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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Electric potential energy and signs

I know that eletric potenial is negative near a negative charge and positve 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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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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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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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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Signs in proof of gravitation potential energy (GPE)

Proof of gravitational potential energy. Work done by gravity in bringing mass from infinity to a distance of $r$ between masses. When we use the integration formula and arrive at the answer we ...
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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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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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35 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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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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How to understand dynamics $\dot x_i=\partial_jA_{ij}$ from skew-symmetric potential $A$?

We speak of a dynamical system with a potential if there is a scalar possibly depending on coordinate such that the vector field is exactly the (negative) gradient of the potential. That means each ...
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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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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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What do we mean by “ground” in an electrical circuit? [migrated]

What do we mean by ground in an electrical circuit? When we want to solve electrical circuits problems, we set a "ground" level which is mean that the potential on it equal to $0$. I wonder how the ...
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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 ...
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207 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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21 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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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 ...
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278 views

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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How does potential energy work in the context of objects in space?

It's said that potential energy is "energy of position." If an object is sitting on a shelf five feet above the floor, its potential energy can be thought of as equal to the amount of energy that ...
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46 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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232 views

Expansion of the Universe: Conversion of gravitational potential energy to kinetic energy?

Suppose there is an object floating in space which over time begins to fall toward the source of a gravitational field. As it falls, its motion happens to be such that it gets locked in orbit around ...
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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 ...
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31 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 ...
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Why potential energy of a dipole in an electric field has a negative sign?

In the following equation $$V = -\mathbf{P}\cdot \mathbf{E}$$ why I have to take Potential Energy as negative. Is there any simple reason behind this ? I am preparing for my high school ...
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What is the electric potential at a point?

1) What does the electric potential at a point exactly mean? My teacher tells me that current flows from higher potential to lower potential but when I ask him the reason, he fails to give me a ...
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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" ...
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Potential energy for different states

While studying thermal physics at school, I have been taught that solids simply have more potential energy than the liquids and gases. Note that it was said that this potential energy is due to the ...
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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 ...
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Electric Potential of a Cube Made of Point Charges

I'm trying to find the potential energy of multiple geometric shapes made entirely out of point charges. This particular shape is a cube made out of two different point charges, A and B, each ...
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124 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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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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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165 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 ...
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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, ...
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Derivative of $\epsilon$ in Lennard-Jones equation

I just want to calculate the derivative of epsilon for the following Lennard-Jones equation: LJ = $4\sqrt{\epsilon_{ii} \epsilon_{jj}}$ $[(\sigma/ r)^{12}-(\sigma/r)^{6}]$ with respect to ...
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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, ...
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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, ...
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Why is gravitational potential energy negative, and what does that mean?

I usually think of gravitational potential energy as representing just what it sounds like: the energy that we could potentially gain, using gravity. However, the equation for it (derived by ...
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113 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 ...
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192 views

Calculate magnitude of force acting on some area by falling object

I have simple question: is it possible to calculate magnitude of force acting on some area by falling object? Let's say I have an object with mass $5\text{ kg}$. I drop that object in height 1 ...
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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 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?
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What is the minimum physical distance between two electrons?

If electrons repel, then it seems to me that energy is required to decrease the distance between two electrons. Since energy and mass are equivalent, adding energy to a system also adds some mass. ...
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335 views

Electron flow and electric potential

In the physics tutorial topic on current electricty it defines the positive terminal as the high potential terminal and the negative as the low potential. When talking about positive test charges this ...
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Is there energy stored when iron is magnetized?

When a piece of iron is magnetized, and the domains are aligned, Is there energy stored? If so, how much energy is stored? If there is an attraction between that same iron and the source of the ...