Physics Lesson 6.1.6 - The Importance of Centre of Mass in Physics

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Welcome to our Physics lesson on The Importance of Centre of Mass in Physics, this is the sixth lesson of our suite of physics lessons covering the topic of Centre of Mass. Types of Equilibrium, you can find links to the other lessons within this tutorial and access additional physics learning resources below this lesson.

The Importance of Centre of Mass in Physics

There are a lot of applications of centre of mass concept in physics. Below are mentioned a few of them.

a. In motion

If a moving object combines both linear and circular motion at the same time, we obtain different results for displacement depending on where we start measuring the values. Look at the figure in which a bus is shown from above.

Physics Tutorials: This image provides visual information for the physics tutorial Centre of Mass. Types of Equilibrium

It is not difficult to observe that if we measure the displacement starting from the front part of the bus (path 1), we will get a smaller value than if displacement is measured starting from rear of the bus (path 2). Furthermore, the direction is also different. Therefore, to avoid such problems, we must calculate the displacement of an object considering the initial and final position of its centre of mass as shown below.

Physics Tutorials: This image provides visual information for the physics tutorial Centre of Mass. Types of Equilibrium

Hence, the arrow shown by Δr, whose tip and tail are both at the centre of mass of the object, represents the correct displacement of the bus.

b. In collisions

A head to head collision occurs when two objects collide in the direction of their respective centres of gravity. As a result, after the collision, objects will move in the opposite direction as before as shown below.

Physics Tutorials: This image provides visual information for the physics tutorial Centre of Mass. Types of Equilibrium

But if the collision does not occur in the direction of objects' centre of gravity, they will move in different directions after the collision, as shown below.

Physics Tutorials: This image provides visual information for the physics tutorial Centre of Mass. Types of Equilibrium

You have reached the end of Physics lesson 6.1.6 The Importance of Centre of Mass in Physics. There are 6 lessons in this physics tutorial covering Centre of Mass. Types of Equilibrium, you can access all the lessons from this tutorial below.

More Centre of Mass. Types of Equilibrium Lessons and Learning Resources

Centre of Mass and Linear Momentum Learning Material
Tutorial IDPhysics Tutorial TitleTutorialVideo
Tutorial
Revision
Notes
Revision
Questions
6.1Centre of Mass. Types of Equilibrium
Lesson IDPhysics Lesson TitleLessonVideo
Lesson
6.1.1What is Centre of Mass?
6.1.2How to Determine the Centre of Mass in Objects?
6.1.3Types of Equilibrium
6.1.4When Does an Object Start Falling Sideways?
6.1.5More Stable and Less Stable within Neutral
6.1.6The Importance of Centre of Mass in Physics

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