Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

Edward F. Redish

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Catching a pellet and oscillating

The following problem is a standard problem found in the text (and in many others). A block of mass M at rest on a horizontal frictionless table. It is attached to a rigid support by a spring of constant k. A clay pellet having mass m and velocity v strikes the block as shown in the figure and sticks to it.

  1. Determine the velocity of the block immediately after the collision.
  2. Determine the amplitude of the resulting simple harmonic motion.

In order for you to solve this problem you must make a number of simplifying assumptions, some of which are stated in the problem and some of which are not. First, solve the problem as stated.

  1. Discuss the approximations which you had to make in order to solve the problem. (I can think of at least five.)

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Page last modified October 30, 2002: O16