Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

Edward F. Redish

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Where is the energy?

A block of mass m is attached to a spring of spring constant k which is attached to a wall as shown on the right.

(a) If the block starts at time t = 0 with the spring being at its rest length but the block having a velocity v0, find a solution for the mass's position at all subsequent times. Make any assumptions you like in order to have a plausible but solvable model, but state your assumptions explicitly.

(b) Are the energies at the times 

kinetic, potential, or a mixture of the two? (This is not a short answer question. Show how you know.)

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Page last modified October 30, 2002: O14