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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

3
votes
0answers
116 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
52 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),\\ ...
-1
votes
2answers
137 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
34 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
443 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
244 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
776 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 ...
17
votes
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 ...
0
votes
1answer
130 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
1k 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?
1
vote
1answer
79 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
56 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?
3
votes
2answers
121 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, ...
4
votes
2answers
138 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
213 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) ...
2
votes
2answers
160 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?
0
votes
1answer
62 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
121 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
89 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
102 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
208 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
116 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
367 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
215 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
votes
2answers
146 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
98 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
352 views

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 ...
0
votes
0answers
65 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
170 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 $B$. ...
1
vote
2answers
139 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
votes
1answer
153 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
votes
7answers
515 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
votes
1answer
707 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
votes
2answers
409 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
121 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. ...
0
votes
1answer
163 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
153 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?
0
votes
2answers
271 views

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

Do ideal gases have a certain potential energy at a certain temperature?
0
votes
1answer
617 views

Help understanding a potential energy problem [closed]

Apologies if the following problem does not seem to involve potential energy, it is a homework problem that is labeled under the potential energy chapter. Question While a roofer is working on a ...
1
vote
2answers
160 views

Energy of a damped oscillator

$$ E=\frac{1}{2}m\left(\frac{dx}{dt}\right)^2+\frac{1}{2}m\omega_0^2x^2. $$ This is the equation for the energy of a oscillator. The second term is the potential energy. Now, my question is, will ...
4
votes
1answer
154 views

Where does energy in a field come from?

Let us consider for example Earth's gravitational field. If we put a ball somewhere in this field, the ball starts to accelerate due to the gravitational force exerted on it. I understand the ...
5
votes
2answers
150 views

What is the energy required to create mass of m at a height of h above the Earth?

What is the energy required to create mass of m at a height of h above the Earth? Is it $E= m c ^2$ or $E = mc ^ 2 + mgh$ ? Let's reverse the process also. If you convert mass $m$ at $h = 0$ to ...
6
votes
2answers
191 views

While holding an object, no work done but costs energy (in response to a similar question)

I read the answer to Why does holding something up cost energy while no work is being done? and wanting to know more, I asked my teacher about it without telling him what I read here. Instead of ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Why doesn't the potential energy of any object equal 0

Consider a particle on the ground. This particle is raised by a force of magnitude $mg$ to a height $h$ above the ground. At this point, the work done on the particle by the force is $mgh$, which is ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Sign of Work and potential energy in electrostatics

Conceptual question: Suppose we have a configuration of point charges. If the potential of the energy of the system is negative, this means work is positive. I'm kind of rusty with my mechanics, ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

Why is the potential energy of a particle $mgh$ regardless of force?

Consider a particle raised to height $h$ by applying a constant force of $F$ vertically opposite to the direction of force of gravity on it. The potential energy of the particle is $$W = mgh$$ But, ...
0
votes
1answer
2k views

Potential energy of the human body if all its atoms were split

I am working on a sci-fi story in which a character has control over matter on the atomic level (think Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen). In thinking up potential tragedies for this character I thought, ...
0
votes
1answer
538 views

Electrical Potential Energy and Electric Force [closed]

Under certain circumstances, potassium ions $(K+)$ move across the $8.0 nm$ thick cell membrane from the inside to the outside. The potential inside the cell is $−70 mV$ and the potential outside is ...
0
votes
3answers
665 views

Potential energy curve for intermolecular distance

I'm trying to understand this curve better, but I can't quite figure out what "negative potential energy" means. The graph should describe a molecule oscillating between $A$ and $B$, however where ...
1
vote
4answers
5k views

Is potential energy and “work done” the same thing?

Is potential energy and "work done" the same thing? If they are not one and the same thing then why is potential energy always associated with "work done"? Could you explain me with some examples?