The product of the force on an object and the displacement the object undergoes along the direction of the force.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

42
votes
8answers
3k views

How can Magnets be used to pick up pieces of metal when the force from a magnetic field does no work?

I learned that the force from magnetic fields does no work. However I was wondering how magnets can be used to pick up pieces of metal like small paperclips and stuff. I also was wondering how magnets ...
40
votes
8answers
8k views

Why does holding something up cost energy while no work is being done?

I read the definition of work as $$W ~=~ \vec{F} \cdot \vec{d}$$ $$\text{ Work = (Force) $\cdot$ (Distance)}.$$ If a book is there on the table, no work is done as no distance is covered. If I ...
24
votes
5answers
4k views

Does a magnetic field do work on an intrinsic magnetic dipole?

When you release a magnetic dipole in a nonuniform magnetic field, it will accelerate. I understand that for current loops (and other such macroscopic objects) the magnetic moment comes from moving ...
23
votes
4answers
2k views

The physical definition of work seems paradoxical

So this is possibly a misunderstanding of the meaning of work, but all the Physics texts, sites, and wiki that I've read don't clear this up for me: In the simplest case with the simplest statement, ...
22
votes
9answers
2k views

Why can we cycle faster than we can run? [duplicate]

This seems obvious: faster long-distance runners hit ~20 km/h (marathon records) while fastest cyclists can do ~40 km/h (Tour de France stats). But on the physical/biological level this doesn't seem ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

How can we move an object with zero velocity?

Consider there is a box of mass $m$ at rest on the floor. Most books give an example that we need to do a work of $mgh$ to lift the box $h$ upward. If we analyze this work done, the external force ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

Why is there a $\frac 1 2$ in $\frac 1 2 mv^2$?

For elastic collisions of n particles, we know that momentum in the three orthogonal directions are independently conserved:$$ \frac{d}{dt}\sum\limits_i^n m_iv_{ij} =0,\quad j=1,2,3$$ From this, it ...
10
votes
6answers
2k views

How can energy be useful when it is 'abstract'?

The topic which haunted me for two years until I gave up on it. But now I am doing engineering and this topic suddenly popped out of my textbook from nowhere. I seriously need to understand this topic ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

Is the normal force a conservative force?

Most of the time the normal force doesn't do any work because it's perpendicular to the direction of motion but if it does do work, would it be conservative or non-conservative? For example, consider ...
8
votes
3answers
687 views

Bird flying in a cage

Assume that you are holding a cage containing a bird. Do you have to make less effort if the bird flies from its position in the cage and manages to stay in the middle without touching the walls of ...
8
votes
5answers
6k views

Why does work equal force times distance?

My 'government-issued' book literally says: Energy is the capacity to do work and work is the product of net force and the 1-dimensional distance it made a body travel while constantly affecting ...
8
votes
4answers
434 views

On the definition of work

Work is defined as $$W = \vec{F}\cdot\vec{s}$$ But what what exactly is $\vec{s}$? Is it the displacement of the body on which the force is being applied? Or is it the displacement of the point of ...
8
votes
3answers
858 views

Number of planks required to stop the bullet [closed]

A bullet looses (1/n)th of its velocity passing through one plank. The number of such planks that are required to stop the bullet can be? Logically, to me the answer seems to be infinity, as always a ...
8
votes
2answers
255 views

What is the mechanism by which magnetic fields do work?

I've seen some conflicted answers to this question in texts and on the web, in the case of a dipole, for example. Do magnetic fields do work directly, or is it their induced electric fields that do ...
8
votes
3answers
777 views

Intuitively Understanding Work and Energy

It is easy to understand the concepts of momentum and impulse. The formula $mv$ is simple, and easy to reason about. It has an obvious symmetry to it. The same cannot be said for kinetic energy, ...
7
votes
2answers
19k views

Conceptually, what is negative work?

I'm having some trouble understanding the concept of negative work. For example, my book says that if I lower a box to the ground, the box does positive work on my hands and my hands do negative work ...
7
votes
3answers
955 views

Energy equation for an open system

I teach undergraduate thermodynamics and I was quite ashamed that I couldn't explain to a student, the following. I thought I'd bring it to physics.SE in hope of providing my student a good ...
6
votes
4answers
514 views

What exactly is $F$ in $W = \int_{a}^{b} F dx$?

I am trying to teach myself some basic physics, here is something I do not really understand about the definition of work: When moving from $a$ to $b$ (in one dimension), the work done is defined to ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Is energy the ability to do work?

Here was my argument against this, the second law of thermodynamics, in effect says that, there is no heat engine that can take all of some energy that was transferred to it by heat and do work on ...
6
votes
3answers
210 views

How was the definition and the formula of work derived? Is it the best possible?

Work done is defined as the dot product of force and displacement. However, intuitively, should it not be the product of force and the time for which the body is acted upon by the force (force * ...
6
votes
2answers
314 views

What's the difference between work in thermodynamics and mechanics?

What is the difference between work in thermodynamics and work in mechanics?
6
votes
2answers
134 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
7k views

Why there is a 1/2 in kinetic energy formula? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why is there a $\frac 1 2$ in $\frac 1 2 mv^2$? Hèllo, I have a question about kinetic energy formula. As you know, in kinetic energy formula, we have: ...
5
votes
7answers
1k views

In calculating work done by a constant force over a constant distance, why doesn't the subject's initial velocity matter?

Assume a point-mass $m$ is travelling in a straight line, and a force $F$ will act on $m$ (in the same direction as $m$'s velocity) over a constant distance $d$; why doesn't $m$'s velocity matter to ...
5
votes
7answers
2k views

If the net work on a particle is zero, can the speed change?

