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
550 views

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 ...
1
vote
2answers
979 views

Is there really no meaning in potential energy and potential?

I have been told all my physics life that potential energy between two mass/charge has no meaning and only their difference has meaning. The same goes for electric potential, only the difference ...
22
votes
8answers
4k views

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 ...
16
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
710 views

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 ...
6
votes
3answers
12k views

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 ...
17
votes
4answers
774 views

How is potential energy actually stored in a steel spring at the atomic level?

Elasticity is one the most intriguing phenomena, wiki gives a summary explanation of what happens in a steel spring: the atomic lattice changes size and shape when forces are applied (energy is ...
6
votes
4answers
282 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
80 views

What maintains constant voltage in a battery?

I know there's lots of questions that address similar situations, (Batteries connected in Parallel, Batteries and fields?, Naive Question About Batteries, and the oft-viewed I don't understand ...
3
votes
2answers
258 views

Coincidence, purposeful definition, or something else in formulas for energy

In the small amount of physics that I have learned thus far, there seems to be a (possibly superficial pattern) that I have been wondering about. The formula for the kinetic energy of a moving ...
1
vote
2answers
38 views

Confusion with Grounded Conductor: bringing in a point from infinity

Suppose, for sake of argument, we have a spherical grounded conductor at the origin. Additionally, let our reference voltage be at infinity. Now, I view the potential of a point in space as being the ...
1
vote
2answers
344 views

Deriving the Lorentz force from velocity dependent potential

We can achieve a simplified version of the Lorentz force by $$F=q\bigg[-\nabla(\phi-\mathbf{A}\cdot\mathbf{v})-\frac{d\mathbf{A}}{dt}\bigg],$$ where $\mathbf{A}$ is the magnetic vector potential and ...
0
votes
1answer
71 views

We create systems with different values of Energy? [closed]

I understand that Energy is a conserved quantity in a system. A number, that's always the same to the system. However, don't we determine such a number? I mean, we can create systems(Or study them ...
0
votes
1answer
203 views

Violation of conservation of energy and potential energy between objects

I would like to clarify my question. I have numbered them to be independent questions For any conservative fields, $\vec{F} = -\nabla U$. Which means the restoring force is opposite to the ...
6
votes
2answers
182 views

What can be known about the formulas for energy only from the fact that it is conserved?

The question is to figure out how the energy can be derived knowing just one thing: There is a quantity called Energy that is conserved over time. The goal is to get an equation that somehow ...
1
vote
6answers
1k views

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 ...
6
votes
3answers
338 views

Is quantum tunneling related to imaginary time?

I was studying for my exam and looking at the chapter which talks about Potential-energy graphs. Let's take this as an example: My book states that: "If the object is in $B$ and has a total energy ...
2
votes
3answers
199 views

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
664 views

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?
1
vote
2answers
640 views

Energy stored in a clothespin spring (non linear spring)

I was wondering how one would go about figuring out the energy stored in a spring in a clothespin. When opened the spring is deformed, but I don't have any intuition for why it gets stronger with ...
5
votes
0answers
256 views

Hamiltonian function for classical hard-sphere elastic collision

I'm trying to find the Hamiltonian function for a system consisting of a single particle in one dimension colliding elastically with a wall at x = 0. Everything I've read on the topic (e.g. this ...
4
votes
5answers
84 views

Relation between potential energy and forces

Can you also explain why can't we define potential energy corresponding to a non-conservative internal force? Non-conservative forces are those which don't depend on the initial and final states but ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Trying to understand Laplace's equation

I'm struggling here so please excuse if I'm writing nonsense. I understand that the gravitational potential field, a scalar field, is given by $$\phi=\frac{-Gm}{r}$$ where $\phi$ is the ...
3
votes
2answers
112 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
4answers
2k views

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
355 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
206 views

Gravitational binding energy and integrated potential energy not the same?

Before looking up the formula for the gravitational binding energy of a uniform sphere, I simply figured that the general formula for binding energy of an arbitrarily-shaped mass distribution would be ...
2
votes
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
462 views

Potential energy in a gravitational field

I've seen the following formula for the potential energy of a body in a gravitational field ($\rho$ is the density, $g$ is the gravitational acceleration): $$ \rho g \int_E z dV $$ Can you please ...
1
vote
2answers
340 views

Elastic potential energy of compressed spring? [duplicate]

If a compressed spring is dissolved in acid what happens to the elastic potential energy of the spring?
1
vote
2answers
297 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
95 views

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 ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

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 ...
0
votes
0answers
22 views

How to find the potential energy? [duplicate]

how to find the potential energy of a particle with variable mass and variable coordinate ? Data that is to compute, only the mass and Cartesian coordinate of the particle, like this: x;m ...