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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

4
votes
2answers
432 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
268 views

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
146 views

Elastic collisions and conservation of momentum

If you have an elastic collision between objects 1 and 2 and where 'kinetic energy is conserved', does this mean object 1 will always have the same velocity it had before the collision? Or will ...
4
votes
2answers
271 views

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
819 views

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? ...
4
votes
1answer
764 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

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 $0.300\text{ kg}$ ...
4
votes
2answers
553 views

Why doesn't a wall move when you push it if there's space behind it?

In the first screen you can see that if a person were to push a wall within a typical household the wall would not move while keeping themselves tractioned to the floor. If you push hard and do not ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is momentum conserved when a ball hits a vertical wall?

Almost in every book on physics, there's an example of conservation of momentum when the ball that is moving horizontally in the air, hits some massive wall. They claim that the return speed of the ...
4
votes
1answer
362 views

Is momentum conservation for the classical Schrödinger equation due to non-relativistic or due to some more exotic invariance?

I had no problem appliying the Neothers theorem for translations to the non-relativistic Schrödinger equation $\mathrm i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial t}\psi(\mathbf{r},t) \;=\; \left(- ...
4
votes
1answer
532 views

Conservation of momentum in collision of two bodies

Suppose we have some ramp on wheels of mass $M$, standing on a frictionless surface. A cart of mass $m$ moves with a certain velocity $v$ towards the ramp. The cart moves up the ramp ...
4
votes
2answers
59 views

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 ...
4
votes
5answers
230 views

The elusive difference between force and impulse

Impulse is defined as the product of a force $F$ acting for a (short) time $t$, $J = F*t$, and that is very clear. What I find difficult to understand is how a force can exist that doesn't act for a ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Deriving $F = ma$ - Newton's Second Law of Motion

Context: In my textbook it is given: 'momentum' short for 'linear momentum': Mass = $m$, momentum is $p=mv$. In time $\Delta t$, momentum changes by $\Delta p$, the rate of change of momentum is: ...
3
votes
2answers
482 views

Rocket/Thrust/Gas/Free Expansion of Gas

We know, the rockets in space use Newton's 3rd law to increase their velocity and hence move. What I don't understand is how it is possible in space aka vacuum-state without air? From what I know, ...
3
votes
1answer
772 views

Can conservation of momentum be violated?

The law of the conservation of momentum was accepted for year-hundreds. Even in Quantum field theory every particle collision must be momentum-conserving if there is homogenity in space. Can this ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Newton's 3rd Law: How can I break things?

If I punch a wooden board hard enough and it breaks in two, has the board still exerted a force of equal magnitude on my fist? When the board breaks in two due to my force, the halves have a ...
3
votes
1answer
71 views

Why do safety helmets have a softer inner layer nearer the head?

I know that when an object collides onto the helmet, it causes an inelastic collision so that energy is absorbed by the structure of the helmet, so what exactly does the softer inner layer do? Does it ...
3
votes
2answers
350 views

Does constraint for speed of Electric and magnetic fields violates Conservation of momentum or Newton's third law?

I'm just a beginner so bear with me. Consider two frames at rest wrt to each other separated by distance enough for light to take a minute or so. At a given instant we create two large dipoles by some ...
3
votes
2answers
304 views

Canonical momentum density vs. energy-momentum tensor

Suppose we have a scalar field $\varphi$ with Lagrangian $$ \mathcal{L} = \frac{1}{2} \kappa \left( \frac{\partial \varphi}{\partial x} \right)^2 + \frac{1}{2} \rho \left( \frac{\partial ...
3
votes
1answer
406 views

Total momentum of the Universe

What is the total momentum of the whole Universe in reference to the point in space where the Big Bang took place? According to my reasoning (and a bit elementary knowledge) it should be exactly ...
3
votes
2answers
125 views

Impulse, relative velocties

Why is (m)(v)=Impulse or as they put it here, Vs = I/Ms? Shouldn't (m)(v) be equal to momentum, not I? I don't understand why that is the solution. I was trying to solve for relative velocities, ...
3
votes
3answers
603 views

Conservation of Energy in Different Frames of Reference

Say I have a bucket of fuel that can produce 150J of energy by combustion. No matter what frame of reference an observer or the bucket of fuel is in, since the configuration of molecules stay the ...
3
votes
2answers
468 views

Derivative of a Position Eigenket

I was flicking through Zettili's book on quantum mechanics and came across a 'derivation' of the momentum operator in the position representation on page 126. The author derived that ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

Conservation of Momentum/Energy collision Problem

I'm working on a physics problem in preparation for the MCAT and there's this particular problem that's troubling me. I don't know if it's a bad question or if I'm not understanding some sort of ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Momentum-Representations in Quantum Mechanics

Why do we get information about position and momentum when we go to different representations. Why is momentum, which was related to time derivative of position in classical physics, now in QM just a ...
3
votes
2answers
41 views

Can momentum be distributed to multiple objects which travel in different vectors?

This is a question about the conservation of momentum: If there were a cluster of billiard balls floating in space and the cluster was struck by one moving ball, the cluster balls would scatter in ...
3
votes
1answer
98 views

Where does the partial derivative come from in Sakurai's derivation of the momentum operator?

