# When is Momentum Not Conserved: Why, How and Detailed Facts

When studying the principles of physics, one of the fundamental concepts is the conservation of momentum. According to this principle, the total momentum of a system remains constant unless acted upon by an external force. However, there are certain situations where momentum is not conserved. These instances occur when external forces are present, such as during collisions or explosions. In such cases, the initial momentum of the system may change due to the influence of these external forces. Understanding when momentum is not conserved is crucial in analyzing and predicting the behavior of objects in motion.

## Key Takeaways

SituationDescription
CollisionsMomentum is not conserved during collisions due to the presence of external forces.
ExplosionsIn explosive events, momentum is not conserved as the system experiences an external force.
ElasticityWhen objects collide and exhibit elastic behavior, momentum is conserved.
InelasticityIn inelastic collisions, momentum is not conserved as kinetic energy is lost.
External ForcesThe presence of external forces can cause momentum to not be conserved in a system.

## Understanding Momentum Conservation

Momentum conservation is one of the fundamental principles in physics. It is based on the concept that the total momentum of a system remains constant if no external forces act on it. In this article, we will explore the conditions for conservation of momentum and how to determine if momentum is conserved in different scenarios.

### Conditions for Conservation of Momentum

To understand when momentum is conserved, we need to consider the following conditions:

1. Isolated Systems: Momentum conservation applies to isolated systems, where no external influences or forces are acting on the system. In such systems, the total momentum before and after an event remains the same.

2. Closed Systems: Momentum conservation also holds for closed systems, where the system boundaries are well-defined, and no external forces or interactions occur across those boundaries.

3. No Force Imbalance: For momentum to be conserved, the net force acting on the system must be zero. This means that the sum of all external forces acting on the system is equal to zero.

### How to Determine if Momentum is Conserved

Determining if momentum is conserved in a given scenario involves analyzing the nature of the collision or interaction. Let’s explore two common types of collisions: elastic and inelastic collisions.

#### Elastic Collisions

In elastic collisions, both momentum and kinetic energy are conserved. This means that the total momentum before the collision is equal to the total momentum after the collision, and the total kinetic energy remains constant.

To determine if momentum is conserved in an elastic collision, we can use the following equation:

`m1v1_initial + m2v2_initial = m1v1_final + m2v2_final`

where m1 and m2 are the masses of the objects involved in the collision, and v1_initial, v2_initial, v1_final, and v2_final are their respective initial and final velocities.

#### Inelastic Collisions

In inelastic collisions, momentum is conserved, but kinetic energy is not. This means that the total momentum before the collision is equal to the total momentum after the collision, but the kinetic energy of the system changes.

To determine if momentum is conserved in an inelastic collision, we can use the same equation as in elastic collisions:

`m1v1_initial + m2v2_initial = m1v1_final + m2v2_final`

However, in inelastic collisions, the final velocities of the objects may be different from their initial velocities due to the transfer of momentum.

It’s important to note that while momentum conservation is a fundamental principle, there are exceptions and scenarios where it may not apply. Factors such as frictional forces, gravitational forces, and other external influences can affect the conservation of momentum.

In summary, understanding momentum conservation requires considering the conditions for conservation and analyzing the nature of the collision or interaction. By applying the principles of momentum conservation and energy conservation, we can gain insights into the motion and behavior of objects in various scenarios.

## Instances When Momentum is Not Conserved

In the world of physics, the principle of momentum conservation is a fundamental concept. It states that the total momentum of a closed system remains constant unless acted upon by external forces. However, there are certain instances where momentum is not conserved. Let’s explore some of these scenarios.

### In a Collision

When two objects collide, there are different possibilities for the conservation of momentum. In an elastic collision, both linear and angular momentum are conserved. This means that the total momentum before the collision is equal to the total momentum after the collision. In an inelastic collision, on the other hand, momentum is not conserved. In such cases, the total momentum of the system changes due to the presence of external forces, such as frictional forces or gravitational forces.

### In a System

Momentum conservation also depends on whether the system is isolated or non-isolated. In an isolated system, where there are no external influences, momentum is conserved. This means that the total momentum of the system remains constant. However, in a non-isolated system, where external forces are present, momentum is not conserved. These external forces can cause a change in the total momentum of the system.

### Real Life Examples of Non-conservation of Momentum

In real life, there are numerous examples where momentum is not conserved. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

1. Car Crashes: When two cars collide, the total momentum of the system changes due to the impact and external forces involved. This is why we often see significant damage to the vehicles involved in a collision.

2. Rocket Launch: During a rocket launch, the expulsion of gases creates a force that propels the rocket forward. This force causes a change in the momentum of the system, as the gases are expelled in one direction and the rocket moves in the opposite direction.

3. Sports: In sports like baseball or golf, when a ball is hit, the momentum of the ball changes due to the force applied by the player. The ball’s initial momentum is not conserved as it gains or loses momentum during its flight.

