20 PRINCIPLES OF ELEMENTARY DYNAMICS
torque. It is producing angular momentum about its own axis perpendicular to the plane containing h and the axis of the rod. This angular momentum, combining with the h of the previous position of the rod, gives the h in the new position. We have here an example of the case in which the axis of the resultant angular momentum does not coincide with the axis of the resultant angular velocity.
16. Conservation of Angular Momentum. - In the special case in which a rigid body is acted upon by a system of torques the sum of which, relative to a given axis, is zero, we have (28):
L _ Kdw=0
That is, in this special case, the time-rate of change of angular momentum is zero. In other words, the angular momentum is constant. Therefore, if a rigid body is acted upon by a set of external torques, the resultant of which about any assigned axis fixed in space is zero, the angular momentum of the body relative to the assigned axis is a constant quantity. From this equation it follows that:
However the parts of any material system may act upon one another, the total angular momentum of the system, about any axis fixed in space, will remain constant, so long as the system is acted upon by no outside torque. This theorem is called the Principle of the Conservation of Angular Momentum.
If a circus performer wishes to turn a series of aerial somersaults, he will jump from a springboard in such a way that he will give himself a considerable angular velocity about a horizontal axis. While turning the first somersault he will hold his body nearly straight, but after that he will gradually draw his head and knees together, thereby decreasing the moment of inertia of his body about the axis of rotation. Since the angular momentum of his body remains constant, when the moment of inertia is diminished the angular velocity of his body is increased to such an extent that he can make more somersaults before reaching the ground. If, when he has nearly reached the ground, he sees that he will fall face downward, he will straighten his body, thereby increasing his moment of inertia, thus decreasing his angular velocity to such an extent that he can alight on his feet.
Experiment. - Set into rotation about a vertical axis the horizontal rods carrying the two metal spheres, Fig. 15. Pull on the