Physics Help Forum How does the mass of a trolley affect its acceleration going down a slope?

 Kinematics and Dynamics Kinematics and Dynamics Physics Help Forum

 Feb 2nd 2011, 01:25 PM #1 Junior Member   Join Date: Feb 2011 Posts: 1 How does the mass of a trolley affect its acceleration going down a slope? Hello all, I'm new here I did an experiment in Physics class (I'm in high school, 10th grade) involving mass and acceleration. I took a trolley, let it roll down a ramp, and measured its acceleration. I changed the mass of the trolley on every trial and on every trial, measured its acceleration. My results were very puzzling. F = ma suggests that if I increase the mass of an object, its acceleration will decrease. However, my results proved that with a higher mass, the acceleration remained constant. I didn't change the angle of the ramp or the distance it traveled. And the acceleration was measured with a computer, so the results are pretty precise. So my question is, how did this happen? Shouldn't the acceleration have decreased as I made the trolley heavier? Thanks a lot in advance!
 Feb 2nd 2011, 10:11 PM #2 Physics Team     Join Date: Jun 2010 Location: Mauritius Posts: 609 Well, if you were in higher classes, you'll learn about components (not sure if you know about them because my education system is different) I assume that you are familiar with variables and if you don't understand something, just say it. Make a sketch of what is happening: the trolley on a slope at θ degrees with the horizontal. The force acting on the trolley down the slope is given by: F = mg sinθ This is only the force. Now to compute the acceleration, you use F = ma. So, we get: ma = mg sinθ Do you see what happens? The acceleration of the trolley depends only on the inclination of the slope and the acceleration due to gravity. a = g sinθ __________________ Jerry (Got my results!) It is easier to protect your feet with slippers than to cover the earth with carpet. No one can go back and change a bad beginning; but anyone can start now and create a successful ending. If a problem can be solved, no need to worry about it. If it cannot be solved what is the use of worrying?
 Feb 4th 2011, 03:14 PM #3 Forum Admin     Join Date: Apr 2008 Location: On the dance floor, baby! Posts: 2,811 I'll add a quick note to Unknown008's reply. This effect is basically the same as for falling objects. The only force on an object in free-fall is the object's weight, so we have (net)F = ma w = ma mg = ma Thus the acceleration of an object in free-fall is a = g = constant for any object. The acceleration due to gravity does not depend on the mass of the object. -Dan __________________ Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup. See the forum rules here.

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How is the acceleration going to be affected by the increase in the mass of the trolley

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