Chapter - 2 Force and Laws of Motion

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Q
Force and Laws of Motion

Question:

Akhtar, Kiran and Rahul were riding in a motorcar that was moving with a high velocity on an expressway when an insect hit the windshield and got stuck on the windscreen. Akhtar and Kiran started pondering over the situation. Kiran suggested that the insect suffered a greater change in momentum as compared to the change in momentum of the motorcar (because the change in the velocity of the insect was much more than that of the motorcar). Akhtar said that since the motorcar was moving with a larger velocity, it exerted a larger force on the insect. And as a result the insect died. Rahul while putting an entirely new explanation said that both the motorcar and the insect experienced the same force and a change in their momentum. Comment on these suggestions.

Answer:

Hence, the change in momentum of the car and insect system is zero. In this situation, as the insect experiences a greater change in its velocity so it experiences a higher momentum change. From this point of view, the observation of Kiran is right.

Compared to the insect, the motorcar is moving at a larger speed and has a larger mass. Moreover, even after the crash, the motorcar continues to move in the same direction; which indicates that the motorcar is experiencing minimal momentum shift, while the insect is experiencing the highest momentum shift. Therefore, the remark of Akhtar is also right. As per the third law of motion, the force exerted by the insect on the car is equal and opposite to the force exerted by the car on the insect. However, Rahul's suggestion that the change in the momentum is the same contradicts the law of conservation of momentum.


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