In introductory mechanics, the momentum of a particle is its mass times its velocity. In electrodynamics, the momentum of a field is proportional to the cross-product of the electric field with the magnetic field. In special relativity, momentum is generalized to four-momentum.

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The elusive difference between impulse and momentum

1) In classical mechanics, impulse is the product of a force, F, and the time, t, for which it acts. The impulse of a force acting for a given time interval is equal to the change in linear ...
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Movement in outer space via Newton's law of every action has an equal and opposite reaction

What is more effective for travel in outer space ignoring all other factors like air radiation etc. I have a 10 kg bag of rice would I travel faster throwing the whole bag at once or throwing a grain ...
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Can we explain Newton's first law mathematically?

At constant speed there is no acceleration. $(f'(x)=v'=0=a)$ .If $a=0$ then $F=ma=0$ and therefore no force acts on the object so the object will continue in the same direction, if any. This is only ...
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A question abou $E=pc$ for massless particles

Since photon has no (rest)mass and $$E^2=(pc)^2+(mc^2)^2$$ we derive that $E=pc$ for particle with no (rest)mass. However, if we transform the non-relativistic formula for kinetic energy ...
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Does the canonical commutation relation fix the form of the momentum operator?

For one dimensional quantum mechanics $$[\hat{x},\hat{p}]=i\hbar $$ Does this fix univocally the form of the $\hat{p}$ operator? My bet is no because $\hat{p}$ actually depends if we are on ...
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How does gravity affect bullets?

I read recently that if you hold a bullet in one hand and a pistol in the other, both hands at the same height, and subsequently fired the pistol at the same time as dropping the bullet, both bullets ...
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Relativistic momentum

I have been trying to derive why relativistic momentum is defined as $p=\gamma mv$. I set up a collision between 2 same balls ($m_1 = m_2 = m$). Before the collision these two balls travel one ...
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375 views

Why can't Compton scattering happen in leading order of perturbation theory?

Why is the matrix element of Compton scattering in leading order of perturbation theory equal to zero? Why can this process only be described in second order of perturbation theory, i.e. with exchange ...
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Complex conjugate of momentum operator

Consider momentum operator representation in position space. $$\hat{p}=-i\frac{\partial}{\partial x} \,\ \text{and its eigen functions are } e^{ipx} \,\text{and} \,\ e^{-ipx}.$$ ...
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217 views

Why isn't $F = \frac{\partial \mathcal{L}}{\partial q}$?

If momentum is, $$p = \frac{\partial \mathcal{L}}{\partial \dot{q}}$$ and force is, $$ F = \frac{dp}{dt}$$ and by Euler-Langrange equations, $$ \frac{d}{dt}\frac{\partial \mathcal{L}}{\partial ...
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326 views

The momentum of a swinging sword

Suppose you are faced with a zombie, and the only way to kill it and save yourself is to chop its head off with your sword. However, you are very weak from illness, and can only afford to strike once. ...
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Is it possible to determine the outcome of any impact knowing only the ratio of masses? [duplicate]

In elastic collisions in 2-D if two balls $A$, $B$ ($m_A = m_B$, $R = 1$) have equal mass we can determine in advance the outcome of the collision. If cue-ball $A$ impacts object-ball $B$ (at rest) ...
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Is the giant Newton's cradle in the Kit-Kat ad feasible?

Apologies in advance if this is too basic a question for Phys.SE. I don't want to dumb down this venerable institution. :) My wife and I just watched this TV ad for Kit-Kat where a crew of crane ...
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530 views

Inertia Vs Momentum

At my recent lesson on kinematics, my teacher taught about inertia and momentum. This is what she said. Inertia: a characteristic of an object that resists changes to its state of motion. Momentum: ...
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221 views

Directional derivatives in the multivariable Taylor expansion of the translation operator

Let $T_\epsilon=e^{i \mathbf{\epsilon} P/ \hbar}$ an operator. Show that $T_\epsilon\Psi(\mathbf r)=\Psi(\mathbf r + \mathbf \epsilon)$. Where $P=-i\hbar \nabla$. Here's what I've gotten: ...
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How to tell if the collision is elastic or inelastic?

