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Energy Definition

Energy makes things happen. For example, we can describe how it behaves in systems.

View Lesson on Potential vs. Kinetic Energy
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Potential vs. Kinetic Energy

Fun Facts

  • The composition of an object determines what kind of energy it has (e.g. chemical, thermal).
  • Energy transfers between objects and systems.
  • Energy is conserved. When the energy of one object decreases, the energy of at least one other must increase.

Why Do We Need To Know About Energy

Learning about kinetic and potential energy helps you see how engineers and designers fix real-world problems. Knowing about these energies is important for making things like safer football helmets and car airbags to protect people in crashes.

This knowledge is also used in making exciting amusement park rides and working prosthetic limbs. Engineers use these ideas to make sure rides are fun but safe, and to create artificial limbs that move like real ones, helping people with disabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between kinetic and potential energy?
Kinetic energy is energy of motion and potential energy is associated with the relative position of something.
What variable(s) determine the amount of kinetic energy an object has?
Mass and speed.
What variable(s) determine the amount of potential energy an object has?
The object’s position and its mass.
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