Conceptual Physics (12th Edition)

Published by Addison-Wesley
ISBN 10: 0321909100
ISBN 13: 978-0-32190-910-7

Chapter 6 - Think and Explain: 74

Answer

Momentum is conserved when no external forces act on a system. If the apple alone is our system, then momentum is not conserved when it falls and speeds up. We must consider the whole Earth and the apple as our larger system. Then, the change of momentum of the apple (downward impulse) is canceled by an equal and opposite change of momentum of the Earth (an upward impulse that results from the apple pulling up on the Earth). The momentum of the larger system is conserved.
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