Period and amplitude in SHM



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Equations (14.11) and (14.12) show that the period and frequency of simple harmonic motion are completely determined by the mass m and the force constant k. In simple harmonic motion the period and frequency do not depend on the amplitude A. For given values of m and k, the time of one complete oscillation is the same whether the amplitude is large or small. Equation (14.3) shows why we should expect this. Larger A means that the body reaches larger values of 0 x 0 and is subjected to larger restoring forces. This increases the average speed of the body over a complete cycle; this exactly compensates for having to travel a larger distance, so the same total time is involved.

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The oscillations of a tuning fork are essentially simple harmonic motion, so it always vibrates with the same frequency, independent of amplitude. This is why a tuning fork can be used as a standard for musical pitch. If it were not for this characteristic of simple harmonic motion, it would be impossible to play most musical instruments in tune. If you encounter an oscillating body with a period that does depend on the amplitude, the oscillation is not simple harmonic motion.

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