Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Momentum and elasticity and this astronaut dude

  1. Jun 6, 2010 #1
    In my physics class (School's over now, so I can't ask my teacher.) we had this interesting problem for our final. (No, this isn't homework) We didn't do elasticity, soo... I dunno.

    An astronaut (It's in space to eliminate air resistance and gravity- it IS high school physics :tongue:) has a rather massive ball. Almost as massive as himself. He goes to a completely hard, elastic wall to play catch. When he throws the ball, though the ball is massive, he still could catch it if he were on the other side to catch. However, it hits the elastic wall and bounces back with enormous momentum. It knocks him back into space...

    So, did the momentum double? Why? The mass did not change, and no force made it accelerate to a faster velocity... What made it change? How does elasticity interfere? The wall wasn't moving, so it can't push off more momentum.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Have you tried conserving momentum? Assume that the ball has the same mass as the astronaut and that the wall is attached to a space station of humongous mass.

    What are the velocities of the astronaut and the ball after he throws it?
    What is the velocity of he ball after it collides with the wall?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook