Potential energy is the energy of a body or a system due to the position of the body or the arrangement of the particles of the system.

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What is the mathematical definition of work?

I'm looking for the pure mathematical definition of work, but I haven't yet learned line integrals. My book says that the work due to a force ${\bf F}$ from point $A$ to point $B$ is $$ W= |AB|\cdot ...
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443 views

Potential energy of a rotating bar

I have a bar of length $L$, mass $m$, and negligible width. The bar can rotate along an axis through its center of mass (the rotation is in the $x$-$y$ plane), and also can move up and down (in the ...
2
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2answers
312 views

Is gravitational potential energy proportional or inversely proportional to distance?

We know that if an object has been lifted a distance $h$ from the ground then it has a potential energy change: $$\Delta U = mgh $$ so $h$ is proportional to $\Delta U$. However, we have also the ...
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4answers
639 views

Why can't the work done by a non-conservative force be zero?

Why can't the work done by a non-conservative force be zero? The displacement along a closed path is always zero. So, whatever be the type of force, variable or constant, the work has to be zero. Why ...
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0answers
71 views

Variation of Electrostatic Potential with Distance in a Uniform Field

I came across this question in a problem book: If a proton is released from rest in a uniform electric field, does the electric potential at those points where the electron moves increase or decrease. ...
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4answers
357 views

About mass defect

Here's how my book explains mass defect: Particles inside the nucleus interact with each other - they feel attraction. The potential energy $U$ of such attraction is negative, because in absence ...
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1answer
47 views

Sign of gravitational force

I'm reading Lanczos's The variational principles of mechanics, and on pp. 80-81 there is an example involving a system made up of $n$ rigid bars, freely jointed at their end points, and the two free ...
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3answers
97 views

Why don't we consider electrostatic energy of the pair in the case of pair production?

I have seen this Wikipedia article and many others, but in none of them I find any mention of the electro-static energy of the generated pair. Why? I mean, the energy conservation should be written ...
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2answers
292 views

Work done by magnetic field on magnetic dipole

In the above slide, it reads that $W=\int\mu B sin(\theta)d\theta=\mu B cos(\theta)$. But, I thought that $\int\mu B sin(\theta)d\theta=-\mu B cos(\theta)$ by some calculus calculation. Can ...
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2answers
62 views

Who of these cyclist travel takes less time? [closed]

There are two cyclist. They start off with equal velocity $v_0$. The first one bikes a straight path, while the other bikes through a valley, something like this: We assume friction doesn't affect ...
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1answer
85 views

Conservation of energy and the 'crazy ball' product

Well I'm not sure how many people remember the crazy ball - a small ball made of rubber which bounced like crazy. What I noticed is that the ball seemed to bounce higher than the point from which it ...
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1answer
130 views

Finding the Shape of a Hanging Massive Wire

This came from a physics wave book. I have a static, massive wire on the x-axis, with a y-displacement due to a force per unit length $F_y$. I start with the equation $F_y = ...
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0answers
98 views

Finding the components of the tensor for potential and kinetic energy

I have a rather poor understanding of what a tensor is, but enough to apply it to the biggest part of the classical mechanics I'm studying. However, I've run into a small problem while studying "Free ...
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0answers
51 views

Double pendulum find first integral [closed]

Consider the following situation of a double pendulum in 2D. We found the moving equations as $$ \ddot{\theta_1}=-L_1\sin\theta_1 + \frac{m_2}{m_1}\cos\theta_2\sin(\theta_2-\theta_1),\\ ...
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2answers
131 views

Potential at Center of Earth

If using the surface of the earth as a reference point how much work is needed for gravity to pull me to the center. Is it negative infinity or am I wrong? Also is a single value of potential ...
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0answers
23 views

Questions regarding rubbing catfur on glass

I have certain questions regarding the electrostatic charge developed by this rubbing effects: 1-what is the threshold for electrostatic charges by this process? 2-can we define potential energy ...
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2answers
383 views

Gravitational potential energy negative?

Can the gravitational potential energy be negative? $PE=mgh$, we kind of have the same fig as this (minus the car)! and we choose the arbitrary point to be the G of the pendulum (point of ...
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0answers
230 views

Infinite chain of alternating charge

The problem There is an infinite chain (1d) of alternating charges that are in a distance a from each other. That is there is one charge +q and next to it -q and so on. Now calculate how much work it ...
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1answer
672 views

Rotational Potential Energy of a Hamster Wheel

Background (unimportant back story)A colleague of mine showed me what i considered flawed statistics, that Internet Explorer had faster Index and array functions than Chrome(we are software ...
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6answers
2k views

Why does a system try to minimize potential energy?

In mechanics problems, especially one-dimensional ones, we talk about how a particle goes in a direction to minimize potential energy. This is easy to see when we use cartesian coordinates: For ...
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1answer
115 views

Statements about gravitational potential energy contradicting intuition?

So in my textbook I am told: two masses have gravitational potential energy because work had to be done in order to move one the masses form a position very far away (lets say infinity) to the ...
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3answers
790 views

For an object at rest is the potential energy completely zero?

It is said every object in this universe tends to be at their lowest state of potential energy. What can be the lowest state of potential energy? And can the potential energy of an object be 0?
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1answer
71 views

Bending of a spline

The introduction section on this page states: "the spline will take a shape that minimizes the bending", while showing the formula for curvature of a real curve. Question is, what is the formula for ...
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0answers
53 views

Where does the potential energy associated with the field go if it is removed? [closed]

I have an electric field and a certain charged particle in it that has a certain potential energy associated with it. Where does the energy go if I remove the field?
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2answers
118 views

How do you know which way to choose the limits of an integral?

I am reading http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/I_13.html#Ch13-S4 In the beginning of equation 13.18, in which Mr. Feynman calculates the potential energy of an object outside a spherical shell, ...
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2answers
131 views

What exactly is ''electric energy''?

If the two fundamental types of energy are kinetic and potential energy, is electric energy simply the kinetic energy of charge carriers? Also, is the statement "A cell converts chemical potential ...
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1answer
189 views

Why does acceleration seem not to be the gradient of gravitational potential?

Consider a spherically symmetric distribution of density $\rho(r)$. We can define the mass enclosed within each radius $r$ using $\frac{dM(r)}{dr} = 4\pi r^2 \rho(r)$, with the condition that $M(r=0) ...
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2answers
150 views

Schroedinger equation. Why Potential energy instead of Force?

What is the reason Schroedinger equation is quoted in terms of potential energy instead of force?
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1answer
57 views

Isn't $\varepsilon_0\int_{\text{all space}}\vec{E}_1\cdot\vec{E}_2 \,{\rm d}v$ just the potential energy?

I have two metallic spheres each with a charge of $q_1$ and $q_2$ respectively. What is the value of $$\varepsilon_0\int_{\text{all space}} \vec{E}_1\cdot\vec{E}_2 \,{\rm d}v$$ where $\vec{E}_1$ and ...
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3answers
114 views

Electric potential energy and signs

I know that electric potential is negative near a negative charge and positive near a positive charge. But does this mean a small positive 'test' charge has a negative electric potential energy near a ...
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1answer
80 views

What is the relevance of potential energy as a concept?

As far as i understand, for an object to have a fixed quantity of potential energy, it must be in current equilibrium and have no net force applied to it (otherwise the potential would convert to ...
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1answer
94 views

What does energy represent in $E= mc^2$?

Due to energy-mass equivalence, any object with mass can be said to have a corresponding amount of energy. So in a 5kg object there are 450,000,000,000 joules. A joule as i understand it is the ...
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2answers
186 views

Is it possible to prove that planets should be approximately spherical using the calculus of variations?

