Inelastic Collisions


An inelastic collision, in contrast to an elastic collision, is a collision in which kinetic energy is not conserved due to the action of internal friction.

An elastic collision is an encounter between two bodies in which the total kinetic energy of the two bodies after the encounter is equal to their total kinetic energy before the encounter.

A collision is an event in which two or more bodies exert forces on each other for a relatively short time.

Elastic and Inelastic Collisions by Bozeman Science


In collisions of macroscopic bodies, all kinetic energy is turned into vibrational energy of the atoms, causing a heating effect, and the bodies are deformed.

In physics, heat is energy that spontaneously passes between a system and its surroundings in some way other than through work or the transfer of matter.

An atom is the smallest constituent unit of ordinary matter that has the properties of a chemical element.

Elastic and Inelastic Collisions by Professor Dave Explains


The molecules of a gas or liquid rarely experience perfectly elastic collisions because kinetic energy is exchanged between the molecules' translational motion and their internal degrees of freedom with each collision.

A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid that conforms to the shape of its container but retains a constant volume independent of pressure.

A molecule is an electrically neutral group of two or more atoms held together by chemical bonds.


At any one instant, half the collisions are – to a varying extent – inelastic, and half could be described as “super-elastic”.


Averaged across an entire sample, molecular collisions are elastic.


Although inelastic collisions do not conserve kinetic energy, they do obey conservation of momentum.

In Newtonian mechanics, linear momentum, translational momentum, or simply momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object.


Simple ballistic pendulum problems obey the conservation of kinetic energy only when the block swings to its largest angle.

A ballistic pendulum is a device for measuring a bullet's momentum, from which it is possible to calculate the velocity and kinetic energy.


In nuclear physics, an inelastic collision is one in which the incoming particle causes the nucleus it strikes to become excited or to break up.

Nuclear physics is the field of physics that studies atomic nuclei and their constituents and interactions.


Deep inelastic scattering is a method of probing the structure of subatomic particles in much the same way as Rutherford probed the inside of the atom.

Deep inelastic scattering is the name given to a process used to probe the insides of hadrons, using electrons, muons and neutrinos.


Such experiments were performed on protons in the late 1960s using high-energy electrons at the Stanford Linear Accelerator.

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, originally named Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, is a United States Department of Energy National Laboratory operated by Stanford University under the programmatic direction of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science and located in Menlo Park, California.

A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol p or p+, with a positive electric charge of +1e elementary charge and mass slightly less than that of a neutron.

The electron is a subatomic particle, symbol e− or β−, whose electric charge is negative one elementary charge.


As in Rutherford scattering, deep inelastic scattering of electrons by proton targets revealed that most of the incident electrons interact very little and pass straight through, with only a small number bouncing back.


This indicates that the charge in the proton is concentrated in small lumps, reminiscent of Rutherford's discovery that the positive charge in an atom is concentrated at the nucleus.


However, in the case of the proton, the evidence suggested three distinct concentrations of charge and not one.

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