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Law of Conservation of Momentum

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Ouch!

Credit: Nick Perrone
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nickperrone/8129436049
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Two professional football players collide. Ouch! Collisions occur all the time in football. That’s the nature of the game.

The Back Story

  • Football is all about one player trying to run down the field with the ball and other players trying to stop him. When two football players collide, you might think that the player with more mass would always stop the other player. But you would be wrong. It all depends on the player’s momentum.
  • Momentum is governed by Newton’s third law of motion.
  • Momentum depends not only on the player’s mass but also on how fast he is moving.
  • To learn more about momentum in football, watch this video: http://www.nbclearn.com/nfl/cuecard/51076

Can You Apply It?

At the links below, learn more about momentum and its role in football. Then answer the following questions.

  1. State Newton’s third law of motion.
  2. Define momentum in terms of football.
  3. What is the law of conservation of momentum? How does it apply to football players who collide on the field?
  4. Football player A has a mass of 110 kg, and he is running down the field with a velocity of 2 m/s. Football player B has a mass of 120 kg and is stationary. What is the momentum of each player?
  5. If football player A collides with football player B, what is their total momentum before and after the collision?
  6. Compare and contrast elastic and inelastic collisions. Which type of collision occurs in football?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Nick Perrone; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nickperrone/8129436049; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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