped with a coiled-spring buffer of uncompressed length l and spring constant k. If the spring becomes fully compressed, the spring constant will suddenly change to become very large. Assuming that you can choose k to be any fixed constant that you want, what is the minimum value of l needed to assure that the maximum absolute value of the deceleration of the train does not exceed a max? What value of k should you choose to achieve this? [40 points] v l M k

17 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Spring 2014 Classical Mechanics Do ONLY THREE out of the four problems. Total points on each problem = 40. Problem 1. Consider three identical springs with spring constant κ and unstretched length L, connecting three identical point masses µ. These masses and springs are constrained to move frictionlessly on a circle of radius a as in the figure below. There is no gravity. The positions of the masses are described by three angles θ 1, θ 2, θ 3 as shown. (a) What is the kinetic energy of the system? [10 points] (b) What is the potential energy of the system? Express it using a matrix. [10 points] (c) Find the normal modes and frequencies of oscillation for the system. [20 points] Problem 2. A small satellite with mass m is in a circular orbit of radius r around a planet of mass M. The planet s thin atmosphere results in a frictional force F = Av α on the satellite, where v is the speed of the satellite and A and α are constants. It is observed that with the passage of time, the orbit of the satellite remains circular, but with a radius that decreases very slowly with time according to dr/dt = C, where C is a constant independent of the orbit s radius and the speed. Assume that m M. (a) Show that α can only be a certain integer, and find that integer. [20 points] (b) Solve for the constant A. Express your answer in terms of C, the masses m and M, and Newton s gravitational constant G. [20 points]

18 Problem 3. Consider a point mass m moving in the (x, z) plane on the parabola z = x 2 /(2a) with a > 0 and subject to the constant gravitational field g = (0, g). (a) Are there conserved quantities? If so, what are they? [8 points] (b) Give the kinetic and potential energies for the point mass. What is the Lagrangian, if one chooses x as the generalized coordinate? [8 points] (c) Derive the canonical momentum p conjugate to x as well as the Lagrange equation for x(t). [8 points] (d) Determine the Hamiltonian function H. [8 points] (e) Assuming x a, obtain for H a quadratic form in x and p. Write down the canonical equations of motion for this approximate Hamiltonian function, and solve them assuming the initial condition x(0) = 0, p(0) = p 0. [8 points] Problem 4. A uniform solid sphere of radius r and mass m rolls off of a fixed cylinder of radius R, starting nearly from rest at the top of the cylinder, in the Earth s constant gravitational field with acceleration g. The moment of inertia of a solid sphere of radius r and mass m about its center is 2 5 mr2. r R θ (a) Write the Lagrangian for the system using the single configuration variable θ shown. [15 points] (b) At what angle will the sphere leave the cylinder? [20 points] (c) If the sphere had the same radius and total mass, but was a thin shell instead of a uniform solid, would the angle be greater or less than in part (b)? Explain your answer. [5 points]

19 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Fall 2013 Classical Mechanics Do ONLY THREE out of the four problems. Total points on each problem = 40. Problem 1. Consider a circular hoop with mass M and radius R rolling down a fixed inclined plane without slipping. The inclined plane of length L is placed in Earth s gravitational field at a fixed angle Φ with respect to the horizontal plane. Use the generalized coordinates x (measured along the inclined plane) and θ (the rotation angle of the hoop) to describe the motion of the hoop. At time t = 0, the hoop starts at rest with x = 0, θ = 0. x Φ (a) Draw a figure showing all the forces acting on the hoop. [4 points] (b) Find the Lagrangian in terms of generalized coordinates and generalized velocities. [6 points] (c) Determine the holonomic constraint f(x, θ) = 0 between x and θ. [2 points] (d) Eliminate one of the generalized coordinates in the Lagrangian by using f(x, θ) = 0. [2 points] (e) Find an equation of motion, and solve it to determine the motion of the hoop by finding x(t) and θ(t). [6 points] (f) By using the method of undetermined Lagrange multipliers with the holonomic constraint f(x, θ) find equations of motion, solve them in terms of x(t) and θ(t), and find the force of constraint. [12 points] (g) Determine the non-holonomic (semi-holonomic) constraint between generalized velocities ẋ and θ, of the form f(ẋ, θ) = 0. [2 points] (h) Use the method of undetermined Lagrange multipliers with the semi-holonomic constraint f(ẋ, θ) to find equations of motion, solve them in terms of x(t) and θ(t), and find the force of constraint. [6 points]

