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Potential Energy

Teacher/Instructor Matt Jones
Matt Jones

M.Ed., George Washington University
Dept. chair at a high school

Matt is currently the department chair at a high school in San Francisco. In his spare time, Matt enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and two kids.

Objects store energy in the form of potential energy. Chemical potential energy is an object's potential to undergo an exothermic reaction; spring potential energy is a compressed spring's potential to expand; and gravitational potential energy is an object's potential to fall from a high altitude to a low altitude. The formula for potential energy is gravitational potential energy = mass * acceleration due to gravity * height.

Potential energy, potential energy is just the amount of energy that's stored in something and it can be stored in many different ways. But there's 3 main types of potential energy, the first is elastic energy like when you bend a bow and a bow and arrow you're storing energy in that bent bow or in the elastic in a rubber band or in something with a bungee cord that has elasticity. When you pull that you can get some stored energy that you can then release. Or a spring maybe a spring that you can press, those are all types of elastic energy. There's other energy like chemical energy, so gasoline and diesel, fuels that we use calories, when you eat of calories and you store that energy as fat and then when you burn that fat you convert it into another type of energy like kinetic energy the energy of motion.

Another type of energy is gravitational energy, so an object at a high position with a gravitational force on it has stored energy as well okay and the formula, this is a quite common 1 we use in Physics to solve. The formula for gravitational energy, where that's stored energy is the mass of an object times the gravitational force which again is 9.8 meters per second squared times the height of that object okay. So let's look at a question that you might be asked to solve on potential energy and typically there're going to be the gravitational energy form. So over here how much work is required and remember when we're talking about work we're talking about the amount of energy that's required, so work and energy are really pretty synonymous here okay.

How much work is required to lift a 4 kilogram TV from the floor to a stand 1.5 meters above the floor right so right up maybe on your mantle say okay well let's look at the, we're talking about positional energy here so we need to figure out their potential energy equals mass times gravity times height okay and we just have to once we remember this formula we have our mass is 4 kilograms our gravity I'm going to simplify 9.8 meters per second squared to 10 meters per second squarer okay and that's [IB] each other. And then where the height we're moving it up is 1.5 meters okay, and if I multiply this 4 and 10, 1.5 I get 60 okay and the unit for work or energy is joules so the potential energy in that stored TV up there is 60 joules. Okay, so this is how you might solve a problem on potential energy.