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Compressed spring momentum problem

  1. Mar 16, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Two lab carts, one heavy and one light, are placed ed to end with a large, compressed spring placed between the two carts. The spring is suddenly released. Describe the motions of the two carts after the spring is released.

    2. Relevant equations An equation isn't needed.

    3. The attempt at a solution The lighter of the two carts would go further right? Why is it that it goes further though, other than it simply being easier to push?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2009 #2
    Re: momentum

    Yes, the lighter cart will go further.
    And you actually need an equation here: p = mv
    They both get imparted with the same momentum, from the spring.
    So why does one have a higher speed than the other?
  4. Mar 16, 2009 #3
    Re: momentum

    Is it simply that the velocity must compensate for the smaller mass?
  5. Mar 16, 2009 #4
    Re: momentum

    Yes, it has a higher speed because their momenta are equal (in opposite directions though). Since one mass is smaller, the speed has to be higher, so it will travel further before the force of friction stops it.
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