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Question

Why is simple harmonic motion 'simple'? Is there a complex harmonic motion?
Asked by: Tek Yong

Answer

If you look at a text on Simple Harmonic Motion in a physics book you see that 'Simple' refers to the ideal case where there is no friction, viscosity etc. Indeed, ideal cases are usually the simples in Physics. But many books also have parts on 'Damped Oscillations' and 'Forced Oscillations' but these are not considered as simple, because they are closer to real cases. Also the solutions to ideal case is the simplest, and the solutions to forced and damped oscillations are more complicated as one could expect.
Answered by: Ertan Salik, M.A. Physics, USC
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Richard Phillips Feynman Photo

'In a way science is a key to the gates of heaven, and the same key opens the gates of hell, and we do not have any instructions as to which is which gate. Shall we throw away the key and never have a way to enter the gates of heaven? Or shall we struggle with the problem of which is the best way to use the key?'

Richard Phillips Feynman
(1918-1988)


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