Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

Edward F. Redish

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Hitting a bowling ball

A bowling ball sits on a hard floor at a point which we take to be the origin. The ball is hit some number of times by a hammer. The ball moves along a line back and forth across the floor as a result of the hits. The region to the right of the origin is taken to be positive, but during its motion the ball is at times on both sides of the origin. After the ball has been moving for a while, a sonic ranger is started and takes the following graph of the ball's velocity.

Answer the following questions with the symbols L (left), R (right), N (neither), or C (can't say which). Each question only refers to the time interval displayed by the computer.
  1. Which side of the origin is the ball at for the time marked A?
  2. At the time marked B, in which direction is the ball moving?
  3. Between the times A and C, what is the direction of the ball's displacement?
  4. The ball receives a hit at the time marked D. What is the direction the ball is moving after that hit?

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Page last modified October 8, 2002: K04