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De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines

December 12, 2017

Newton’s Second Law of Motion

Joshua Pocaan*
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
De La Salle University Integrated School
joshua_pocaan@dlsu.edu.ph

Abstract: Newton’s second law of motion states that in an inertial frame, force
is equal to the mass of an object multiplied to its acceleration. This experiment
will test if the net force of a system is dependent on a force applied by a part of
it. This law is verified using a cart attached to a string over a pulley with a
hanging mass on the other end. Two equations were compared, first is the
weight of the hanging mass, and second is the total mass of the system
multiplies to its acceleration. The first equation represents the force that is
applied by a part of the system, that is the acceleration due to gravity, while
the second equation represent to net force of the system. The experiment has
5 trials, with the mass of the cart being changed. It was found out that the net
force of the system is equal to the force of the hanging mass applied to the
system, that is, its weight. There is a deviation of 24% to 63% between the
values obtained from different equation. Thus, Newton’s second law of motion
applies.

Key Words: Force; Mass; Acceleration; Gravity; Net Force

1. INTRODUCTION 1.2 Theory


To validate the Newton’s second law of
1.1 Background of the Study motion, an experimental set-up where a cart ad a
hanging mass is involved.
According to Newton’s second law of
Sir Isaac Newton stated his second law of
motion,
motion in his book ‘Principia Mathematica
Philosophiae Naturalis’ in this manner: “A change in
motion is proportional to the motive force impressed 𝐹 = 𝑚𝑎 (Eq. 1)
and takes place along the straight line in which that
force is impressed,” (Smith, 2008). where:
Though not explicitly stated, a further 𝐹 = net force of the system
discussion of this statement will lead to the modern 𝑚 = mass of the body
equation of force, F = ma. Thus, an object in
constant velocity does not have an acceleration and 𝑎 = acceleration of the body
does not have a force acting upon it. In this
experiment, Newton’s second law of motion will be This means that the net force acting on a
verified using an experiment set-up where a cart, body with mass, m, results to an acceleration of the
hanging mass, and strings involved. Moreover, some body, a.
kinematic equation will be tackled in this
experiment. A cart, with mass m1, will be attached
In this experiment, a cart will be pulled by horizontally using a string to a hanging mass, with
hanging mass and determine if the net force on the mass m2, over a pulley. In theory, the net force of the
system is only dependent on one body, thus verifying whole system is equal to the weight of the hanging
Newton’s Second Law of Motion. mass,

𝐹𝑚𝑎𝑠𝑠 = 𝑚2 𝑔 (Eq. 2)
De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines
December 12, 2017

where: is being changed. Also, the net force of the system is


𝐹𝑚𝑎𝑠𝑠 = force acting on the hanging mass dependent on the hanging mass only. If these
𝑚2 = mass of the hanging mass hypothesis are agree with the conclusion, Newton’s
𝑔 = acceleration due to gravity (9.8 m/s2) second law of motion thus apply.

assuming that friction is negligible.


2. METHODOLOGY
As Newton’s second law stated, force, F, is
equal to the product of the mass of the system, m¸ In order prove and see Newton’s second law
multiplied to its acceleration, a. Since the cart and of motion, an experiment is formulated by the
the hanging mass is attached to each other, they can Physics Department-, College of Science of De La
be considered as one body. Thus, Salle University – Manila.

𝐹𝑛𝑒𝑡 = (𝑚1 + 𝑚2 )𝑎 (Eq. 3) 2.1 Materials and Equipment


The materials needed for the experiment
where: are as follows:
𝐹𝑛𝑒𝑡 = net force of the system
𝑚1 = mass of the cart • Cart (ME-9430)
𝑚2 = mass of the hanging mass • Pulley with clamp
𝑎 = acceleration of the system (from Eq. 4) • String
• Stopwatch
For the experiment, acceleration, a, may be • Mass Balance
obtained using the following equation: • Cart Track
• Base and Support Rod
2𝑑 • Mass Hanger and Mass Set
𝑎= (Eq. 4) • Metal Stopping Block
𝑡2
where:
𝑎 = acceleration of the system 2.1 Experimental Set-up
𝑑 = distance of the cart
𝑡 = average time travelled by the cart
cart
Value for time, t, will be the average time
travelled by the cart. On the other hand, distance, d, adjustable end stop
will be obtained by subtracting the final position and
starting position of the cart. hanging mass
Fig 1. Experimental Set-up
1.3 Objectives
This experiment will prove the application The cart was put on the track and attached
of Newton’s Second Law of Motion. Moreover, this to a string over a pulley with a hanging mass on the
experiment will introduce some concepts from other end. An adjustable end stop was between the
kinematics that will be help in the verification. cart and the pulley. Several weights were added on
the hanging mass.
1.4 Scope and Delimitation
This experiment will only tackle Newton’s 2.3 Procedure
second law of motion, where force is equal to the
product of the mass of an object and its acceleration. Cart was set on the track to see which way
Moreover, this equation applies in a frictionless it rolls to level the track. The feet of the base and
system, however this cannot be attained in the set- support rod where the track is attached was
up. Thus, some errors and deviations in the values adjusted until the cart was not moving. Then, the
will be expected. mass of the cart was measured using the mass
balance. Moreover, the pulley was attached at the
1.5 Hypothesis end of the track and placed the cart back on the
It is hypothesized that the values of Eq. 2 track.
and Eq. 3 are equal even when the mass of the cart
De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines
December 12, 2017

