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Momentum is usually referred to as the product of mass and velocity. Linear momentum is a
vector quantity, because it has a direction as well as a magnitude. The total momentum of any
group of objects remains the same unless outside forces act on the objects (law of conservation
of momentum). Momentum is a conserved quantity, meaning that the total momentum of any
closed system cannot change. The law of conservation of linear momentum is a fundamental law
of nature, and it states that the total momentum of a closed system of object is constant. There
are two types of collisions that conserve momentum: elastic collisions, which also conserve
kinetic energy, and inelastic collisions, which do not. A collision between two pool balls is a
good example of an elastic collision. In addition to momentum being conserved when the two
balls collide, the sum of kinetic energy before a collision must equal the sum of kinetic energy


The Conservation of Linear Momentum theory is derived from Newton¶s third law which states
that when a force from an object is exerted onto another there is an equal and opposite force
exerted on the other object. The linear momentum equation is expressed as: = + ,
where p is the linear momentum, is the mass of object one times the velocity of object one
is the mass of object two times the velocity of object two m]ñ]  If after all
calculations, the momentum of change is a value close to zero than the momentum is constant
and the theory is true. The momentum of an object is the product of its mass and its velocity. The
total momentum is conserved in collisions of isolated objects. If no external forces act on two
interacting objects, then the sum of the momentum of the two objects prior to a collision equals
the sum of the momentum after the collision.

m1ñ1 + m2ñ2 = m1ñ1¶ + m2ñ2¶


In this experiment there were three runs done. To complete the first run, my group had to align
the two sails on either side of photograph machines. The photograph machines were set to the
GATE function to calculate two times. We turned on the air track machine to full power to have
precise and consistent flow of energy. The sails were assisted by my partners¶ fingers toward
each other. They passed through each photograph machine, made a collision and propelled back
toward its¶ initial position. Both the initial and final times it took to pass through the photograph
machines and calculations were made.
Úor Run 2, a similar procedure was used, but some things were changed. In order to complete
Run 2, one sail was kept steady while the other was in motion using the air pressure from the air
track. The time it took that one sail to bounce back and forth was recorded. Run 3, was the same
as Run 1, but weights which added up to 50 g was added each sail.


= =

= =
Trial # initial (sec) final (sec) initial (sec) final (sec)
1 - 0.202 0.208 0.163 - 0.383
2 - 0.158 0.429 0.150 - 0.464
3 - 0.201 0.515 0.515 - 0.829
*A glider moving to the right has a positive velocity; a glider moving to the left has a negative

Trial initial initial final

# final
(kg x ) (kg x ) (kg x )
(kg x )
1 - .1784 .1733
2 - .1733 .0840
3 - .1793 .0610


-Sample calculations for Trial 1

initial: .2002 kg .8911m/s = .1784 kg ǜ m/s

final:.2002 kg .8654 = .1733 kg x m/s

initial: .2995 = .3307 kg x

final: .2995 = .1381 kg x

= initial + initial = (.1784)+ .3306 = .5090 kgǜ m/s

= initial + initial = .1733 + (1.381) = 1.554 kg ǜ m/s

= (- 0.062) ± (- 0.063) = 0.001



A system may have internal forces, in equal but opposite pairs according to Newton¶s third law,
but no paired external forces. Momentum can interchange due to the action of internal force
pairs, but the total remains constant, provided there are no external forces. So momentum
conservation is a more fundamental law than the conservation of organized energy.

The possible error that could have occurred in this experiment was mainly human error. At first
the photo gate timer wasn¶t working correctly. This caused us to have to play with it a couple of
times. This time wasn¶t recording how it was supposed to, but eventually it began to work.


0ealing with momentum is more difficult than dealing with mass and energy because
momentum is a vector. Momentum is neither created nor destroyed, but only changed through
the action of forces as described by Newton's laws of motion. According to Newton's second law
the rate of change of the momentum of a particle is proportional to the resultant force acting on
the particle and is in the direction of that force. 0uring this experiment, all of these concepts
were taking into consideration. When the two gliders collided, momentum was in effect.
Sometimes we don¶t realize it, but we use physics and don¶t even realize it.