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Physics Talk

Please take note of any important topics or vocabulary.

Law of conservation of momentum - the total momentum before a collision is equal to the total
momentum after the collision if no external forces act on the system.

Checking Up
Thoughtfully respond to the following checking up questions. Reference the text whenever
needed. Do not copy the text, respond only in your own words.
1. Explain the law of conservation of momentum.
The law of conservation of momentum is the law that states that the two combined momentums
between two colliding objects stay the same before and after collision.

3. A vehicle with a momentum of 6000 kg ⋅ m/s strikes a stationary vehicle. What is the
momentum of the two vehicles as they move off together after the collision?
Since the stationary vehicle has no momentum while it is stationary, it carries the same
momentum as the moving object when it hits it. Conclusively, the collision (explosion) of the
two momentums equal 6000 kg ⋅ m/s.

Active Physics Plus

Please be sure to read this section with an emphasis on the diagram on page 316. This is a
demonstration of how we add vectors. This will also help you to see what the results are when
they are hitting each other directly from the front or rear.

What do you think now?

At the beginning of the section, you were asked the following:
- What physics principles do the traffic-accident investigators use to “reconstruct” the
How would you answer this question now?
Traffic investigators could use the position where the two cars end up to determine their
momentums and how hard they hit. For example, if one car was stationary, the two cars would be
apart, and if the two cars were both moving, they would end up near each other.

Essential Questions
Please respond to the following:
Why do you care?
How would the principle of conservation of momentum influence the design of a safety system
that must protect against collisions with a much more massive object?
A larger crumple zone would absorb the momentum of the moving object, lessening the
momentum that goes back into the car that has the larger crumple zone.
Physics to Go
Respond to the following questions, show your work on all calculations.
1. One cart hits and sticks to a second cart. Make a diagram showing the carts before and after
the collision. How does the speed of the carts after the collision compare with the initial speed of
the moving cart?



3. In a automobile crash, a vehicle that was stopped at a red light is rear ended by another
vehicle. The vehicles have the same mass. If the tire marks show that the two vehicles moved
after the collision at 4 m/s, what was the speed of the vehicle before the collision?
Since there is no momentum lost during the crash, due to the fact that the momentum is the same
before and after collision, the vehicle would have moved at 4 m/s.

5. Vehicle A and Vehicle B collide and vehicle A loses 4000 kg • m/s of momentum. What is the
change in momentum of Vehicle B? What is the total change in momentum due to the collision?
Since the momentum stays the same throughout the entire collision, Vehicle B would gain the
4000 kg • m/s of momentum. The total momentum would be 4000 kg • m/s.
9. A 45-kg female figure skater and her 75 kg male skating partner begin their ice dancing
performance standing at rest in face to face position with the palms of their hands touching.
When their dance music starts, both skaters push off with their hands to move backward. If the
female skater moves at 2 m/s relative to the ice, what is the velocity of the male skater?
Since both the female and male skater started in a resting position (0 m/s), the the male skater
would have gone slower than 2.0 m/s. This is because he weighs more than the female skater,
and she traveled at 2 m/s at a resting state.

11. A stationary 3kg hard steel ball is hit head on by a 1kg hard steel ball moving to the right at 4
m/s. After the collision, the 3 kg ball moves to the right at 2 m/s. What is the velocity (speed and
direction) of the 1 kg ball after the collision?
The velocity of the 1 kg ball after the collision is 6 m/s. This is because in the collision, the sum
of the speeds of the two balls, 1 kg and 3 kg, equals 6 m/s.

17. Be sure to apply this concept to your design idea. Remember that your second collision will
involve a 2 kg mass falling on top of your safety device. How will the added mass effect your
safety device? What measures will you take so the momentum from the 2 kg mass does not
smash your egg.
The added mass will add more weight to the egg and add more momentum, essentially making
the egg travel faster. Safety features to reduce the damage done to the egg, is to add cushioning
to the top of the egg to prevent the weight from smashing the safety container.