AP Physics B : Understanding Linear-Rotational Equivalents

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Physics B

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Example Questions

Example Question #21 : Motion

A wheel of radius  rolls along a flat floor and makes  rotations over a period of time. What distance  has the wheel traveled?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:


In order to find the distance the wheel travels, we need a way to convert angular displacement to linear displacement. We know that the circumference of a circle (or a wheel, in this case) is . This means that in one rotation, the wheel would travel a distance equal to its circumference.

Distance of one rotation equals: .

Since the wheel travels  rotations, the total distance that the wheel travels will be equal to the distance traveled by one rotation multiplied by the number of rotations.

Distance of rotations equals:

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