Oscillations – Simple Systems

Much of higher-level physics is based on models that include oscillations. In this section, we look at a simple pendulum, spring systems, and other oscillators.  If forces like friction, air resistance, or damping forces are present, the oscillations will die out over time.

Simple Harmonic Oscillations

Simple harmonic oscillations occur when the restoring force is linearly proportional to the displacement of an object.  In spring systems, Hooke’s law, \(\vec{F} = -k x\) provides this force.  For a simple pendulum, this condition is met when we limit ourselves to small angles.  Quantum mechanical models often use harmonic oscillators to describe systems.

Learning the basics of simple harmonic oscillators will serve you well in the future.

Topics under Oscillations:

Spring Systems

Simple Pendulum

Damped Harmonic Oscillator

The time you spend studying oscillations will help you understand Newton’s Second Law better.  You will also build a better understanding of the math you will study in differential equations.  Finally, much of quantum mechanics is based upon oscillating systems.