Integrated SequencePhysics Chemistry Organic Biology

Web Resources

HyperPhysics - Conservation of Momentum

University of Winnipeg - Conservation of Momentum
Brief, summary presentation of Law of Conservation of Momentum, mainly in the one dimensional context.

HyperPhysics - Gyroscope

  click if a link is broken

Special points of emphasis

Newton's Laws

Momentum and Impulse

As we move into Momentum & Impulse in these discussions, see the Syllabus if you have not mastered the Learning Goals for this topic. You really need to achieve your Main Sequence goals before working to achieve your Interdisciplinary Discussion goals.

One of the first things I always wanted my students to see was that the main propositions of the subtopic Momentum & Impulse can be derived from Newton's Laws. This is a useful organizing principle, to see Newton's Laws and Momentum & Impulse together within the larger framework of 'Dynamics'.

For example, Newton's Second Law tells you that a net force on a mass changes its velocity at a rate directly proportional to the force and inversely proportional to the mass. In Momentum & Impulse, the equivalent expression is to say that force is the rate of change of momentum. In more advanced physics, in fact, this is how Newton's Second Law is usually expressed. An impulse for a period of time leads to a change in momentum.

Furthermore, if you take Newton's Second Law and Third Law together, you can easily derive the proposition that the total momentum of an isolated system must remain constant. The reasoning is as follows: If every force is accompanied by an equal and opposite force, it follows that every change in momentum (impulse) is accompanied by an equal and opposite change in momentum, so total momentum must be conserved.

The understanding of the unity of Dynamics is not something you will see tested in a straightforward way on the MCAT, but it is still really helpful to building a sense of intuition and conceptual fluency.

Work, Energy, and Power

Momentum and Impulse

Conservation of momentum problems involving collisions require an understanding of the changes within the system involving both momentum and energy.

This is because the difference between an elastic and an inelastic collision depends on what happens to the initial kinetic energy, whether some of this energy becomes transformed through the collision in an irreversible way such into sound, heat, or mechanical deformation.

The WikiPremed MCAT Course is a free comprehensive course in the undergraduate level general sciences. Undergraduate level physics, chemistry, organic chemistry and biology are presented by this course as a unified whole within a spiraling curriculum.

Please read our policies on privacy and shipping & returns.  Contact Us.
MCAT is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which does not endorse the WikiPremed Course.

Creative Commons License
The work of WikiPremed is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 License. There are elements of work here, such as a subset of the images in the archive from WikiPedia, that originated as GNU General Public License works, so take care to follow the unique stipulations of that license in printed reproductions. You can use the resources here for commercial or non-commercial purposes, but please give attribution and a link to the production credits and edit history of the resource. For the works here which began as my individual work, please attribute "John Wetzel, an author at".