# MC Collisions Categorized Into 2 Types Elastic & Inelastic Lab Report

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Physics 4AL
Lab 11: Collisions
Lab 11: Collisions
Introduction
Collisions are categorized into two types: elastic and inelastic. In this lab, you will perform
collisions of both types using low-friction carts that roll on a track, and test your predictions on
how the total momentum and kinetic energy of each system changes during the collision
Equipment
(per group)
(per class)
Dynamics System (Carts, masses, and track)
2 Photogates
LoggerPro with interface
2 Picket Fences
Digital Balance
Background
I. Momentum and Kinetic Energy
In this lab we are considering collisions between two carts, such as in the figure below:
Figure 2
In this collision two carts are initially moving towards each other, collide, and then move apart.
Alternatively, the carts could collide and stick together.
The two parameters required for understanding collisions are momentum, p, and kinetic energy, K.
πβ = ππ£β
1
πΎ = ππ£ 2
2
Momentum is a vector, but in todayβs lab we are only considering linear motion, so we can describe
the velocity and momentum as + or β depending on the direction of the carts velocity on the track.
Kinetic energy is a scalar, and can never be negative.
We are often interested in the total momentum and kinetic energy of a system consisting of two or
more objects. For example, in figure 1 the total momentum and kinetic energy of the carts before
the collision are:
ππ‘ππ‘ππ = π1 π£1π + π2 π£2π
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Lab 11: Collisions
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1
1
2
2
πΎπ‘ππ‘ππ = π1 π£1π
+ π2 π£2π
2
2
The first rule governing collisions is Conservation of Momentum: If no external forces are acting
on a system, then the total momentum is constant. As applied to the case above we consider the
system to consist of the two carts, and we assume that there is no net external force acting on the
carts. In one-dimension conservation of momentum for the carts in figure 1 boils down to:
π1π + π2π = π1π + π2π
The above equation links the momentum of the carts before the collision to the momentum of the
carts after the collision. Note that this does not depend on any of the details of the collision itself,
which may be quite complicated. The only requirement is that there is no net force from external
objects acting on the carts.
The other important parameter governing collisions is kinetic energy. The situation with kinetic
energy and collisions is a bit more complicated, and how kinetic energy behaves determines the
type of collision. We can categorize collisions as one of three basic types:
β’
Elastic collisions: kinetic energy is conserved. In other words, the total kinetic energy of
the system before the collision equals the total kinetic energy of the system after the
collision. This can be thought of as a βperfectβ bounce.
β’
Inelastic collision: kinetic energy is not conserved. Note that the total energy is still
conserved, but in this type of collision some of the initial kinetic energy is converted to
some other type of energy such as thermal energy (more properly internal energy).
β’
Completely inelastic collision: objects collide and stick together. This is an inelastic
collision so kinetic energy is again not conserved.
Note that there is no general law of conservation of kinetic energy. If kinetic energy is conserved,
we have an elastic collision, and if kinetic energy is not conserved we have an inelastic collision.
However, the total energy must always be conserved: this is always true. In the case of an inelastic
collision the kinetic energy lost must show up as some other form of energy such as internal energy,
sound, etc.
Completely inelastic collision with one cart initially at rest
Consider the case of Cart 1, with mass π1 and initial velocity π£1π colliding, and sticking together
with an initially stationary Cart 2 of mass π2 .
Figure 3
In this case the conservation of momentum requires that
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Physics 4AL
Lab 11: Collisions
ππ = ππ
where ππ = π1 π£1π is the initial momentum of Cart 1, and ππ = (π1 + π2 )π£π is the final
momentum of the carts after they have collided and stuck together.
The situation with kinetic energy is a bit more complicated as this is an inelastic collision and
kinetic energy is not conserved. However, we can find a relation between the initial and final
kinetic energy.
