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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Potential energy sign conventions

Almost every book on physics that I read have some weird and non-clear explanations regarding the potential energy. Ok, I do understand that if we integrate a force over some path, we'll get a ...
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Mechanical Equivalent of Heat

Recently I have been looking up James Joule's experiment regarding the mechanical equivalent of heat. After viewing some drawings of the apparatus, I assumed that the lines holding the weights would ...
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Why is potential energy negative when orbiting in a gravitational field?

I had to do a problem, and part of it was to find the mechanical energy of satellite orbiting around mars, and I had all of the information I needed. I thought the total mechanical energy would be the ...
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Center of mass problem

According to the definition of potential energy, we use $U= mhg . $ In the figure below , A thin uniform rod of mass m and length h is positioned vertically above an anchored frictionless pivot ...
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Negative potential energy of gravity

Does the negative potential energy in the gravitational field have to be considered in calculating the total mass of the system in question (because of $E=mc^2$)? If so it seems to me that the ...
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Center of mass error - calculating systematic error in change in PE

Suppose we have to calculate systematic error in change in PE. Let's suppose systematic error due to scale is 1%. I'm confused about the center of mass error. \begin{align} \Delta PE = m*g*h_1 - ...
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Escape velocity to intersection of two gravitational fields

Find the minimal velocity needed for a meteorite of mass $m$ to get to earth from the moon. Hint: the distance between the center of earth and the center of moon is $\approx 60 R_E$, and the ...
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In the Lennard-Jones potential, why does the attractive part (dispersion) have an $r^{-6}$ dependence?

The Lennard-Jones potential has the form: $$U(r) = 4\epsilon\left[ \left(\frac{\sigma}{r}\right)^{12} - \left(\frac{\sigma}{r}\right)^{6} \right]$$ The (attractive) $r^{-6}$ term describes the ...
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Gravitational potential energy of mass between two planets

Suppose I want to launch a rocket from earth to some point $O$ between the center of earth and the center of moon (on a straight line connecting their centers), where the gravitational force of the ...
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Electrostatic Potential Energy Derivation

How is the boxed step , physically as well as mathematically justified and correct ? Source:Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_potential_energy As work done = $- \Delta U $. for Conservative ...
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Given a potential energy function, find expression of the force of a particle?

This comes from an AP review packet. I'm given a potential energy functon, $$U(r)=br^{-3/2} + c,$$ where $b$ and $c$ are constants, and need to find the expression for the force on the particle. ...
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Electrostatic Potential Definition

In the book, Introduction to electrodynamics by David J. Griffiths, he introduces potential separately as a function and potential energy through that function. How can potential be defined before ...
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Energy Gain with capacitor?

I have a question about energy gain in capacitors. Assume the following system: As the electron gets accelerated inside the capacitor, it will have more kinetic energy coming out than going in. But ...
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276 views

Orbital mechanics and rocketry: Is it ever a good idea to intentionally lower periapsis?

tl;dr: Hohmann Transfer appears to be the optimal way to achieve a circular-to-circular orbit, but is it possible to lower the periapsis in order to achieve a more elliptical orbit with apoapsis at ...
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315 views

What is the mathematical justification for the quadratic approximation to the energy of a spring in a one-dimensional lattice?

It follows easily from this draw, the length $l$ of this spring as a function of the vertical distance $x$, as $l(x)=\sqrt{1+x^{2}}$ Now, $l$ can be expressed as a MacLaurin expansion: $$l(x) = ...
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214 views

Potential energy during vertical fall

Suppose I have a weightless spring connected perpendicularly to the ground, and it has on top of it some weightless surface. Now, I release some sticky object from height $h$ above the system of light ...
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1answer
54 views

About electrostatic potential energy

I consider an electron (charge $-e$) in $x=0$ and a constant electric field $E(x) \equiv E $. If the electron has initial velocity $v_0$ with the same direction of $E$, then its potential energy is $$ ...
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Gravitational potential outside Lagrangian points or Lagrange points

The diagram in Why are L4 and L5 lagrangian points stable? shows that the gravitational potential decreases outside the ring of Lagrange points — this image shows it even more clearly: If I ...
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Work done by gravity on Water

Now according to me we would see change in potential energy of system and equate it to the work done by gravity. But when we see this the first column lowers by $H/2$ and right one rises by $H/2$ ...
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86 views

Gravitational potential energy

Consider two places next to each other: Place 1, where there is a gravitational field whereas Place 2 - there's no field. Now if we lifted a box in place 1, it gains potential energy. Then, we move ...
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363 views

Proof that flux through a surface is independent of the inner objects' arrangement

$$\Phi=\iint_{\partial V}\mathbf{g} \cdot d \mathbf{A}=-4 \pi G M$$ Essentially, why is $\Phi$ independent of the distribution of mass inside the surface $\partial V$, and the shape of surface ...
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Electron volt and Voltage

Voltage is the work done per unit charge. Given by: V = W/q Electron volt is the maximum kinetic energy gained by the electron in falling through a potential difference of 1 volt. Given by: K.E ...
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Electric potential energy and speed

If we have electric field and we put electron there , the electron will move in the opposite direction as the electric field. My question is electron in that direction will speed up or slows down ? ...
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What is potential energy in special relativity?

I know what is rest energy $E_0=m_0 c^2$, total energy $E=\gamma E_0$, kinetic energy $E- E_0=(\gamma-1) E_0$, and momentum $p=\gamma m_0 c$. But what is potential energy in special relativity?
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Locally every force admits a potential?

