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March 29, 2017

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Consider a perfectly inelastic head-on collision between a small car and a large truck traveling at the same speed. Which vehicle has a greater change in kinetic energy as a result of the collision?

Since the vehicles stick together after the collision and take the direction of the large truck (greater momentum), I guessed that the small car would have a greater change in kinetic energy.

I can easily use formulas to find answers, but I always have trouble with conceptual questions like this.

  • Physics - ,

    Hmmmm. What is a perfectly inelastic collision as compared to an inelastic collision?

    Momentum is conserved.

    Mv-mv= initial momentum
    after the collision...
    Mv-mv=(M+m)v'

    now which is greater?
    v-v', or -v-v' Obviously, the smaller mass is greater (-v-v').

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