1
2
πΎπ = π1 π£1π
2
1
πΎπ = (π1 + π2 )π£π2
2
We can find the final velocity,π£π , using conservation of momentum:
π£π =
π1 π£1π
π1 + π2
Putting the final velocity into the formula for final kinetic energy gives:
1
π1 π£1π 2 1
π1
2
πΎπ = (π1 + π2 ) (
) = π1 π£1π
(
)
2
π1 + π2
2
π1 + π2
π1
πΎπ = πΎπ (
)
π1 + π2
π1
)
π1 +π2
The factor of (
π1
)
π1 +π2
πΏ(
in the above equation has an uncertainty of
= (π
1
1 +π2 )
2
β(π2 πΏπ1 )2 + (π1 πΏπ2 )2
Note that the above uncertainty was calculated using the more accurate quadrature method.
Elastic collision with one cart initially at rest
Consider the case of Cart 1, with mass π1 and initial velocity π£1π colliding elastically with an
initially stationary Cart 2 of mass π2 . As with the perfectly inelastic collision discussed above
momentum must be conserved.
ππ = ππ
ππ = π1 π£1π
ππ = π1π + π2π = π1 π£1π + π2 π£2π
As this is an elastic collision, the kinetic energy is also conserved.
πΎπ = πΎπ
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Lab 11: Collisions
1
2
πΎπ = π1 π£1π
2
1
1
2
2
πΎπ = πΎ1π + πΎ2π = π1 π£1π
+ π2 π£2π
2
2
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Physics 4AL
Physics 4AL
Lab 11: Collisions
A. Perfectly inelastic collision with a light cart colliding with a stationary
heavy cart.
In part A you will collide a light cart against a stationary heavy cart. Velcro on each of the carts
will cause the carts to stick together after the collision.
1. Predictions: Describe the plot of ππ vs ππ , and the plot of πΎπ vs πΎπ . What are the
expected values from your graphs that you will be comparing to your experimental
data? (You must provide the actual values for your predictions, with uncertainties
where appropriate)
2. Experiment: Setup the carts so that the light cart will hit, and stick to the stationary
heavier cart using Velcro tabs at the end of each cart. The sequence of events is
shown in figure 3. In this sequence of events the light cart with mass m1 and an initial
velocity v1 passes through a photogate that measures the time over which an infrared
light beam is blocked by a piece of plastic. By measuring the time over which the
photogate is blocked, and the distance over which the light beam is blocked, it is
possible to measure v1. After the light cart completely passes through photogate 1 it
will undergo a completely inelastic collision with the heavier stationary cart. After
the collision, the cart will pass through the second photogate to measure the final
velocity v2. LoggerPro will collect this data, and calculate the velocities.
Here are the basic steps for this experiment:
a) Weight the heavier cart with 4 of the metal masses that fit along the sides.
b) Before taking data carefully choreograph the sequence of triggering the
photogates to match figure 3. Determine the positions of the photogates, and
where the collision occurs so that photogate 1 measures the blocked time
before the collision, and photogate 2 measures the blocked time after the
collision. Make sure the collision does not occur while one of the photogates
is blocked since this will throw the calculations off. Likewise, donβt move
the photogates too far apart, or friction will slow the carts down too much
between measurements. A distance of about 10 cm between the photogates
works well, and select a consistent position for the stationary cart.
c) You will take 20 measurements over a range of speeds from about 0.4 m/s to
1.0 m/s. Avoid pushing the carts too fast or too slow. Make a few practice
runs to get a feel for how hard you must push the carts to get a certain
velocity.
d) The configuration file for LoggerPro is 4AL collision setup.cmbl. Each run
will produce a data table with a column for the speed.
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Lab 11: Collisions
Physics 4AL
e) To assist you a template spreadsheet has been created for you: 4AL collision
analysis.xlsx. You will have to enter the data and formulas, but this should
f) As you take data watch the graph, and try to fill in gaps.
Figure 4
3. Analysis: Complete your data analysis on a spread sheet to determine whether your
data agrees with your prediction or not. This should include both quantitative analysis
using linear regression, and qualitative analysis using graphing. Your instructor will
tell you how to submit the data analysis.
4. Conclusion: Discuss whether your data supports your prediction or not. You must
provide quantitative reasoning.
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Lab 11: Collisions
B. Elastic collision with a light cart colliding with a stationary heavy cart.
In part B you will collide a light cart against a stationary heavy cart. Repulsive magnets on the
front of the carts will cause the carts to bounce of each other.
