Ballistic pendulum experiment

The ballistic pendulum experiment is a classic physics demonstration that is used to measure the velocity of a projectile, such as a bullet or a ball. In this experiment, a heavy pendulum is suspended from a fixed point and a target is placed in front of it. When a projectile is fired at the target, it strikes the target and causes it to move along with the bullet Digital Content. The pendulum swings in response to the impact and the height of the pendulum swing can be used to calculate the velocity of the bullet.

To perform the ballistic pendulum experiment, you will need:

  • A pendulum, usually made of a heavy weight suspended from a string or rod
  • A target, such as a wooden block or a metal plate
  • A projectile, such as a bullet or a ball
  • A measuring tape or ruler
  • A stopwatch or a timer

Here are the steps to perform the experiment:

  • Set up the pendulum and target in a secure location, such as a laboratory or a shooting range.
  • Measure the mass of the pendulum and the length of the string or rod that it is suspended from.
  • Measure the height of the pendulum at its resting position, before it is set in motion.
  • Fire the projectile at the target and observe the movement of the pendulum.
  • Use a stopwatch or timer to measure the time it takes for the pendulum to return to its original height, or to a height that is close to its original height.
  • Use the formula for the velocity of the bullet and the measurements from steps 2-5 to calculate the velocity of the projectile.
  • Repeat the experiment several times to obtain more accurate results and to verify the consistency of the results.

The ballistic pendulum experiment is a great way to demonstrate the principle of conservation of energy and to give students hands-on experience with measuring the velocity of a projectile. However, it is important to follow all safety precautions and to ensure that the experiment is performed in a controlled and secure environment.