Matthew Carnaghi, 2014 AAPT Winter Meeting

Springs Released From Uniform Circular Motion – The Slinky Drop Extended
Poster at the 2014 AAPT Winter Meeting in Orlando, Florida

The path of a spring released from uniform circular motion was investigated and compared to a computational model. This study is an extension of the “Slinky drop” experiment, which consists of holding the top of a SlinkyTM above the ground, allowing it to stretch due to the gravitational force, and releasing it from rest. For the falling slinky the bottom portion of the slinky remains stationary until the slinky collapses. Similarly, for a spring in uniform circular motion, the spring is not uniformly stretched but is most stretched near the center of the circle. When released, it is expected that the furthest end of the spring will continue in uniform circular motion until the spring has collapsed. Video analysis was used to measure the motion of a spring released from uniform circular motion, and results were compared to a computational model of the system. It was found that the free end of the spring continues in uniform circular motion after the fixed end is released and before the spring fully collapses.