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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On the connection between forces and the principle of stationary action

Feynman tries to account for the relation between the principle of stationary action, which is a statement about the whole path of a particle, and Newton's second law, which is a statement about the ...
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Slingshot Energy into traveled distance [on hold]

If I have a slingshot and I am told that when pulled it has about $E$ joules of energy, how do I compute the height at which an object of mass $m$ would travel if the slingshot is released in the ...
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How is energy converted when massless spring is attached to a rigid support

Say a massless spring of length l is attached to a rigid support. It is extended to length l + x. Now at this position, the ...
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Approximate Electric Potential $V$ so that it is of the form $V(r) + V(\phi) + V(z)$

I'm trying to simulate the conductivity of a nanowire that is modeled by a cylindrical shell of infinite potential with benzene rings in the core of the wire. (This is based on a coiled-coil protein ...
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Of the two variables (Q and V) in the equation of capacitor energy, which is better to take the average of?

$U_c = \frac{1}{2}QV$ I understand from the graph which it should be one half but not quarter, or taking the average of both. But it doesn't really matter to me which variable is on y or x axis? ...
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Why is the equation for electric potential energy so counter-intuitive?

The equation: $U_E = Vq$ or $(Eq)d$. This works the same way as the equation for gravitational potential energy: $mgh$ But to me, for charges of different signs, the potential energy also varies. ...
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What is the definition of potential energy? [duplicate]

I have problems with this equation: $$U_G ~=~ G\frac{m_1m_2}{r}.$$ It's for potential energy of say something placed on Earth. But it intrigues me. $r$ is the distance from the very center of the ...
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Can the electric potential corresponding to the negative plate ever be equal to anything bigger than zero?

I am doing my homework. I read my textbook. It says that the negatively charged plate is the low potential plate. It also shows a example of lower plate equal to 0V, I guess for simplicity. But what ...
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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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How this formula for work follows from the definition?

If a particle moves along a path $\gamma : I\subset \mathbb{R}\to \mathbb{R}^3$ then the work done by a force $\mathbf{F}$ is defined by $$W = \int_{\gamma} \mathbf{F} = ...
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A little confusion in the derivation of potential energy of a shell

This is a paragraph and a figure from The Feynman Lectures, He's trying to prove the Shell theorem for gravity: If we rearrange $dm=2\pi y \mu ds$ we obtain $\dfrac{dm}{2\pi yds}=\mu$. In this ...
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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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A confusion regarding an example in The Feynman Lectures

In The Feynman Lectures, In the chapter entitled Work and potential energy, Feynman states: The work done in going around any path in a gravitational field is zero. This is a very remarkable ...
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How does The work done in going around any path in a gravitational field is zero implies conservation of energy?

In The Feynman Lectures, Feynman states: The work done in going around any path in a gravitational field is zero. This is a very remarkable result. It tells us something we did not previously ...
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If systems minimize their potential energy, why do people climb mountains?

A person climbs a mountain. They convert the stored chemical energy of food in their body and back pack into heat energy on the mountain, and gravitational potential energy as they move towards the ...
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68 views

Deriving gravitational potential energy using vectors

Here is my attempt at derivation: First you must find a vector function for the gravitational force. By the inverse square law, the magnitude of gravitational force between two bodies of mass $m$ ...
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33 views

does $Q_AV_{AB}=Q_BV_{BA}$ in this case

Sorry fo unclear title but I can't find any suitable on for this question. Here is what my text book says about how to find out the energy of a system of charge of n particle. What I don't know is ...
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What is an effective potential in classical mechanics?

What is an effective potential in classical mechanics? I have read the wikipedia article and David Tong's lectures notes, but I didn't understand how an effective potential simplifies a situation or ...
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238 views

Why is $F=-\nabla V$?

I came across this equation $$F=-\nabla V$$ where $V$ is potential energy. I do understand that $$F(r)=-\frac{dV}{dr}.$$ Hence does this mean the nabla operator in this case means derivative? Because ...
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Does the mass of an object change as it moves away from the earth?

The mass of a helium nucleus is less than the mass of two isolated protons and two isolated neutrons. When the component hadrons are assembled, this mass is lost as energy ($E=mc^2$). This makes it ...
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272 views

Why potential energy of external force on particle attached to spring is equal to full force multiplied by full displacement?

I am having quite difficult time to understand the meaning of total potential energy on spring. All references I read say that the total potential energy on particle attached to spring is: ...
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332 views

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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47 views

Derive frequency given potential using Newton's laws

A mass with mass $m$ has a potential energy function $U(x)$ and I'm wondering how you would find the frequency of small oscillations about equilibrium points using Newton's laws. I started by finding ...
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118 views

How to reconstruct the dependence of the potential from a coordinate?

What is known is that an ion sent along the X-axis of a black box with a speed $V$ returns in a time: $$T=a V^b$$ $a$ and $b$ are some known constants. Having this, can we reproduce the dependence of ...
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147 views

Potential Energy of Springs and Gravity, and Work of a force

I am currently really stuck on this problem and I am not sure how to actually solve it, I think I can reason it out logically but I do not know how to show it. Here it is and under I will show what I ...
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Feynman Lectures: Why a non-reversible weight lifting machine cannot lift higher that a reversible one?

Consider weight-lifting machines—machines which have the property that they lift one weight by lowering another. Let us also make a hypothesis: that there is no such thing as perpetual motion ...
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Hooke's Law Problem [closed]

This question assumes that the spring obeys Hooke's law. Say we have a spring Length $L$. The energy of said spring when extended will be $E=(kx^2)/2$. The extension $x_1$ of said string would be ...
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What is the binding energy in General Relativity?

In general relativity, the potential energy is given by $$V(r)=\frac{h^{2}}{2r^{2}}\left(1-\frac{2M}{r}\right)-\frac{M}{r}.$$ Solving $V^{\prime}(r)=0$, there are two points where circular orbits ...
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What is the meaning of this definition of potential energy?

The isolated system of particles is being observed. In the coursebook, $\vec F_\mu$ is by definition the vector sum of forces of all other particles acting on $\mu$-th particle. Usually, potential ...
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98 views

Isolation of a Physical System and Energy

I'm trying to grasp basic concepts of energy and i have a little doubt regarding conservation of energy. According to Feynman book and Wikipedia, the Law of Conservation of Energy states that ...
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39 views

Differential form of the law of gravitation potential

I have problem understanding transaction (operations and methods applied) for one equation to other equation. It is about gravitational potential. $${\vec F_{grav}=\frac{GMm_{obj}\vec R}{R^3}}$$ If we ...
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Definition for potential energy

I came across this definition for potential energy: If we let $T$ be the Kinetic energy, we have that: $$T = \frac{1}{2}mv^2 \implies T = \frac{1}{2}m{x'}^2$$ $$T'= mx'x'' = F(x)x' \implies \\T = ...
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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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Resistance and potential difference across it

I have this question that has baffled me for hours now. My question is what really happens when charge passes from one point to another in a circuit for eg what happens when it passes over a ...
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Picturing Feynman's argument about perpetual motion

So, there is a certain paragraph in Fenyman's book that I'm struggling with for quite some time. It says: We imagine that there are two classes of machines, those that are not reversible, which ...
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670 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 ...
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Is the Einstein Energy-Momentum equation $E^2 = p^2c^2 + m_0^2c^4$ valid only for Free Particles?

Is the energy -momentum relation $$E^2 = p^2c^2 + m_0^2c^4$$ satisfied only by free particles or even bound particles? Does the Energy refer to total Energy(including potential) or only (kinetic ...
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Electrostatic potential due to two charge system

When we calculate electric potential energy of a two particle system, say first I bring $+q_1$ and then I bring $+q_2$ against $q_1$'s electric field. Say I get that $q_2$ charge to a point $r$ ...
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Why is a conservative force defined as the negative gradient of a potential?

I'm learning about work in my dynamics class right now. We have defined the work on a particle due to the force field from point A to point B as the curve Integral over the force field from point A to ...
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Sign of an electric field in electric potential energy problem

I was wondering why the electric field E in this problem is negative. Is it because the earth is negative? We can assume that near the Earth’s surface, a uniform electric field is set up thanks to ...
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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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Turning points of particle

A particle of mass $m$ and energy $E<0$ moves in a one-dimensional Morse potential: $$V(x)=V_0(e^{-2ax}-2e^{-ax}),\qquad V_0,a>0,\qquad E>-V_0.$$ Determine the ...
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Why is intermolecular potential energy given in 'per mole'?

I was just wondering that if intermolecular potential is the interaction potential energy of two atoms/molecules, then why do we give its value in J/mole? I don't understand why 'per mole' ...
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Proof that oscillations in 1d potential well occur between certain points

In >>this<< situation, a particle with energy $E$ will oscillate between the positions $x_1$ and $x_2$ indicated on the diagram. This simple fact is taught in many introductory courses however I ...
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Change in Potential energy moving toward line of charge

I'm analyzing the energy involved with charges moving in an electric field and I'm getting caught up here and I must be missing something. So given that an infinitely long line of charge produces a ...
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321 views

Point charge potential (sign problem)

I'm a bit embarrassed, but I'm not able to compute the electric potential at point $P$ (at a distance $R$ from the origin) generated by a positive unitary point charge in the origin with the right ...
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Can KE and PE of a small element of a transverse progressive wave be maximum simultaneously?

Maybe a string can be taken as an example to produce the transverse progressive wave.
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Simple harmonic oscillator, calculate the trajectory in real space

Potential of a simple harmonic oscillator: $$U=\frac{1}{2}k x^2$$ I'm asked to calculate the trajectory of a particle moving in this potential, with initial conditions $x(t=0) = 0$ and $v(t=0)=v_0$. ...
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A captious work problem: same paths but same forces?

A man jumps onto a chair. A man climbs onto a chair by putting a leg first and then the other. In both cases, the work has been the same. TRUE or FALSE...? Spoiler!: The path is the same, so the ...
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What makes an orbit stable or unstable?

I have an assignement, where I have a given central potential $V(x)=-\frac{K}{6r^6}$ and object with an angular momentum $L$. I've calculate the radius of a circular orbit, which I've done by ...