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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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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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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151 views

How can the linear momentum can be understood physically?

Currently reading Classical Mechanics by Herbert Goldstein, and I'm trying to understand every concept physically. Speed can be understood physically, as the distance traveled within a certain amount ...
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377 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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346 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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220 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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217 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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Momentum as Generator of Translations

I understand from some studies in mathematics, that the generator of translations is given by the operator $\frac{d}{dx}$. Similarly, I know from quantum mechanics that the momentum operator is ...
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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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191 views

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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739 views

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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890 views

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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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 ...
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420 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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310 views

Why is momentum conserved in an inelastic collision and kinetic energy is not conserved?

We know that in an inelastic collision that total momentum of the system before collision equals the total momentum after collision. But total kinetic energy before collision is not equal to total ...
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155 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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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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992 views

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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439 views

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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415 views

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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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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Conservation of momentum but not kinetic energy in inelastic collisions

In inelastic collisions, the kinetic energy of the system is not conserved but the momentum is. Kinetic energy is: $0.5 \times \text{mass} \times \text{velocity}^2$. Momentum is: ...
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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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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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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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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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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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Intuitive explanation of why momentum is the Fourier transform variable of position?

Does anyone have a (semi-)intuitive explanation of why momentum is the Fourier transform variable of position? (By semi-intuitive I mean, I already have intuition on Fourier transform between ...
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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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238 views

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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Different results to a basic question ( Newton's law and perservation of momentum)

Trolley with mass of $m_0=1 \ kg$ is moving without friction on the railway track. It is raining so there is a constant mass flow of water $\Phi_m=0.1\ kg/s$. Constant force $F=0.1 \ N$ is ...
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When I move my arm forward in vacuum, will my body move backward?

Let's say I stay at point $x=0$ in vacuum. When I move my arm forward such that it will have a positive $x$ position (say $x=5$) will the rest of my body move backward such that it will have a ...
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102 views

Can it require different amounts of energy to generate the same impulse?

According to impulse principle the impulse is the same as the change in the object's momentum: $\bar I = \delta p$ Because the momentum can be calculated like this: $\bar p = m\bar v$. If we solve ...
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What is the most general expression for the coordinate representation of momentum operator?

I have a question about deriving the coordinate representation of momentum operator from the commutation relation, $[x,p]= i$. One derivation (ref W. Greiner's Quantum Mechanics: An Introduction, 4th ...
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Firing machine question

Suppose we have a firing machine on a frictionless surface at point $x=0$. It fires a bullet of mass $m$ every $T$ seconds. Each bullet has the same constant velocity $v_0$. There's a body of mass ...
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Two-body problem questions

I am self studying the two body problem and I'm stuck on the following: I have given $$\ddot{\vec{x}}_1= - G m_2 \frac{\vec{x}_1-\vec{x}_2}{|\vec{x}_1-\vec{x}_2|^3}$$ and $$\ddot{\vec{x}}_2= - G ...
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Use of Operators in Quantum Mechanics

I understand the form of operators in use for quantum mechanics such as the momentum operator: $$\hat{\text{P}}=-ih\frac{d}{dx}$$ My question is in what ways can I use it and what am I getting back? ...
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How do you combine two rigid bodies into one?

With respect to some fixed frame of reference, given the inertial tensors, positions, orientations, and angular and linear velocities of two rigid bodies, how do you combine them to make a single ...
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Use the relative velocity formula to find v2f in terms of v1f?

Q: A $0.150\text{ kg}$ glider is moving to the right ($+x$) on a frictionless, horizontal air track with a speed of $0.80\text{ m/s}$. It has an elastic collision with a $0.300\text{ kg}$ ...