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    Detailed Explanation to Kinetic Energy

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    Scenario: A neutron in a nuclear reactor makes an elastic head-on collision with the nucleus of a uranium atom initially at rest.

    (a) What fraction of the neutron's kinetic energy is transferred to the uranium nucleus? (The mass of the uranium nucleus is about 238 times the mass of the neutron.)

    (b) If the initial kinetic energy of the neutron is 1.6 10-13 J, find its final kinetic energy and the kinetic energy of the uranium nucleus after the collision.
    - J (neutron)
    - J (carbon nucleus)

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    Solution Preview

    Ok, so this is an elastic collision so we know the two particles are going to have a final velocity and the directions of the final velocities are going to be opposite one another from our own practical experiences with billiards.

    We know the initial system momentum will match the final system momentum, and we know the initial system kinetic energy will match the final system kinetic energy.

    - Please note Vx is a velocity vector for the xth particle. Pi is a momentum vector for the initial neutron. P1 is the momentum vector for the final neutron and P2 is the ...

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