Free course

Collisions and conservation laws

Free statement of participation on completion

This free course, Collisions and conservation laws, begins by explaining elastic and inelastic collisions and then goes on to show how collisions may be quantified using the conservation of linear momentum and of kinetic energy. Interactive animations are used to illustrate this behaviour and video examples discuss collisions in the world around us. Finally, this course looks at how the understanding of collisions must be modified when the speeds involved are close to the speed of light, using special relativity.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand the meaning of all the newly defined (emboldened) terms introduced
  • describe the essential features of elastic and inelastic collisions, and give examples of each
  • use the law of conservation of momentum, and (when appropriate) the law of conservation of kinetic energy, to solve a variety of simple collision problems.