Angular momentum is a fundamental concept in classical mechanics that describes the rotational motion of an object around a fixed axis. It is a crucial quantity in understanding the dynamics of rotating systems, from the motion of planets to the spin of a basketball. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the details of how to calculate angular momentum with mass, providing you with a thorough understanding of the underlying principles and practical applications.
Understanding Angular Momentum
Angular momentum, denoted as L, is a vector quantity that represents the product of an object’s moment of inertia (I) and its angular velocity (ω). The formula for angular momentum is:
L = I × ω
Where:
– L is the angular momentum (in kg·m²/s)
– I is the moment of inertia (in kg·m²)
– ω is the angular velocity (in rad/s)
The moment of inertia (I) is a measure of an object’s resistance to changes in its rotational motion. It depends on the distribution of the object’s mass around the axis of rotation. For a point mass, the moment of inertia is given by:
I = m × r²
Where:
– m is the mass of the object (in kg)
– r is the distance from the axis of rotation (in m)
The angular velocity (ω) is a measure of how fast an object is rotating around a fixed axis. It is given by the formula:
ω = v / r
Where:
– v is the linear velocity of the object (in m/s)
– r is the radius of the circular path (in m)
Calculating Angular Momentum for a Point Mass
To find the angular momentum of a point mass, we can use the formula:
L = m × v × r
Where:
– L is the angular momentum (in kg·m²/s)
– m is the mass of the object (in kg)
– v is the linear velocity of the object (in m/s)
– r is the distance from the axis of rotation (in m)
Let’s consider an example:
Suppose we have a point mass with a mass of 2 kg, a linear velocity of 5 m/s, and a distance from the axis of rotation of 3 m. We can calculate the angular momentum as follows:
L = m × v × r
L = 2 kg × 5 m/s × 3 m
L = 30 kg·m²/s
This formula can be used to calculate the angular momentum of a single point mass. However, in many realworld situations, we need to consider the angular momentum of a system of particles or a rigid body.
Angular Momentum of a System of Particles
To find the angular momentum of a system of particles, we need to sum the angular momenta of all the individual particles. The formula for the total angular momentum of a system of n particles is:
L_total = Σ (m_i × v_i × r_i)
Where:
– L_total is the total angular momentum of the system (in kg·m²/s)
– m_i is the mass of the ith particle (in kg)
– v_i is the linear velocity of the ith particle (in m/s)
– r_i is the distance from the axis of rotation to the ith particle (in m)
For example, consider a system of three particles with the following properties:
Particle  Mass (kg)  Linear Velocity (m/s)  Distance from Axis (m) 

1  2  5  3 
2  3  4  2 
3  1  6  4 
To find the total angular momentum of the system, we can use the formula:
L_total = (2 kg × 5 m/s × 3 m) + (3 kg × 4 m/s × 2 m) + (1 kg × 6 m/s × 4 m)
L_total = 30 kg·m²/s + 24 kg·m²/s + 24 kg·m²/s
L_total = 78 kg·m²/s
Angular Momentum of a Rigid Body
For a rigid body, the angular momentum can be calculated using the formula:
L = I × ω
Where:
– L is the angular momentum of the rigid body (in kg·m²/s)
– I is the moment of inertia of the rigid body (in kg·m²)
– ω is the angular velocity of the rigid body (in rad/s)
The moment of inertia (I) of a rigid body depends on the distribution of its mass around the axis of rotation. For common shapes, the moment of inertia can be calculated using the following formulas:
 Solid sphere: I = (2/5) × m × r²
 Hollow sphere: I = (2/3) × m × r²
 Solid cylinder: I = (1/2) × m × r²
 Hollow cylinder: I = (1/2) × m × (r₁² + r₂²)
 Thin rod: I = (1/12) × m × L²
Where:
– m is the mass of the rigid body (in kg)
– r is the radius of the rigid body (in m)
– L is the length of the rigid body (in m)
– r₁ and r₂ are the inner and outer radii of the hollow cylinder (in m)
Let’s consider an example of a solid sphere with a mass of 5 kg and a radius of 0.5 m, rotating at an angular velocity of 2 rad/s. We can calculate its angular momentum as follows:
I = (2/5) × 5 kg × (0.5 m)²
I = 0.25 kg·m²
L = I × ω
L = 0.25 kg·m² × 2 rad/s
L = 0.5 kg·m²/s
Advanced Techniques and Applications
In addition to the basic formulas and examples provided, there are several advanced techniques and applications of angular momentum that you may encounter in more complex physics problems:

Conservation of Angular Momentum: The principle of conservation of angular momentum states that the total angular momentum of an isolated system remains constant unless an external torque acts on the system. This principle has numerous applications in fields like astronomy, robotics, and sports.

Angular Momentum in Quantum Mechanics: In quantum mechanics, angular momentum is a fundamental quantity that describes the rotational motion of subatomic particles. The quantization of angular momentum is a crucial aspect of quantum theory.

Angular Momentum in Rotational Dynamics: Angular momentum plays a central role in the analysis of rotational dynamics, such as the motion of gyroscopes, the precession of a spinning top, and the stability of rotating systems.

Angular Momentum in Orbital Mechanics: In the study of orbital mechanics, angular momentum is used to describe the motion of planets, satellites, and other celestial bodies around a central body, such as the Sun or a planet.

Angular Momentum in Biomechanics: In the field of biomechanics, the analysis of angular momentum is essential for understanding the dynamics of human movement, such as the motion of limbs during sports activities or the stability of the human body during various tasks.
These advanced topics and applications of angular momentum require a deeper understanding of the underlying principles and the ability to apply them in more complex scenarios. As you continue your studies in physics, you may encounter these concepts and be able to build upon the foundation laid in this comprehensive guide.
Conclusion
In this comprehensive guide, we have explored the fundamental concepts of angular momentum and how to calculate it with mass. We have covered the formulas for finding angular momentum of a point mass, a system of particles, and a rigid body, along with relevant examples and numerical problems. Additionally, we have touched upon some advanced techniques and applications of angular momentum in various fields of physics.
By mastering the concepts presented in this guide, you will be wellequipped to tackle a wide range of physics problems involving rotational motion and angular momentum. Remember to practice regularly, apply the principles to different scenarios, and continuously expand your knowledge to become a true expert in this fascinating area of classical mechanics.
References
 Physics LibreTexts: Angular Momentum In Two Dimensions
 Dummies: How to Calculate Angular Momentum
 Khan Academy: Angular Momentum (video)
 YouTube: How to Calculate Moment of Inertia & Angular Momentum in Human Movement
 Hyperphysics: Angular Momentum
 MIT OpenCourseWare: Rotational Dynamics and Angular Momentum
 University of Cambridge: Angular Momentum
Hi ….I am Abhishek Khambhata, have pursued B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering. Throughout four years of my engineering, I have designed and flown unmanned aerial vehicles. My forte is fluid mechanics and thermal engineering. My fourthyear project was based on the performance enhancement of unmanned aerial vehicles using solar technology. I would like to connect with likeminded people.