20 Problem 2. potential Consider a point particle of mass m moving in three dimensions in a central V (r) = α r β r 2 where α and β are positive constants and r is the distance from the origin. The particle approaches from very far away with speed v and impact parameter b, as shown. (The dashed line is what the path would be if there were no potential.) m v r = 0 b (a) Find r min, the distance of closest approach of the particle to r = 0. Show that the particle will go through the origin if β > β c, where β c is a critical value that you will determine in terms of the other given quantities. [12 points] In the remainder of this problem, you should assume β < β c, and you may leave your answers in terms of r min and the other given quantities. (b) What is the maximum speed reached by the particle on its trajectory? [8 points] (c) What is the maximum acceleration reached by the particle on its trajectory? [8 points] (d) When the particle is very far from the origin again, find the angle by which it has been scattered from its original direction. You may leave your answer in terms of a single definite integral. [12 points]

21 Problem 3. A pendulum of fixed length a is constrained to move in a vertical plane. This plane is forced to rotate at fixed angular velocity, Ω, about a vertical axis passing through the pendulum s pivot. The mass of the pendulum bob is m and there is a uniform gravitational field with acceleration g pointing down. Ω a g θ m (a) Find all of the equilibrium points of the pendulum, and find whether they are stable or unstable. [25 points] (b) Find the frequency of small oscillations about the point or points of stable equilibrium. [15 points] Some possibly useful identities: sin(α + β) = sin α cos β + cos α sin β cos(α + β) = cos α cos β sin α sin β sin(cos 1 (x)) = 1 x 2 cos(sin 1 (x)) = 1 x 2

22 Problem 4. A thin straight rod of fixed length 2l and linear mass density ρ is constrained to move with its ends on a circle of radius R, where R > l. The whole circle is held absolutely fixed in a vertical plane here on the Earth s surface, and the contacts between the circle and the rod are frictionless. R g 2l (a) Find the Lagrangian for the motion of the rod. [18 points] (b) Obtain the equations of motion for the rod. [10 points] (c) Find the frequency of small oscillations, assuming that the departures from equilibrium are small. [12 points]

23 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Spring 2013 Classical Mechanics Do ONLY THREE out of the four problems. Total points on each problem = 40. Problem 1. Consider a homogeneous cube with edge length a and mass m. We study the rotational motion (angular velocity ω) of the cube about different axes of rotation. z B x A y (a) Evaluate the inertia tensor assuming that the origin of the coordinate system is at the center of the cube. [10 points] (b) Evaluate the kinetic energy for a rotation with angular velocity ω about the x axis of the coordinate system, i.e., ω = (ω, 0, 0). [10 points] (c) Does the kinetic energy change as compared with (b) if the cube rotates about the axis A defined by x = y with z = 0 (see figure)? Justify your answer. [10 points] (d) Evaluate the kinetic energy for a rotation about the axis B, defined by x = y = a/2. [10 points]

24 Problem 2. A very long, perfectly flexible material is rolled up on a fixed, horizontal, massless, very thin axle. The rolled-up portion rotates freely on the axle. The material has a (small) thickness s, width w, and, when completely unrolled, length l. The mass density per unit volume of the material is ρ. At time t = 0, a length x 0 hangs from the roll and the system is at rest. For t > 0, the material unrolls under the influence of a constant gravitational field g (downward). [Useful information: the moment of inertia of a solid cylinder of mass M and radius R about its axis of symmetry is I = MR 2 /2.] x (a) Using the length x of the hanging part of the material as your configuration variable, find the Lagrangian of the system. [15 points] (b) Find the canonical momentum conjugate to x, and the Hamiltonian of the system. [9 points] (c) What is the velocity of the free end of the material at the time when half of it is off the roll (x = l/2)? [16 points]

25 Problem 3. A small bead of mass M is free to slide on a frictionless, uniform wire, also of mass M, which is formed into a circle of radius R. The circular wire is suspended at one point from a fixed pivot, so that it is free to swing under gravity, but only within its own plane (the plane of the page in the figure below). The gravitational field is a constant g (downward), and the small triangle in the figure represents the pivot point. (a) Find the Lagrangian of the system using appropriate configuration variables, and the equations of motion. [20 points] (b) Find the angular frequencies of small oscillation modes. [20 points] Problem 4 Consider the (planar) motion of a particle of mass m and initial angular momentum L in the central 3-dimensional potential corresponding to a spring with a non-zero relaxed length a: V (r) = 1 k(r a)2 2 (a) [20 points] Find a condition relating the radius r 0 of circular orbits and the given quantities. (It is not necessary to solve for r 0.) (b) [20 points] For nearly circular orbits, find an expression for the period of time between successive radial maxima for a/r 0 1, expressing your answer to first order in a/r 0 (with L eliminated from the answer). Use this to find the angular change between successive radial maxima in the limit a/r 0 0, and check that the orbits are closed in that limit.

