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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If photons have no mass, how can they have momentum?

As an explanation of why a large gravitational field (such as a black hole) can bend light, I have heard that light has momentum. This is given as a solution to the problem of only massive objects ...
25
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1answer
640 views

Best current bounds on nonconservation of momentum?

It's not straightforward to test conservation of momentum experimentally, and many experiments that seem like tests really aren't. For example, in a Newtonian system of identical particles that ...
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6answers
10k views

Newton's cradle

Why, when one releases 2 balls in Newton's cradle, two balls on the opposite side bounce out at approximately the same speed as the 1st pair, rather than one ball at higher speed, or 3 balls at lower ...
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6answers
3k views

Conservation of momentum when rain pours into a wagon

Suppose a wagon is moving at constant velocity on a friction-less surface, and rain begins to fill the wagon. The net force on the wagon is zero, so momentum is conserved; as the mass of the wagon ...
16
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6answers
751 views

Is there a momentum for charge?

Since mass and charge behave similarly, so, just like center of mass, I define a point center of charge, that is defined by $$\vec r_{qm} = \frac {\sum{q_i \vec r_i}} {\sum{q_i}}$$ where $\vec r_i$ ...
16
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5answers
782 views

Conservation of Mathematical Constraints when deriving Energy and Momentum from $F=ma$

Background: Starting from $F = ma$, integrating with respect to time, and using basic calc, one can derive $\int Fdt = m (v_f - v_i)$ Starting from $F = ma$, integrating with respect to distance, ...
14
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5answers
1k views

Force as change in momentum vs. change in velocity

Is there ever a situation where the distinction between $F = m \frac{dv}{dt}$ and $F = \frac{dp}{dt}$ is important? I can't think of a situation where one is true and not the other (assuming only ...
13
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8answers
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Does leaning (banking) help cause turning on a bicycle?

I think it's clear enough that if you turn your bicycle's steering wheel left, while moving, and you don't lean left, the bike will fall over (to the right) as you turn. I figure this is because the ...
13
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5answers
2k views

How can there be net linear momentum in a static electromagnetic field (not propagating)?

I understand from basic conservation of energy and momentum considerations, it is clear in classical electrodynamics that the fields should be able to have energy and momentum. This leads to the usual ...
13
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4answers
996 views

Energy is actually the momentum in the direction of time?

By comparatively examining the operators a student concludes that `Energy is actually the momentum in the direction of time.' Is this student right? Could he be wrong?
12
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8answers
5k views

What is a rocket engine thrusting against in space?

I know Newton's third law of motion might be the answer for this but still I am wondering how the rockets could thrust in the empty space and move in the opposite direction. I guess an astronaut ...
11
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3answers
954 views

Center-of-mass frame for massless particles

Given a scattering event where a photon and electron go in and a photon and electron come out, what is the center of mass frame? I'd say, since the photon has no mass, it's the rest frame of the ...
11
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4answers
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Can a particle have momentum without energy?

Can a particle have linear momentum if the total energy of the particle is zero? Even if a particle has a certain velocity, can its potential energy cancel out the kinetic energy as to add to zero ?
10
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3answers
310 views

Entire Universe's Momentum

I was thinking about the definition of the conservation of momentum, which says that momentum is conserved unless outside forces are acting on the system, and I was wondering that if the system is the ...
10
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1answer
520 views

Neutrino Oscillations and Conservation of Momentum

I would like to better understand how neutrino oscillations are consistent with conservation of momentum because I'm encountering some conceptual difficulties when thinking about it. I do have a ...
10
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1answer
402 views

Can a fly pierce itself onto a cactus needle?

Somebody on reddit posted a ridiculous picture today of a fly pierced onto a needle of a cactus: http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/xarue/what_are_the_odds_of_this_accident/ Whilst the OP claims ...
9
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4answers
20k views

Which is easier, pushing or pulling?

It is generally assumed, from a person's perspective, that pushing a cart is more easier than pulling one. But why? Is there any difference in terms of force required to achieve the same amount of ...
9
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6answers
5k views

Who discovered momentum?

I read some text about momentum in Wikipedia, but I didn't find any information who discovered momentum. Is the momentum a philosophic principle?
9
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3answers
587 views

Could a fish in a sealed ball, move the ball?

If you had a glass ball filled with water, completely sealed and containing a fish, could the fish move the ball?
8
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4answers
26k views

What is the relationship between kinetic energy and momentum?

I can't seem to figure out the relationship between $E_k$ and $p$ or $F$. I understand that the units are pretty different. But for example: A bullet with a mass of 10.0g is moving at the speed of ...
8
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4answers
1k views

Examples where momentum is not equal to $mv$?

I am aware that momentum is the thing which is conserved due to symmetries in space (rotational symmetry, translaitonal symmetry, etc). I am aware that in some systems, the generalized momentum, ...
8
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5answers
2k views

How to get the position operator in the momentum representation from knowing the momentum operator in the position representation?

I know that $$\tag{1}\hat{p}~=~-i\hbar \frac{\partial}{\partial x}~.$$ How can I get $$\tag{2}\hat{x}~=~i\hbar \frac{\partial}{\partial p}~?$$ I think this simple and I'm just over thinking it, ...
8
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2answers
383 views

Translation Invariance without Momentum Conservation?

