The law of conservation of energy, which states that the amount of energy in a system is constant. For questions about Earth's environment, see the climate-science tag instead.

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Where does the extra kinetic energy come from in a gravitational slingshot?

I read in this answer in this site that the KE a free-falling ball acquires is not originated by the attracting body but that energy was actually stored in the ball when it had been lifted to the ...
61
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10answers
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What makes running so much less energy-efficient than bicycling?

Most people can ride 10 km on their bike. However, running 10 km is a lot harder to do. Why? According to the law of conservation of energy, bicycling should be more intensive because you have to ...
46
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12answers
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What happens to the energy when waves perfectly cancel each other?

What happens to the energy when waves perfectly cancel each other (destructive interference)? It appears that the energy "disappear" but the law of conservation of energy states that it can't be ...
41
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4answers
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If I'm floating in space and I turn on a flashlight, will I accelerate?

Photons have no mass but they can push things, as evidenced by laser propulsion. Can photons push the source which is emitting them? If yes, will a more intense flashlight accelerate me more? Does ...
37
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7answers
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Why do we need to know the shape of the slide to find the time to slide down it?

In my physics book after this solved example: A child of mass $m$ is initially at rest on top of a water slide at height h = 8.5m above the bottom of the slide. Assuming that the slide is ...
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6answers
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Why are rockets so big?

I'm curious why rockets are so big in their size. Since both the gravitational potential one need to overcome in order to put thing into orbit, and the chemical energy burned from the fuel, are ...
32
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12answers
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Where does the extra force generated by a lever come from?

Given an object being pulled down to earth by a force of 1000 lb: If a machine were to lift it off the ground for me, and I grabbed on to the rope before it was released, there is no way in the world ...
31
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3answers
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When water climbs up a piece of paper, where is the energy coming from?

Take a glass of water and piece of toilet paper. If you keep the paper vertical, and touch the surface of the water with the tip of the paper, you can see the water being absorbed and climbing up the ...
29
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4answers
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Why can't energy be created or destroyed?

My physics instructor told the class, when lecturing about energy, that it can't be created or destroyed. Why is that? Is there a theory or scientific evidence that proves his statement true or ...
28
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6answers
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Total energy of the Universe

In popular science books and articles, I keep running into the claim that the total energy of the Universe is zero, "because the positive energy of matter is cancelled out by the negative energy of ...
26
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3answers
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How does light speed up after coming out of a glass slab?

As I learned today in School, my teacher told me that when light enters a Glass Slab it slows down due to the change in density and it speeds up as it goes out of the Glass Slab. This causes a lateral ...
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16answers
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Can a car get better mileage driving over hills?

Two towns are at the same elevation and are connected by two roads of the same length. One road is flat, the other road goes up and down some hills. Will an automobile always get the best mileage ...
21
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6answers
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Newton's cradle

Why, when one releases 2 balls in Newton's cradle, two balls on the opposite side bounce out at approximately the same speed as the 1st pair, rather than one ball at higher speed, or 3 balls at lower ...
20
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2answers
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Why can't I do this to get infinite energy?

I know that I cannot do this because of conservation of energy, so I am looking for an answer as to why this will not work. So by my understanding of Einstein's whole famous $E=mc^2$ thing it is ...
19
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5answers
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If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?

If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into? When the big bang happened where did it occur? When the big bang happened how did it occur? Where did the energy come from? Energy can not ...
17
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7answers
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Why can't we store light in the form of light?

We can store cold (ice), heat (i.e. hot water bag) and electrical charge (batteries). We can even "store" a magnetic field in a magnet. We can convert light into energy and then, if we want, back to ...
17
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5answers
842 views

Conservation of Mathematical Constraints when deriving Energy and Momentum from $F=ma$

Background: Starting from $F = ma$, integrating with respect to time, and using basic calc, one can derive $\int Fdt = m (v_f - v_i)$ Starting from $F = ma$, integrating with respect to distance, ...
16
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4answers
826 views

Redshifting of Light and the expansion of the universe

So I have learned in class that light can get red-shifted as it travels through space. As I understand it, space itself expands and stretches out the wavelength of the light. This results in the light ...
16
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2answers
871 views

If energy is only defined up to a constant, can we really claim that ground state energy has an absolute value?

Sorry if this is really naive, but we learned in Newtonian physics that the total energy of a system is only defined up to an additive constant, since you can always add a constant to the potential ...
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3answers
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How does rest mass become energy?

I know that there's a difference between relativistic rest mass. Relativistic mass is "acquired" when an object is moving at speeds comparable to the speed of light.Rest mass is the inherent mass that ...
15
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2answers
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Redshifted Photon Energy

A photon emitted from a receding source (Doppler redshift) has less energy when detected at an observer's location. Please explain the energy loss from the perspective of energy conservation.
14
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4answers
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Popular depictions of electromagnetic wave: is there an error?

Here are some depictions of electromagnetic wave, similar to the depictions in other places: Isn't there an error? It is logical to presume that the electric field should have maximum when ...
14
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4answers
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Is energy really conserved?

In high school I was taught energy was conserved. Then I learned that nuclear reactions allow energy to be converted into mass. Then I also heard that apparently energy can spontaneously appear in ...
14
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3answers
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Energy conservation in General Relativity

I understand that energy conservation is not a rule in general relativity, but I'd like to know under what circumstances it can still be possible. In other words, when is it possible to associate a ...
14
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3answers
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Is the normal force a conservative force?

Most of the time the normal force doesn't do any work because it's perpendicular to the direction of motion but if it does do work, would it be conservative or non-conservative? For example, consider ...
14
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4answers
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Energy conservation and interference

I have a problem with energy conservation in case of interfering waves. Imagine two harmonic waves with amplitudes $A$. They both carry energy that is proportional to $A^2$, so the total energy is ...
14
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2answers
414 views

Do accelerated charges radiate or not?

