Free Body Diagrams and Fictitious Forces

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Session Overview

Photograph of a computer screen showing boxes and arrows indicating directions of forces.

Covered this week:
In week 4, we practice using free body diagrams to help us find equations of motion. We do several example problems. We discuss the concept of a fictitious force as well as the hazards in using them.

Computer-generated free body diagrams for a moving elevator. Image courtesy of Waifer X on Flickr.


Problems and Concept Questions

Each problem set has concept questions paired with most problems. Answers to the concept questions are handed in before the overall problem set is due. You should therefore answer the concept questions in each problem set while watching the video lectures for the week. Then, use the Concept Question Answer Key (below in the Check Yourself section) to check your work before continuing to work on the problem set.

Please note that if your answer to the concept question is incorrect, it is likely that you may start down an unproductive pathway to a solution. Try to fully understand the answer to the concept question before you begin the regular problem.


Lecture Videos

Recitation Video and Notes

Check Yourself

Concept Question Answer Key and Problem Set Solutions

The solutions are presented in two files, one with the answers to the concept questions, and one with solutions and in-depth explanations for the problems. Work the problems on your own and check your answers when you're done.


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