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Homework Help: Calculating the forces in a dropped object's impact

  1. Dec 14, 2009 #1
    I'm trying to think of a way to measure the force of an impact on an object (I think it would be the normal force...?) using experimental data only. Because of that I'm restricted to not using time, and I can't think of how else to calculate the force. Is there an equation that can get me started?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 14, 2009 #2


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    The impact force depends greatly on what the object is colliding with. The average impact force would be much greater if the object collided with a piece of steel versus colliding into a pile of marshmallows. If you can't meeasure the time, because it will be too small to measure, perhaps you could measure the distance that the object traverses from its initial impact to to the point where it comes to a stop. Then use energy principles or the kinematic equations. If you're dropping the object onto a hard surface, you'll be out of luck in determining the distance of the impact length; you might want to use a pile of loose sand (or marshmallows), but the impact force would be very specific to the properties of the material with which the object collides.
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