Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

Edward F. Redish

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Sticky carts

Two identical carts labeled A and B are initially resting on an air track. The coordinate system for describing the system is shown. The cart on the right, cart B is given a push to the left and is released. The clock is then started. At t = 0, cart B moves in the direction shown with a speed v0. They hit and stick to each other. The graphs below describe some of the variables associated with the motion as a function of time. For the experiment described and for each item in the list below, identify which graph is a possible display of that variable as a function of time assuming a proper scale. "The system" refers to carts A and B together.
  1. the momentum of cart B
  2. the force on cart A
  3. the total momentum of the system
  4. the kinetic energy of cart B
  5. the total kinetic energy of the system

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Page last modified October 10, 2002: P&E12