What is the difference between elastic and inelastic collisions?  

Expert Answers
justaguide eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A perfectly elastic collision occurs between objects when the collision only alters the direction and velocity of their motion. There is no change in the shape, size, temperature or any such physical quantity due to the collision. Perfectly elastic collisions are very rare. Collisions between sub-atomic particles are the closest we come to a perfectly elastic collision. In an elastic collision the total kinetic energy as well as the total momentum is conserved.

In inelastic collision, total momentum is conserved but the total kinetic energy is not, as a part of the initial kinetic energy is required by the colliding objects when they are deformed, or they stick to each other. Most collisions we encounter in our daily lives are inelastic in nature; if not totally, at least to a small extent

nidhiagarwal | Student

when there is an elastic collision, both kinetic energy and total momentum are conserved.

whereas, in the case of inelastic collisions, total momentum is conserved but the kinetic energy is not conserved.

crapilostmycar | Student

Elastic is when they can bounce of each other and not become one or break. inelastic is when they coliide they break of become one.