In two dimensions, the total vector momentum is still conserved. That means that each component of momentum remains the same before and after the encounter.
When several objects collide or a single object explodes, the individual pieces may fly all over the place. However, if one considers all the pieces as a whole, via the total mass and motion of the center of mass, then Newton's Laws are simple and easy to solve again.
What about extended objects? Some of the nice rules you've learned so far in the class, such as
" ... in projectile motion, the x-velocity remains constant while the y-velocity changes linearly with time. The trajectory of an object thus traces a parabolic curve ...."
don't seem to work if you pick any arbitrary part of an extended body. For example, if I toss a baseball bat up into the air, a movie might show this:
But how can we find the center of mass of an extended object?
Copyright © Michael Richmond. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.