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Math Help - Inelastic Collision

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    Inelastic Collision

    Heres the question:

    two cars collide inelastically and stick together after the collision. Before the collision, the magnitudes of their momenta are and . After the collision, what is the magnitude of their combined momentum?

    i believe the answer is p1+p2 but am not to sure and would like more input on this
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by elexis10 View Post
    Heres the question:

    two cars collide inelastically and stick together after the collision. Before the collision, the magnitudes of their momenta are and . After the collision, what is the magnitude of their combined momentum?

    i believe the answer is p1+p2 but am not to sure and would like more input on this
    the key word here is magnitudes, the scalar part (size) of a vector.

    momenta are vectors, and as such, are not "added" like scalars unless both are in the same direction.

    for example ... the combined momentum after the collision might be zero if the original momenta before the collision were opposite in direction and equal in magnitude.

    all you can say is that the combined magnitude of momentum after the collision is less than or equal to the combined magnitude of momentum before the collision.
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