Instead of the actual gravitational force, in which the two masses enter symmetrically, consider something like $$\vec F_{ab} = G\frac{m_a m_b^2}{|\vec r_a - \vec r_b|^2}\hat r_{ab}$$ where $\vec ...
8
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3answers
867 views

Intuitively Understanding Work and Energy

It is easy to understand the concepts of momentum and impulse. The formula $mv$ is simple, and easy to reason about. It has an obvious symmetry to it. The same cannot be said for kinetic energy, ...
8
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5answers
3k views

What is canonical momentum?

What does the canonical momentum $\textbf{p}=m\textbf{v}+e\textbf{A}$ mean? Is it just momentum accounting for electromagnetic effects?
8
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3answers
373 views

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 ...
8
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2answers
241 views

How multiple objects in contact are resolved in an inelastic collision, when edge normals don't “line up”

In a case I understand, let's say I have an object A moving at velocity V toward 3 objects in contact B, C, and D: The momentum of A is the mass of A times its velocity. To figure out how the ...
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3answers
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How does the 'water jet pack' work?

So I was cruising around at YouTube and saw this sweet video, and as I was watching started to wonder: "How is this possible?". For a little bit of background, in case you decide to not watch the ...
7
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1answer
104 views

In calculations with uncertainty principle why could you equate the uncertainty in momentum with the actual momentum of the system

This website is trying to calculate the confinement energy of a electron starting from the uncertainty principle, but it does this: $\Delta p=p$. Why is this valid?
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2answers
949 views

Photon energy - momentum in matter

$E = h\nu$ and $P = h\nu/c$ in vacuum. If a photon enters water, it's frequency $\nu$ doesn't change. What are its energy and momentum : $h\nu$ ? and $h\nu/c$ ? Since part of it's energy and momentum ...
7
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2answers
704 views

What are the properties of two bodies for their collision to be elastic?

For example, must the shock wave in each body be of a particular form which influences the shape and material properties of the bodies? I suspect part of the the answer is that the objects must be ...
7
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9answers
2k views

How to explain independence of momentum and energy conservation in elementary terms?

I'm trying to explain to someone learning elementary physics (16 year old) that linear momentum and energy are conserved independently. I'm not a professional physicist and haven't tried to explain ...
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3answers
909 views

How does $F = \frac{ \Delta (mv)}{ \Delta t}$ equal $( m \frac { \Delta v}{ \Delta t} ) + ( v \frac { \Delta m}{ \Delta t} )$?

That's how it's framed in my Physics school-book. The question (or rather, the explanation) is that of the thrust of rockets and how the impulse is equal (with opposite signs) on the thrust-gases and ...
6
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2answers
271 views

About photons and mirrors

If a photon hits a 'perfect' mirror (with no environment interference) would the mirror move a bit?
6
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3answers
621 views

Lorentz force in Dirac theory and its classical limit

It is well known that in Dirac theory the time derivative of $P_i=p_i+A_i$ operator (where $p_i=∂/∂_i$, $A_i$ - EM field vector potential) is an analogue of the Lorentz force: $\frac{dP_i}{dt} = ...
6
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2answers
216 views

Why $-i\hbar\vec\nabla$ for momentum in quantum mechanics, while $m\vec{v}$ in classical mechanics?

I am a little bit confused when thinking of the momentum representation in QM and CM. In QM, momentum is represented as $-i\hbar\vec\nabla$, while in classical, momentum is represented as $m\vec{v}$. ...
6
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2answers
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What is p_T? (transverse momentum?)

I've been looking at a few papers in experimental physics (from the ATLAS collaboration, for example) and I've often run across phrases such as "high-p_T electron." What exactly is p_T? Is it simply ...
6
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1answer
419 views

Impact force in a fall

I'm a climber and I constructed myself an anchor that I fixed to a rock wall. To test it, I hooked to it a 12mm in section steel cable with a length of 2,8m and a concrete block of 30kg to the other ...
6
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2answers
258 views

Proof for $p=\gamma_Pmu$

As I'm reading about Relativistic Momentum, my book states the following: $$p=m \frac{\Delta x}{\Delta t}=m\frac{\Delta x}{\sqrt{(1-u^2/c^2)}\Delta t}=\frac{mu}{\sqrt{1-u^2/c^2}}=\gamma_Pmu$$ ...
6
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2answers
143 views

Interpreting some domain issues of (potential) momentum operators

In the context of mathematical quantum mechanics, a well known no-go theorem known as Hellinger-Töplitz tells us that an unbounded, symmetric operator cannot be defined everywhere on the Hilbert space ...
6
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3answers
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Does conservation of momentum really imply Newton's third law?

I often heard that conservation of momentum is nothing else than Newton's third law. Ok, If you have only two interacting particles in the universe, this seems to be quite obvious. However if you ...
6
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3answers
155 views

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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7answers
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Ball flying towards me or me flying towards ball

Suppose a ball is flying towards me at a speed of 10m/s and that, on impact, I feel "x" amount of pain. If, instead, it was me flying towards the ball at the same speed, with all other conditions ...
5
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4answers
278 views

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 ...
5
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3answers
624 views

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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7answers
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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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4answers
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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 ...
5
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8answers
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How can momentum but not energy be conserved in an inelastic collision?

In inelastic collisions, kinetic energy changes, so the velocities of the objects also change. So how is momentum conserved in inelastic collisions?
5
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1answer
206 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 ...
5
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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 ...