MA22S4: Mechanics (Hilary Term 2018)

Course content and assessment

80% two-hour written examination.

20% continuously assessed assignments throughout the semester.

Module Prerequisite


Lectures & Tutorials Info

Lectures: Thurs. 10am (EELT2), Thurs. 1pm (Jol4), Thurs. 4pm (Jol4)

Tutorials: Wed. 5pm (MGLT), Fri 2pm (EELT2)

Your tutor: Stephen O'Brien

UPDATE: Lectures <--> Tutorials swap in the weeks 9 and 11:

Lectures: Wed. 28 March 5pm (MGLT)

Tutorials: Thurs. 15 March 10am (EELT2)

Module Content (this is a provisional syllabus)

  • Introduction
  • Scalar and vector products, differentiation and integration of vectors, velocity and acceleration, Newton's Laws.

  • Motion in Plane Polar Coordinates
  • Derivation of velocity and acceleration in polar coordinates and applications to circular and elliptical motion of a particle.

  • Central Force Motion
  • Equations of motion for a particle in a central force field, derivation of the orbit equation, conservation of angular momentum, potential energy, conservation of energy, solution of the orbit equation for different force fields, apsides and apsidal angles, calculation of maximum and minimum distance of a particle from the origin of a force, inverse square law of attraction and conic sections, properties of the ellipse. Planetary motion, Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation, proof of Kepler's Laws, examples involving calculating eccentricity, periodic time, velocity at aphelion and perihelion of planets and related problems.

  • Work and Energy
  • Evaluation of work done by a force on a particle using line integrals, work as related to kinetic and potential energy, conservative forces, path independence, conservation of energy. Energy diagrams -- use of energy diagrams to analyse the motion of a particle qualitatively, positions of stable and unstable equilibrium, small oscillations in a bound system.

  • Rotating Frames
  • Non-inertial coordinate systems, velocity and acceleration in rotating systems, centrifugal and coriolis forces, derivation of the equation of motion for a particle moving in the vicinity of the rotating earth and related examples.

  • Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics
  • Generalised coordinates, Lagrangian and the action of the system, Hamilton's principle, derivation of Euler-Lagrange equation and some applications. Generalised forces and generalised momenta. Hamiltonian and Hamilton's equations.