Describe a an easy harmonic oscillator.Explain the attach between an easy harmonic motion and waves.

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The oscillations of a system in which the net force can be defined by Hooke’s legislation are of distinct importance, since they are very common. Castle are additionally the simplest oscillatory systems. Simple Harmonic Motion (SHM) is the name given to oscillatory movement for a system where the net force can be described by Hooke’s law, and such a system is dubbed a simple harmonic oscillator. If the net force can be defined by Hooke’s law and there is no damping (by friction or various other non-conservative forces), climate a an easy harmonic oscillator will oscillate v equal displacement on either side of the equilibrium position, as shown for an object on a spring in figure 1. The maximum displacement native equilibrium is called the amplitude X. The systems for amplitude and displacement space the same, yet depend ~ above the type of oscillation. Because that the thing on the spring, the systems of amplitude and displacement are meters; whereas for sound oscillations, they have actually units of push (and other types of oscillations have yet other units). Since amplitude is the preferably displacement, that is related to the power in the oscillation.

Figure 1. An object attached come a feather sliding top top a frictionless surface is one uncomplicated simple harmonic oscillator. When displaced from equilibrium, the thing performs basic harmonic motion that has an amplitude X and also a period T. The object’s maximum speed occurs together it passes with equilibrium. The stiffer the spring is, the smaller the duration T. The better the mass of the object is, the better the duration T.

Take-Home Experiment: SHM and also the Marble

Find a key or container that is shaped prefer a hemisphere ~ above the inside. Place a marble within the bowl and also tilt the key periodically so the marble rolls indigenous the bottom the the bowl to equally high clues on the sides of the bowl. Acquire a feel for the pressure required to preserve this routine motion. What is the restoring force and also what function does the force you use play in the an easy harmonic movement (SHM) of the marble?

What is so significant about simple harmonic motion? One special point is that the duration T and frequency f the a basic harmonic oscillator room independent of amplitude. The cable of a guitar, for example, will certainly oscillate v the exact same frequency even if it is plucked gently or hard. Due to the fact that the period is constant, a simple harmonic oscillator can be used as a clock.

Two important determinants do impact the period of a simple harmonic oscillator. The period is connected to how stiff the system is. A very stiff object has a big force consistent k, which causes the mechanism to have actually a smaller period. Because that example, girlfriend can adjust a diving board’s stiffness—the stiffer the is, the quicker it vibrates, and also the shorter its period. Period also counts on the fixed of the oscillating system. The an ext massive the mechanism is, the longer the period. Because that example, a hefty person on a diving board bounces up and also down more slowly than a irradiate one.

In fact, the fixed m and also the force continuous k room the only factors that impact the period and frequency of simple harmonic motion.

Period of simple Harmonic Oscillator

The period the a basic harmonic oscillator is provided by


and, since f=\frac1T\\, the frequency that a simple harmonic oscillator is


Note that neither T no one f has any dependence ~ above amplitude.

Take-Home Experiment: Mass and Ruler Oscillations

Find two similar wooden or plastic rulers. Tape one finish of each ruler firmly come the leaf of a table so the the size of each ruler that protrudes native the table is the same. Top top the totally free end of one ruler tape a heavy object such together a couple of large coins. Pluck the ends of the rulers at the same time and observe which one undergoes an ext cycles in a time period, and also measure the duration of oscillation of every of the rulers.

Example 1. Calculate the Frequency and duration of Oscillations: negative Shock Absorbers in a Car

If the shock absorbers in a car go bad, climate the automobile will oscillate in ~ the least provocation, such as once going over bumps in the road and after protecting against (See figure 2). Calculate the frequency and duration of this oscillations for such a car if the car’s massive (including that is load) is 900 kg and the force continuous (k) that the suspension device is 6.53 × 104 N/m.

Figure 2. The bouncing automobile makes a wavelike motion. If the restoring force in the suspension system can be described only by Hooke’s law, then the tide is a sine function. (The tide is the trace developed by the headlight together the car moves come the right.)


The frequency the the car’s oscillations will certainly be that of a simple harmonic oscillator as offered in the equation f=\frac12\pi\sqrt\frackm\\. The mass and the force consistent are both given.


