Relative Motion Problems

When you try to solve problems of Physics in general and of relative motion in particular, it is important to follow a certain order. Try to be systematic when you solve these problems, and you will see how it gives good results. It is worth spending a bit of time on the analysis of a problem before starting to solve it.

When solving relative motion problems, follow these steps:

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  • Read carefully the Problem Statement.
  • Draw a picture of the physical situation described in the problem statement, clearly indicating the frames and their state of motion. Figure out whether they are inertial or non-inertial frames of reference.
  • Write in your notebook the givens in the problem statement, indicating with respect to what frame of reference they are referred to.
  • If both frames of reference are inertial, you will have to use the Galilean transformations to solve the problem.
  • If one of the frames of reference is rotating, you will have to use the relative motion with rotating axes equations to solve the problem.
  • Do not forget to include the units in your results.
  • Review the problem and check that the results you have obtained make sense.

On the following pages you will find solved problems of relative motion. Try to do them before looking at the solution.

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