This questions has been asked all over the net (here included) but I can't find a satisfactory answer or discussion. Some say it does not radiate if the acceleration is caused by a uniform gravity ...
13
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2answers
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Is kinetic energy a relative quantity? Will it make inconsistent equations when applying it to the conservation of energy equations?

If the velocity is a relative quantity, will it make inconsistent equations when applying it to the conservation of energy equations? For example: In the train moving at $V$ relative to ground, ...
13
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4answers
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Is there a deep reason why springs combine like capacitors?

I was solving a practice Physics GRE and there was a question about springs connected in series and parallel. I was too lazy to derive the way the spring constants add in each case. But I knew how ...
13
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6answers
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Is the energy conserved in a moving frame of reference?

Consider this situation: When the box is at the bottom of the frictionless incline, it will have a velocity of $v_f$. The person is an inertial frame of reference that moves at a constant ...
13
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1answer
320 views

As the universe expands, the wavelengths of photons are stretched, and energy is lost. What about electrons?

Will electrons, and other particles, also loose energy as they travel through the cosmos? They have wavelengths. Do they get "stretched"? My guess is that the EM force, somehow, counteracts this ...
12
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6answers
1k views

Does the Banach-Tarski paradox contradict our understanding of nature?

Since the Banach-Tarski paradox makes a statement about domains defined in terms of real numbers, it would appear to invalidate statements about nature that we derived by applying real analysis. My ...
12
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5answers
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Where do magnets get the energy to repel?

If I separate two magnets whose opposite poles are facing, I am adding energy. If I let go of the magnets, then presumably the energy that I added is used to move the magnets together again. However, ...
12
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5answers
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Is the total energy of the universe constant?

If total energy is conserved just transformed and never newly created, is there a sum of all energies that is constant? Why is it probably not that easy?
12
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2answers
960 views

Compressed Spring Dissolving in Acid

This is just an interesting question a friend's uncle asked me that I was somewhat annoyed I couldn't answer. When a material dissolves in acid there is a chemical process that causes the changes in ...
12
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5answers
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Does the amount of gravitational potential energy in the universe increase as it expands?

It seems to me that extra gravitational potential energy is created as the universe expands and the distance between massive objects such as galaxy clusters increases; this implies that energy is not ...
11
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9answers
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Is it possible all matter in the universe emerges from nothing?

If the Universe is flat and the total energy of the universe can be zero (we don't know if it is, but many theorists support the idea, i.e. at BB initial conditions: t = 0, V = 0, E = 0) then is it ...
10
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2answers
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Calculating the force required to lift a weight with a screw

I am trying to learn physics by myself as I do not have a good teacher at school. I've been reading Feynman Lectures on Physics and I can't figure out how he found out this number. Here is an excerpt ...
10
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5answers
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What happens to light after it enters an eye

What happens to the light [energy] after it enters an eye and hits the rods and cones? I presume the energy becomes electrical, and it must be near 100% perfect, else our eyes would heat up? Or am I ...
10
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2answers
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What prevents this magnetic perpetuum mobile from working?

As a child, I imagined this device, which may seem to rotate indefinitely. I have two questions. Is this perpetual motion machine already known? If it is, could you please give some references? What ...
10
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3answers
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Where does the electricity, generated by a solar panel, go if you don't use the electricity?

I'm sorry if this question is too trivial for this Q&A forum. I am a layman when it comes to physics (though I did cover the high-school physics courses). I was wondering what happens to the ...
10
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4answers
277 views

What kind of energy does superfluidity use?

Liquid helium (and other similar fluids) can "climb up" the walls of their containers. Who does the work in this case, and what kind of energy does it use? I'm sure we can't make a perpetuum mobile ...
9
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2answers
762 views

When they say that the universe cooled after the big bang, where did the heat go?

Layman here, Stumbling through some physics stack posts and started reading the Wikipedia for the chronology of the big bang. In it, it states The very earliest universe was so hot, or energetic, ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Have red shifted photons lost energy and where did it go? [duplicate]

I think the title says it. Did expansion of the universe steal the energy somehow?
9
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1answer
244 views

How can a planet gravitationally capture objects?

I would expect that any asteroid or other object originating far away but passing near a planet would pick up speed and energy as it approaches, but unless it comes into contact with the atmosphere ...
9
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0answers
675 views

Would Portal-style portals transmit gravity? [closed]

In the video game Portal, there are often puzzles which must be solved by gaining a large amount of momentum. Typically, this is accomplished by putting one portal on the ground and another directly ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Does a cooling mass lose mass as it radiates?

Assume we have a red hot cannonball in space. It starts off with mass M at 1000K. Later it has cooled by radiation to 100K. Has the mass decreased?
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4answers
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What is the relationship between kinetic energy and momentum?

I can't seem to figure out the relationship between $E_k$ and $p$ or $F$. I understand that the units are pretty different. But for example: A bullet with a mass of 10.0g is moving at the speed of ...
8
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4answers
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Potential energy in $E_f^2=(mc^2)^2+(pc)^2$?

Let's consider $$E_f^2=(mc^2)^2+(pc)^2$$ where the $mc^2$ is the rest energy due to the rest mass -- in Finnish "lepomassa". $$ \sqrt{(mc^2)^2+(pc)^2} - mc^2~=~(\gamma-1)mc^2$$ is the kinetic ...
8
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4answers
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On what basis do we trust Conservation of Energy?

I'm happy to accept and use conservation of energy when I'm solving problems at Uni, but I'm curious about it to. For all of my adult life, and most of my childhood I've been told this law must hold ...