Material Detail

Air Track Simulation

Air Track Simulation

This applet simulates collsions in one dimension. To run a simulation select one of the scenarios in the drop down menu and hit "Go". Press "Stop" at any time to pause the simulation. Pressing "Go" will restart it at that point. To create your own simulation, choose that option from the drop down menu, and two windows will appear that will allow you to edit the carts' properties. You may also edit their initial velocities and masses in the appropriate fields at the top, drag the carts to any position on the track, and edit "alpha". "alpha" is a measure of the elasticity of a collision. An alpha value of one indicates an elastic collision, in which no kinetic energy is lost. Balls on a billiard table exhibit collisions that are nearly elastic. An alpha value of zero is a prefectly inelastic collision, in which the two colliding objects stick together after colliding. Colliding blobs of putty would ehibit perfectly inelastic collisions. Much of the energy in such a collision is converted to internal vibrations or heat.


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