How does mass affect the horizontal velocity and distance and drop time of a projectile?

A ball is released at the top of an inclined plane, rolls down the plane onto an elevated horizontal surface, and rolls straight forward until it falls from the elevated surface to the ground. In another experiment, a ball with similar size, but double the mass follows the same path.

  1. How would this affect the horizontal velocity of the ball off the end of the table?
  2. How would it affect the drop time of the ball?
  3. How would it affect the distance the ball flies?

1 Answer
Mar 23, 2018

Mass does not affect either velocity, time, or distance.


When an object is dropped from a tower, mass does not affect final velocity or time. Legends say that Galileo demonstrated this at the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

When writing equations of motion for a dropped object, mass is in the equations in 2 places and they cancel out. That is basically the reason that mass does not affect the results of analysis of a projectile.

(In answering your question, you are obviously meant to ignore air resistance. Galileo's experiment also ignored air resistance.)

I hope this helps,