# Momentum vs Energy: What Matters in Impact?

• Mr.V.
In summary, the conversation discusses the concepts of energy and momentum, particularly in relation to a bullet hitting a target, such as a moose. There is confusion about the difference between momentum and energy and how they affect the damage caused by the bullet. It is clarified that momentum is the quantity of motion, proportional to both velocity and mass, while energy is the ability to do work. It is also mentioned that momentum is approximately conserved during a collision between two objects, while energy is not always conserved due to external forces. The conversation concludes with a question about the impact of bullet size on the damage caused.
Mr.V.
Hi thanks for taking the time to read this. I apologize in advance for the length. Anyway, at some point in my education I allegedly learned about energy and momentum and someone even saw fit to give me an 'A', but when thinking about the simple concepts again a couple of years later I suddenly realize, I don't actually get it...

For instance let's take this problem.
Say I have a gun that fires two different bullets.
The first bullet travels at say 100m/s and has a mass of 0.1kg.
Therefore it's momentum is $$100m/s*0.1kg = 10 kg*m/s$$
and it's energy is $$1/2*0.1kg*(100m/s)^2 = 500J$$ (at least I think that's right)

The second bullet travels at say 50m/s and has a mass of 0.3kg.
Therefore it's momentum is $$50m/s*0.3kg = 15 kg*m/s$$
and it's energy is $$1/2*0.3kg*(50m/s)^2 = 375J$$

This is the part I don't get. The first bullet has more energy than the second but less momentum.

What does that mean to, say, the moose or bear or cute baby seal that get's hit by the bullet. Let's assume the bullet hits the target and goes into it but doesn't come out the side and therefore all the energy is transferred to the target. Is the momentum what determines the damage or knockdown or is it the energy?

Let's say the target is a moose that isn't moving anywhere and is 100kg.
From the conservation of momentum formula and given that this would be an inelastic collision you would expect that the first bullet would be
$$10kg*m/s=(100kg+0.1kg)*V_2$$ you could calculate that the moose+bullet1 would end up traveling ~0.10m/s in the direction of the bullet

bullet two would be $$15kg*m/s=(100kg+0.3kg)*V_2$$ you could calculate that the moose+bullet two would end up traveling 0.15m/s.

But if we say that the bullet transfers its energy (hits the moose and transfers the kinetic energy) we can see that the moose in the first bullet instance gains 500J of kinetic energy and therefore $$500J=1/2*(100kg+0.1kg)*V^2$$ and solving for V we get V=3.16m/s
and in bullet2's case we get $$375J=1/2*(100kg+0.3kg)*V^2$$ and solving for V we get V=2.73m/s.

So now I have two problems. Using the conservation of momentum equation I see that a bullet with LESS energy but MORE momentum can cause the moose to move more
But using kinetic energy I see that the bullet with MORE energy but LESS momentum causes the moose to move more.
And the HUGE problem that the velocities don't add up.
I'm clearly doing something wrong and I also don't understand the difference between momentum and energy.

Any help would be appreciated. Sorry for the drawn out example. I thought creating a scenario would be more helpful than just asking a bunch of questions.

Thanks!
Vik

I didnt read the whole post, but you don't seem to understand what momentum is.
"Momentum" is another word for "Quantity of motion". So, it is proportional to both velocity and the mass (because the greater the mass, the more "motion" there would be. You should understand that velocity and motion are not the same) so momentum would be written 'm x v'. So, now you easily see that momentum is very different from energy. A stationary object (i.e v = 0) would have zero momentum, but it would still have energy(E = mc^2)

Momentum is conserved in both elastic & plastic collisions,while energy (KE) is conserved only in the former.U've got it right when saying that the bullet with more momentum causes more damage,simply becasue we quantify "damage" by force...And force is given by the momentum transfer in unit time.Therefore a bigger force would come from the bullet with bigger momentum...(assuming both bullets come to rest,therefore u can easily compare the momentum transfer).

Daniel.

dx said:
I didnt read the whole post, but you don't seem to understand what momentum is.
"Momentum" is another word for "Quantity of motion". So, it is proportional to both velocity and the mass (because the greater the mass, the more "motion" there would be. You should understand that velocity and motion are not the same) so momentum would be written 'm x v'. So, now you easily see that momentum is very different from energy. A stationary object (i.e v = 0) would have zero momentum, but it would still have energy(E = mc^2)

U needn't go to relativistic physics for that.In fact,relativistic physics unifies energy & momentum into a 4 vector (or 4 tensor).

