Two cars traveling at 60 mph collide head on. Another car crashes into a wall at 60 mph. Which one has more damage?
Asked by: Jayson Durecka
When a car crashes, you can picture its kinetic energy
(energy associated with his movement) being transferred
into energy that will bend metal, break plastic and also
creating sound waves and heat.
If a car hits a wall, part of this kinetic energy will be
transferred into damaging the car & also part of it
into damaging the wall.
In the first case the two (2) cars will absorb all
the energy and if the cars are the same, they will both
absorb half of the kinetic energy (say E1=E2).
In the second case, the same energy E1 will now be
distributed between the car and the wall, which would
lead to a less damaged car.
Answered by: C. Gilles Lalancette, M.Sc. Physics
'The strength and weakness of physicists is that we believe in what we can measure. And if we can't measure it, then we say it probably doesn't exist. And that closes us off to an enormous amount of phenomena that we may not be able to measure because they only happened once. For example, the Big Bang. ... That's one reason why they scoffed at higher dimensions for so many years. Now we realize that there's no alternative... '