A collision occurs when two objects come in direct contact with each other. It is the event in which two or more bodies exert forces on each other in about a relatively short time. There are two types of collisions namely :

Elastic Collision

An elastic collision is one where there is no net loss in kinetic energy in the system due to the collision.

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Inelastic Collision

An inelastic collision is a type of collision where this is a loss of kinetic energy. The lost kinetic energy is transformed into thermal energy, sound energy, and material deformation.

What is an Elastic Collision?

When two bodies collide but there is no loss in the overall kinetic energy, it is called a perfectly elastic collision.

Elastic Collision Definition:

An elastic collision is a collision in which there is no net loss in kinetic energy in the system as a result of the collision. Both momentum and kinetic energy are conserved in an elastic collision.

Basically, in the case of collision, the kinetic energy before the collision and after the collision remains the same and is not converted to any other form of energy.

In an elastic collision, the kinetic energy before the collision and after the collision remains the same. It is not converted to other forms of energy.

It can be either one-dimensional or two-dimensional. In the real world, perfectly elastic collision is not possible because there is bound to be some conversion of energy, however small.

However, though there is no change in the linear momentum of the whole system, there is a change in the individual momenta of the involved components, which are equal and opposite in magnitude and cancel each other out and the initial energy is conserved.


Difference between Elastic and Inelastic Collision

Some key differences between inelastic and elastic collisions are given below in tabular format.


Elastic Collision

Inelastic Collision

The total kinetic energy is conserved.The total kinetic energy of the bodies at the beginning and the end of the collision is different.
Momentum is conserved.Momentum is conserved.
No conversion of energy takes place.Kinetic energy is changed into other energy such as sound or heat energy.
Highly unlikely in the real world as there is almost always a change in energy.This is the normal form of collision in the real world.
An example of this can be swinging balls or a spacecraft flying near a planet but not getting affected by its gravity in the end.An example of an inelastic collision can be the collision of two cars.

Applications of Elastic Collision

The collision time affects the amount of force that an object experiences during a collision. The greater the time over which the collision occurs, the smaller the force acting upon the object. Thus, to maximize the force experienced by an object during a collision, the collision time must be decreased.

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