26 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Fall 2012 Classical Mechanics Do ONLY THREE out of the four problems. Total points on each problem = 40. Problem 1. A thin rigid uniform bar of mass M and length L is supported in equilibrium in a horizontal position by two massless springs attached to each end, as shown. The springs have the same force constant k, and are suspended from a horizontal ceiling in a uniform gravitational field. The motion of the bar is constrained to the x, z plane, and the center of gravity of the bar is further constrained to move parallel to the vertical x-axis. (a) Write a Lagrangian describing the dynamics of this system for small deviations from equilibrium, using as configuration variables the heights of the endpoints of the bar. [15 points] (b) Find the normal modes and angular frequencies of small vibrations of the system. [25 points] x k M k z L Problem 2. A particle of mass m moves in one dimension in a harmonic oscillator potential, and is also subject to a time-dependent force F (t) so that the Lagrangian is: Let F (t) = L = m 2 ẋ2 k 2 x2 + xf (t). { 0 (for t 0), t T F 0 (for 0 < t < T ), F 0 (for t T ), Suppose that the particle is at rest in equilibrium at t = 0. (a) Derive the equation of motion and find the solution for x(t) when 0 < t < T. (b) Find the solution for x(t) for all times t > T. [20 points] [20 points]

27 Problem 3. A slowly moving spinning planet of radius R, with no atmosphere, encounters a region with many tiny meteors moving in random directions. A thin layer of dust of thickness h then forms from the fall of meteors hitting the planet from all directions. Let the original uniform density of the planet be ρ, and the density of the layer of meteor dust be ρ d. Assuming that h R, show that the fractional change in the length of the day is N 1 ( h R ) N2 ( ) N3 ρd, ρ where N 1, N 2, and N 3 are each certain non-zero integers that you will determine. moment of inertia of a sphere about an axis through its center is 2 5 MR2.) [40 points] (The Problem 4. Express your answers for the questions below in terms of the gravitational constant G, the masses, and the distance L. Assume that the stars move on circular orbits. (a) What is the rotational period T of an equal-mass (M 1 = M 2 = M) double star of separation L? [10 points] (b) What is the rotational period T of an unequal-mass (M 1 M 2 ) double star of separation L? [15 points] (c) What is the rotational period T of an equal-mass (M 1 = M 2 = M 3 = M) triple star, where the stars are located at the corners of an equilateral triangle (side L)? [15 points]

28 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Spring 2012 Classical Mechanics Do ONLY THREE out of the four problems. Total points on each problem = 40. Problem 1. A coupled oscillator consists of two springs with equal spring constants k and two equal masses m, which hang from a fixed ceiling in a uniform gravitational field with acceleration g. The system oscillates in the vertical direction only. (a) Find the Lagrangian for the system. [10 points] (b) Find the angular frequencies of the normal modes of oscillation. [20 points] (c) In the slower mode, find the ratio of the amplitude of oscillation of the upper mass to that of the lower mass. [10 points] k g m k m Problem 2. A particle of mass m moves along the x-axis under the influence of a timedependent force given by F (x, t) = kxe t/τ, where k and τ are positive constants. (a) Compute the Lagrangian function. [7 points] (b) Find the Lagrangian equation of motion explicitly. [7 points] (c) Compute the Hamiltonian function in terms of the generalized coordinate and generalized momentum. (Show clearly how you got this.) [7 points] (d) Determine Hamilton s equations of motion explicitly for this particular problem (not just general formulae). [7 points] (e) Does the Hamiltonian equal the total energy of the mass? Explain. [6 points] (f) Is the total energy of the mass conserved? Explain. [6 points]

29 Problem 3. Consider a particle of mass m moving in a three-dimensional central potential V (r) = K/(r R), where K and R are fixed positive constants. Let the angular momentum of the particle be l. (a) Find the differential equation of motion for r, the radial coordinate of the particle. [10 points] (b) Derive an algebraic equation for the possible values of the radius r c of a circular orbit. (You do not need to solve the equation.) [10 points] (c) Consider a small perturbation of a circular orbit, r = r c + ɛ. Find a linearized differential equation for ɛ, written in terms of r c, R, and K (with l eliminated). Use it to show that circular orbits are stable if either r c < R or r c > nr, where n is a certain integer that you will find. [10 points] (d) Using graphical methods, show that the equation for a circular orbit that you found in part (b) has either one or three solutions, depending on whether l 2 /mrk is smaller or larger than a certain rational number that you will find. [10 points] Problem 4. A homogeneous solid cube with mass M and sides of length a is initially in a position of unstable equilibrium with one edge in contact with a horizontal plane. The cube is then given a tiny displacement and allowed to fall. (This is done in a uniform gravitational field with acceleration g. The moment of inertia of a cube about an axis through its center and parallel to an edge is I = Ma 2 /6.) (a) Find the angular velocity of the cube when one face strikes the plane, assuming that the edge cannot slide due to friction. [15 points] (b) Same question as (a), but now assuming that the edge slides without friction on the plane. [15 points] (c) For the frictionless case in part (b), what is the force exerted by the surface on the cube just before the face strikes the plane? [10 points]

30 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Fall 2011 Classical Mechanics Do ONLY THREE out of the four problems. Total points on each problem = 40. Problem 1. A particle of mass M is constrained to move on a smooth horizontal plane. A second particle of mass m is attached to it by hanging from a string passing through a hole in the plane as shown, and is constrained to move in a vertical line in a uniform gravitational field of acceleration g. All motion is frictionless and the string is massless. (a) Find the Lagrangian for the system and derive the equations of motion. [15 points] (b) Consider solutions in which M moves in a circle with a constant speed v 0. Find the radius of the circle r 0 in terms of the other quantities. [12 points] (c) Show that the solution in part (b) is stable and find the angular frequency of small oscillations about the stable circular orbit. [13 points] r M m Problem 2. Consider pointlike particles of mass m which approach a sphere of mass M and radius R. The particles are attracted to the sphere in accordance with Newton s law. When they are very far away, the particles have velocity v. You may assume that m M. Find the effective cross-section (with units of area) for the particles to strike the sphere. [40 points]

31 Problem 3. Consider an infinite number of identical pendulums of mass M in a uniform gravitational field with acceleration g, each hanging by a massless string of length l, and coupled to each other with massless springs of spring constant K as shown. In the equilibrium position, the springs are at their natural length, a. The masses move only in the plane of the page, and with only a small displacement from equilibrium. (a) Denote the small horizontal displacement of the jth mass from equilibrium as u j (t) = u(x, t), where x = ja is the equilibrium position. Derive a wave equation of motion for u(x, t) for this system as a second-order differential equation in x and t, in the long wavelength approximation. [25 points] (b) Find the dispersion relation (a relation between the angular frequency and the wavenumber). What is the minimum angular frequency? [15 points] l... K K K... j 1 j j + 1 j + 2 a

32 Problem 4. A lawn-mower engine contains a piston of mass m that moves along ẑ in a field of constant gravitational acceleration g = gẑ. The center of mass of the piston is connected to a flywheel of moment of intertia I at a distance R from its center by a rigid and massless rod of length l, as shown. The system has only one degree of freedom but two natural coordinates, φ and z. m l z g φ R O I (a) Express the Lagrangian in terms of q 1 = z, q 2 = φ. [5 points] (b) Write the constraint equation that connects the two coordinates. [5 points] (c) From the above results, write down the two coupled equations of motion using the method of undetermined multipliers. Then eliminate the undetermined multiplier to obtain a single equation of motion (it can still involve both coordinates). [15 points] (d) Find p φ (z, φ, φ). [15 points] Hint: A constraint equation of the form C(q i ) = 0 leads to Lagrange equation(s) of motion for the configuration variables q i that include additional terms λ C q i, where λ(q i, t) is the undetermined multiplier.

33 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Spring 2011 Classical Mechanics Do ONLY THREE out of the four problems. Total points on each problem = 40. Problem 1. A thin hollow cylinder of radius R and mass M slides across a rough horizontal surface with an initial linear velocity V 0. As it slides, it also has an initial angular velocity ω 0 as shown in the figure. (Note that positive ω 0 tends to produce rolling corresponding to motion in the direction opposite to V 0.) Let the coefficient of friction between the cylinder and the surface be µ. ω 0 R V 0 x (a) How long will it take till the sliding stops? [16 points] (b) What is the velocity of the center of mass of the cylinder at the time the sliding stops? [16 points] (c) How do the results in (a) and (b) change for ω 0 in the opposite direction from that shown in the figure? [8 points] Problem 2. A block of mass M is constrained to move without friction along a horizontal line (the x axis in the figure). A simple pendulum of length L and mass m hangs from the center of the block. The pendulum moves in the xy plane. (a) [20 points] Find the Lagrangian and the equations of motion for the system. (b) [20 points] Find the normal modes and normal frequencies of the system, assuming that the pendulum always makes a small angle with the vertical. y M x L m

