D1-83: SPOOL

PURPOSE: To illustrate a counterintuitive problem in rotational dynamics.

DESCRIPTION: The cord is wrapped around the smaller radius of a spool and placed on a horizontal surface such that the cord emerges over the top side of the spool. When the cord is pulled the spool will move toward the direction of the applied force, the forward direction. Q: When the cord emerges from the bottom side of the spool (as shown in the photograph) how will the spool move? A: Forward, just as in the previous example.

This problem can be varied as follows. Imagine a line along the cord such that when the cord is held up at some large angle this line intersects the floor along the line of contact of the large radius rims of the spool with the floor. If the cord is h eld below this line, the spool will move toward the applied force, in the forward direction. If the cord is held above this line, the spool will move away from the applied force, in the backward direction. If the cord is pulled along t his line, the spool will remain in place and spin. By holding the cord at this angle while you walk, the spool will slide along the floor as you move, so you can "walk the spool."


REFERENCES: (PIRA 1K10.30) See Demonstration Reference File for further information.

EQUIPMENT: Spool with cord, as photographed.


Go back to Lecture-Demonstration Home Page.