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Conservation of Momentum in One Dimension

Use conservation of momentum to solve collision problems in one dimension

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The Art Of The Tackle

The Art Of The Tackle

Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mr. Damon J. Moritz
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_051203-N-9693M-505_Army_fullback_Mike_Viti_(33)_is_tackled_by_a_trio_of_Navy_defenders_during_the_106th_Army_vs._Navy_Football_game,_held_for_the_third_consecutive_year_at_Lincoln_Financial_Field.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

In the image above, Navy quarterback Kaipo Enhada is tackled by Massachusetts defensive lineman James Ihedigbo and linebacker Charles Walker.

News You Can Use

  • The main objective of a tackle is to stop a competitor’s forward momentum. Momentum is defined as mass multiplied by velocity. If a competitor has more mass than you, you need to tackle them head on with a greater velocity to cancel out their momentum. If they have a greater forward velocity, then you need to make sure you compensate by getting more of your mass into the tackle.
  • Just like force and velocity, momentum is a vector. This tells you that when you are dealing with momentum in two or even three dimensions. You can separate the variables along the appropriate axis to simplify the problem. Situations with momentum are even further simplified by the fact that momentum is conserved, allowing for an even greater simplification of real world problems.

Show What You Learned?

Using the information provided above, answer the following questions.

  1. If two objects have equal kinetic energy, is it possible to know which object has the greater momentum?
  2. If a quarterback comes to a complete stop after a head on tackle from one member of the opposing team, what can be said about the momentum of the quarterback and the person that tackled him?
  3. If in the previous question the quarterback came to a complete stop after being tackled by two competitors at the same time, what can be said about the relationship of their momentums?

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