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WikiPremed Resources

Module 1 in the Syllabus

Momentum & Impulse Cards
Chapter from the Wisebridge Learning System for Physics

Momentum & Impulse Concepts
Concept chapter for Momentum & Impulse in PDF format

Momentum & Impulse Practice Items
Problem set for Momentum & Impulse in PDF format

Answer Key
Answers and explanations

Momentum and Impulse Images
Image gallery for study with links to larger teaching JPEGs for classroom presentation

Question Drill for Momentum and Impulse
Conceptual Vocabulary Self-Test

Basic Terms Crossword Puzzle

Basic Puzzle Solution

Overview of Momentum and Impulse
The principles of Momentum & Impulse are a direct consequence of Newton's Laws, providing a useful framework to analyze the motion of a system containing many particles. Another way of expressing Newton's 2nd Law, for example, instead of 'force equals mass times acceleration' is to say 'force equals the time rate of change of momentum'. Furthermore, the proposition of Newton's 3rd Law, that 'every force is accompanied by an equal and opposite force' leads naturally to the Law of Conservation of Momentum.

Momentum and Impulse on the MCAT
Momentum & Impulse is a favorite on the exam for straightforward, traditional physics problems. Furthermore, the Law of Conservation of Momentum is frequently used as a basis for questions of a conceptual nature (Conservation principles naturally lend themselves to conceptually oriented multiple choice questions). The majority of MCATs contain a passage in which students must demonstrate the ability to fluently apply concepts from Dynamics and Work & Energy. Dynamics includes the concepts of both Newton's Laws and Momentum & Impulse. If you get stuck on a problem you have been conceptualizing in terms of force acting through a distance (work), it may help to step back and think in terms of force acting through a time (impulse). In other words, it is helpful to practice framing mechanical problems in terms of both Dynamics and Work & Energy as a matter of habit.

Conceptual Vocabulary
MomentumLinear momentum is the product in classical mechanics of the mass and velocity of an object.
Center of massThe center of mass of a system of particles is a specific point at which, for many purposes, the system's mass behaves as if it were concentrated.
CollisionCollision means the action of bodies striking or coming together.
Elastic collisionAn elastic collision is a collision in which the total kinetic energy of the colliding bodies after collision is equal to their total kinetic energy before collision.
Inelastic collisionAn inelastic collision is a collision in which some of the kinetic energy of the colliding bodies is converted into internal energy in at least one body such that kinetic energy is not conserved.
ImpulseAn impulse is defined in classical mechanics, when both the force and mass are constant, as the simple product of the force and time.
Conservation lawA conservation law states that a particular measurable property of an isolated physical system does not change as the system evolves.
RecoilRecoil is equal to the rate of change of the backward momentum resulting when a gun is fired.
Coefficient of restitutionThe coefficient of restitution or COR of an object is a fractional value representing the ratio of velocities before and after an impact.
Specific impulseSpecific impulse is a way to describe the efficiency of rocket and jet engines. It represents the impulse per unit of propellant.
Newton's cradleNewton's cradle is a device that demonstrates conservation of momentum and energy. It is constructed from a series of pendulums (usually 5) abutting one another.

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