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:

    How do you get the Secret Strike in the Wii Sports Resort 100-Pin Game?

    A:

    In order to get the Secret Strike in the 100-Pin Game of Wii Sports Resort, the ball must be rolled very close to either the right or left gutter guard; its position should be set with the D-pad so that the dotted line is almost parallel with, but ever so slightly aimed into, the gutter guard, and maintained on this course right to the end of the lane. Upon reaching the end, the bowling ball will activate a red button, which in turn will cause an earthquake, toppling all the pins down at once.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How does a plumb bob work?

    A:

    A plumb bob's weight hanging at the end of a line pulls the string it is attached to taut. This creates a straight vertical line that can be used as an alternative to a level. Plumb bobs only read accurately if they hang freely and the weight is completely still. SFGate recommends that they be used indoors or on windless days.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is p equals mv?

    A:

    In physics, "p equals mv" is the formula used to calculate an object's momentum. The momentum of an object, represented by the variable p, is equal to the product of an object's mass, represented by the variable m, and its velocity, represented by the variable v.

    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:

Explore