Q:

How does Newton's cradle work?

A:

Quick Answer

Newton's cradle, or the executive ball clicker, operates by passing the momentum of a moving ball through other balls of similar weight in sequence until it reaches the ball at the end of the line, causing it to swing away from the column. Gravity then causes the moving ball to slow and swing back to strike the column and pass momentum in the opposite direction.

 Know More

Full Answer

The operation of this device depends on theories put forth by Newton, Descartes and other scientists. It demonstrates the principle of the conservation of momentum. Scientists calculate momentum as the product of the weight and velocity of an object. Since the weight of each ball is the same, the speed transfers to the ball at the end of the line. In an ideal situation, the process continues without stopping, but friction eventually slows the motion to a stop.

While the device carries Newton's name, the science behind its operation traces back to Christiaan Huygens. Huygens presented a paper to the Royal Society in 1662 on the principles of momentum responsible for the operation of the cradle. The device carries Newton's name, however, as he is the more famous scientist, and the device is dependant on his second law of motion.

Learn more about Motion & Mechanics

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the formula for calculating momentum?

    A:

    The formula for calculating momentum is mass multiplied by velocity. An object's momentum is equivalent to its mass times its velocity, therefore the equation for momentum is the same. Momentum is measured in kilogram-meters per second, which are all standard metric units.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the formula for momentum?

    A:

    Momentum is equal to the mass of an object multiplied by its velocity. The final unit of momentum is equal to the kilogram-meter per second.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How does momentum apply to swimming?

    A:

    The momentum of pushing water backwards propels swimmers forward in the water, thereby creating kinetic energy in the water that goes backwards and produces forward movement. A swimmer's hands and feet provide lift and backward momentum in the water. Swimmers' hands act similarly to an airplane wing moving through air, except hands are like hydrofoils moving through water.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are examples of momentum?

    A:

    Some examples of momentum are a truck moving towards the east at a given velocity and a basketball with a mass traveling through the air in a southerly direction. The momentum of an object is a vector quantity that is given by the formula mass multiplied by the velocity, or p= m x v.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore