Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

Edward F. Redish

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Colliding carts

Two carts are riding on an air track as shown in the figure at the right. At clock time t = 0 cart B is at the origin traveling in the +x direction with a velocity speed vB0. At that time, cart A is at the position shown and is at rest. Cart B has twice the mass of cart A. The carts "bump" each other, but don't stick.

In the graphs below are shown a number of possible plots for the various physical parameters associated with the two carts. Each graph has two curves, one for each cart and labeled with the cart's letter. For each property (a)-(e) select the letter of the graph that could be a plot of the property.

  1. The forces exerted by the carts

  2. The position of the carts

  3. The velocity of the carts

  4. The acceleration of the carts

  5. The momentum of the carts.

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Page last modified October 10, 2002: P&E08