Is it possible to use the Lagrangian formalism involving physical terms to answer the question of why all planets are approximately spherical? Lets assume that a planet is 'born' when lots of ...
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1answer
95 views

Help understanding the solution to a problem regarding kinetic energy of a group of point charges

The problem provided by my professor goes as follows: "Now consider a situation in which all charges are equal to q and they simultaneously become "unglued". What speed will each charge have when a ...
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2answers
292 views

Potential and kinetic energy on spherical surface

A small particle of mass $m$ is atop of a semi-sphere as shown in the figure. A little push was given to the particle. Prove that the particle will leave the spherical surface at a height of ...
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156 views

Saddle point and transition state of a molecule

During a transition of a molecule from one state to another, it pass through a transition state. This transition state, mathematically speaking, is a saddle point. That means, the second derivative ...
3
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2answers
131 views

Internal potential energy and relative distance of the particle

Today, I read a line in Goldstein Classical mechanics and got confused about one line. To satisfy the strong law of action and reaction, $V_{ij}$ can be a function only of the distance between ...
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1answer
80 views

Why is the objective function used in Nudged Elastic Band method reasonable?

In Nudged Elastic Band (NEB) method, which is used to find reaction pathways when both initial and final states are know, an objective function is first constructed and then minimized to find reaction ...
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6answers
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Origins of many-particle interactions

The internal potential energy of an $N$ particle system is a general function of the coordinates of the particles: $U(r_1,...,r_N)$. In some approximations and expansions - e.g. virial expansion - it ...
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55 views

Active and passive transformations and the change in potential energy

Under active transformation, the particle moves. On the other hand, for a passive one, the coordinate is just relabel. I've read that the passive one will not affect the potential energy and the ...
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1answer
148 views

The formula used to calculate electrical potential energy

Sorry for the ugly picture but it makes my question more understandable. The $\Delta V$ from $A$ to $B$ is calculated by$$\int_A^B E \, \mathrm{d}r$$ where $r$ is the distance between $A$ and $B$. ...
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2answers
126 views

Using an electric winch to compress a spring and launch an object

I'm having trouble grokking the relationship between a winch's pull/torque and a spring's potential energy. I would like to compress a spring using an electric winch and figure out how far it will be ...
2
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1answer
141 views

Calculating elastic energy constant [closed]

I ran into a kinetic physics problem: "A spring is hanging on the ceiling. Let's place an object 'M' at the end of the spring. Yet hold 'M' so the spring doesn't stretch. The distance between the ...
17
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7answers
471 views

What is potential energy truly?

I have a problematic question for which I have been unable to attain a satisfactory answer. What is potential energy truly? - I have read about how potential energy can be seen as the "highering" ...
8
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1answer
595 views

What do we mean when we talk about Gibbs Free Energy?

Before I start, I'm aware that this question may be better suited on the Chemistry or Biology site, but it's my belief that physicists are more likely to have a clear understanding on what certain ...
2
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2answers
357 views

Where does elastic potential energy go after it is released?

Say you have two objects colliding, and there is some elasticity between them. Some of the kinetic energy of the objects will change into elastic potential energy when they collide, but when they ...
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2answers
102 views

electrical potential energy stored in vacumm for a single point charge?

I have come to know the electrostatic potential energy in vacuum is given by $${\frac{1}{2}} \epsilon_0\int d^3x {E^2} $$ and this energy is due to the mutual electrostatic coulomb potential energy. ...
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1answer
133 views

What happens to gas molecules after ionization?

I know that gas molecules conduct electricity after they get ionized but what will happen if we keep increasing the voltage even after ionization? Will it explode? If it will then how much energy ...
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3answers
137 views

Defining electric potential energy

When we say that the electric potential energy at a point is X is that assuming we are using a positive test charge?
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218 views

Is the potential energy of molecules related to its temperature? [duplicate]

Do ideal gases have a certain potential energy at a certain temperature?