We assume that the small block (henceforth, “block”) is negligibly small 1) so that we can speak about “its position” without ambiguity and 2) so that the transition to and from the inclined plane (henceforth, “wedge”) requires a negligible amount of time. We assume that system energy and horizontal momentum are conserved. (The vertical momentum of the system is obviously not conserved due to the action of unbalanced vertical forces.) We take velocities to be positive to the right. We ignore compressional energy. In practice that requires providing a small curved lip at the right edge of the wedge (as shown at right) to allow the block to slide smoothly onto and off of the wedge surface. This requirement becomes particularly obvious for wedge angles approaching 90°.

We would like first to know 1) the maximum height, h, above the floor that is reached by the block, 2) the...

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