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Homework Help: Momentum of a particle.

  1. Nov 26, 2006 #1
    Here's a question from my workbook that I can't seem to figure out.

    A proton (mass = 1.6 x 10^27 kg) moves with a speed of 6 Mm/s. Upon colliding elastically with a stationary particle of unknown mass, the proton rebounds on its own path with a speed of 3.6 Mm/s. Find the mass of the unknown particle.

    Let's start with what I know. I know that momentum = mass times velocity.
    or p = mv

    I also know that since it's elastic, it isn't losing any energy.

    So I used the equation P1 + P2 = P1 + P2

    (1.67 x 10^-27 kg)(6 Mm/s) + 0 = (1.67 x 10^-27 kg)(-3.6 Mm/s) + P2

    I said 3.6 Mm/s was negative since it was in the opposite direction.

    So from there I got:

    3.006 x 10^-20 kg(Mm/s) = 1.08216 x 10^-26 kg(Mm/s) + P2

    P2 = 1.923 x 10^-26

    But, from there I'm not sure where to go. I'm trying to find the mass of this particle, but I need to know it's velocity. :frown: Any help or hints is appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 26, 2006 #2
    The relative velocities of the bodies before and after an elastic collision have a predictable relationship. You could use that to find the mass.

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