34 Problem 3. A uniform circular thin membrane with radius R and mass/area µ is attached to a rigid support along its circumference, like a drumhead. Points on the membrane in the equilibrium position are labeled by polar coordinates (r, θ). The membrane has constant tension C, so that under a small displacement f(r, θ, t) from equilibrium, each area element da contributes potential energy 1 2 C( f) 2 da. (a) Find a wave equation satisfied by small time-dependent displacements f(r, θ, t) of the membrane from the equilibrium position. [16 points] (b) Show that solutions can be found of the form f = R(r)S(θ)T (t), where: d 2 S dθ 2 + k2 S = 0, d 2 T dt 2 + n2 T = 0, where k and n are constants, and R(r) satisfies a second-order ordinary differential equation that you will determine. [16 points] (c) Briefly describe how you would determine the vibrational frequencies of the membrane. [8 points] Problem 4. A particle of mass m moves subject to a central potential: V (r) = k r n where k and n are positive constants. (a) If the particle has angular momentum L, what is the radius R for which the orbit is circular? [10 points] (b) Suppose the motion is close to the circular orbit mentioned in part (a). Writing r(t) = R + δr(t) and assuming that δr(t) is small, find an equation for δr(t). [15 points] (c) Solve this equation for δr and discuss the stability of circular orbits, for different values of n. [15 points]

35 NIU Physics PhD Candidacy Exam Fall 2010 Classical Mechanics Do ONLY THREE out of the four problems. Total points on each problem = 40. Problem 1. Consider a solid cylinder of mass m and radius r sliding without rolling down the smooth inclined face of a wedge of mass M and angle θ, as shown. The wedge is free to move on a horizontal plane without friction. (a) [16 points] How far has the wedge moved by the time the cylinder has descended from rest a vertical distance h? (b) [16 points] Now suppose that the cylinder is free to roll down the wedge without slipping. How far does the wedge move in this case? (c) [8 points] In which case does the cylinder reach the bottom faster? How does this depend on the radius of the cylinder? Problem 2. Consider a binary system consisting of two small stars with comparable but unequal masses m 1 and m 2. The stars attract each other according to Newtonian gravity, and orbit each other at a fixed distance, with period T. (a) [15 points] Find the distance between the stars. (b) [25 points] Now suppose the motion of both stars is suddenly stopped at a given instant of time, and they are then released and allowed to fall into each other. Find the time that it takes for the stars to collide. (You may leave your answer in terms of a single definite integral over a real dimensionless variable.)

36 Problem 3. sides a, a, b, as shown. Consider a solid rectangular prism with mass M uniformly distributed, and a a b Suppose that the object is suspended in a uniform gravitational field g from one of its edges of length a, with that edge kept fixed and horizontal, and is free to swing as a pendulum. (a) [20 points] Find a Lagrangian (with one degree of freedom) describing the motion. (b) [10 points] Suppose that the pendulum starts from rest with its square side horizontal. Find the maximum speed reached by any part of the pendulum. (c) [10 points] Find the angular frequency of small oscillations.

37 Problem 4. A mass-spring chain is formed by alternately connecting two kinds of masses, m and M, by identical springs with spring constant k, as shown below. Both ends of this mass-spring chain are fixed, and the springs are unstretched in equilibrium. There is no gravity. Assume that this system vibrates only longitudinally along the length of the chain. The masses are numbered from one end to the other, and the displacement of the nth mass from its equilibrium position is x n. x 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5... x 2N x 2N+1 M m M m M m M (a) [5 points] Find the equations of motion for the x n describing the system, for n = 1, 2,..., 2N + 1, and write the boundary conditions for x 0 and x 2N+2. (b) [20 points] Assume that x n may be expressed as: x 2j = a j e iωt (j = 0, 1,..., N + 1) and x 2j+1 = b j e iωt (j = 0, 1,..., N) where the a j and b j are time-independent. Express b j in terms of a j and a j+1, using the equations of motion obtained above. Also, what are a 0 and a N+1? (c) [15 points] Using the results of part (b), find a j in terms of a j 1 and a j+1. Now, assume that a j can be expressed as a j = A sin(jα + φ), where A, α and φ are constants independent of j. Find the angular frequency ω. Also, determine the possible values of α and φ. Hint: cos(x + y) cos(x y) = 2 sin x sin y sin(x + y) + sin(x y) = 2 sin x cos y sin(x + y) sin(x y) = 2 cos x sin y cos(x + y) + cos(x y) = 2 cos x cos y

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