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Physics an event in which two or more bodies or particles come together with a resulting change of direction and, normally, energy

Collision (physics)

Any interaction between particles, aggregates of particles, or rigid bodies in which they come near enough to exert a mutual influence, generally with exchange of energy. The term collision, as used in physics, does not necessarily imply actual contact.

In classical mechanics, collision problems are concerned with the relation of the magnitudes and directions of the velocities of colliding bodies after collision to the velocity vectors of the bodies before collision. When the only forces on the colliding bodies are those exerted by the bodies themselves, the principle of conservation of momentum states that the total momentum of the system is unchanged in the collision process. This result is particularly useful when the forces between the colliding bodies act only during the instant of collision. The velocities can then change only during the collision process, which takes place in a short time interval. Under these conditions the forces can be treated as impulsive forces, the effects of which can be expressed in terms of an experimental parameter known as the coefficient of restitution. See Conservation of momentum, Impact

The study of collisions of molecules, atoms, and nuclear particles is an important field of physics. Here the object is usually to obtain information about the forces acting between the particles. The velocities of the particles are measured before and after collision. Although quantum mechanics instead of classical mechanics should be used to describe the motion of the particles, many of the conclusions of classical collision theory are valid. See Scattering experiments (atoms and molecules), Scattering experiments (nuclei)

Collisions can be classed as elastic and inelastic. In an elastic collision, mechanical energy is conserved; that is, the total kinetic energy of the system of particles after collision equals the total kinetic energy before collision. For inelastic collisions, however, the total kinetic energy after collision is different from the initial total kinetic energy.

In classical mechanics the total mechanical energy after an inelastic collision is ordinarily less than the initial total mechanical energy, and the mechanical energy which is lost is converted into heat. However, an inelastic collision in which the total energy after collision is greater than the initial total energy sometimes can occur in classical mechanics. For example, a collision can cause an explosion which converts chemical energy into mechanical energy. In molecular, atomic, and nuclear systems, which are governed by quantum mechanics, the energy levels of the particles can be changed during collisions. Thus these inelastic collisions can involve either a gain or a loss in mechanical energy.


An interaction resulting from the close approach of two or more bodies, particles, or systems of particles, and confined to a relatively short time interval during which the motion of at least one of the particles or systems changes abruptly.


When two hosts transmit on a network at once causing their packets to corrupt each other.

See collision detection.


References in periodicals archive ?
The accuracy of using test vehicle and pole instrumentation to determine closing speed or BEV in oblique lateral pole impacts was assessed by calculating the absorbed energy due to vehicle deformation at maximum crush.
Closing speed and force should not be viewed subjectively.
because of yesterday's trading sluggish due to the holiday pass without proper activity, so today, we expect it to resume growth and closing speed.
Connor has tremendous closing speed in short space," Harvard coach Tim Murphy said.
Consider that a closing speed of 10 km/s implies that 1 second prior to impact, the target is still 10 km away.
Parkview junior cornerback Eric Nathaniel should supply plenty of closing speed this fall after winning the 400 meters at the Meet of Champs with a time of 47.
Mr Cartwright said: "Only when the car pulled out he slammed on the brakes, by then the closing speed towards the door of that car was massive, unsurvivable.
Like Rewilding, he is bred to win a St Leger, but he has not yet shown Rewilding's superb closing speed.
O'Reilly said the goal was to destroy the target over the north-central Pacific when the missiles had a combined closing speed of more than 17,000 miles per hour (27,000 kph).
Taking the worst case of both boats travelling towards each other, the closing speed would give around one-and-half minutes in the limited visibility for manoeuvres - which is quite a long time on water and ample time for such small vessels to avoid a collision.
The rapid closing speed was too much for Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie and his bid for a third gold after triumphs in 1996 and 2000 fell short as he fell back to sixth in the final 200 metres.