Magic mass ratios of complete energy-momentum transfer in one-dimensional elastic three-body collisions

June Haak Ee, Jungil Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We consider the one-dimensional scattering of two identical blocks of mass M that exchange energy and momentum via elastic collisions with an intermediary ball of mass m=αM. Initially, one block is incident upon the ball with the other block at rest. For α<1, the three objects will make multiple collisions with one another. In our analysis, we construct a Euclidean vector Vn whose components are proportional to the velocities of the objects. Energy-momentum conservation then requires a covariant recurrence relation for Vn that transforms like a pure rotation in three dimensions. The analytic solutions of the terminal velocities result in a remarkable prediction for values of α, in cases where the initial energy and momentum of the incident block are completely transferred to the scattered block. We call these values for α "magic mass ratios. "

Original languageEnglish
Article number1.4897162
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Volume83
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Sep 22

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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