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Spring Compression and Automobile Suspension Systems

36. An automobile's suspension system consists essentially of large springs with damping. When the car hits a bump, the springs are compressed. It is reasonable to use a harmonic oscillator to model the up-and-down motion, where y(t) measures the amount the springs are stretched or compressed and v(t) is the vertical velocity of the bouncing car.
Suppose that you are working for a company that designs suspension systems for cars. One day your boss comes to you with the results of a market research survey indicating that most people want shock absorbers that "bounce twice" when compressed, then gradually return to their equilibrium position from above. That is, when the car hits a bump, the springs are compressed. Ideally they should expand, compress, and expand, then settle back to the rest position. After the initial bump, the spring would pass through its rest position three times and approach the rest position from the expanded state.
(a) Sketch a graph of the position of the spring after hitting a bump, where y(t) denotes the state of the spring at time t, y > 0 corresponds to the spring being stretched, and y <0 corresponds to the spring being compressed.
(b) Explain (politely) why the behavior pictured in the figure is impossible with standard suspension systems that are accurately modeled by the harmonic oscillator system.
(c) What is your suggestion for a choice of a harmonic oscillator system that most closely approximates the desired behavior? Justify your answer with an essay.

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Spring Compression and Automobile Suspension Systems are investigated. The solution is detailed and well presented. The response received a rating of "5/5" from the student who originally posted the question.