Energy is a quantity which gives an overview of the amount of work doable by the system.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

34
votes
8answers
25k views

If photons have no mass, how can they have momentum?

As an explanation of why a large gravitational field (such as a black hole) can bend light, I have heard that light has momentum. This is given as a solution to the problem of only massive objects ...
51
votes
15answers
12k views

Why does kinetic energy increase quadratically, not linearly, with speed?

As Wikipedia says: [...] the kinetic energy of a non-rotating object of mass $m$ traveling at a speed $v$ is $mv^2/2$. Why does this not increase linearly with speed? Why does it take so much ...
35
votes
8answers
6k views

Why does holding something up cost energy while no work is being done?

I read the definition of work as $$W ~=~ \vec{F} \cdot \vec{d}$$ $$\text{ Work = (Force) $\cdot$ (Distance)}.$$ If a book is there on the table, no work is done as no distance is covered. If I ...
7
votes
3answers
849 views

Explain how (or if) a box full of photons would weigh more due to massless photons

I understand that mass-energy equivalence is often misinterpreted as saying that mass can be converted into energy and vice versa. The reality is that energy is always manifested as mass in some ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

When is the Hamiltonian of a system not equal to its total energy?

I thought the Hamiltonian was always equal to the total energy of a system but have read that this isn't always true. Is there an example of this and does the Hamiltonian have a physical ...
36
votes
7answers
11k views

What Is Energy? Where did it come from?

The simplistic undergrad explanation aside. I've never really understood what energy really is. I've been told that it's something when converted from one kind of something to another kind does some ...
9
votes
7answers
1k views

Can energy be taken out of the QFT vacuum?

There have been recent questions about the vacuum. In my simplified knowledge the vacuum is like a ground state energy level, and also that there might even exist other lower energy levels than the ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Black holes and positive/negative-energy particles

I was reading Brian Greene's "Hidden Reality" and came to the part about Hawking Radiation. Quantum jitters that occur near the event horizon of a black hole, which create both positive-energy ...
35
votes
10answers
7k views

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 ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Does $E = mc^2$ apply to photons?

Photons are massless, but if $m = 0$ and $E = mc^2$ then $E = 0c^2 = 0$. This would say that photons have no energy, which is not true. However, given the formula $E = ℎf$, a photon does have energy ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

Why is there a $\frac 1 2$ in $\frac 1 2 mv^2$?

For elastic collisions of n particles, we know that momentum in the three orthogonal directions are independently conserved:$$ \frac{d}{dt}\sum\limits_i^n m_iv_{ij} =0,\quad j=1,2,3$$ From this, it ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

Amplitude of an electromagnetic wave containing a single photon

Given a light pulse in vacuum containing a single photon with an energy $E=h\nu$, what is the peak value of the electric / magnetic field?
-2
votes
3answers
762 views

Anti-laser: How sure we are that energy is transported?

Reading this PE question can-we-transport-energy-over-infinite-distances-through-vacuum-using-light, a related question arises naturally: Is energy transported (by light)? -- (I did believed in this ...
28
votes
6answers
1k views

What keeps mass from turning into energy?

I understand the energy and mass can change back and forth according to Einstein. It is fluid; it can go from one to the other. So, what keeps mass from just turning into energy? Is there some force ...
29
votes
7answers
7k views

Is a hard drive heavier when it is full?

Browsing Quora, I saw the following question with contradicting answers. For the highest voted answer: The bits are represented by certain orientations of magnetic fields which shouldn't have ...
22
votes
4answers
7k views

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 ...
15
votes
6answers
12k views

Is two cars colliding at 50mph the same as one car colliding into a wall at 100 mph?

I was watching a youtube video the other day where an economist said that he challenged his physics professor on this question back when he was in school. His professor said each scenario is the same, ...
2
votes
5answers
2k views

Is the law of conservation of energy still valid?

Is the law of conservation of energy still valid or have there been experiments showing that energy could be created or lost?
3
votes
4answers
5k views

What is pure energy in matter antimatter annihilation?

I used to read the term "pure energy" in the context of matter antimatter annihilation, are them photons? is it other form of heat, are particles with mass ? What does it refer to? thanks
16
votes
2answers
753 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
227 views

What is the percentage of useful energy do we get from matter-antimatter annihilation?

This is a theoretical question since we haven't made enough antimatter to try it in reality of course. But I am asking about the physics part in this. Also, by "useful energy" I mean the energy we ...
1
vote
1answer
164 views

Is light affect by gravity? Why?

I would like to know if light is affected by gravity, also, I would like to know what is the more correct for the definition of gravity: A force that attracts bodies with mass or force that attracts ...
22
votes
5answers
3k views

Do photons gain mass when they travel through glass?

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that photons slow down when travelling through glass. Does this mean they gain mass? Otherwise, what happens to extra kinetic energy? I understand now ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Maxwell's Demon Constant (Information-Energy equivalence)

New Scientist article: Summon a 'demon' to turn information into energy The speed of light c converts between space and time and also appears in e=mc^2. Maxwell's Demon can turn information supplied ...
7
votes
4answers
5k views

Why is energy in a wave proportional to amplitude squared

I'm a mathematics student trying to grasp some basics about wave propagation. A sentence I find very often in introductive physics textbooks is the following: In a wave, energy is proportional to ...
4
votes
3answers
984 views

How much of the energy from 1 megaton H Bomb explosion could we capture to do useful work?

