Exploration 9.1: Compare Momentum in Different Frames

observer reference frame velocity:  v = m/s

Please wait for the animation to completely load.

How does the momentum of a particle change when viewed from a different reference frame? The momentum of each ball in the animation is shown in the table (position is given in meters and time is given in seconds). The graph displays color-coded plots of the velocities of the two particles. Restart.

You can view the collision in another inertial reference frame by entering a new value into the frame velocity text box, -10 m/s < v < 10 m/s, before you start the animation. Consider the two particles to be an isolated system and answer the following questions using at least two different inertial reference frames for each animation.

1. Does the total momentum depend on your choice of reference frame?
2. Does the change in momentum depend on the reference frame?
3. Is the total momentum conserved in different reference frames?
4. Find the mass and the ratio of the masses of the two balls. Does this result depend on the reference frame?
5. Is there a reference frame in which the total momentum is zero? If so, observe the change in velocity in this reference frame and explain why analysis of the collision is particularly simple in this reference frame.

Physlets were developed at Davidson College and converted from Java to JavaScript using the SwingJS system developed at St. Olaf College.