This Java applet deals with the extreme cases of an impact process illustrated by two wagons: For an elastic impact it is characteristic that the sum of the kinetic energies of the involved bodies is constant. After a completely inelastic impact, however, both bodies have the same velocity; the sum of their kinetic energies is reduced, compared with the initial value, because a part of it has changed to internal energy (warming up).
The total momentum of the involved bodies is conserved, regardless whether the impact is elastic or inelastic. The movement of the common center of gravity (indicated by a yellow dot) is not influenced by the impact process.
You can choose the simulation of an elastic or an inelastic impact by using the appropriate radio button on the top right. The "Reset" button brings the wagons to their initial positions; the animation is started by a mouse click on the "Start" button. If you select the option "Slow Motion", the movement will be ten times slower. You can write the values of mass and initial velocity into the textfields (don't forget to press the "Enter" key!). Positive (negative) values of velocity mean a right (left) side motion. Extreme inputs are automatically changed.
Source file (German version): Stoss.java
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