I have a little doubt about a force being or not conservative. Well, as I understood, some forces cannot be expressed as exterior derivative of some scalar potential because the work done by the force ...
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Higher To Lower Electric Potential

The question I am working on is: "An electron moving parallel to the x axis has an initial speed of $4.65 \cdot 10^6~m/s$ at the origin. Its speed is reduced to $1.27 \cdot 10^5 ~m/s$ at the point ...
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Particle coming across a step potential barrier

My quantum mechanics textbook says that when a particle (in the classical case) comes across a potential-step barrier of finite height, if it has sufficient energy to surmount the barrier, it will ...
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How do I correctly express the work required to put an object with positive buoyancy down into a certain depth (of water)?

It seems to me that I can express the work required to put an object under water in the same way that I express lifting an object up against gravity. I. e., in both cases I increase the potential ...
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Potential energy of a spring

I'm puzzled about the potential energy of a spring. A spring is a conservative system. So the potential energy should be defined only up to a constant -- can be defined to be 0 anywhere. However, ...
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341 views

How much (usable) potential energy is stored in a compound bow?

I have done a bit of reading about the energy stored in bows, but I haven't seen anywhere a description of how much energy actually is stored. Clearly there are many factors, bow design being ...
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Shape of a string/chain/cable/rope/wire?

The height of a string in a gravitational field in 2-dimensions is bounded by $h(x_0)=h(x_l)=0$ (nails in the wall) and also $\int_0^l ds= l$. ($h(0)=h(l)=0$, if you take $h$ as a function of arc ...
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251 views

Why is the spring constant $W_p''(0)$?

According to my physics book, the spring constant can be calculated from knowing the potential energy, with the formula $k = W_p''(0)$. I don't really understand why, and the book doesn't explain it ...
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Potential energy of a spring

I have a little problem with the potential energy of a spring... I hope you can help me! I have two coupled pendula, given by two masses $m$ fixed to two rigid bars (that haven't any mass) and with ...
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Measuring work done by gravity over non-constant gravitational acceleration

A question from an example from a MIT Classical Mechanics Lecture on Work. Here's the given definition for gravitational potential energy (~32:00): "The ...
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1answer
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exercise concerning the inclined plane

I have an exercise to ask yourself. A ball of mass m = 5 g starts at rest and travels 50 cm along a ramp inclined at 45 ° to the horizontal. a) If we imagine frictionless motion of the ball along the ...
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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 ...
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Elastic potential

I have a doubt: elastic potential energy is given by: $U=\frac{k}{2}x^2+K$ but does elastic potential exist? (for example: potential gravitational energy is given by $U=mgz+K$ and gravitational ...
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1answer
543 views

What is the energy of interaction between a point charge and an infinite cylinder?

I don't remember enough from my electromagnetism course and I can't find any simple, full example on this subject. I know, that I can consider the cylinder as a wire with the same charge density ...
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Is there a mathematical derivation of potential energy that is *not* rooted in the conservation of energy?

For simplicity I'll consider only gravity, but in general this question only applies to conservative forces. As per my understanding, the way one gets to the equation for gravitational potential ...
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Potential Energy in General Relativity

I often hear about how general relativity is very complicated because of all forms of energy are considered, including gravitation's own gravitational binding energy. I have two questions: In ...
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Derivation of the self gravitational potential energy of a sphere

I have been searching on the Internet but have not found a derivation of the formula for the self gravitational potential energy of a sphere. Can someone show how to do this? I assume it involved 6 ...
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What is meant by potential energy for a particle in a field?

Potential energy is usually defined using a field and a particle that experiences the field force, as the work down in moving a unit particle from infinity to a position in that field. But some ...
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Meaning of subscript in $V=\frac{1}{2}\left(\frac{d^2 V}{{dq_i}{dq_j}}\right)_0$

This is probably a simple question, but what does the subscript $0$ mean in the following expression? $$V=\frac{1}{2}\left(\frac{d^2 V}{{dq_i}{dq_j}}\right)_0$$
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104 views

Is more energy required to magnetize based on its distance to other objects?

I have had this question since I was in college physics, but never could figure out how to express it. Well, now I think I have it. Let's imagine two scenarios A and B. Both scenarios start with two ...
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1answer
93 views

Do field and potential energy always come together?

Is energy directly due to a field always potential energy? Is potential energy always due to a field? From the two Wikipedia links: a field is a physical quantity that has a value for each ...
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642 views

Lever Mechanics - How to formulate an ideal lever launch

Let's say I have a simple lever as shown below, and the lever is massless and the pivot is frictionless and there is no air resistance. I'm thinking the cradle for the projectile would have to have a ...
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speed of sound and the potential energy of an ideal gas; Goldstein derivation

I am looking the derivation of the speed of sound in Goldstein's Classical Mechanics (sec. 11-3, pp. 356-358, 1st ed). In order to write down the Lagrangian, he needs the kinetic and potential ...
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What is the most efficient machine for translating gravitational potential energy of one mass into kinetic energy of a different mass?

As the question states, what is our current best machine for translating falling gravitational potential energy, such as a large weight, into launching a smaller projectile vertically? A lever? A ...
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Why are L4 and L5 lagrangian points stable?

This diagram from wikipedia shows the gravitational potential energy of the sun-earth two body system, and demonstrates clearly the semi-stability of the L1, L2, and L3 lagrangian points. The blue ...
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Why do hydrogen atoms attract?

That is, why is the potential energy with the orbitals overlapping less than with the Hydrogen atoms 'independent'. Similarly, why is a noble gas configuration stabler than if an electron were to be ...