# mousetrap vehicle science  ## Mousetrap Vehicles: Momentum

February 06, 2012

Momentum is the combination of an objects mass and its instantaneous velocity combined. Learn all about momentum and how it applies to mousetrap powered vehicles.

Momentum is a combination of newton's laws and energy. We all would agree that it is harder to stop a truck traveling at 60 mph to 0 mph that is filled with a load of dirt in comparison to the same truck with an empty load. Momentum is mass in motion. The faster an object is moving the more momentum it has in it's direction of motion and the harder it will be to changes it's motion. The same is true of mass, the more mass a moving object has the more momentum it has in the direction it is moving and the harder it will be to change it's state of motion. Many wonder why the Titanic was not able to turn fast enough in order to miss the iceberg once the iceberg was spotted; the answer is simple and has to do with the concept of momentum. The Titanic had so much mass and so much momentum that it was near impossible to changes it's direction of travel in time to miss the iceberg. We define momentum as the mass of an object times it's velocity.

Momentum = mv

momentum: momentum is defined as the mass [m] of an object times it's velocity [v]. Momentum is measured in kilograms times meters per second, mass is measured in kilograms, and velocity is measured in meters per second.

### Impulse

In order to change the momentum of an object you have to apply a force through time. In order to increase an objects momentum you have to apply a force through time to the object. When you hit a golf ball sitting at rest you apply a force to the golf ball with the club, the harder the golf ball is hit or the longer the club remains in contact with the ball the greater the change the golf ball will experience. Likewise to decrease an objects momentum a force must be applied through time to the object. When you slow a car you must press on the brake, this applies a force and how long you press on the brake determines how much the vehicle will slow.

Impulse = Ft

impulse: an impulse is defined as a force [F] through time [t]. Impulse is measured in newtons times second, force is measured in newtons, and time is measured in second.

Impulse and momentum are linked together, when forces are applied through time to objects, the object changes it's momentum and most of the time this means a change in velocity.

mΔv = Ft

impulse: to change an objects momentum you must apply an impulse. mass is measured in kilograms, velocity is measured in meters per second, force is measured in newtons, and time is measured in second.

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