When a basketball is dropped, it does not bounce back to its original height. What happened to the "missing" energy?

Expert Answers

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The principle reason is that when the basketball interacts with the air as it moves up and down, and when it strikes the floor, frictional forces act on the ball. The energy is lost as heat in the air, floor, and ball. The direction of the force is always opposing the motion of the ball, therefore it always acts to slow the ball down. Furthermore, the compression and relaxation of the ball is not perfectly elastic, and some energy is given off as heat in the chemical bonds that hold the ball together. The energy is not "missing"; it is conserved as heat.


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