It is important to note that while momentum may not be conserved in these scenarios, other principles like energy conservation and Newton’s laws still apply. These examples highlight the complex nature of physical interactions and the need to consider various factors when analyzing momentum conservation violations.

In conclusion, while momentum conservation is a fundamental principle in physics, there are instances where it is not conserved. Factors such as external forces, system boundaries, and the presence of external influences can lead to changes in the total momentum of a system. Understanding these exceptions to momentum conservation is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of the laws of motion and the behavior of physical systems.

## Differentiating Between Angular and Linear Momentum

Angular momentum and linear momentum are both fundamental concepts in physics that describe the motion of objects. While they are related, there are key differences between the two. In this article, we will explore when angular momentum is conserved but not linear momentum, why angular momentum is not always conserved, and how linear momentum can be violated.

### When is Angular Momentum Conserved but not Linear Momentum?

In certain scenarios, angular momentum can be conserved while linear momentum is not. This occurs when there are external forces acting on a system, causing a change in linear momentum. However, if these external forces do not exert a torque on the system, the angular momentum can remain constant.

To understand this concept, let’s consider a spinning top. When a spinning top is rotating, it possesses angular momentum due to its rotational motion. If we apply an external force to the top, such as pushing it sideways, the linear momentum of the top will change. However, if the force does not cause a torque, the angular momentum of the top will remain conserved.

### Why is Angular Momentum not Conserved?

Angular momentum is not always conserved due to various factors. One reason is the presence of external torques acting on a system. These torques can arise from frictional forces, gravitational forces, or other physical interactions. When external torques are present, the angular momentum of a system can change.

For example, consider a spinning figure skater. As the skater performs various moves, such as extending their arms or bringing them closer to their body, the distribution of mass changes. This alters the moment of inertia, which affects the angular momentum. Therefore, the angular momentum of the skater is not conserved.

### How is Linear Momentum not Conserved?

Linear momentum can be violated in certain collision scenarios. In an inelastic collision, where two objects collide and stick together, the total linear momentum before and after the collision is not conserved. This is because the objects become one combined mass and move with a different velocity than before the collision.

On the other hand, in an elastic collision, where two objects collide and bounce off each other, the total linear momentum is conserved. The objects separate after the collision and move with different velocities, but the total momentum remains the same.

It is important to note that both angular and linear momentum conservation laws apply to isolated systems. In non-isolated systems, external influences can cause violations of momentum conservation. These violations can occur due to forces acting on the system from outside or due to energy being transferred to or from the system.

In conclusion, while angular and linear momentum are related concepts, they have distinct characteristics. Angular momentum can be conserved even when linear momentum is not, and vice versa. Understanding these principles and their exceptions is crucial in various physics calculations and theoretical physics.

## Exploring Specific Scenarios

### Why is Momentum not Conserved in a Falling Ball?

When we talk about momentum conservation, we usually assume that it holds true in all scenarios. However, there are certain situations where momentum is not conserved. One such scenario is the falling ball.

In the case of a falling ball, the momentum of the ball is not conserved because there is an external force acting on it – the force of gravity. As the ball falls, it experiences a gravitational force that causes it to accelerate towards the ground. This acceleration leads to a change in the ball‘s momentum, and therefore, momentum is not conserved in this scenario.

### What Type of Collision is Momentum not Conserved?

In the realm of collisions, there are two main types: elastic and inelastic collisions. In an elastic collision, both momentum and kinetic energy are conserved. However, in an inelastic collision, momentum is conserved, but kinetic energy is not.

So, to answer the question, momentum is not conserved in an inelastic collision. In this type of collision, the objects involved stick together or deform upon impact, resulting in a loss of kinetic energy. Despite this loss of energy, momentum is still conserved because the total momentum before and after the collision remains the same.

### When is Momentum Conserved but not Kinetic Energy?

While momentum and kinetic energy are often conserved together, there are scenarios where momentum is conserved, but kinetic energy is not. One such scenario is when external forces are present in the system.

In the presence of external forces, such as frictional forces or gravitational forces, the total mechanical energy of the system may not be conserved. However, momentum is still conserved because it depends solely on the motion of the objects involved and is not affected by external influences.

It’s important to note that momentum conservation holds true as long as there is no net force acting on the system. In other words, if the system is isolated and there are no external forces, both momentum and kinetic energy will be conserved.

To summarize, while momentum conservation is a fundamental principle in physics, there are specific scenarios where it may not hold true. Understanding these exceptions and the factors that influence momentum conservation can help us analyze and interpret various collision scenarios in both theoretical physics and real-world applications.

## Debunking Misconceptions

### Is Momentum Always Conserved?

One common misconception in physics is that momentum is always conserved. While momentum conservation is a fundamental principle in physics, there are certain scenarios where it may not hold true. To understand this, let’s delve into the concept of momentum and its conservation.

Momentum is a property of an object in motion and is defined as the product of its mass and velocity. According to the principle of momentum conservation, the total momentum of a closed system remains constant if no external forces act on it. This means that in an isolated system, the total momentum before an event, such as a collision, is equal to the total momentum after the event.

