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Homework Help: An object of mass m, projected into objects m2 and m3

  1. Dec 1, 2013 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Mass, m1 is travelling along a smooth, level track towards mass m2 which is stationary. m2 then strikes mass m3
    All collisions are perfectly elastic, and all motion is along the same line.
    Calculate m2 in terms of m1 and m3 which results in m3 having the highest possible velocity, for any given initial velocity of m1

    Attempt at a solution
    I think I have to use conservation of momentum (p=mv) and conservation of energy (E=0.5mv2)
    I thought I would just have to do some substitution and rearranging but after about half an hour I've gotten nowhere.
    If this is what I have to do, please help me get started, if not please try to help me to understand what I have to do.

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 1, 2013 #2
    Conservation of energy or momentum is fine, whatever you prefer. Probably you can find the equation for elastic collision and conservation of momentum.
    Then draw the scenario and divide it into 3 sub problems, assign the total momentum before and after each collision. Start by putting up the equations without writing m_2 in terms of the other, as this could simplify it later, and makes it easier to see, if you did it right from the start.
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