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The Ballistic Pendulum

The Ballistic Pendulum

In this physics crime lab or demonstration, learners pretend they are criminologists and must find the "muzzle velocity" (speed of the bullet as it leaves the gun) of a gun used to commit a crime. Learners build an apparatus to fire a dart from a plastic toy gun into the open end of a cut-off plastic water bottle which has been stuffed with a plastic bag and suspended as a pendulum. Knowing the mass of the dart, the mass of the water bottle-bag combination, and the vertical rise of the water-bottle bag combination with the dart in it, simple energy and momentum considerations are used to find the muzzle velocity of the dart.


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