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Dynamics: Potential & Kinetic Energy

Potential Energy

Potential energy is energy that is being stored. An example of potential energy is a mass held at a certain height. The higher the particle is off of the ground, the higher its potential energy. Refer to equation 1.

Potential energy of a suspended mass equation (1)

W = Weight

Δy = suspended height

U1-2 = Potential Energy

Potential Energy of a Suspended Object

A compressed spring also has a stored potential energy. The potential energy gained by compressing or stretching a spring can be seen in equation 2.

Potential energy of a compressed spring equation (2)

k = spring constant

s2 = Initial spring length

s1 = New spring length

Potential Energy of a spring

The variable k in equation 2 represents that spring constant, which represent the amount of deflection caused by a certain amount of force. Refer to equation 3.

Spring constant equation (3)

f = force

δ = change in length

Kinetic Energy

Kinetic energy on the other hand represents the amount of energy being expanded through motion. Kinetic energy is normally represented by equation 4.

Kinetic Energy Equation (4)

m = Mass

v = velocity

T = Kinetic Energy

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