Enter the well-known values of k and m:

\displaystylef=\frac12\pi\sqrt\frackm=\frac12\pi\sqrt\frac6.53\times10^4\text N/m900\text kg\\

Calculate the frequency:

\frac12\pi\sqrt72.6/\texts^-2=1.3656/\texts^-1\approx1.36/\texts^-1=1.36\text Hz\\

You might use T=2\pi\sqrt\fracmk\\ to calculation the period, yet it is simpler to usage the connection T=\frac1f\\ and substitute the value just found for f:

\displaystyleT=\frac1f=\frac11.356\text Hz=0.738\text s\\


The values of T and also f both seem around right for a bouncing car. You have the right to observe this oscillations if you push down hard on the finish of a car and also let go.

The link between an easy Harmonic Motion and also Waves

Figure 3. The vertical position of an object bouncing top top a spring is taped on a piece of relocating paper, leave a sine wave.

If a time-exposure picture of the bouncing automobile were taken together it drive by, the headlight would make a wavelike streak, as shown in figure 2. Similarly, number 3 shows things bouncing ~ above a spring together it leaves a wavelike “trace the its position on a relocating strip of paper. Both waves space sine functions. All an easy harmonic activity is intimately regarded sine and cosine waves.

The displacement as a function of time t in any simple harmonic motion—that is, one in i m sorry the network restoring force can be explained by Hooke’s law, is offered by


where X is amplitude. In ~ = 0, the initial position is x0 = X, and the displacement oscillates ago and forth with a duration T. (When T, we get X again since cos 2π = 1.). Furthermore, indigenous this expression for x, the velocity v as a function of time is given by

v(t)=-v_\textmax\sin\left(\frac2\pitT\right)\\, where v_\textmax=\frac2\piXT=X\sqrt\frackm\\.

The object has zero velocity at maximum displacement—for example, v=0 when t=0, and also at that time x=X. The minus sign in the first equation because that v(t) provides the exactly direction because that the velocity. Simply after the start of the motion, because that instance, the velocity is an adverse because the system is moving ago toward the equilibrium point. Finally, us can get an expression because that acceleration making use of Newton’s 2nd law. x(t), v(t), t, and a(t), the quantities essential for kinematics and also a summary of straightforward harmonic motion.> follow to Newton’s 2nd law, the acceleration is a=\fracFm=\frackxm\\. So, a(t) is likewise a cosine function:


Hence, a(t) is directly proportional to and in the contrary direction to a(t).

Figure 4 shows the straightforward harmonic movement of an object on a spring and also presents graphs that x(t), v(t), and a(t) versus time.

Figure 4. Graphs of and versus t for the motion of things on a spring. The net force on the object can be explained by Hooke’s law, and also so the thing undergoes basic harmonic motion. Note that the early stage position has actually the vertical displacement in ~ its maximum worth X; v is originally zero and then negative as the object move down; and the early acceleration is negative, back toward the equilibrium position and also becomes zero at the point.

The most important point here is the these equations are mathematically straightforward and are valid for all an easy harmonic motion. They are very useful in visualizing waves linked with basic harmonic motion, including visualizing just how waves add with one another.

Check your Understanding

Part 1

Suppose girlfriend pluck a banjo string. Girlfriend hear a solitary note that starts the end loud and also slowly quiets over time. Explain what happens to the sound waves in regards to period, frequency and also amplitude as the sound decreases in volume.


Frequency and period remain basically unchanged. Only amplitude decreases together volume decreases.

Part 2

A babysitter is pushing a kid on a swing. In ~ the suggest where the swing will x, wherein would the corresponding allude on a tide of this motion be located?


x is the best deformation, which synchronizes to the amplitude that the wave. The point on the wave would certainly either be in ~ the really top or the an extremely bottom the the curve.

PhET Explorations: Masses and Springs

A realistic mass and also spring laboratory. Hang masses from springs and change the feather stiffness and damping. Girlfriend can also slow time. Carry the laboratory to various planets. A chart reflects the kinetic, potential, and also thermal power for each spring.


Click to run the simulation.