Inclusion of forces will do the trick.

Daniel.

I see...so the "energy" of the first bullet with 500J that comes to rest is lost to other things like friction/heat/etc and its momentum knocks the target backwards but to a lesser degree than the bullet with more momentum. But that bullet would have less energy transferred to friction/heat/etc than the first...

MrV:
Your last example is wrong; because you cannot assume you have conservation of energy here.
That is, not all the bullet's initial kinetic energy will afterwards be the sum of the bullet's new kinetic energy and the moose's new kinetic energy; rather, quite a bit of that initial kinetic energy has been converted into HEAT, i.e, the temperature has increased.

I see arildno. I think I understand it now. Momentum is a value that is always conserved vs kinetic energy which is mutated. I must have remembered it wrong that kinetic energy was also conserved.

Just to clear up:
MOmentum is APPROXIMATELY conserved during a collision between two objects, because the EXTERNAL forces acting upon either the moose or bullet (say, gravity) are negligible in their effects compared to the collision forces BETWEEN the bullet and moose (i.e, which are internal forces in system bullet+moose).

so that's why say a magnum will hurt more than say a 9mm? because the size of the bullet is bigger? sorry about the totally off topic post, but it has a bit to do with it

dextercioby said:
U needn't go to relativistic physics for that.In fact,relativistic physics unifies energy & momentum into a 4 vector (or 4 tensor).

Inclusion of forces will do the trick.

Sorry, I don't know much about relativity, neither do I know what a 4-vector or a tensor it. How would "Inclusion of forces" give rise to energy of a stationary object. I thought the only energy a stationary object possessed was its mass ( which, of course is an idea that can be understood only in the frame-work of relativity)

T@P said:
so that's why say a magnum will hurt more than say a 9mm? because the size of the bullet is bigger? sorry about the totally off topic post, but it has a bit to do with it

Assuming they penetrate teh same (which they dont), the momentum will be larger if its heavier or faster. I believe a magnum fires faster than a 9mm, so has a higher momentum. I think it also is heavier.

$$p = mv$$

dx said:
Sorry, I don't know much about relativity, neither do I know what a 4-vector or a tensor it. How would "Inclusion of forces" give rise to energy of a stationary object. I thought the only energy a stationary object possessed was its mass ( which, of course is an idea that can be understood only in the frame-work of relativity)

I think he means inclusion of all forces external to the system, aka expanding the system so that everything acting on the system is included. A stationary object, (you in your chair) still has potential energy and many other forms of kinetic energy.

thanks whozum

whozum said:
I think he means inclusion of all forces external to the system, aka expanding the system so that everything acting on the system is included. A stationary object, (you in your chair) still has potential energy and many other forms of kinetic energy.

I would have potential energy if I was in a gravitational field. But, when I am in a gravitational field, I am not statoinary, I am accelerating. When I sit in a chair, I am not stationary, I am accelerating.

dextercioby, could u please clarify this.

## What is momentum and energy?

Momentum is a measure of an object's motion, calculated as the product of its mass and velocity. Energy, on the other hand, is the ability to do work or cause change. It can exist in various forms, such as kinetic energy, potential energy, and thermal energy.

## What is the difference between momentum and energy?

The main difference between momentum and energy is that momentum is a vector quantity, meaning it has both magnitude and direction, while energy is a scalar quantity, meaning it only has magnitude. Additionally, momentum is conserved in a closed system, while energy can be converted from one form to another.

## Which one is more important in an impact?

Both momentum and energy play important roles in an impact. Momentum determines how much force is needed to change the motion of an object, while energy determines the damage that can be caused. In most cases, the amount of energy involved in an impact is more significant than the momentum.

## How do momentum and energy affect the outcome of an impact?

In general, the greater the momentum and energy involved in an impact, the more destructive it will be. However, the specific effects will depend on the objects involved, their masses, velocities, and the type of impact (e.g., elastic or inelastic).

## Is there a relationship between momentum and energy?

Yes, there is a direct relationship between momentum and energy. Momentum is a component of kinetic energy, and an object's momentum can be used to calculate its kinetic energy. In other words, the more momentum an object has, the more kinetic energy it possesses.

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