Just wanted to disclaim this problem -- it is homework. However, I am not asking for the solution, I am wondering if anyone can tell me what I may be doing wrong in solving this specific tension problem.

The problem is described by this picture:

enter image description here

Now, assuming masses of the cords suspending the mass $M$ are insignificant, the question is what is the value of $T_2$ (given specific values of $\theta$ and the mass of $M$).

So, here's my solution:

Since the object is in rest, by $F = ma$ and $a=g$,

$$ mg = T_1 \sin(\theta) $$


$$ T_2 = T_1 \cos(\theta) $$


$$ T_1 = \frac{mg}{\sin(\theta)} $$

and, furthermore,

$$ T_2 = \frac{mg \cos(\theta)}{\sin(\theta)} = mg \cot(\theta). $$

So, that is my final solution, however, multiple sources are telling me it is wrong (these sources being my 1. teacher's automated grading software and 2. a textbook answer to the same problem, with different mass and theta value and a value different than what I am finding).

Is this a correct means of reaching the conclusion?


Maybe I am missing something simple, but I cannot find any errors in your solution.

  • $\begingroup$ Actually accounting for the weight of the cords is missing, but I am willing to overlook this. $\endgroup$ – John Alexiou Oct 8 '12 at 14:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @ja72: It is explicitly indicated in the wording of the problem: "assuming masses of the cords suspending the mass M are insignificant". $\endgroup$ – akhmeteli Oct 8 '12 at 15:37

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