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Momentum and impulse in the car

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sputnam14

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When you get in an accident in your car, have you ever wondered why the airbag goes off? This is to keep to more safe. As newtons stated, an object in motion will remain in motion until acted upon by an outside force. If you didn't have an airbag that outside force would either be the steering wheel or the windshield and both of those would hurt pretty bad. So what the airbag does is it allows for more time for you to stop completely. You hit the airbag and the resistance allows you to slow down instead of coming to a complete stop in one motion like you would if you hit the windshield. This keeps you more safe because more time allows the momentum to be lower and the impulse to be spread over a larger period of time. This means that with the airbag you take longer to stop, the force is spread over a longer period of time meaning less direct impact on you at once, and in turn you are safer.

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Terrific!  Can you think of other examples of safety devices which increase the time over which an impulse is applied to lessen the maximum force?

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