I'm a programmer and a game developer, not a mathematician or a physicist. So please go easy on the math :) I know two things: How to find the new velocities of two objects after an elastic ...
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Newton's second law of motion in terms of momentum

I am reading a document and in answer to the question State Newton’s second law of motion the candidate answers that The force acting on an object equals the rate of change of momentum of the object. ...
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Difference between momentum and kinetic energy

From a mathematical point of view it seems to be clear what's the difference between momentum and $mv$ and kinetic energy $\frac{1}{2} m v^2$. Now my problem is the following: Suppose you want to ...
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487 views

How can particles travel in a straight line?

A particle can be set off in a certain direction by giving them momentum. Momentum is a vector, so the particle heads off in a specific direction. But the wave function of the particle allows it to ...
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416 views

Can a balloon be used as an anchor point for a pulley?

For a physics/ engineering contest, I want to use a large balloon as an anchor point for a pulley. This would allow me to raise and drop masses. However, in testing, when I pull on the pulley the ...
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246 views

Is it possible for photon to run in circle by its own gravity?

I have heard that gravity came from energy and momentum so photon has gravity too. Then there are theory state that photon has energy tied to frequency. So if a photon has very very high frequency ...
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319 views

Is any energy required to deflect an asteroid, with force always perpendicular to its trajectory?

Let's assume there is an asteroid traveling on a straight line (far from any gravitational source), and we need to deflect it from its actual trajectory, so we build a rocket motor on the surface and ...
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What is the difference between impulse and momentum?

What is the difference between impulse and momentum? The question says it all...I know the second of of them is mass * velocity, but what is the first one for, and when is it used? Also, what are its ...
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Conservation of linear and angular momentum

Suppose I have two rigid bodies A and B and they are connected by a spring which is attached off-center (thus possibly causing torques). Due to the spring a force $f$ acts on A and a force $-f$ acts ...
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Does a reflection still transfer momentum to an mirror?

I have been recently wondering, if I take a powerful enough energy source (photon) and I have an perfect mirror exactly in front of it and assume an "emitter" shot the light towards the mirror. As ...
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How to derive the velocity in the double ball drop problem?

The double ball drop problem is as follows: A ball of mass $m$ is placed on top of a ball of mass $M$ (where $m < M$), and the balls are dropped simultaneously from some height $h$. When the ...
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Impulse from absorbing a photon? Is there an increase in rest mass?

I'm going through A P French's special relativity. In one chapter (6) the following is set up: Suppose that a stationary particle of mass $M_0$ is struck by a photon of energy $Q$, which is ...
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484 views

What is the result of a classical collision between THREE point particles at the same precise instant?

Classical Mechanics is said to be deterministic, a statement that nearly always is followed by that quote from Laplace, something like If at one time, one knew the positions and velocities of all ...
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How is the conservation of momentum satisfied in long-range attraction such as electromagnetism and gravity?

I'm not a physicist, but my understanding is that electromagnetism (including attraction between opposite charges) is mediated by the photon, and gravity is probably (hypothetized to be?) mediated by ...
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161 views

Lorentz covariance of the Noether charge

The invariance under translation leads to the conserved energy-momentum tensor $\Theta_{\mu\nu}$ satisfying $\partial^\mu\Theta_{\mu\nu}=0$, from which we get the conserved quantity$$P^\nu=\int ...
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673 views

Tricky spring on a surface question

I have this relative simple-looking question that I haven't been able to solve for hours now, it's one of those questions that just drive you nuts if you don't know how to do it. This is the scenario: ...
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Why do we need the quantity momentum?

Why do we need the quantity Momentum in physics when we have the quantities like Force and Energy? Isn't it possible to substitute the usage of Momentum with equivalent of Force and Energy?
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How does the momentum operator act on state kets?

I have been going through some problems in Sakurai's Modern QM and at one point have to calculate $\langle \alpha|\hat{p}|\alpha\rangle$ where all we know about the state $|\alpha\rangle$ is that ...
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Would a sneeze by a cosmonaut in a spacesuit affect his movement?

