# Homework Help: 2D momentum (need help in understanding, but have the answer)

1. Nov 15, 2008

### Elbobo

1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
Assume an elastic collision (ignoring friction
and rotational motion).
A queue ball initially moving at 3.6 m/s strikes a stationary eight ball of the same size
and mass. After the collision, the queue ball’s
final speed is 1.9 m/s .

Find the queue ball’s angle θ with respect
to its original line of motion. Answer in units
of ◦.

2. Relevant equations
p1x + p2x = p1x' + p2x'
p1y + p2y = p1y' + p2y'
p = mv

3. The attempt at a solution
OK I got the right answer (really I just copied my teacher's work which was too confusing for me to repeat, I only plugged in numbers to get the right answer), which was about 58.14 degrees. Really don't feel like typing out the whole process, but she (the teacher) used the sin^2 theta + cos^2 theta = 1 identity during the process.

THEN! My friend shows me how she did it, and all she did was arccosine (final speed of ball 1/initial speed of ball 1), which got the exact same answer.

I don't get the physics behind this. Why did my friend's solution work?

2. Nov 15, 2008

### tiny-tim

Hi Elbobo!

(btw, it's a cue ball, not a queue ball!)

I think her method only works for the special case of equal masses.

It's a geometry thing …

Hint: if you draw the vector triangle representing the momentums, you should notice that the energy equation immediately gives you one of the angles of the triangle.

3. Nov 15, 2008

### Elbobo

Ah I see! Didn't think of using the resulting momentums as the components of the initial momentum in constructing a vector diagram.

Why wouldn't this method work when the masses are different?

4. Nov 16, 2008

### tiny-tim

As a momentum diagram, it will still work fine.

But if you've tried it, you should have found that the geometry won't work conveniently for the energies.

5. Nov 16, 2008

### Elbobo

Oh, right, because energy is a scalar quantity.

(BTW I didn't make up "queue"; I thought that was strange too)