The world is full of nuclear warheads being stockpiled. Controlled fusion power seems a long way away. Could we put these warheads to better use by exploding them in a controlled way and capturing ...
3
votes
6answers
8k views

Is fire matter or energy?

I wanted to know that if FIRE is Matter or Energy. I know that both are inter-convertible. but that doesn't mean there is interconversion taking place just like nuclear fusion or fission. If it is ...
1
vote
4answers
218 views

Conversion of mass and energy

First of all I am not a scientist and all these doubts are coming from my curiosity. When Googling about Einstein's $E = mc^2$. I understand that mass and energy are convertible. What it exactly ...
6
votes
2answers
659 views

Photon energy - momentum in matter

$E = h\nu$ and $P = h\nu/c$ in vacuum. If a photon enters water, it's frequency $\nu$ doesn't change. What are its energy and momentum : $h\nu$ ? and $h\nu/c$ ? Since part of it's energy and momentum ...
5
votes
3answers
406 views

Cosmic ray hazards

The Pierre Auger Observatory site mentions the detection of a 3E20 eV (48 J) cosmic ray whose energy, well above the GZK cutoff, was based on an analysis of its atmospheric shower. This was equivalent ...
19
votes
9answers
6k views

Why is torque not measured in Joules?

Recently, I was doing my homework and I found out that Torque can be calculated using $\tau = rF$. This means the units of torque are Newton meters. Energy is also measured in Newton meters which are ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

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?
4
votes
2answers
217 views

Dark Energy saving the world

Ok, my understanding of physics is still limited, hoping to change that in the following years, but I have a question. Dark energy is what provokes the expansion of the universe, so, in theory, it ...
3
votes
1answer
422 views

Is there something like the Poynting vector for hydraulic circuits?

The Poynting vector is a representation of the energy flux in electromagnetics, showing the amount and direction of power flow at different points in space. In electric circuits, the energy is not ...
3
votes
2answers
968 views

Is the E-cat for real?

Does this thing really do what they say? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhvD4KuAEmo If it does, it looks like this will probably be the biggest breaktrough in science ever :)
3
votes
2answers
8k views

Difference between momentum and kinetic energy

From a mathematical point of view it seems to be clear what's the difference between momentum and $mv$ and kinetic energy $\frac{1}{2} m v^2$. Now my problem is the following: Suppose you want to ...
2
votes
1answer
118 views

Fusion vs. Fission

I understand why fission generates large amounts of energy when the nucleus is split, but then why does fusion generate such large amounts of energy. If fission releases energy when some mass is lost ...
1
vote
1answer
218 views

Specific electron energy gap values $E_{i+1}-E_i$ vs. photons with arbitrary energy $\hbar \omega$

The energy levels of electrons in an atom are quantized $E_i$. A photon of a specific momentum $\vec p$ and energy $$\omega=(E_{i+1}-E_i)/\hbar$$ hits an atom and gets absorbed. Okay now say the ...
51
votes
9answers
5k views

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 ...
26
votes
4answers
2k views

What's the real fundamental definition of energy?

Some physical quantities like position, velocity, momentum and force, have precise definition even on basic textbooks, however energy is a little confusing for me. My point here is: using our ...
19
votes
3answers
512 views

a priori validity of $W=\int Fdx$ in relativity?

There are lots of different ways of arriving at the relativistic relations involving mass, energy, and momentum such as $E=mc^2$ and $m^2=E^2-p^2$ (the latter with $c=1$). One that I've seen in some ...
5
votes
2answers
660 views

Energy operator

Does the Hamiltonian always translate to the energy of a system? What about in QM? So by the Schrodinger equation, is it true then that $i\hbar{\partial\over\partial t}|\psi\rangle=H|\psi\rangle$ ...
15
votes
4answers
638 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
622 views

Intuitively Understanding Work and Energy

It is easy to understand the concepts of momentum and impulse. The formula $mv$ is simple, and easy to reason about. It has an obvious symmetry to it. The same cannot be said for kinetic energy, ...
4
votes
1answer
186 views

Is there a theory which treats particles as classical point singularities?

Is there a published theory that looks at all matter as occupying no space and only being felt because of its gravitational pull? We've been taught in school that matter has mass and occupies space. ...
3
votes
2answers
283 views

Potential energy in Special Relativity

In Special Relativity, the energy of a free particle is $E^2=p^2c^2+m^2c^4$. But what would be the energy when there is potential energy? If it's something like $E=\sqrt{p^2c^2+m^2c^4}+U$, what ...
2
votes
3answers
4k views

Internal energy according to the van der Waals equation

I am trying to derive the internal energy of a gas which obeys the van der Waals equation. I have however encountered some problems. I calculate the integral of $dU$ from $V=0,T=0$ to $V=V, T=\infty$ ...
10
votes
6answers
9k views

How efficient is an electric heater?

How efficient is an electric heater? My guess: greater than 95%. Possibly even 99%. I say this because most energy is converted into heat; some is converted into light and kinetic energy, and ...
5
votes
3answers
147 views

Is it wasteful to use a heating element, instead of doing useful work?

Consider a computer CPU consuming electrical energy to perform calculations and consequently emitting heat. Assumption: That a CPU consuming x Watts of power, emits the same amount of heat as an ...