Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
School of Mathematical Sciences, UCD
Lynch P., Bustamante M. D.
Quaternion Solution for the Rock’n’roller: Box Orbits, Loop Orbits and Recession
2013, vol. 18, no. 1-2, pp. 166-183
We consider two types of trajectories found in a wide range of mechanical systems, viz. box orbits and loop orbits. We elucidate the dynamics of these orbits in the simple context of a perturbed harmonic oscillator in two dimensions. We then examine the small-amplitude motion of a rigid body, the rock’n’roller, a sphere with eccentric distribution of mass. The equations of motion are expressed in quaternionic form and a complete analytical solution is obtained. Both types of orbit, boxes and loops, are found, the particular form depending on the initial conditions. We interpret the motion in terms of epi-elliptic orbits. The phenomenon of recession, or reversal of precession, is associated with box orbits. The small-amplitude solutions for the symmetric case, or Routh sphere, are expressed explicitly in terms of epicycles; there is no recession in this case.