AQA A Level Physics

Revision Notes

6.2.6 Harmonic Oscillators in Context

Harmonic Oscillators in Context

  • Any oscillations about an equilibrium where its restoring force is proportional to its displacement will be simple harmonic
  • This doesn’t apply just to pendulums and mass on springs
  • An example of another harmonic oscillator is the oscillation of a liquid in a U-tube

U-tube SHM, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

A U-tube is a type of simple harmonic oscillator with a displacement x from the equilibrium position and length of liquid column L

  • The time period for these oscillations are found from the same equation as the time period of a simple pendulum, where l is known the length of the liquid column
  • An exam question will likely state whether a particular oscillation should be treated as simple harmonic. Some other examples include:
    • A bungee jumper
    • An acrobat on a trapeze
    • A swing
    • A ball in a concave dish
    • Oscillating platforms
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