Ballistic Pendulum


This simulation shows how momentum and energy conservation can be applied to describe the maximum height reached by a ballistic pendulum. Set the launch speed of a ball, the mass ratio between the ball and block, and whether the collision is elastic or inelastic. Click the Launch button or drag the time slider to watch the system move. Energy (for the system) and momentum (broken down by ball and block) are plotted.
  1. Set the parameters as you please and verify the maximum height reached h. (Hint: Use conservation of momentum during the collision to find the speeds of the ball and block and conservation of energy after the collision to find the maximum height reached.)
  2. What is different between a completely elastic and a completely inelastic collision?
  3. Sometimes energy isn't conserved for this system. When? Why not?
  4. Sometimes momentum isn't conserved for this system. When? Why not?
  5. In cases where momentum or energy are not conserved a force must be involved (doing work or applying impulse). Identify the forces involved in questions 3 and 4.