Conceptual Understanding in Introductory Physics XIII: Differential Equations

This question may very well be beyond the scope of a traditional introductory calculus-based physics course, but given the recent trend in early introduction to computational physics with curricula like Matter & Interactions it may be within the scope of a reformed course.

In classical physics, finding a particle’s trajectory under the influence of a force requires solving a second order differential equation. This second order differential equation relates the particle’s acceleration to the force it experiences. Explain how using the particle’s momentum, rather than acceleration, changes the process of solving for the particle’s trajectory. Be sure to give at least one advantage to using momentum and at least one disadvantage to using momentum.

The question may not be clearly worded so I invite feedback. Go!


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