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Will a steel ball or a rubber ball rebounce more on a metal platform? and why?
- mini (age 25)
IIT, Chennai, India
Well, I'd expect them to be very similar in bounciness, as long as the
platform is thick and strong (a thin piece of sheet metal may dissipate
energy to whatever it is sitting on), and there aren't defects in the
balls (like cracks in the steel ball, which can also deform and
The question becomes which ball will give a larger fraction of the
energy needed to squeeze it back when it returns to its original shape
on the bounce. Some rubber balls do not give you all your energy back.
Squash balls in particular are really bad at bouncing. They deform, but
do not return to their original shape quickly enough. Some balls make a
big sound when hitting the ground (like a badly inflated basketball).
If the steel ball dents or cracks itself or the platform, it can be
less bouncy. Little steel balls on big, solid platforms tend to be
(republished on 07/11/06)
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