Angular Momentum

I thought that L= mass * lever arm * angular momentum. However I keep seeing the equation
L=moment of inertia * angular momentum. Does that mean that moment of inertia = mass*lever arm?

Also, I was wondering what exactly happens to the moment of inertia when a ballerina pulls her hands closer to her body?

There are a few ways to get angular momentum!

  • For a rotating rigid body, you can get L (angular momentum) from the moment of inertia (I) and the angular velocity (omega): L = Iw

  • For a point mass, you can get angular momentum straight from the linear momentum §: L = p R = mvR

  • You can also get your change in angular momentum from the torque on the object over a period of time (the rotational version of impulse!): change in L = torque * change in time

To clarify here, L is the angular momentum. I think you’re mixing up your quantities and symbols. L is angular momentum, omega (the swirly w) is the angular velocity.

Also for your last point, angular momentum is conserved. When the ballerina pulls her hands closer to her body, she is decreasing her moment of inertia (moments of inertia are typically larger if the mass is further from the axis of rotation). From L = I w, if I goes down, w has to increase to compensate in order to keep L constant.

1 Like
Fiveable Logo

2550 north lake drive
suite 2
milwaukee, wi 53211



about for students for parents for teachers for schools & districts content team privacy contact


🥇 2020 Fiveable Olympics study plans upcoming events trivia hypertyper resources cram passes


community tiktok discord twitter instagram facebook careers

*ap® and advanced placement® are registered trademarks of the college board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

© fiveable 2020 | all rights reserved.