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Topic: Physics problem --ball rolling down an inclined plane
Replies: 8   Last Post: Dec 26, 2012 10:25 PM

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Louis Talman

Posts: 5,100
Registered: 12/27/05
Re: Physics problem --ball rolling down an inclined plane
Posted: Dec 20, 2012 5:55 PM
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On Thu, 20 Dec 2012 14:32:50 -0700, Peter Duveen <> wrote:

> High school physics students are taught so-called Newtonian mechanics,
> but cannot solve the simple problem of a ball rolling down an inclined
> plane. Rigid bodies are outside the purview of Newtonian mechanics, as
> Newton himself seems to have admitted in The Principia. However, the
> application of D'Alembert's Principle yields a solution to this simple
> problem. The problem becomes particularly simple when worked out for a
> thin cylinder or ring rolling down an inclined plane. Should high school
> students be introduced to D'Alembert's Principle?

Have they been introduced to moments of inertia? That's a topic that's
mostly beyond the high school level because one must be able to set up a
multi-dimensional integral to compute them.

Even then, I'd think that Conservation of Energy might give an easier

- --Lou Talman
Department of Mathematical & Computer Sciences
Metropolitan State University of Denver


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