Physics Explained Through a Video Game/Systems and Center of Mass
Topic 2.1 - Systems and Center of Mass
[edit | edit source]Before looking discussing forces later in this unit, we need to consider a few definitions first.
Introduction
[edit | edit source]The center of mass (sometimes abbreviated as CoM) of an object refers to the average position of all of the parts that form the object.^{[1]}
In classical mechanics, considering this can be useful in variety of circumstances as it oftentimes enables us to view an awkwardly-shaped object as a singular point. Later on in this article series, this will be particularly helpful in simplifying many problems and concepts.
In some cases, such as in Ferris Wheel by antidonaldtrump / Armin van buren (on the right), it may be useful to locate the center of mass of a system of objects. To note, a system in physics is just some collection of objects or parts of an object that we're interested in observing together.^{[2]}
Example 1: Ferris Wheel
[edit | edit source]As an example of how to calculate for a system's center of mass, we need to first consider the objects with mass that compose it. In the case of the Ferris wheel, for simplicity, we're using the assumption that only the six carts of the Ferris wheel have non-negligible mass. Thus, the rest of the Ferris wheel (such as the base or the rim) won't be considered as contributing to its center of mass.
With this out of the way, we can define that there are six objects that compose the system. For each of these objects, we need to know their own center of masses.
Using the diagram on the right hand side, which represents the locations of each of the six cart's center of mass, assume that:
- Each green dot specifies the point of a cart's center of mass and its position.
- The position values of the green dots are in meters .
- All of the carts have the same mass, given as .
In order to calculate for where the Ferris wheel's center of mass is, we need to use the definition for the center of mass in a particular direction, as provided below. Essentially, this allows for us to separately calculate the center of mass of a system in the horizontal and vertical directions (assuming a 2-Dimensional situation). From this, we can describe where the center of mass (in a specific direction) by knowing the relative mass and coordinate of each cart.
Definition of Center of Mass in Some Direction (): ^{[3]} |
With the formula above, represents the mass of each object in the system. Also, represents that respective object's center of mass in the (X) direction.
To reflect on the information that we've gathered so far, refer to the table below. In this, we're assigning each cart and its center of mass location as a part of the formula above.
Object name | Assigned | Known X-coordinate of CoM, | Known Y-coordinate of CoM, |
---|---|---|---|
Red cart | |||
Purple cart | |||
Blue cart | |||
Green cart | |||
Yellow cart | |||
Orange cart |
With the information labeled above, we can begin calculating for the center of mass in the and directions.
We can start with calculating the direction's center of mass, . To do this, we need to employ the formula specified above for the center of mass in a particular direction, .
Using the information from the table above and then substituting the known variables, we will find that:
.
This can be algebraically simplified such that:
Object name | Assigned | Known Y-coordinate of CoM, |
---|---|---|
Red cart | ||
Purple cart | ||
Blue cart | ||
Green cart | ||
Yellow cart | ||
Orange cart |
Using the table on the right, we can consider the columns dedicated for the assigned mass () and the Y-coordinate () of the parts of the system (the Ferris wheel).
Also, since the center of mass in the Y-direction is being solved for, the related equation can have the particular direction be specified as such that:
Similar to how was calculated, we can then use substitution of variables and algebraically simplify to find . This derivation results in finding , as shown below.
With knowing both the values for the and , we can now specify the center of mass of the Ferris wheel's as being located at . For more context, we can again consider the reference image of the Ferris wheel system. By using the surrounding labeled coordinates, we could plot where the center of mass as being just below the center shaft (where the large grey rods in the image meet together).
See the Ferris wheel image below with a superimposed bold yellow star indicating the approximated center of mass's location.
Example 2: Blocky Snakes
[edit | edit source]Section I: Content Primer
[edit | edit source]- Are there sometimes shortcuts towards for the center of mass?
- Can we expand the idea of an object's center of mass to objects that are in motion?
In this example, we'll address these questions, providing more of an insight towards the intuition and applications behind a system's center of mass.
Consider the map "Strange Snake" by 11vanya11. In this, a snake made out of seven blocks circles around a rectangular perimeter, as seen on the right. Suppose that all of these seven blocks with a uniform density* each with the same mass.