However, there are situations where momentum conservation may not apply. One such scenario is when external forces are present. In the presence of external forces, the net force acting on the system can cause a change in momentum. This can occur, for example, when frictional forces or gravitational forces are involved.

### Why is Momentum Sometimes not Conserved?

In certain collision scenarios, momentum conservation may not hold true. Two types of collisions commonly studied in physics are inelastic collisions and elastic collisions.

In an inelastic collision, the objects involved stick together and move as a single unit after the collision. In this case, kinetic energy is not conserved, and some energy is lost in the form of heat or deformation. While momentum is still conserved, the total mechanical energy of the system is not conserved.

On the other hand, in an elastic collision, both momentum and kinetic energy are conserved. The objects involved bounce off each other without any loss of energy. These types of collisions are often idealized and do not account for real-world factors such as friction.

### Why isn’t Momentum Conserved?

Momentum conservation violations can occur when there are external influences or when the system is not isolated. In real-world scenarios, it is often challenging to have completely isolated systems, and various physical interactions can affect the conservation of momentum.

For example, if an external force is applied to a system, it can cause a change in momentum. Additionally, if there is a force imbalance within the system, momentum can be transferred to other objects or parts of the system.

It is important to note that while momentum conservation is a valuable principle in physics, it is not a universal law that applies in all situations. Understanding the specific conditions and factors at play is crucial in determining whether momentum is conserved or not.

In summary, the conservation of momentum is a fundamental concept in physics, but there are exceptions to its application. External forces, different types of collisions, and the presence of other physical interactions can all contribute to situations where momentum is not conserved. By considering these factors, we can gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of motion and energy conservation in various systems.

## Conclusion

In conclusion, momentum is not conserved in certain situations. One such situation is when external forces are acting on an object. These external forces can change the momentum of the object, causing it to be not conserved. Additionally, if there is a collision between two objects and the collision is not perfectly elastic, momentum may not be conserved. Inelastic collisions result in a loss of kinetic energy, which affects the conservation of momentum. Furthermore, if there is a system where momentum is transferred to the surroundings, such as in an explosion, momentum may not be conserved. Overall, it is important to consider the specific circumstances and factors involved to determine whether momentum is conserved or not.

## When is momentum not conserved? Is momentum a force?

The concept of momentum and its conservation is fundamental in physics. However, it is also important to understand momentum as a force and its role in various situations. To explore this intersection, it is relevant to consider the question of when momentum is not conserved and whether momentum itself can be considered a force. To dive deeper into the understanding of momentum as a force, you can refer to the article on Understanding momentum as a force. This article delves into the concept of momentum, its relationship with force, and provides insights into when momentum is conserved and when it may not be.

### 1. When is momentum not conserved in a system?

Momentum is not conserved in a system when there is an external force acting on it. This could be due to friction, gravity, or any other force that is not part of the system itself. In such cases, the total momentum of the system changes, violating the principle of momentum conservation.

### 2. Why is angular momentum not conserved?

Angular momentum is not conserved when there is an external torque acting on the system. This could be due to forces such as friction or gravity that create a rotational effect, leading to a change in angular momentum.

### 3. What happens when momentum is not conserved?

When momentum is not conserved in a system, it means there is a net external force acting on it. This results in an acceleration or deceleration of the system, causing a change in velocity and hence, momentum. This can significantly affect the outcome of physical interactions within the system.

### 4. When is linear momentum not conserved?

Linear momentum is not conserved when there is an external force acting on the system in a specific direction. This could be due to friction, gravity, or any other external influence that causes a change in the linear momentum of the system.

### 5. Why is momentum not conserved in an inelastic collision?

In an inelastic collision, momentum is not conserved because kinetic energy is not conserved. Some of the kinetic energy is converted into other forms of energy, such as heat or sound, which results in a change in momentum.

### 6. Is momentum ever not conserved?

Yes, momentum is not always conserved. It is not conserved when there are external forces acting on the system, such as friction or gravity. These forces can cause a change in momentum, violating the principle of momentum conservation.

### 7. When is momentum not conserved in a collision?

Momentum is not conserved in a collision when the collision is not perfectly elastic, or when external forces are acting on the system during the collision. These forces can cause a change in the total momentum of the system.

### 8. How do you know when momentum is not conserved?

You can determine whether momentum is conserved or not by calculating the total momentum before and after an event. If the total momentum changes, then momentum is not conserved. This usually indicates the presence of external forces.

### 9. What condition is momentum not conserved?

Momentum is not conserved when there is an imbalance of forces acting on the system. This could be due to external forces like friction or gravity, or due to internal forces within the system that are not perfectly balanced.

### 10. Why is momentum not conserved in real life?

In real-life scenarios, it’s rare to have a perfectly isolated system. External forces such as friction, air resistance, or gravity often act on the system, causing a change in momentum. Therefore, while momentum conservation is a fundamental principle in theoretical physics, it often does not hold in real-world situations due to these external influences.