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By Gerard G. Emch

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Dt Initial conditions, x = 0 and v = vi at t = 0, give A = 0 and B = vi . Therefore, x(t) = vi t exp(−γ t/2). Maximum displacement occurs when dx/dt = 0, giving vi exp(−γ t/2)(1 − γ t/2) = 0. 6 × 10−2 m. 5 Rate of Energy Loss in a Damped Harmonic Oscillator 41 x is a product of a linearly increasing function and an exponentially decaying one. 5. 5 An example of critical damping showing the steady decrease of the displacement to zero following an impulse applied at time t = 0. The dashed lines indicate the maximum value of the displacement and the time at which it occurs.

4 OSCILLATIONS IN ELECTRICAL CIRCUITS: SIMILARITIES IN PHYSICS In this section we consider oscillations in an electrical circuit. 6) and so has an identical solution: only the physical quantities associated with the differential equation are different. This illustrates that when we understand one physical situation we can understand many others. e. we can build an electrical circuit consisting of resistors, capacitors and inductors that will exactly simulate the operation of a mechanical system.

3 Schematic diagram of a car suspension system showing the spring and shock absorber. absorber consists essentially of a piston that moves in a cylinder containing a viscous fluid. Holes in the piston allow it to move up and down in a damped manner and the damping constant is adjusted so that the suspension system is close to the condition of critical damping. You can see the effect of a shock absorber by pushing down on the front of a car, just above a wheel. The car quickly returns to equilibrium with little or no oscillation.

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