Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.
964
n
MECHANICS


in which one point O of the body is fixed is equivalent to a pure rotation about some axis through O. Imagine two spheres of equal radius with O as their common centre, one fixed in the body and moving with it, the other nxed in space. In any displacement about O as a nxed point, the former sphere slides over the latter, as in a “ ball-and-socket ” joint. Suppose that as the result of the displacement a point of the moving sphere is brought from A to B, whilst the point which

B c was at B is brought to C (cf. Eg. ro). Let I be the pole of the circle 'ABC

(usually a. “ small circle ” of the fixed sphere), and join ]A, LIB, ]C, AB, BC

by great-circle arcs. The spherical

A isosceles triangles A]B, BJC are congruent, and we see that 'AB can be

brought into the position BC by a

rotation about the axis O] through an

angle A]B.

It is convenient to distinguish the two senses in which rotation may take place about an axis OA by opposite signs. We shall reckon a rotation as positive when it is related to the direction from O to A as the direction of rotation is related to that of translation in a right-handed screw. Thus a negative rotation about OA may be regarded as a positive rotation about OA', the prolongation of AO. Now suppose that a body receives first a positive rotation o. about OA, and secondly a positive rotation B about OB; and let A, B be the intersections of these axes with a sphere described about

O as centre. If we construct

the spherical triangles ABC,

ABC' (fig. 38), having in each

case the angles at A and B

equal to ia and 58 respectively,

it is evident that the first

rotation will bring a point

from C to C' and that the

second will bring it back to C; the result is therefore equivalent to a rotation about OC. We note also that if the given rotations had been effected in the inverse order, the axis of the resultant rotation would have been OC', so that finite rotations do not obey the “commutative law.” To find the angle Of the equivalent rotation, in the actual case, suppose that the second rotation (a.bout OB) brings a point from A to A'. The spherical triangles ABC, A' BC

(fig. 39) are “symmetrically

equal, '? and the angle of the

resultant rotation, viz. ACA', is

C 21r~-2C. This is equivalent to

a negative rotation 2C about

OC, whence the theorem that

the effect of three successive

positive rotations 2A, QB, QC

about OA, OB, OC, respectively, is to leave the body in its original position, provided the circuit ABC is left-handed as seen from O. This theorem is due to O. Rodrigues (1840). The composition of finite rotations about parallel axes is, a particular case of the preceding; the radius of the sphere is now infinite, and the triangles are plane. In any continuous motion of a solid about a fixed point O, the limiting position of the axis of the rotation by which the body can be brought from any one of its positions to a consecutive one is called the instantaneous axis. This axis traces out a certain cone in the body, and a certain cone in space, and the continuous motion in question may be represented as consisting in a rolling of the former cone on the latter. The proof is similar to that of the corresponding theorem of plane kinematics (§ 3). It follows from Euler's theorem that the most general displacement of a rigid body may be effected by a pure translation which brings any one point of it to its final position O, followed by a pure rotation about some axis through O. Those planes in the body which are perpendicular to this axis obviously remain FrG.~1o.

B

c

FIG. 38.

Fro. 39.

parallel to their original positions. Hence, if o', o' denote the initial and iinal positions of any figure in one of these planes, the displacement could evidently have been efiected by, (1) a translation perpendicular to the planes in question, bringing o into some position rr” in the plane of o', and (2) a rotation about a normal to the planes, bringing o” into coincidence with o (.§ 3). In other words, the most general displacement is equivalent to ' a translation parallel to a certain axis combined with a rotation about that axis; i.e. it may be described as a twist about a certain screw. In particular cases, of course, the translation, or the rotation, may vanish.,

The preceding theorem, which is due to Michel Chasles (1830), may be proved in various other interesting ways. Thus if a point of the body be displaced from A to B, whilst the point which was at B is displaced to C, and that which was at C to D, the four points A, B, C, D he on a helix whose axis is the common perpendicular to the bisectors of the angles ABC, BCD. This is the axis of the required screw; the amount of the translation is measured by the projection of AB or BC or CD on the axis; and the angle of rotation is given by the inclination of the aforesaid bisectors. This construction was given by M. W. Crofton. Again, H., Wiener and W. Burnside have employed the half-turn (i.e. a rotationithrough two right angles) as the fundamental operation. This has the advantage that it is completely specified by the axis of the rotation; the sense being immaterial. Successive half-turns about parallel axes a, b are equivalent to a translation measured by double the distance between these axes in the direction from a to b. Successive half turns about intersecting axes a, b are equivalent to a rotation about the common perpendicular to a, b at their intersection, of amount equal to twice the acute angle between them, in the direction from a to b. Successive half-turns about two skew axes a, b are equivalent to a twist about a screw whose axis is the common perpendicular to a, b, the translation being double the shortest distance, and the angle of rotation being twice the acute angle between ct, b, in the direction from rr to b. It is easlly shown that any displacement whatever is equivalent to two 'half-turns and therefore to a screw.

In mechanics we are specially concerned with the theory of infinitesimal displacements. This is included in the preceding, but it is simpler in that the various operations are commutative. An infinitely small rotation about any axis is conveniently represented geometrically by a length AB measures along the axis and proportional to the angle of rotation, with the convention that the direction from A to B shall be related to the rotation as is the direction of translation to that of rotation in a right handed screw. The consequent displacement of any point P will then be at right angles to the plane PAB, its amount will be represented by double the area of the triangle PAB, and its sense will depend on the cyclical order of the letters P, A, B. If AB, AC represent inhnitcsimal rotations about intersecting axes, the consequent displacement of any point O in the plane BAC will be at right angles to this plane, and will be represented by twice the sum of the areas OAB, OAC, taken with proper signs. It follows by analogy with the theory of moments (§ 4) that the resultant rotation will be represented by AD, the vector-sum of AB, AC (see fig. 16). It is easily inferred as a limiting case, or proved directly, that two infinitesimal rotations a, ,B about

parallel axes are equivalent to a

rotation a-l-[3 about a parallel

axis in the same plane with the

two former, and dividing a common

perpendicular AB in a point

C so that AC/CB=/3/a. If the .A B

rotations are equal and opposite,

so that a-l-B=o, the point C is

at infinity, and the effect is a translation perpendicular to the plane of the two given axes, of amount o. .AB. It thus appears that an inhnitesimal rotation is of the nature of a “localized vector, ” and is subject in all respects to the same mathematical laws as a force, conceived as acting on a rigid body. Moreover, that an infinitesimal translation is analogous to a couple and follows the same laws. These results are due to Poinsot. The analytical treatment of small displacements is as lfollows. We first suppose that onepoint O of the body is fixed, and take this as the origin of a “ right-handed ” system of rectangular C V ' D

I"

0 if,

FIG. 16. V