The hanging cord with a real tip mass

J. S. Deschaine and B. H. Suits
Normal mode solutions for the perfectly flexible hanging cord problem have been known for over 200 years. More recently, theoretical results for a hanging cord with a point mass attached were presented. Here the theoretical results are tested experimentally using high-precision techniques which are accessible for use in an introductory laboratory. Also incluced is a generalization of the theory for the case where the rotational inertia of the tip mass is not negligible. An exact expression is obtained which can be solved for the normal mode frequencies. In all cases, the theoretical results are in good agreement with experimental results. Both the theory and experiment are at a level accessible to upper level lundergraduate physics students. The problem serves as an example of other problems involving one-dimensional wave propagation with a spatially dependent wave speed resulting in non-harmonic normal mode frequencies.

European Journal of Physics 29, 1211-1222 (2008).

Back to Publication List
To MTU Physics Home