physics
posted by shelby .
The cable of an elevator of mass = 5320 kg snaps when the elevator is a rest at one of the floors of a skyscraper. At this point the elevator is a distance = 31.6 m above a cushioning spring whose spring constant is = 11700 N/m. A safety device clamps the elevator against the guide rails so that a constant frictional force of = 18158 N opposes the motion of the elevator. Find the maximum distance by which the cushioning spring will be compressed.

Kinetic energy that the elevator has when it hits the spring is:
KE = m*g*hwork done by friction so far
the work done by friction so far =18158*h
where
m = 5320 kg
g = 9.81 m/s^2
h  31.6 m
Now we compress the spring a distance x
Work done by gravity in falling additional distance x = m g x
So at the bottom we have
gained m g x additional
so we have a total available of KE + m g x
That amount goes into compressing the spring and doing further work against friction
(1/2) k x^2 + 18158 x
so in the end
m*g*h18158*h + m g x = (1/2) k x^2 + 18158 x
or
m g (h+x)  18158 (h+x) = (1/2) k x^2
find the two solutions to the quadratic. Probably only one will make sense.