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Q & A: Impacts between two hard vs. two soft objects.

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Most recent answer: 11/25/2013
Q:
When two equally hard objects collide at approximately at the same speed as two equally soft objects, which pair would have the most impact and shock? Thanks
- Ken (age 65)
Huntsville,AL. USA
A:

Hi Ken,

Collisions types can range from 'hard', like two steel balls colliding head-on, to 'soft' like when two hunks of putty collide and stick together.   In both cases energy and momentum are conserved.  In soft collisions some of the initial kinetic energy is lost in the squishiness of the putty.  Total energy is still conserved but part of the kinetic energy is lost in slight heating up the soft objects.   The difference in before and after momentum of each part is much greater in the hard collision case which implies greater 'shock'.

 

LeeH


(published on 11/25/2013)

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