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Name:  Brian
Status:  student
Age:  16
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

Why does a can of cranberry sauce roll so far?

A can of cranberry sauce rolls so far because it is thick and heavy. There are two physical quantities of concern here: momentum and angular momentum. When you push the can, you give it momentum. By making the can roll, you also give it angular momentum. The thickness of the sauce makes the cranberry sauce rotate with the can itself.

Both quantities are proportional to mass and speed. The can stops after both momentum and angular momentum have been removed. Because a rolling object does not slide along the table, friction cannot take away the momentum or angular momentum. Only air molecules can do this. The more mass and velocity an object has, the more time is required for the momentum to be drained. [A more extreme example is a bowling ball vs. a balloon. If both are moving at the same speed, it is much more difficult to stop the bowling ball because of its much greater mass.]

Kenneth Mellendorf

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