1. Predictions: Describe the plot of ππ vs ππ , and the plot of πΎπ vs πΎπ . What are the
expected values from your graphs that you will be comparing to your experimental
data? (You must provide the actual values for your predictions, with uncertainties
where appropriate)
2. Experiment: Similar to the Experiment A setup the two carts so that you will produce
an elastic collision with the light cart hitting the stationary heavier cart. Then set up
the picket fence and photogate such that you will be able to measure the initial
velocity of the light cart, and the final velocities after the collision. This collision is
more involved since you will need the initial and final velocity of the light cart, as
well as the final velocity of the heavy cart. Again, test everything to make sure it
works the way you expect.
Here are the basic steps for this experiment:
a) Weight the heavier cart with 4 of the metal masses that fit along the sides.
b) Carefully determine where to position the photogates for this experiment, as
well as where to position the stationary cart relative to the photogates. This is
going to be trickier than the perfectly inelastic collision since the light cart
will be bouncing backwards through the first photogate. Some points:
o Make sure that the first cart is all the way through the first photogate
before the collision occurs.
o The magnets have a fairly long-range force, and the collision actually
starts when the carts are still widely separated. Play around with the
carts to estimate when the collision realistically starts.
c) Take 20 measurements over a range of speeds from about 0.4 m/s to 1.0 m/s.
Avoid pushing the carts too fast or too slow. Make few practice runs to get a
feel for how hard you must push the carts to get a certain velocity.
d) The configuration file for LoggerPro is 4AL collision setup.cmbl. Each run
will produce a data table with a column for the speed.
e) In the spreadsheet you used for the perfectly inelastic collision there is a
sheet labeled Elastic Collision. Complete your analysis in this sheet. Note
that you must set this spreadsheet up yourself.
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Lab 11: Collisions
Physics 4AL
3. Analysis. Complete your data analysis in the provided spread sheet. Be sure to
include proper labels and units for all your data and graphs, and your work should be
well organized. One caution: the photogates measure the speed of the carts, not the
velocity. You will need to consider this in your calculations. Your instructor will tell
you how to submit the data analysis.
4. Conclusion: Discuss whether your data supports your prediction or not. You must
provide quantitative reasoning.
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Physics 4AL
Lab 11: Collisions
C. Systematic Errors
For applying conservation of momentum to collisions, are there any conditions that are required?
Did the collisions you studied meet these conditions, or was there a systematic error affecting
your results? If there was a systematic error, how would it affect your predictions?
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Lab 12: Collisions in 2-dimensions
Objective
To analyze a two-dimensional collision between two objects, and determine if the collision is
elastic or inelastic.
Equipment
A computer
Background
The momentum of an object is defined as the product of its mass and velocity i.e.πβ = ππ£β, and is
a vector.
1
2
The Kinetic Energy of an object is defined as πΎ = ππ£ 2 , and is a scalar.
The law of conservation of momentum states that the total momentum in a system is conserved,
if there are no external forces acting on the system. For such a system, the velocity of the
center of mass of the system π£πΆπ remains constant.
Collisions are one of the following kinds:
(i) Elastic
β Kinetic Energy is conserved (no loss of KE)
β Momentum is conserved
(ii) (a) Inelastic
β Kinetic Energy is not conserved (part of the KE is converted to some other form of
energy)
β Momentum is conserved
(b) Completely/Perfectly Inelastic
β Kinetic Energy is not conserved (maximum amount of KE is lost)
β Momentum is conserved
β Colliding objects stick together after collision
In this lab, you will analyze a video of a collision between two pucks that have the same mass
(48 g or 0.048 kg). The pucks are released on an air hockey table that has negligible friction. It
is therefore a reasonable approximation that there are no external forces acting on the system.
Lab Exercises
Pre-lab activity
Two pucks are released on a frictionless air hockey table and follow the path shown in
the following diagram:
1.
Predict what the x-t and y-t graphs would look like for the blue and red pucks before
and after collisions. (You should have four graphs in all)
2. Predict what the x-t and y-t graphs would look like for the center of mass of the system
of pucks over the entire time period (You should have two graphs in all)
Procedure
2. Set your coordinate system by clicking on
in the top menu of Tracker.
