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Observing The Law of Conservation of Momentum

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Introduction

Lab – Observing and verifying the Law of Conservation of Momentum

Aim: To observe the Conservation of Momentum in Elastic Collisions

Apparatus: 2 trolleys, 2 tracks for the trolleys with calibration for distance, 2 plungers, 4 stopwatches.

Method:

The apparatus was set up as below:

image00.png

image01.png

The trolleys were placed in different positions along the two tracks, in three separate cases.

Collision 1:

image02.png

image03.png

As seen in the picture, the starting position is with trolley A at the left end of the left track, and trolley B stationary at the left end of the second track. The left plunger is then released and 2 stopwatches are started, causing trolley A to be propelled ahead. It then hits B. Trolley A then stops moving, and trolley B starts moving. Stopwatch 1 is stopped when A collides with B, and stopwatch 2 is stopped when trolley B stops moving or reaches the end of the track.

Collision 2:

image04.png

 In the second collision, both the trolleys were propelled simultaneously towards each other from the ends of the two tracks.

...read more.

Middle

3.94

 --

This data was then processed using formulas for Velocity and momentum.

Collision 1 Results:

Before the Collision

Trolley

Time Reading 1

(± 0.01 s)

Time Reading 2

(± 0.01 s)

Average Time

Distance

(± 0.05 cm)

Velocity

Mass

(± 0.01 g)

Momentum

A

1.13

1.31

1.22

106

80.916

0.5

40.45802

B

N/A

N/A

N/A

0

0.000

0.5

0.00000

Total Momentum (2 d.p.):

40.46

After the Collision

Trolley

Time Reading 1

(± 0.01 s)

Time Reading 2

(± 0.01 s)

Average Time

Distance (± 0.05 cm)

Velocity

Mass (± 0.01 g)

Momentum

A

N/A

N/A

N/A

0

0.000

0.5

0.00000

B

1.94

1.71

1.825

106

61.988

0.5

30.99415

Total Momentum (2 d.p.):

30.99

Collision 2 Results:

Before the Collision

Trolley

Time Reading 1 (± 0.01 s)

Time Reading 2  (± 0.

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Conclusion

st Law, and hence the Law of Conservation of Momentum. Once this is done, the results would probably be more accurate.

The errors in the second case however, differ from the other 2, and from what errors one would normally accept, as the momentum increases after the collision. Normally, one would expect it to decrease due to friction, however, in this case it decreases, which indicates that there have been some random errors. The solution to this isn’t as easy or straightforward as the one to cases 1 & 3.

The results would have been more accurate, if we could have tried each collision more than 1 or 2 times, as we would have a more accurate sample. Also, we would be able to determine whether the errors were systematic or random. However, due to lack of time, we were only able to take one or two readings in each case.

Also, if we had more time, we would have experimented with other kinds of collisions, besides these 3. Also, if we had better resources, we would have tried the same collisions using different kinds of instruments, like ticker-tape timers, motion sensors, and photogate timers.

...read more.

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