Questions tagged [energy-conservation]

The law of conservation of energy, which states that the amount of energy in a system is constant. For questions about Earth's environment, see the climate-science tag instead.

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89
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14answers
65k views

What happens to the energy when waves perfectly cancel each other?

What happens to the energy when waves perfectly cancel each other (destructive interference)? It appears that the energy "disappear" but the law of conservation of energy states that it can't be ...
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11answers
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What makes running so much less energy-efficient than bicycling?

Most people can ride 10 km on their bike. However, running 10 km is a lot harder to do. Why? According to the law of conservation of energy, bicycling should be more intensive because you have to ...
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3answers
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Why do travelling waves continue after amplitude sum = 0?

My professor asked an interesting question at the end of the last class, but I can't figure out the answer. The question is this (recalled from memory): There are two travelling wave pulses moving in ...
78
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4answers
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Where does the extra kinetic energy come from in a gravitational slingshot?

I read in this answer in this site that the KE a free-falling ball acquires is not originated by the attracting body but that energy was actually stored in the ball when it had been lifted to the ...
63
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6answers
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Is the total energy of the universe zero?

In popular science books and articles, I keep running into the claim that the total energy of the Universe is zero, "because the positive energy of matter is cancelled out by the negative energy of ...
57
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4answers
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If I'm floating in space and I turn on a flashlight, will I accelerate?

Photons have no mass but they can push things, as evidenced by laser propulsion. Can photons push the source which is emitting them? If yes, will a more intense flashlight accelerate me more? Does ...
57
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4answers
31k views

Why can't energy be created or destroyed?

My physics instructor told the class, when lecturing about energy, that it can't be created or destroyed. Why is that? Is there a theory or scientific evidence that proves his statement true or ...
52
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6answers
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Why are rockets so big?

I'm curious why rockets are so big in their size. Since both the gravitational potential one need to overcome in order to put thing into orbit, and the chemical energy burned from the fuel, are ...
48
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3answers
4k views

Why don't electron-positron collisions release infinite energy?

Questions of the form: An electron and a positron collide with E MeV of energy, what is the frequency of the photons released. quite often come up in my A Level course (for often fairly arbitrary ...
46
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3answers
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When water climbs up a piece of paper, where is the energy coming from?

Take a glass of water and piece of toilet paper. If you keep the paper vertical, and touch the surface of the water with the tip of the paper, you can see the water being absorbed and climbing up the ...
45
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11answers
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Why can electric cars recoup energy from braking, but a spaceship cannot?

It is said that in a spaceship, you need to spend as much energy to brake as you spent for accelerating. An electric car, however, charges its batteries while braking, thus it actually recovers energy ...
45
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3answers
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How does light speed up after coming out of a glass slab?

As I learned today in school, my teacher told me that when light enters a glass slab it slows down due to the change in density and it speeds up as it goes out of the glass slab. This causes a lateral ...
42
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5answers
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Why do many people say that virtual particles do not conserve energy?

I've seen this claim made all over the Internet. It's on Wikipedia. It's in John Baez's FAQ on virtual particles, it's in many popular books. I've even seen it mentioned offhand in academic papers. ...
40
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7answers
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Why do we need to know the shape of the slide to find the time to slide down it?

In my physics book after this solved example: A child of mass $m$ is initially at rest on top of a water slide at height h = 8.5m above the bottom of the slide. Assuming that the slide is ...
39
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4answers
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Is this cheap “air conditioner” able to cool a room?

My parents bought this "air conditioner", but I am very skeptical that this can cool a room, or even cool anything. I doubt that it even has a cooling element, I suspect that it is just a fan + ...
36
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12answers
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Where does the extra force generated by a lever come from?

Given an object being pulled down to earth by a force of 1000 lb: If a machine were to lift it off the ground for me, and I grabbed on to the rope before it was released, there is no way in the world ...
35
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4answers
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What is the energy source if a tall water tank is used to transfer floating objects upwards instead of cables with motors?

Suppose I want to transport some logs from the ground to the roof of a tower. Originally I can use a lift, or some cables, or even move the logs upwards manually; then the energy is converted to the ...
34
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6answers
23k views

Newton's cradle

Why, when one releases 2 balls in Newton's cradle, two balls on the opposite side bounce out at approximately the same speed as the 1st pair, rather than one ball at higher speed, or 3 balls at lower ...
32
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4answers
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Do virtual particles actually physically exist?

I have heard virtual particles pop in and out of existence all the time, most notable being the pairs that pop out beside black holes and while one gets pulled away. But wouldn't this actually violate ...
31
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3answers
9k views

Why can't I do this to get infinite energy?

I know that I cannot do this because of conservation of energy, so I am looking for an answer as to why this will not work. So by my understanding of Einstein's whole famous $E=mc^2$ thing it is ...
31
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5answers
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Redshifting of Light and the expansion of the universe

So I have learned in class that light can get red-shifted as it travels through space. As I understand it, space itself expands and stretches out the wavelength of the light. This results in the light ...
30
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5answers
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If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into? [closed]

If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into? When the big bang happened where did it occur? When the big bang happened how did it occur? Where did the energy come from? Energy can not be ...
27
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2answers
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How much additional mass does the Earth gain each day from solar radiation?

According to this answer, energy has some (minimal) mass associated with it. Therefore, when lots of energy hits the earth (such as solar radiation in a 24 hour period) shouldn't the earth gain some ...
26
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3answers
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Energy conservation in General Relativity

I understand that energy conservation is not a rule in general relativity, but I'd like to know under what circumstances it can still be possible. In other words, when is it possible to associate a ...
26
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4answers
11k views

Is energy really conserved?

In high school I was taught energy was conserved. Then I learned that nuclear reactions allow energy to be converted into mass. Then I also heard that apparently energy can spontaneously appear in ...
25
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2answers
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What prevents this magnetic perpetuum mobile from working?

