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Name: Bea
Status: educator
Grade: 6-8
Location: GA
Country: N/A
Date: 8/17/2005


Question:
If a ball is rolling down a slanted ramp and the sides of the ramp expand and come back to the original or more narrow width how will this affect the speed or force of the ball?


Replies:
Bea,

So long as the ball does not make contact with the edge of the ramp, the ball will not "know" how wide the ramp is. If the ramp has a constant slant to it, width will not matter in most situations.

If the ball does come in contact with the edge, this can cause a little sideways motion. It can also affect whether the ball slips. If the ball is extremely close to the edge, air currents within the room may affect the motion of the ball. A rigid ball of significant mass will be less affected by these things than will a rubber ball or a ball with very little weight.

When using a ramp that narrows, watch out for changes in the smoothness of the ramp. Irregularities often occur near edges. As the ramp narrows, irregularities can become closer to the ball's path.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Physics Instructor
Illinois Central College



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