Conservation of Momentum Practical Write Up

1487 Words May 14th, 2009 6 Pages

AIM: To investigate if momentum is conserved in two-dimensional interactions within an isolated system.

HYPOTHESIS: Without the effects of friction the momentum will be conserved in the isolated system. In all three experiments the momentum before the interaction will equal the momentum after the interaction.

METHOD: An air hockey table was set up and a video camera on a tripod was placed over the air hockey table. The camera was positioned so it was directly above the air hockey table facing downwards. The air hockey table was turned on and two near identical pucks were placed on the table, one at one end of the table and one in the centre. The puck at the end of the table was launched by
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This would have created friction which is regarded as an external force; therefore the pucks were no longer in an isolated system. Another random error occurred in the first experiment where the red puck was initially held down to prevent it from moving and released when the black puck collided with it. Due to the person's reaction time, holding it in place may have interfered with the collision as it was an external force and this may have impacted upon the results.

Several systematic occurred in this experiment, but the most important one would have been the fact that the air hockey table was not completely level. This impacted upon the experiment in two ways. In the first experiment where the red puck is initially stationary, as the table was not level it moved around before the black puck collided with it. To overcome this the red puck had to be held in place and as mentioned before this would have provided and external force acting upon the puck. The unevenness of the air hockey table also meant that there was a possibility of friction acting on the pucks while they were moving. In the third collision with the Velcro another systematic error occurred. When the two pucks collided and stuck together they did not continue straight, instead they rotated. This is not linear momentum but rather it is angular momentum. This is reflected in the results as the magnitude of the initial and final momentum of the system is equal, but the

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