As a child, I imagined this device, which may seem to rotate indefinitely. I have two questions. Is this perpetual motion machine already known? If it is, could you please give some references? What ...
24
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2answers
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Why can't the LHC detect heavy particles?

I am reading The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. In many places it's directly/indirectly mentioned that the LHC may not be able to detect (with the current technology) heavy particles to prove ...
23
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5answers
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How do we know that energy and momentum are conserved?

How do we know energy and momentum are conserved? Are these two facts taken as axioms or have they been proven by an experiment? This question has been in part addressed here: Conservation of ...
23
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6answers
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Where do magnets get the energy to repel?

If I separate two magnets whose opposite poles are facing, I am adding energy. If I let go of the magnets, then presumably the energy that I added is used to move the magnets together again. However, ...
23
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3answers
4k views

Where does the extra kinetic energy of the rocket come from?

Consider a rocket in deep space with no external forces. Using the formula for linear kinetic energy $$\text{KE} = mv^2/2$$ we find that adding $100\ \text{m/s}$ while initially travelling at $1000\ \...
23
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2answers
12k 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 ...
22
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5answers
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Can we create and destroy energy simultaneously at different points in a space?

Can we create an amount of energy at a point in space and destroy an equal amount of energy at another point in space, with both the processes occurring simultaneously? This will not violate energy ...
22
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7answers
16k views

Why can't we store light in the form of light?

We can store cold (ice), heat (i.e. hot water bag) and electrical charge (batteries). We can even "store" a magnetic field in a magnet. We can convert light into energy and then, if we want, back to ...
22
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4answers
12k views

How does rest mass become energy?

I know that there's a difference between relativistic and rest mass. Relativistic mass is "acquired" when an object is moving at speeds comparable to the speed of light. Rest mass is the inherent mass ...
21
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3answers
8k views

Is kinetic energy a relative quantity? Will it make inconsistent equations when applying it to the conservation of energy equations? [duplicate]

If the velocity is a relative quantity, will it make inconsistent equations when applying it to the conservation of energy equations? For example: In the train moving at $V$ relative to ground, ...
21
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3answers
3k views

When an electron around an atom drops to a lower state, is 100% of the energy converted to a photon?

Let's say we have an electron around atom. Let's say the electron drops into a lower electron shell. Is 100% of the energy difference converted to a photon? Does the atom recoil at all? Is the any of ...
21
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4answers
3k views

LED conversion efficiency exceed 100%

I have read this article, Which says that conversion efficiency of the LED have exceeded 100%. The results are published in Physical Review Letters In their experiments, the researchers reduced the ...
21
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4answers
9k views

Energy conservation and interference

I have a problem with energy conservation in case of interfering waves. Imagine two harmonic waves with amplitudes $A$. They both carry energy that is proportional to $A^2$, so the total energy is ...
20
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3answers
5k views

Is there a deep reason why springs combine like capacitors?

I was solving a practice Physics GRE and there was a question about springs connected in series and parallel. I was too lazy to derive the way the spring constants add in each case. But I knew how ...
20
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3answers
2k views

Redshifted Photon Energy

A photon emitted from a receding source (Doppler redshift) has less energy when detected at an observer's location. Please explain the energy loss from the perspective of energy conservation.
20
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3answers
12k views

photons in expanding space: how is energy conserved? [duplicate]

If a photon (wave package) redshifts (stretches) travelling in our expanding universe, is its energy reduced? If so, where does that energy go?
19
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3answers
3k views

Energy Conservation Dilemma

Assume that a man is travelling in a space ship at a certain relativistic speed with respect to a man at rest at some point in space, such that 3 minutes in the ship is equal to 5 minutes for the ...
19
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2answers
3k views

In $_6^{14}\mathrm C$ decay, how is mass-energy conserved?

The mass of a carbon 14 atom is $14.003\,241\,988\,7\:\mathrm{u}$, nitrogen 14 has a mass of $14.003\,074\,004\,78\:\mathrm{u}$, and the rest-mass of an electron is $0.000\,548\,579\,9\:\mathrm{u}$ ...
19
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4answers
18k views

Kinetic energy with respect to different reference frames

I'm having problems understanding the following situation. Suppose two 1-tonne cars are going with the same orientations but opposite senses, each 50 km/h with respect to the road. Then the total ...
19
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3answers
4k views

Do black holes violate the first law of thermodynamics?

When a black hole absorbs matter is it destroying that mass, thereby destroying energy, therefore violating the first law of thermodynamics?
19
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5answers
3k views

Noether Theorem and Energy conservation in classical mechanics

I have a problem deriving the conservation of energy from time translation invariance. The invariance of the Lagrangian under infinitesimal time displacements $t \rightarrow t' = t + \epsilon$ can be ...
19
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2answers
1k views

If energy is only defined up to a constant, can we really claim that ground state energy has an absolute value?

Sorry if this is really naive, but we learned in Newtonian physics that the total energy of a system is only defined up to an additive constant, since you can always add a constant to the potential ...
19
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4answers
7k views

How is information related to energy in physics?

I recently attended a talk by Dr. Ravi Gomatam on 'quantum reality', where the speaker suggested, that conservation of energy is not a fundamental law, and is conditional, but the conservation of ...
19
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3answers
1k views

Do accelerated charges radiate or not? [duplicate]

This questions has been asked all over the net (here included) but I can't find a satisfactory answer or discussion. Some say it does not radiate if the acceleration is caused by a uniform gravity ...
18
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16answers
8k views

Can a car get better mileage driving over hills?

Two towns are at the same elevation and are connected by two roads of the same length. One road is flat, the other road goes up and down some hills. Will an automobile always get the best mileage ...