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Thread: Potential Energy

  1. #1 Potential Energy 
    New Member Tau Neutrino's Avatar
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    I know this may sound like a really low profile question, but it's been annoying me for quite some time.

    I just saw an episode of the Universe (I know, it's very rudimentary, but its entertaining) where they talk about potential energy. I'm new to physics and have not yet explored kinetic/potential energy. My question is this:

    In the episode, they talked about the farther an object gets away from Earth (within its gravitational pull), the more potential energy it has due to gravity. If I were to toss a rock 50 feet up, it should be gaining potential energy on the way up. But if it were to land on something, say a roof, then where does all the potential energy go?

    As I was typing this out, I kinda realized that the potential energy should still be in the rock, because it's still high off the ground, but I just want to make sure.


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  3. #2  
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    That's right.


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  4. #3 Re: Potential Energy 
    . DrRocket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tau Neutrino
    I know this may sound like a really low profile question, but it's been annoying me for quite some time.

    I just saw an episode of the Universe (I know, it's very rudimentary, but its entertaining) where they talk about potential energy. I'm new to physics and have not yet explored kinetic/potential energy. My question is this:

    In the episode, they talked about the farther an object gets away from Earth (within its gravitational pull), the more potential energy it has due to gravity. If I were to toss a rock 50 feet up, it should be gaining potential energy on the way up. But if it were to land on something, say a roof, then where does all the potential energy go?

    As I was typing this out, I kinda realized that the potential energy should still be in the rock, because it's still high off the ground, but I just want to make sure.
    The usual explanation is that the potential energy is in the gravitational field itself, rather than in the rock. But it doesn't matter a lot where you think it is so long and you understand the concept and how it arises.
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  5. #4 Re: Potential Energy 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tau Neutrino
    I know this may sound like a really low profile question, but it's been annoying me for quite some time.

    I just saw an episode of the Universe (I know, it's very rudimentary, but its entertaining) where they talk about potential energy. I'm new to physics and have not yet explored kinetic/potential energy. My question is this:

    In the episode, they talked about the farther an object gets away from Earth (within its gravitational pull), the more potential energy it has due to gravity. If I were to toss a rock 50 feet up, it should be gaining potential energy on the way up. But if it were to land on something, say a roof, then where does all the potential energy go?

    As I was typing this out, I kinda realized that the potential energy should still be in the rock, because it's still high off the ground, but I just want to make sure.
    Potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, so to speak. More specifically, in your example, gravitational potential energy. , where is mass, is height, and is gravity. It seems as if you're more interested in astronomy rather than physics, so it might be more beneficial for you more to learn this subject, but astronomy does require understanding of some physics concepts as well (particularly in astrophysics).
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  6. #5 Re: Potential Energy 
    . DrRocket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellatha
    Quote Originally Posted by Tau Neutrino
    I know this may sound like a really low profile question, but it's been annoying me for quite some time.

    I just saw an episode of the Universe (I know, it's very rudimentary, but its entertaining) where they talk about potential energy. I'm new to physics and have not yet explored kinetic/potential energy. My question is this:

    In the episode, they talked about the farther an object gets away from Earth (within its gravitational pull), the more potential energy it has due to gravity. If I were to toss a rock 50 feet up, it should be gaining potential energy on the way up. But if it were to land on something, say a roof, then where does all the potential energy go?

    As I was typing this out, I kinda realized that the potential energy should still be in the rock, because it's still high off the ground, but I just want to make sure.
    Potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, so to speak. More specifically, in your example, gravitational potential energy. , where is mass, is height, and is gravity. It seems as if you're more interested in astronomy rather than physics, so it might be more beneficial for you more to learn this subject, but astronomy does require understanding of some physics concepts as well (particularly in astrophysics).
    In this case kinetic energy is converted to potential energy.

    Astrophysics is physics. It requires understanding of physics in the same way that any physics degree does. Astrophysicists use the entire body of knowledge of physics. They just apply it to the physics of stars and the cosmos in general.
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