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Homework Help: Momentum transfer: Trolley colliding with spring

  1. Nov 24, 2013 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    A trolley travels with constant velocity to the right on a horizontal ground and collides with a light helical spring attached to a wall fixed to the ground (earth) as shown. At the instant that the trolley comes momentarily to rest during collision, what has happened to the initial momentum of the trolley?

    A) It has been transferred to the earth
    B) It has been stored in the spring
    C) It has been dissipated as sound and heat.
    D) it has been destroyed by the friction due to the ground.

    2. Relevant equations


    3. The attempt at a solution

    My answer was B. But the correct answer is A.
    I don't understand how can the momentum be transferred to the earth. The trolley was moving horizontally, not vertically. Also, it causes the spring to contract, so the momentum or energy should be stored in the spring, and then the spring relaxes then pushes the trolley again. Why am I wrong?

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 24, 2013 #2


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    Momentum can be transferred to the earths rotation. Depending on which direction the trolley was moving the earths rotation may either speed up or slow down (slightly).

    Energy has been stored in the spring.
  4. Nov 24, 2013 #3


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    Further to CWatters' answer, the spring starts off at rest and is again at rest when at maximum compression, therefore it cannot be storing any momentum. Unlike energy, momentum always involves movement.
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