Energy in a Collision
Imagine throwing a ball against a wall as
hard as you can. What will happen when it hits the wall?
Bounces Off Wall
Everyone knows that it will bounce
Anything in motion has kinetic
energy---energy of motion. The kinetic energy of the moving ball is
converted to potential energy as the ball is squashed into the wall.
This potential energy becomes kinetic energy again as the ball springs
back into shape and propels itself away from the wall.
The change in the direction of the ball is
caused by the elastic nature of the ball itself. Much like a spring,
the ball "squashed" itself against the wall then rebounds as it becomes
Now imagine that the wall is moving and has
its own kinetic energy. At the moment of collision, the wall transfers
some of that energy to the ball.
Remember the energy that the ball has when you throw it against a wall?
It has the same energy when it hits a bat. But a swinging bat adds
energy too. The combined energies make hitting a home run easier when a
baseball is pitched.
Now think about hitting a baseball
from a tee. All of the energy in this system starts with the batter and
is transferred to the bat. Some of the energy in the bat is then
transferred to the ball causing it to fly off the tee.
Hitting a baseball that is pitched
involves more total energy. The ball has energy and the bat has energy.
Why are most home runs hit off of fastballs?
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