Most text books describe three different types of collisions. In reality, it is more true to say there are two ends of a spectrum (range) of collision types. Regardless of what type of collision occurs, the total momentum of the system will always be conserved if there are no external forces present.
|properties or characteristics
|examples of collisions
| No kinetic energy
is lost (KE is conserved). Since KE is not lost, no energy can go into heat or
Usually involves only collisions where the objects can't touch.
No damage caused to either colliding object.
Atomic or nuclear
particles with similar charges.
|Less damage or heat
Less sound created.
More damage or heat created.
A well inflated basketball, or any ball that bounces some.
An under-inflated basketball, or any ball that doesn't bounce much.
objects stick together and become one.
A block of soft
clay dropped onto a hard floor.
Remind yourself that for any of these collisions, the total momentum of the closed system remains the same and the total energy remains the same (it just may change form from KE to heat). Both the Momentum and the Energy are always conserved when dealing with a closed system.
One example of the different types of collisions comes from examining bullets striking blocks of wood.
|To the left is a representation of 3 bullets with equal mass
running into 3 blocks of wood with equal mass.