Momentum is good for you

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What can momentum do for you? It’s a property in the study of matter, physics, and like other physical properties i­t has strong applications to everyday functions. Quantitatively it’s calculated by taking the product of mass and velocity.

The study of momentum goes further than just calculating the momentum of a single object, however. Momentum is also important when analyzing collisions.

An elastic collision is defined as “when no energy is lost” by the State University of New York in Oswego. Kinetic energy is conserved in that case. So if you have a tennis ball and you throw it at a wall at a certain angle, with respect to an invisible horizontal axis, then it will return at the same angle on the other side of axis.

Other applications of this property include strategizing in a game of pool by hitting the cue ball off the edge of the pool table for that strategic shot. When you swing a baseball bat at a incoming baseball, the direction to which you swing will determine the direction the baseball will go and the understanding of this property helps in manipulating that direction.

(J.T. Kim I Concordiensis)
(J.T. Kim I Concordiensis)

Tennis, baseball, basketball, pool and ping pong balls are subject to elastic collisions, but it also needs to be made clear the initial energy will not always equal final energy, unless in vacuum.

For example, some amount of energy will be lost in the physical process of hitting a tennis ball against a wall. Still the ball will be reflected so that the momentum seems to be preserved.

Other creative ways to utilize elastic collisions and momentum is when making rebound shots using a highly compressed ball of paper off the wall into a trash can.

As students of Union we have the potential to think of many more ways applying the principle to real life situations could help us out.

 

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