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# Rotational Inertia

## Purpose: To determine the moment of inertia of a rigid body.

Equipment: Moment of inertia apparatus, weights and hanger, stopwatch, two meter stick, micrometer caliper,
and 30 cm ruler.
Theory:

In this lab we will be studying the moment of inertia of two rotating disks about a fixed shaft. From the
arallel !xis Theorem we know that the moment of inertia of a body rotating at a distance " from the center of
mass of the body is gi#en by I I MR
CM
= +
\$
, where M is the total mass of the ob%ect. In this experiment you will
place weights symmetrically on a rotating shaft. The total moment of inertia in this case will be the sum of the
moments of inertia of the weights and the shaft. &etting ICM be the moment of inertia of the rotating weight
assembly and I
s
that of the shaft, we expect the total moment of inertia to be I MR I I
CM s
= + +
\$
. Thus, we can
write I MR I = +
\$
0
, where
I I I
CM s 0
= + .
! plot of I #s R
\$
will be a straight line with slope M and intercept I0.
'e can determine the moment of inertia I of the system by dropping a weight attached to a string, which is
wrapped around a shaft. This will cause the system to begin rotating. 'e can time fall of the ob%ect and use this
to compute the moment of inertia as I mr
gt
h
s
f
=

\$
\$
\$
( , where m is the mass of the descending weight, h is the
initial height of the descending mass abo#e the floor, t is the elapsed time for the fall, and
r
s
shaft. )The interested reader can read the deri#ation of this formula at the end of the lab.*
Instructions:
(. lace four (00 g weights on the hori+ontal shaft using the wing nuts. !d%ust the wing nuts so that the center
of the two weights on each side is (, cm from the center of the #ertical shaft. "ecord this as R is the data
table.
\$. Measure the diameter of the bare %ust below the point where the string is attached to the shaft using the
micrometer caliper.
3. lace ,0 grams on the weight hanger and hang from the loop on the string. 'ind the string on the shaft and
raise the hanger to it highest position. Make sure that the string winds e#enly on the shaft and does not pile
up in one place.
-. Measure the diameter of the shaft plus the string where the string is wound on the shaft. "ecord this #alue
and calculate the effecti#e radius as one half of the a#erage between this diameter and the bare shaft
diameter.
,. .se the two/meter stick to measure the distance between the bottom of the weight hanger and the floor at
the hanger0s highest height.
1. 2arefully hold one finger in front of one arm of the apparatus to keep it from rotating. "elease the arm and
start the timer simultaneously. Take care to do this without imparting any initial #elocity to the arm. 3top the
timer when the weight hits the floor. "ecord this time in the data table.
4. "epeat the experiment for the other positions in the table.
5. 2alculate the moment of inertia for each set of data. In 6xcel, plot I #s R
\$
. Fine the slope of the best fit line to
Data:
Mass of the descending weight 7m89 0.(0 kg. Mass of rotating weights9 0.-00 kg.
Total Mass of wing nuts9 0.0,1 kg. Total rotating mass 7M89 0.-,1 kg.
:are shaft diameter ;;;;;;;;;;;;;; 3haft plus string diameter ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
6ffecti#e radius of the shaft 7r
s
8 ;;;;;;;;;;;;;; <eight of the descending weight 7h8 ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
R
(m)
t
f
(sec) I (kg m
2
) R
2
(m
2
)
0!"
0!#
0!!
00\$
00%
00"
&nalysis:
=raph >ata9
3lope ;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Intercept ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
ercent 6rror in slope '''''''''''
'hat do the slope and the intercept represent?
Deri(ation of I:
The a#erage #elocity for the falling weight is v
h
t
f
=
\$
, where h is the height of the fall and t is the time elapsed.
.sing the conser#ation of energy of the system, we ha#e that the final kinetic energies of the falling mass and that
of the rotational motion is e@ual to the initial stored potential energy9 mgh mv I
f f
= +
(
\$
(
\$
\$ \$
. 3ince the linear
speed of the unra#eling string is the same as that of the falling weight and
v r
f s
= ,
we can replace

f and use
the abo#e #alue of
v
f to obtain I mr
gt
h
s
f
=

\$
\$
\$
( . <ere, m is the mass of the descending weight, h is the initial
height of the descending mass abo#e the floor, t is the elapsed time for the fall, and
r
s
is the radius of the shaft.