Section II: Helpful Techniques for Finding the CoM
[edit | edit source]We now know that if (1) a system or system part creates a simple geometric shape and (2) that system or system part has a uniform density, then it has a center of mass where the geometric center is.
When looking at the image on the right, it is clear that the snake as a whole does not create a simple geometric shape. However, there are parts of the snake that each create a rectangular shape. Because the entire snake has a uniform density, each of these snake parts (shown below) has its own center of mass at its geometric center.Through using the method shown above, if we were to use the formulas for and (provided a coordinate plane), the computation is much simpler. Instead of having to consider the coordinates of 16 different blocks, we only have to consider four distinct groups to find the entire snake's center of mass at that moment.Recall that the snake's blocks each have a length and width of . If we allow for the green segment's center of mass to be located at the coordinate , we can manually figure out where the other center of masses are located as shown in the diagram on the right.
From this point, we could use the formulas for and , as introduced in Example 1.
With both and , we can define that the center of the snake's mass is approximately at , as labeled by the image now with a superimposed star on the right.
To clarify, it is okay for the center of an object's mass to be not on the object itself. For instance, consider a doughnut that (1) has a hole in the middle of it and (2) has uniform density. Although there isn't mass from the doughnut itself inside of the hole, the doughnut mass surrounding the hole averages out such that it's center of mass is in the hole.
As such, as also seen by the example just shown with the snake, the center of an object's (or a system's) mass does not necessarily have to be inside of the object itself.
Section III: Velocity of the CoM
[edit | edit source]As seen in the previous sections, we've idealized finding the center of mass of a system by object considering still frames. However, oftentimes, the center of mass is undergoing motion, making it necessary to account for this in some situations.
To explore this concept, consider the map Climb by Fantao.
Assume that:
- The platforms are all falling a constant velocity of .
- The smaller platforms each have a mass of .
- The larger top platform has a mass of .
What is the velocity of the center of mass of the system of visible platforms?
Approaching this problem may be intuitive. To explain, if an entire system (such as a car, or in this case: a set of green platforms) is moving at the same velocity, then it makes sense for the center of mass of that system to be moving at that velocity. This would be regardless of where that center of mass is positioned.
More formally, we can also solve this problem by considering the formula for the velocity of the center of mass:
Definition of Center of Mass's Velocity in Some Direction (): | ^{[4]} |
Alongside this, because the platforms aren't moving in the horizontal direction, there is a that equals .
We can add these vectors together similar to how displacement was calculated for in Topic 1.2. As such, we can specify that .
Thus,
Question 1: Icebergs
[edit | edit source]Part (a):
Assume that 90% of each of the iceberg's total mass is below water. It's been discovered that the center of mass for the three iceberg's portions that are underwater is at .Calculate the location of the center of mass of parts of the three icebergs that are above water.
Part (b):
Suppose a new in-game situation (above) where players are actively jumping on the icebergs. Because of their impacts, the largest iceberg in the center of the map begins to fracture and fall apart. At a certain moment, 70% of the largest iceberg that is above water has its vertical velocity recorded, as diagrammed on the right. Assume that the remainder of the iceberg remains stationary.(i): How much mass do three icebergs combined have underwater?
(ii): Calculate the location of the center of mass of the three entire icebergs.
Part (c):
How quickly is the center of mass of the center iceberg's portion above water falling vertically?
Consider discussing your solutions on this article's Talk Page, where you find help from others.
References
[edit | edit source]- ↑ “What Is Center of Mass? (Article).” Khan Academy, https://www.khanacademy.org/science/physics/linear-momentum/center-of-mass/a/what-is-center-of-mass. Accessed 3 July 2024.
- ↑ System | Physics | Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/system-physics. Accessed 3 July 2024.
- ↑ “What Is Center of Mass? (Article).” Khan Academy, https://www.khanacademy.org/science/physics/linear-momentum/center-of-mass/a/what-is-center-of-mass. Accessed 3 July 2024.
- ↑ “10.3: The Center of Mass.” Physics LibreTexts, 17 Sept. 2019, https://phys.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/University_Physics/Book%3A_Introductory_Physics_-_Building_Models_to_Describe_Our_World_(Martin_Neary_Rinaldo_and_Woodman)/10%3A_Linear_Momentum_and_the_Center_of_Mass/10.03%3A_The_center_of_mass. Accessed 28 July 2024.