UIUC Physics
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Demo # 26

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Newton's Cradle

ID # 26

Description:

The lecturer usually begins by taking one ball, raising it away from the others, and then releasing it to collide with its neighbor. The momentum of the ball is transferred through the system, and the ball on the other end reacts accordingly. The lecturer can then repeat the process with two balls, or three, or four. This demonstrates conservation of momentum in a collision involving several bodies.

Picture of Newton's Cradle

Physics Concept:

  • Mechanics
  • Linear Momentum
  • Momentum Transfer

The demonstration takes about 1 minute to perform.

Dept. of Physics, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1996.