The following question was on a quiz in physics class: If the net work done on a particle is zero, which of the following statements must be true? a) The velocity is zero b) The velocity is ...
5
votes
1answer
295 views

First law of thermodynamics?

The first law says that the change in internal energy is equal to the work done on the system (W) minus the work done by the system (Q). However, can $Q$ be any kind of work, such as mechanical work? ...
4
votes
2answers
150 views

Conservative Force and $1/r^2$

Does the inverse square law have anything to do with conservative behavior of the central forces?
4
votes
3answers
473 views

Wrong calculation of work done on a spring, how is it wrong?

So I would have thought that this would be how you derive the work on a spring: basically the same way you do with gravity and other contexts, use $$W=\vec{F}\cdot \vec{x}.$$ If you displace a spring ...
4
votes
4answers
453 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, ...
4
votes
4answers
472 views

Is there work being done if no displacement occurs?

So the definition of work is $W = \vec{F}\cdot\vec{s}$. Say I have a point mass which is being pushed on both sides by equal forces and therefore does not move. Does this mean that no work is being ...
4
votes
2answers
678 views

Is any work done if I walk in a circle?

My friend and I were arguing about this and I was wondering if someone out there could settle this for us. Basically, he and I were walking to buy some stamps. When we were on our return trip he ...
4
votes
2answers
184 views

What's wrong with my derivation for the spring constant? [duplicate]

An $8.00\ \mathrm{kg}$ stone at rest on a spring. The spring is compressed $10.0\ \mathrm{cm}$ by the stone. What is the spring constant? I used conservation of energy to solve this problem. The ...
4
votes
2answers
900 views

Is any work done when I walk?

I am trying to figure out the amount of work done when I walk X miles or for X minutes. So I got Work=Force x Distance and Force=Mass x Acceleration and Acceleration=(change in velocity)/time. I am ...
4
votes
3answers
209 views

When can one write $a=v \cdot dv/dx$?

Referring to unidimensional motion, it is obvious that it doesn't always make sense to write the speed as a function of position. Seems to me that this is a necessary condition to derive formulas ...
4
votes
2answers
137 views

Work done on stationary rocket

Suppose I have a rocket thats exerts a force (with negligible loses in mass), which cancels out the downward force of gravity. Clearly my rocket could be moving at a constant velocity (ignore air ...
4
votes
4answers
222 views

Why does it require such little energy to create the fastest thing in the universe?

I have noticed when I turn on the light switch in my house light comes from the bulb. How is this light created?(process occurring in the bulb) and why is this small amount of electricity enough to ...
4
votes
4answers
183 views
+50

Why does a conservative force return the work done against it by a body to that body?

Let a body move and a conservative force oppose its motion. Therefore, by Newton's third law of motion, the body will also exert reactive force on the conservative force which eventually will cause ...
4
votes
2answers
101 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
509 views

A Question about Virtual Work related to Newton's Third Law

In describing D'Alembert's principle, the lecture note I was provided with states that the total force $\mathbb F_l$ acting on a particle can be taken as, $$\mathbb F_l=F_l+\sum_mf_{ml}+C_l,$$ ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Work done by the Magnetic Force

The magnetic part of the Lorentz force acts perpendicular to the charge's velocity, and consequently does zero work on it. Can we extrapolate this statement to say that such a nature of the force ...
4
votes
2answers
721 views

I have a slight problem understanding the concept of “work”?

What I understand is that work is not the same as a car using gas or a crane lifting a car high up into the air. Let's use the crane as an example. And let me write out a few lines from the book. ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

Paradox- Object thrown parallel to the ground will never fall down

Suppose an object is thrown parallel to the ground. The gravity acts downward (ie. perpendicular to the direction of motion of the object). The work done by gravity on that object will be given by : ...
3
votes
4answers
330 views

Potential Energy Concept

Imagine a book that we lift it with a force that is exactly equal to the force of gravity so the forces cancel out and the book moves with a constant velocity. Consider the situation after the book ...
3
votes
4answers
353 views

Why can't the work done by a non-conservative force be zero?

Why can't the work done by a non-conservative force be zero? The displacement along a closed path is always zero. So, whatever be the type of force, variable or constant, the work has to be zero. Why ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Why doesn't static friction decelerate a rolling body?

I know that static friction isn't the cause of deceleration of a rolling body. But if static friction is the only force in the horizontal direction, then shouldn't there be some acceleration produced ...
3
votes
4answers
4k views

What is $vdp$ work and when do I use it?

I am a little confused, from the first law of thermodynamics (energy conservation) $$\Delta E = \delta Q - \delta W $$ If the amount of work done is a volume expansion of a gas in, say a piston ...
3
votes
1answer
326 views

Is my textbook teaching an incorrect concept of Work?

I fear my textbook is teaching an incorrect concept of Work. I am very frustrated right now since I was struggling to understand the concept in the way that was explained in the textbook and my ...
3
votes
2answers
395 views

Find work done by force along a path - is parameterization the only way?

$F = x^3y^4 \hat i + x^4y^3 \hat j$ from $(0,0)$ to $(1,1)$. I am given different paths. For example, "first along x axis and then along the y axis" is one of the paths. Is this problem solvable ...
3
votes
2answers
146 views

What is the mathematical definition of work?

I'm looking for the pure mathematical definition of work, but I haven't yet learned line integrals. My book says that the work due to a force ${\bf F}$ from point $A$ to point $B$ is $$ W= |AB|\cdot ...
3
votes
1answer
86 views

The lab have a constant electric field and a constant magnetic field, what is the electric and magnetic field inside a conductor and far from it

The following is an old question from an exam in a Physics $2$ course I am taking, I have tried to solve the question and after I thought I got the answer I looked at the solution and saw it isn't ...