3. Drag your axes so that the x-axis is lined up with the motion of the blue puck. It should
look like the image below. (The pink lines are the coordinate axes)
4. Set the calibration using the meter stick on the left side of the video. You will
have greater accuracy if you use 5 of the 10-cm segments for your calibration. In
other words, stretch the blue calibration arrow across 5 segments for a total
length of 0.5 m.
5. Create a point mass for the blue puck and name it as Blue Puck. To mark the
position of the puck, use shift-click. It will the advance to the next frame, and you
repeat the process.
6. Create a point mass for the red puck and name it as Red Puck. Mark the path of
the red puck like what you did for the blue puck.
7. You should be able to see when the collision
occurred by looking at the x-t graph. For instance, the
x-t graph might look like what is shown in the
adjoining image. You can see a distinct point where
the velocity changed.
8. Right click on the graph, click Analyze, and select the
area before the collision occurred. Using a linear
curve fit, calculate the velocity of the blue puck
before collision. Remember that it is the slope of the
line i.e. the parameter A in the linear fit. Repeat for
after collision.
9. Using the same method, calculate the velocity of the
red puck before and after the collision.
10. Calculate the initial and final momentum in the x and y direction for each puck (by
multiplying the mass in kg)
11. Calculate the initial and final kinetic energy for each puck.
12. Tabulate your data in a table like the one shown below:
Puck Mass
Velocity
π£ππ₯
π£ππ¦
π£ππ₯
Momentum
π£ππ¦
πππ₯
πππ¦
πππ₯
Kinetic Energy
πππ¦
πΎπ
πΎπ
Blue
Red
13. Calculate the total initial x-momentum in the system, the total initial y-momentum
in the system, and the total initial KE in the system. Next calculate the total final
x-momentum in the system, the total final y-momentum in the system, and the
total final KE in the system. Calculate the percent difference between the final
and initial values. Tabulate your calculations in a table like the one shown below:
Total X-momentum
in system
πππ₯
πππ₯
%
difference
Total Y-momentum
in system
πππ¦
πππ¦
%
difference
Kinetic Energy in system
πΎπ
πΎπ
%
difference
14. Is momentum conserved in this collision? Is kinetic energy conserved in this
collision? Is the collision elastic or inelastic?
Center-of-mass velocity
You will now determine the velocity of the center of mass of the system of pucks
before and after collision. Tracker can track the center of mass for you.
1. We need to define the masses of the pucks. Click the tab for the Blue Puck in the
Track Control toolbar. In the
Define… . In the resulting pop-up
window, enter the mass of the
puck for the parameter m as
2. Repeat the previous step for the
red puck and enter its mass.
3. Click the create button and
select Center of Mass.
4. A window asking you to select
the masses pops up. Select blue puck and red
puck and click on OK.
5. What is the velocity of the center of mass in the x
and y directions? What do you notice about the x-t and y-t graphs for the CM as
compared to before? Can you tell where the collision occurred?
Lab 12: Collisions in 2-Dimensions
Lab Activity Report
Group members:
Date:
Lab activity
1. Attach a screenshot of the x-t and y-t graphs obtained on Tracker for the red and blue pucks. Do the
2. Data: (You may create a table similar to the sample one in step 12 or create your own)
3. Calculations: (You may create a table similar to the sample one in step 12 or create your own)
4. Is momentum conserved in this collision?
5. Is kinetic energy conserved in this collision?
6. Is this collision elastic or inelastic?
7. Attach a screenshot of the x-t and y-t graphs obtained on Tracker for the center of mass. Do the graphs
8. What is the velocity of the center of mass in the x and y directions before and after the collision? Is the
center of mass velocity constant?
In this collision, the laws of conservation of linear momentum and energy applied to “before” and “after”
collision, so I used it to predict the outcome of a collision.
Predict x-t graphs for the blue puck
Predict y-t graphs for the blue buck
Predict x-t graphs for the Red puck
Predict y-t graphs for the Red puck
Predict x-t and y-t graphs for the center of mass of the system of pucks over the entire
time.