# 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.

3,116 questions
Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
91k 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 ...
• 1,456
16k views

Assume I live in a location where at any time of day and any time of year, I need to heat my house. Assume further that I have a room with no windows. In this case, does it make sense for me to buy ...
• 1,083
23k views

### 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 ...
• 987
18k views

### When I walk down the stairs where does my potential energy go?

When I leave my room I walk down three flights of stairs releasing about 7kJ of potential energy. Where does it go? Is it all getting dispersed into heat and sound? Is that heat being generated at the ...
• 1,218
5k views

### 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 ...
• 1,051
14k views

### 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 ...
• 841
26k views

### 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 ...
11k views

### Why does a ping pong ball bounce higher when it is dropped together with a cup of water?

Setup: an official ping pong ball is floating inside a party plastic cup filled with clean water, which is then dropped from a certain height onto a soft mat. Observation: the ping pong ball shoots up ...
• 11.6k
36k 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 ...
• 741
10k views

### 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 ...
19k views

### 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 ...
• 705
10k views

### What allows a pull-back toy car to drive further than it was pushed?

Imagine you have a pull back toy car. Its back part is on $x_0$. You push it down and move it in the back direction to the point $y$ (not marked): Then you leave the car to move away: Then you mark ...
• 1,165
20k views

### 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 ...
• 831
15k views

### Why doesn't this perpetual motion machine using the buoyant force work?

I realize this isn't possible, but I can't see why not, especially if you change the model a little bit so that the balls simply travel through a tube of water on the way up, rather than exactly this ...
• 521
5k views

### 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. ...
• 1,751
16k views

### 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 ...
• 4,941
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 ...
12k 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 ...
• 791
11k views

### 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 ...
• 634
15k views

### 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 ...
• 543
12k views

### 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 ...
• 1,386
29k 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 ...
• 513
9k views

### 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 + ...
• 503
12k views

### 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 ...
• 575
27k views

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 ...
8k views

• 261
9k views

### Why do things cool down?

What I've heard from books and other materials is that heat is nothing but the sum of the movement of molecules. So, as you all know, one common myth breaker was "Unlike in movies, you don't get ...
• 372
14k 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 ...
• 3,751
18k 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 ...
• 1,265