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Conservation of Momentum in Two Dimensions

Apply component vectors to solve two dimensional collision problems

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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: 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.

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Credit: John McStravick
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23860276@N05/4098381182
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A receiver is tackled by a defending opponent [Figure2]

  • 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 him head on with a greater velocity to tackle with the same momentum. If he has a fast forward velocity, then you need to make sure you have an even greater velocity to take him down.
  • 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 axes to simplify the problem. 

Show What You've 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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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mr. Damon J. Moritz; Source: 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
  2. [2]^ Credit: John McStravick; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23860276@N05/4098381182; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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