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Note: Below is another student abstract, introduction and discussion/conclusion please read and understand each of them and write it in your own words
This report discussed the theory behind conservation of momentum and energy loss in hard and soft collisions. The physics concepts used were conservation of momentum, impulse, and Newton’s third Law. Two pucks were pushed to hit each other and tracked using the tracking camera. The data collected was used to evaluate whether their momentum was conserved or not by calculating the momentum before and after collision in both dimensions. Furthermore, kinetic energy was calculated to determine if collisions were elastic. To conclude, the momentum of both types of collisions were found to conserved and elastic.
The objective of this experiment is to analyze soft and hard collisions between two pucks and verify whether momentum is conserved for each type of collision. Moreover, determine the kinetic energy loss and evaluate the collision force for each puck. The major physics concepts used were conservation of momentum, impulse, and Newton’s Laws. Conservation of momentum is when two bodies act upon each other and their product of mass and velocity is equal before and after collision.1 Impulse is a force experienced by the objects colliding which should be equal to the change in momentum.2 Finally, Newton’s third Law which states that when two bodies interact the forces, they apply on each other are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction is used to make sense of our calculations.
Discussion and Conclusion:
Table 1 displays the velocities of the two pucks before and after collision for the hard collision. The initial velocities of puck 1 in both dimensions have relatively the same magnitude with opposite directions, the same goes with puck 2. This indicates that the two pucks have been pushed initially with almost the same force. However, for the final velocities it can be seen that the values are not similar since it was after collision, the same goes with Table 2. Moreover, Table 6 shows the change in kinetic energy to be -0.0034. The value is negative since there was a loss of energy during collision. This loss could be due to friction and reaction force. In the soft collision the change of kinetic energy is much smaller -0.0006881 (see Table 7) compared to the hard one. This is because the pucks were wrapped with Velcro which minimizes the effect of collision, therefore decreasing the value of change in kinetic energy.
Table 3 and 4 discusses the collision forces in x and y direction. It can be deduced that the values for Fx and Fy are similar in magnitude with opposite directions for all cases. This verifies Newton’s third Law. Moreover, the tables show the time interval ?? for the two types of collisions. It is obvious that the softer collision has a smaller ?? , meaning the collision happened at a faster rate than the hard collision. This is due to the reaction force acting on the puck that caused the puck to change velocity and, in the soft collision, the Velcro material acted as a cushion and decreased the time period of collision.
Table 4 shows the momentum before and after collision in the x and y direction for the hard collision. For momentum to be conserved the values before and after collision should be equal or similar. However, in our case the momentum in the x directions were vastly different which was due to some type of error. The errors could be systematic which are errors from equipment used or random errors that are caused by humans. For example, the calibration of the camera could be done inaccurately due to parallax error, the tracking camera may not be able to track the stickers on the puck due to a very strong push of the puck by a human and finally, the air hockey table may have an uneven or slanted surface which resulted in friction between pucks and tables.
Figure 1 shows the velocity-time plot in a hard collision. The measurements are stable at first, then suddenly drop and remain consistent. The friction was lost, causing the kinetic energy to change.Figure 2 appears to be the opposite. Figures 3 and 4 show the plots of soft collisions, which are slightly approaching zero.
To conclude, we observed that the hard collision and soft collision were elastic, which resulted in a small kinetic energy loss that can be negligible to come up with the conclusion that both collisions were conserved. With that we have successfully satisfied the experiment’s objective by verifying the conservation of momentum between both types of collisions. Furthermore, confirming Newton’s third law and determining the change in kinetic energy for hard and soft collisions.

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