Naive question; feel free to shoot me down It is a truism that any motion in space would continue indefinitely unless it is opposed by an external force. If a cosmonaut were to sneeze within his/her ...
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Why doesn't a ray of light have enough momentum to make us fall?

Why can't light be so powerful that it has enough momentum to make us fall?
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What is the relationship between force and momentum in collisions?

I know that $ \Sigma F = \Delta mv/\Delta t$. But if we had a marble that moves in a straight line at a constant velocity and colloids with another marble. Because of the law of conservation of ...
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Uncertainty Principle for a Totally Localized Particle

If a particle is totally localized at $x=0$, its wave function $\Psi(x,t)$ should be a Dirac delta function $\delta(x)$. Accordingly, its Fourier transform $\Phi(p,t)$ would be a constant for all $p$, ...
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In QED, why is the $e^- + e^+\leftrightarrow\gamma$ process forbidden on-shell?

QED has a vertex that couples a single photon to two fermions. This vertex describes the annihilation of an electron-positron pair into a photon. Why is this process forbidden for all three particles ...
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Why is the “canonical momentum” for the Dirac equation not defined in terms of the “gauge covariant derivative”?

The canonical momentum is always used to add an EM field to the Schrödinger/Pauli/Dirac equations. Why does one not use the gauge covariant derivative? As far as I can see, the difference is a factor ...
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Where does de Broglie wavelength $\lambda=h/p$ for massive particles come from?

I'm curious where the de Broglie relation $p=\frac{h}{\lambda}$ comes from? I know that for light (which has no rest mass), the following is true: $E=pc$ and $E=hf$ so, $$pc=hf \Rightarrow ...
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Hammer vs large mass on nail

Why is a hammer more effective in driving a nail than a large mass resting over the nail ? I know this has to do with momentum, but cant figure it out.
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691 views

Does a force really act on a body during a collision?

Consider two bodies A(black) and B(red) having equal mass. A is moving at a constant speed towards B, which is stationary. At certain point of time, they collide elastically, $\therefore u_{A}=v_{B}$ ...
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Which will stop first a heavier car or a lighter car?

If the friction from brakes, wind resistance and all such factors remain constat, which will stop first? A heavier car or a lighter car? How will the momentum of the car and graviational pull on a ...
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Applications of recoil principle in classical physics

Are there any interesting, important or (for the non physicist) astonishing examples where the recoil principle (as special case of conservation of linear momentum) is applied beside rockets and guns? ...
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Conservation of Energy and Momentum Regarding Forces - clarification needed

The other day, my teacher stated something along the lines of, "Conservation of momentum is not violated by the actions of internal forces, but the conservation of energy is violated. Energy is ...
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Usefullness of an only qualitative understanding of momentum?

A few days ago I had a discussion with a friend who wants to become a physics teacher (in Germany). He told me that from a pedagogical/didactial point of view it seems to be a good idea to introduce ...
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Uncertainly Principle in orthogonal directions

The Heisenberg Principle states that for each direction, $\Delta x\cdot \Delta p_x \ge \hbar , \Delta y\cdot \Delta p_y \ge \hbar$ and $\Delta z\cdot \Delta p_z \ge \hbar$. But, can anything be said ...
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Do $x$ and $Q^2$ associate with particular directions in the infinite momentum frame?

In deep inelastic scattering, you describe a collision using the variables $Q^2 = -q^2$ (probe virtuality) and $x = Q^2/2p\cdot q$ (Bjorken x, parton momentum fraction). Now, I seem to remember ...
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Conservation of Linear Momentum at the point of collision

This is a pretty basic conceptual question about the conservation of linear momentum. Consider an isolated system of 2 fixed-mass particles of masses $m_1$ and $m_2$ moving toward each other with ...
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Confusion between the de Broglie wavelength of a particle and wave packets

So I learned that the de Broglie wavelength of a particle, $\lambda = \frac{h}{p}$, where h is Planck's constant and p is the momentum of the particle. I also learned that a quantum mechanics ...