Selected Solutions

Simple harmonic activity is oscillatory motion for a mechanism that deserve to be described only by Hooke’s law. Together a mechanism is also called a basic harmonic oscillator.Maximum displacement is the amplitude X. The duration T and frequency f of a an easy harmonic oscillator are given by T=2\pi\sqrt\fracmk\\ and also f=\frac12\pi \sqrt\frackm\\ , where m is the mass of the system.Displacement in basic harmonic activity as a duty of time is provided by x\left(t\right)=X\textcos\frac2\pitT\\.The velocity is given by v\left(t\right)=-v_\textmax\textsin\frac2\pitT\\, where v_\textmax=\sqrt\frackmX\\.The acceleration is discovered to it is in a(t)=-\frackXm\cos\frac2\pitT\\.

Conceptual Questions

What problems must it is in met come produce an easy harmonic motion?(a) If frequency is not consistent for some oscillation, deserve to the oscillation be an easy harmonic motion? (b) deserve to you think of any type of examples that harmonic movement where the frequency might depend top top the amplitude?Give an example of a basic harmonic oscillator, especially noting just how its frequency is elevation of amplitude.Explain why you expect things made that a stiff product to vibrate in ~ a higher frequency than a comparable object do of a spongy material.As you happen a freight truck with a trailer top top a highway, you notification that the trailer is bouncing up and also down slowly. Is it much more likely that the trailer is heavily loaded or virtually empty? define your answer.Some civilization modify cars to be lot closer to the soil than as soon as manufactured. Need to they install stiffer springs? describe your answer.

Problems & Exercises

A kind of cuckoo clock keeps time by having actually a mass bouncing on a spring, generally something cute choose a cherub in a chair. What force consistent is necessary to produce a period of 0.500 s for a 0.0150-kg mass?If the spring constant of a basic harmonic oscillator is doubled, by what aspect will the mass of the system need to readjust in order for the frequency of the movement to stay the same?A 0.500-kg massive suspended from a spring oscillates with a period of 1.50 s. Exactly how much mass must be added to the thing to change the duration to 2.00 s?By just how much leeway (both percentage and mass) would certainly you have in the an option of the massive of the object in the previous trouble if girlfriend did no wish the new period come be greater than 2.01 s or less than 1.99 s?Suppose you connect the object v mass m to a upright spring originally at rest, and also let it bounce up and down. You release the thing from rest at the spring’s initial rest length. (a) present that the spring exerts one upward pressure of 2.00 mg on the object at its lowest point. (b) If the spring has a force constant of 10.0 N/m and a 0.25-kg-mass object is set in activity as described, discover the amplitude that the oscillations. (c) uncover the best velocity.A diver ~ above a diving plank is undergoing an easy harmonic motion. She mass is 55.0 kg and also the period of her motion is 0.800 s. The following diver is a masculine whose period of simple harmonic oscillation is 1.05 s. What is his mass if the massive of the plank is negligible?Suppose a diving board with no one on that bounces up and down in a basic harmonic activity with a frequency that 4.00 Hz. The board has actually an reliable mass the 10.0 kg. What is the frequency of the straightforward harmonic movement of a 75.0-kg diver ~ above the board?The device pictured in figure 6 entertains babies while maintaining them indigenous wandering. The son bounces in a exploit suspended indigenous a door framework by a feather constant.

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Figure 6. This child’s toy depends on springs come keep infants entertained. (credit: by Humboldthead, Flickr)

(a) If the spring stretches 0.250 m while sustaining an 8.0-kg child, what is its spring constant? (b) What is the moment for one complete bounce that this child? (c) What is the child’s maximum velocity if the amplitude of her bounce is 0.200 m?A 90.0-kg skydiver hanging indigenous a parachute bounces up and also down v a period of 1.50 s. What is the new period the oscillation as soon as a second skydiver, who mass is 60.0 kg, hangs from the foot of the first, as seen in figure 7.

Figure 7. The oscillations the one skydiver are about to be affected by a 2nd skydiver. (credit: U.S. Army,


amplitude: the maximum displacement from the equilibrium position of an object oscillating roughly the equilibrium position

simple harmonic motion: the oscillatory movement in a device where the net force can be explained by Hooke’s law

simple harmonic oscillator: a device that implements Hooke’s law, such together a mass the is attached to a spring, with the other finish of the feather being connected to a rigid assistance such as a wall