refers to aconceptthat can be paraphrased as "the potential for causingchanges", and therefore energy is the cause of any change. The word is used in several different contexts.The use of the word in mainstream science has a precise, well-defined meaning, which is not the case, mostoften, with many other usages.The most common definition of energy iswork that a certain force (gravitational, electromagnetic, etc) cando. It is the ability to do work. Due to a variety of forces, energy has many different forms (gravitational,electric, heat, etc.) that can be grouped into two major categories:kinetic energyand potential energy.According to this definition, energy has the same units as work; aforceapplied through a distance. TheSIunit of energy, the joule, equals onenewtonapplied through onemeter , for example. Energy has nodirection in space, and is therefore considered ascalar quantity.Energy is aconservedquantity, meaning that it cannot be created or destroyed, but only converted from oneform into another. Thus, the total energy of the universe always remains constant.
The concepts of energy and its transformations are useful in explaining natural phenomena. The law of conservation of energy is equally useful. The direction of transformations explained with the help of energyis often influenced byentropyconsiderations also.The exact context of various natural phenomenaand transformations varies from one natural science toanother. Some examples are:
The transformation that constitutes the context of energy in physics, is the change in position or movementof an object which is brought about through the action of aforce.Thus in the context of physics, energy issaid to be the ability to dowork .Work is said to be done, in physics, when an object (howsoever small insize and mass) is moved across a distance, howsoever short, by the action of a force.Mathematically, work is equal to the force multiplied by a distance (more accurately, force integrated over acertain path).
The home of textEnergy project to studentsThe equation above says that the work (
involved, work of this force results in a change of the corresponding kindof energy (gravitational, electrostatic, kinetic, etc).An instrument used by physicists to measure energyUnits of energy are thus exactly the same as units of work ( joulesin theSI). Because work isframedependent(i.e., can only be defined relative to certaininitial stateor reference stateof the system), energyalso becomes frame dependent. For example, although a speeding bullet has kinetic energy in thereferenceframeof a non-moving observer, it has zero kinetic energy in its proper (co-moving) reference frame -- because it takes zero work to accelerate a bullet from zero speed to zero speed. Of course, the selection of areference state (or reference frame) is completely arbitrary - and usually is dictated to maximally simplifythe problem to be dealt with. However, when the total energy of a system cannot be decreased by simplechoice of reference frame, then the (minimal) energy remaining in the system is associated with aninvariant massof the system. In this special frame, called the center-of-momentum frame or center-of-massframe, total energy of the system
².The concept of quantized energy is a product of quantum mechanics. Any system can be described by anSchrodinger equation, and for bound systems the solution of this equation leads to certain permitted states,each characterized by anenergy level. In the realm of wave mechanicsthe energy is related to thefrequency of an electromagnetic radiation by thePlanck equation
the frequency)According to Einstein's theory of special relativity, mass and energy are equivalent. For example, there are processes, such aselectron- positronannihilation, in which mass is converted completely into energy, andenergy also participates in gravitational interactions. The relationship between the two is:where
is the amount of rest mass released into the surroundings as active energy (heat, light, kineticenergy),
the entropy of the universe must increase in all processes (includingchemical processes), and energy is transformed from one form to another (including from heat to any other form) so long as the second law is not violated. For example, a gas may expand and thus allow some of itsheat to do work, but this is only possible because the net entropy of the universe
(so called because they appear as linear features indispersionspectra (see example above),such as might be produced by a prismor diffraction grating) are postulated to be due to a certain specificamount of energy involved in the transition of atoms or molecules, from one state to another. Because acharactistic magnitude of energy is associated with a characteristic frequency (and wavelength) of light (or other electromagnetic radiation), such lines in spectra are direct clues to energetic changes which are permitted to happen only at certain energies, and not others.The
of a chemical reaction (at given temperature T) is related to a yet another concept,activationenergy. The activation energy E, of a chemical reaction, can be visualized as the height of a barrier of energy separating two minima of the energy of the chemically reacting system (the energy of reactants andthe energy of products). Thus, according tostatistical mechanicsthe rate of chemical reactions is proportional to the Boltzmann's population factor
, that is the population of molecules having energygreater than or equal to E at the temperature T. This exponential dependence of a reaction rate ontemperature is known as theArrhenius equation.
Growth,developmentandmetabolismare some of the central phenomena in the study of biology.Theycannot be explained without invoking the energy concept. Indeed sustenance of lifeitself is criticallydependent on energy transformations; living organisms survive because of exchange of energy within andwithout. In a living organismchemical bondsare constantly broken and made to make the exchange andtransformation of energy possible. These chemical bonds are most often bonds incarbohydrates, includingsugars.