Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

A sinusoidal oscillator has :

$$x=x_{max} \cos(\omega t - \varphi )$$

Period is 2, initial displacement is 100mm initial velocity is 200mm/s

What is the phase angle assuming $-\pi < \varphi < \pi$

How do I go about solving this?

Is the phase $(\omega t - \varphi)$? But I do not know what $x_{max}$ is, how am I supposed to solve for the angle?

share|cite|improve this question

closed as off-topic by ACuriousMind, MAFIA36790, Kyle Kanos, Sebastian Riese, HDE 226868 Nov 17 '15 at 0:00

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Homework-like questions should ask about a specific physics concept and show some effort to work through the problem. We want our questions to be useful to the broader community, and to future users. See our meta site for more guidance on how to edit your question to make it better" – ACuriousMind, MAFIA36790, Kyle Kanos, Sebastian Riese, HDE 226868
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 3 down vote accepted

$x_{max}$ is the amplitude of the oscillations, and yes, ${\omega}t - \varphi$ is the phase.

We know that the period $T$, is the reciprocal of the frequency $f$, or $$T = 1/f$$

We also know that $\omega$, the angular frequency, is equal to $2\pi$ times the frequency, or $$\omega = 2{\pi}f$$

From here, we can use the initial conditions to find the amplitude.

$x(0) = x_{max}cos(\varphi)$

$\dot{x}(0) = {\omega}x_{max}sin(\varphi)$

From here it should be a simple matter to find $\varphi$.

share|cite|improve this answer
but what is x_max – Fendi Feb 19 '12 at 1:11
@Fendi, try using the advice Daniel gave you. If you can't figure out how to work out the problem given that, then you can come back and ask for clarification. – David Z Feb 19 '12 at 2:21
Thats exactly why I posted back asking for clarification. I didn't get it. – Fendi Feb 19 '12 at 3:04
I've specified what $x_{max}$ is at the beginning of the post; it is the amplitude of the oscillations, i.e. the maximum displacement of the particle from its 0 position. If you mean how do you find the value of it; you use the initial conditions specified to find both $x_{max}$ and $\varphi$, the same way you'd find the values of any two equations with two unknowns. – Daniel Blay Feb 19 '12 at 7:50
OFCOURSE !!! Simultaneous equations !!! Can you please clarify the following : Isn't the equation supposed to be x(0)=x_max cos (-phi) ? where phi is negative (wt - phi) ? and how do you get a w when you derive x(0)=x_max cos (-phi) ? is the derivative of phi the angular frequency ? – Fendi Feb 19 '12 at 15:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.