How is the momentum operator derived in Dirac formalism? I am reading Quantum Mechanics by Sakurai and he gives the following derivation. But I don't understand how he goes from the third equation to ...
3
votes
1answer
98 views

Special Relativity: Finding the Euler Lagrange of a massive particle

Knowing that $$\tag{1} L= -mc\sqrt{-\eta_{ab}\frac{d\xi^a}{d\lambda}\frac{d\xi^b}{d\lambda}}$$ we get $$\tag{2} p_a=\frac{\partial L}{\partial(d\xi^a/d\lambda)} = m\eta_{ab}u^b.$$ How come? If I ...
3
votes
1answer
81 views

Probability of measuring momentum [closed]

Suppose we have this wavefunction: $$ \psi = A \left( cos(kx) + cos (2kx) \right) $$ I have to find the possible results of measurement of momentum and their probabilities. Attempt For a momentum ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Can the velocity of the center of mass of two spheres change after a collision?

I'm curious as to whether or not the velocity of the center of mass of a system comprised of two spheres can change after the two spheres collide. Looking at the equation for the velocity of the ...
3
votes
2answers
233 views

Why does a stationary force affect the conservation of momentum, but not the conservation of energy?

Let's say I have two positive charges approaching one another at the same speed with only their mutual forces acting on one another. Total momentum (= 0) and energy is conserved and the charges ...
3
votes
3answers
376 views

Where do the conservation laws come from?

I know the conservation of energy comes from Noether's theorem via the time-translational symmetry, and if I remember correctly, the conservation of momentum comes from space-translational symmetry. ...
3
votes
1answer
142 views

Does spacetime have momentum?

In what sense can it be said that spacetime possesses momentum? Can an experiment be envisaged to test this question?
3
votes
2answers
4k views

block slides on smooth triangular wedge kept on smooth floor.Find velocity of wedge when block reaches bottom

Find the velocity of the triangular block when the small block reaches the bottom: Here is what I did: The final velocity(at the bottom)of the small block of mass m is $\sqrt{2gh}$ along the plane ...
3
votes
4answers
899 views

Is the momentum operator well-defined in the basis of standing waves?

Suppose I want to describe an arbitrary state of a quantum particle in a box of side $L$. The relevant eigenmodes are those of standing waves, namely $$ \left<x|n\right>=\sqrt{\frac{2}{L}}\cdot ...
3
votes
1answer
4k views

How do kinetic energy and linear momentum relate?

It took me quite a long time to click my gears in place and even then I'm not sure it's completely correct. The problem is that I need to understand these concepts (physics concepts; not just these ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Quantum momentum (De Broglie)

The de broglie hypothesis suggests a particle can be associated with a wave of momentum $p = \hbar k$ my question is the following: how does one arrive at this concept of the momentum of a wave? I ...
3
votes
4answers
538 views

Definition of force, kinetic energy and momentum

I've edited the post. Q1 and Q4 are the important ones but I didn't delete Q2 and Q3 since some older answers would not make sense anymore. To begin with, the formula of the kinetic energy $T$ is ...
3
votes
3answers
393 views

Why is momentum quantized in a 1D box even though the operator doesn't give eigenstates?

We don't get eigenstates of momentum when we operate momentum operator in the wave function of particle in a 1D box problem yet we say momentum is quantized in this situation. Why is it so?
3
votes
1answer
143 views

Hamilton-Jacobi formalism and on-shell actions

My question is essentially how to extract the canonical momentum out of an on-shell action. The Hamilton-Jacobi formalism tells us that Hamilton's principal function is the on-shell action, which ...
3
votes
2answers
181 views

Confused about elasticity and collisions

I was solving the following problem and the explanation to it confused me. There are two objects with mass $m$ and $M$, respectively. The object with mass $m$ has a velocity of $\sqrt{2gl}$ and ...
3
votes
2answers
94 views

Identity in quantum operator tutorial

I'm reading this tutorial by Ben Simons entitled Operator methods in quantum mechanics in connection with his course in advanced QM, and I'm a bit puzzled by an identity in page 25, a bit above ...
3
votes
2answers
518 views

Origin of motion and relative speed of bodies in the universe

Charged particles can hit the earth at relativistic speeds. But it seems that all large bodies have fairly low relative speed. Of course, speed can increase considerably when a body orbits close to a ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Walter Lewin Lecture 16 - Ball bouncing on wall?

I never did Physics in university and I consider that a mistake so I am correcting that now by teaching myself. To that extent I have been watching the MIT lecture videos by Walter Lewin and I am ...
3
votes
1answer
92 views

Doubt regarding stress-energy tensor definition

I'm having some trouble understanding the following definition of the stress energy tensor: $T^{\mu\nu}$ is the flux of four-momentum $p^{\mu}$ across a surface of constant $x^{\nu}$. Here's an ...
3
votes
4answers
808 views

Why Does Angular Velocity Increase as Radius Decrease?

Suppose a child were to ask you why a tetherball (picture below) seems to speed up as it wraps around the pole. How would you explain this to them? Certainly you wouldn't say something like, "Angular ...
3
votes
1answer
216 views

Interpretation of Conjugate Momentum in Field Theory

The conjugate momentum density, following as a conserved quantity with Noethers Theorem, from invariance under displacement of the field itself, i.e. $\Phi \rightarrow \Phi'=\Phi + \epsilon$, is given ...
3
votes
1answer
130 views

When a moving body collides with a stationary body, far from its centre, how do you calculate the resulting spin

Imagine you had a long heavy rod in space with no significant gravity acting upon it. And a projectile is flying towards it, perpendicular to the orientation of the rod, with the impact some between ...
3
votes
1answer
496 views

Simple 2D Vehicle collision physics

I'm trying to create a simplified GTA 2 clone to learn. I'm onto vehicle collisions physics. The basic idea I would say is, To apply force F determined by vehicle A's position and velocity onto point ...