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Collision Theory

Explains how materials can collide and become new materials

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Loose Ball

Loose Ball

Credit: Parker Knight
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10845359@N02/2875331398
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

There are two major “contact sports” in the Unites States – hockey and football. Basketball is becoming a contact sport, but it is still against the rules to deliberately knock somebody down. However, this is not the case in hockey and football. The purpose of body contact is to prevent the other team from scoring. If the contact results in your team obtaining control of the puck or football, so much the better.

Why It Matters

  • Collision between molecules is an essential part of many chemical reactions. In the process, a component of one molecule is removed from that structure and attaches to another structure. Sufficient force is required to break a bond so that a new bond can form. Orientation of the two molecules is also important for successful transfer of atoms.
  • One of the exciting and unpredictable aspects of football (and often a game-changer) is the fumble. A fumble occurs when the ball carrier loses control of the football, generally at the point of contact when he is tackled. If the impact of the tackle is sufficiently forceful, the ball can be dislodged. Defensive players are allowed to “help” cause a fumble by trying to pull the ball away from the carrier or by tackling the runner hard enough to make him drop the ball.
  • Credit: John Martinez Pavliga
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/virtualsugar/2895307425/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    The red player collides with the opposing player, causing the football to be knocked loose [Figure2]

  • There are two possible outcomes to a fumble. The offensive team recovers the fumble and retains possession of the ball. In this case, no new “product” has been formed. However, if the defensive team recovers the fumble, they now have possession of the ball and a new “product” is the result.
  • Watch a video about fumbles at the link below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqNBJpyZATM

Show What You Know

Learn more about collision theory and fumbles at the links below. Then answer the following questions.

  1. How likely is a collision among three or more species for a chemical reaction?
  2. How can you increase the speed of a reactant to enhance a collision?
  3. Who first proposed the collision theory?
  4. Why should you carry the football in the arm closest to the sideline?

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    Image Attributions

    1. [1]^ Credit: Parker Knight; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10845359@N02/2875331398; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
    2. [2]^ Credit: John Martinez Pavliga; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/virtualsugar/2895307425/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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