Speed and Mechanical Energy Lost in Railroad Car Collision

In summary, the railroad car with a mass of 2.49*10^4 kg collides and couples with three other coupled cars of the same mass, all moving in the same direction at 3.89 m/s and 1.95 m/s respectively. Using the law of conservation of momentum, we can calculate that the speed of the four cars after the collision is 2.32 m/s. To determine the mechanical energy lost in the collision, we need to compare the initial and final kinetic energies of the system.
  • #1
TrippingBilly
27
0
A railroad car of mass 2.49 104 kg, is moving with a speed of 3.89 m/s. It collides and couples with three other coupled railroad cars, each of the same mass as the single car and moving in the same direction with an initial speed of 1.95 m/s.
(a) What is the speed of the four cars after the collision?
(b) How much mechanical energy is lost in the collision?

Sorry, but I have no idea about this problem :(
 
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  • #2
Hint: What is conserved in any collision?
 
  • #3
Momentum, so...

2.49e4 * 3.89 + 3*2.49e4 *1.95 = 4*4.29e4 * V

?
 
  • #4
TrippingBilly said:
Momentum, so...

2.49e4 * 3.89 + 3*2.49e4 *1.95 = 4*4.29e4 * V
Right. Looks good, except for a typo. Once you solve for the final speed, you can figure out the initial and final kinetic energies and compare them.
 

Related to Speed and Mechanical Energy Lost in Railroad Car Collision

1. What is the concept of speed and mechanical energy lost in a railroad car collision?

The concept of speed and mechanical energy lost in a railroad car collision refers to the decrease in velocity and energy of the train cars involved in the collision. This is due to the transfer of kinetic energy from the moving train cars to the stationary objects they collide with, such as other train cars or obstacles on the tracks.

2. How does the speed of the train impact the amount of mechanical energy lost in a collision?

The higher the speed of the train, the greater the amount of mechanical energy that will be lost in a collision. This is because the kinetic energy of an object is directly proportional to its mass and the square of its velocity. Therefore, a train traveling at a higher speed will have more kinetic energy that can be transferred during a collision.

3. What factors can affect the amount of mechanical energy lost in a railroad car collision?

Aside from the speed of the train, other factors that can impact the amount of mechanical energy lost in a collision include the mass and speed of the objects the train collides with, as well as the materials and construction of the train cars themselves. For example, a heavier train car will have more kinetic energy to transfer during a collision, while a more sturdy train car may be able to withstand the impact better and retain more of its mechanical energy.

4. Can mechanical energy be completely lost during a railroad car collision?

No, mechanical energy cannot be completely lost during a collision due to the law of conservation of energy. This law states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred from one form to another. Therefore, some of the mechanical energy from the moving train will always be transferred to the objects it collides with, but it will not disappear entirely.

5. How do engineers and scientists calculate the amount of mechanical energy lost in a railroad car collision?

Engineers and scientists use principles of physics, such as the laws of motion and conservation of energy, to calculate the amount of mechanical energy lost in a railroad car collision. They can also use computer simulations and crash tests to gather data and make more accurate calculations. Additionally, real-life collisions are studied and analyzed to understand the factors that contribute to the loss of mechanical energy in different scenarios.

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