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Homework Help: A shell explodes into two identical fragments; find v

  1. Nov 10, 2015 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    A shell of mass m and speed v explodes into two identical fragments. If the shell was moving horizontally (the positive x direction) with respect to Earth, and one of the fragments is subsequently moving vertically with speed v, find the velocity v of the other fragment immediately following the explosion. (Use the following as necessary: v.)

    2. Relevant equations

    conservation of momentum: m1iv1i= 0.5m1fv1f+0.5m2fv2f

    3. The attempt at a solution

    So, what I did was set mv=.5mv+.5mv. Solving for v, I get v=v. I don't know what I'm doing wrong here. I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be using the conservation of momentum equation, but I don't know where I'm going wrong. Thanks in advance for any help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2015 #2


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    Velocity and momentum are vectors. Your notation is very unclear, but it seems to me that on the right there you are adding momenta in two different directions as though they are scalars.
    Consider horizontal and vertical momentum separately.
  4. Nov 11, 2015 #3
    Oh wow, that simplifies things so much. Thank you! Even though I've been using vectors for well over five weeks now I completely forgot.
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