A string was attached to the hole in the cart Theoretically, the Fnet and Fmass must be
and a mass hanger at the other end of the string. equal. In this experiment, two free body diagrams
Next, the cart was pulled back until the mass hanger can be made to prove that they must be equal. From
reached the pulley. The position was then recorded Figure 1, the free body diagram are as follows.
as starting position. A test run was done to
determine how much mass is required by the mass
a. b.
hanger to make the cart run for 2 seconds until it
reached the stopper. This test run is needed to lessen 𝐹⃗ T 𝐹⃗ T ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗
𝐹𝑁
errors due to reaction time when the experiment is
being done. The point where the cart reaches the end 𝑎⃗ ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗
𝑊𝑚 2 𝑎⃗ ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗
𝑊𝑚 1
stop is recorded as final position.
Lastly, the 5 runs were done and then
recorded the time. The procedure is repeated for 2
more trials; however, the mass of the cart was Fig 2. Free body diagram at hanging mass (a.) and
changed. cart (b.)
Eq. 2 and Eq. 3 will be compared to each
other to confirm Newton’s second. In Eq. 2, it shows The forces acting on the hanging mass, m2,
the total net force acting on the system. On the other are the tension of the string, 𝐹⃗ T, acceleration of the
hand, Eq. 3 shows the force that is acting on the system, 𝑎⃗, and the weight of the hanging mass, ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗
𝑊𝑚 2 .
hanging mass. This is to show that the acceleration On the cart the forces acting on the cart, m1,
acting on the system only affects the mass of the
are the tension of the string, 𝐹⃗ T, acceleration of the
hanging mass.
system, 𝑎⃗, and the weight of the cart, ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗
𝑊𝑚 1 , and the
normal force on the cart, ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗
𝐹𝑁 .
3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Getting the net force, that is the sum of all
The following tables show the data needed forces, of the whole system are as follows:
to verify Newton’s second law of motion. These data
show the distance of the track, average running
time, and the masses of the cart and hanging mass. ∑𝐹⃗ = 𝐹
⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗ ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗ ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗ ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗
𝑇 + 𝐹𝑁 + 𝑊𝑚 1 + 𝑊𝑚 2 (Eq. 5)
Table 1. Position of cart
Initial Release Position 0.680 m Since the normal force on the cart, ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗
𝐹𝑁 , and
Final Position 0.388 m the weight of the cart, ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗
𝑊𝑚 1 , are equal in magnitude
Total distance, d 0.292 m but of opposite direction will eliminated.
Additionally, the tension of the string, 𝐹⃗ T, will be
Table 2. Average time of cart and hanging mass eliminated. Thus,
Cart Mass, m1 Hanging Average Time

0.518 kg
Mass, m2
0.010 kg 2.024 s
∑𝐹⃗ = ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗
𝑊𝑚 2
0.768 kg 0.010 kg 2.428 s
1.018 kg 0.010 kg 3.417 s Following Newton’s second law of motion,
the net force of the hanging mass – cart system is
Given the data above, these were used to equal to the weight of the hanging mass, ⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗⃗
𝑊𝑚 2 , and
determine the force acting upon the system using Eq. 2.
equations for acceleration and force.
𝐹𝑚𝑎𝑠𝑠 = 𝑚2 𝑔 (Eq. 2)
Table 3. Acceleration and net force of the cart and
hanging mass system where:
m1 m2 a Fnet Fmass % diff 𝐹𝑚𝑎𝑠𝑠 = force acting on the hanging mass
(kg) (kg) (m/s2) (N) (N) (%) 𝑚2 = mass of the hanging mass
0.518 0.010 0.143 0.076 0.098 25.29 𝑔 = acceleration due to gravity (9.8 m/s2)
0.768 0.010 0.099 0.077 0.098 24.00
1.018 0.010 0.050 0.051 0.098 63.09
As shown in the experiment, however, Eq.
As shown in Table 3, forces acting upon the 2 and Eq. 3 have small deviances with each other.
system were calculated using Eq. 2 and Eq.3.
De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines
December 12, 2017

These equations show different values, thus The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
resulting from quarter to more than half the (Winter 2008 ed.). Retrieved from
difference between the two. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2008/ent
This deviance may be due, but not limited, ries/newton-principia
to human errors such reaction time for stopping the
stopwatch, measurement of initial and final
position, and friction in the system.
Eq. 2 serves as the basis for verification of
Newton’s second law as shown in Eq. 3.

4. CONCLUSION
As observed in this experiment, it can be
concluded that it is, in fact, Newton’s second law of
motion applies. With small deviation, the net force
of the hanging mass – cart system using Eq. 2 and
Eq. 3 have small deviation. Eq. 2 served as the
standard value for verification of Newton’s second
law since it is equal to the weight of the hanging
mass. Eq. 3 is being tested where it is solely based
on Newton’s second law, that is, force is equal to the
total mass of the system multiplied to the
acceleration of the system.
The deviation in values between the two
equations may be lessened if errors such as, but not
limited to, reaction time for stopping the stopwatch,
measurement of initial and final position, and
friction in the system. Moreover, additional trials for
the experiment can also help lessen deviance and
make the data set more accurate.

5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This paper would not possible without the
teachings of our laboratory and lecture professor in
General Physics I, Mr. Jam Lambert U. Catenza and
Mr. Brandon Chan. To my fellow groupmates, Julia
Fatima Yobel C.Teope and Matthew Samin for
helping me in carrying this experiment. I would also
like to thank the Physics Department of De La Salle
University for providing the materials and
laboratory manuals and letting us use their
laboratory.

6. REFERENCES
Physics Department, De La Salle University -
Manila. (n.d.). Laboratory Manual. Retrieved
Decemeber 10, 2017, from Undergraduate
Laboratory Experiments:
https://www.dlsu.edu.ph/academics/colleges/cos
/physics/_pdf/cos-newton's-second-law.pdf

Smith, G. (2008). Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis


Principia Mathematica. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.),