A ballistic pendulum

A ballistic pendulum is a device that could be used by a crime-scene investigator to determine the muzzle velocity of a gun. The bullet comes out of the gun at high speed, and embeds itself into a target that is hanging from a string. This causes the target (with the bullet embedded) to swing back and forth, pendulum style. By knowing the maximum height that the target reaches, the speed of the bullet can be determined.

In this simulation, the speed of the bullet is known (it is set by one of the sliders). Here, determine the maximum height reached by the target in its swing, and then find the increase in the gravitational potential energy of the Earth-target-ball system. Compare this to the kinetic energy of the bullet before the collision. If these two energies are different, explain any differences. Note that the simulation uses g = 9.8 N/kg.

Simulation written by Andrew Duffy, and first posted on 8-27-2018.

Creative Commons License
This work by Andrew Duffy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
This simulation can be found in the collection at http://physics.bu.edu/~duffy/classroom.html.

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