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Forms of Energy, Work, Heat, Waves, Electromagnetic Spectrum

Forms of Energy

Energy is the ability or capacity of any physical system to do work. All work is done by forces.

Forms of energy in motion are often classified as kinetic energy. Stored energy is not in motion and is classified as potential energy. Any form of energy can be transformed into any other form of energy by using an appropriate energy converting system.

Thermal energy, or heat energy, is the kinetic energy of particles of matter such as atoms and molecules as they move and vibrate.
Electrical energy comes from the forces exerted by electric charges found in the subatomic particles of matter such as electrons and protons.

Light energy is the full range of mostly invisible radiant energy that makes up the electromagnetic spectrum.
Nuclear energy is the enormous potential energy stored in the powerful binding forces of any atoms nucleus. Elastic energy is potential energy stored in an object such as a stretched rubber band or a stretched spring.

The change from one kind of energy into another is known as transformation. When energy changes from one form to another, it is never created or destroyed. This is called the law of conservation of energy. A theoretical closed system is one in which no energy goes in or out.

The mechanical energy of an object is the sum of its kinetic energy and potential energy. An object in motion has kinetic energy. The kinetic energy (KE) of a moving object is related to its mass (m) and velocity (v) and is measured in Joules (J).

KE = mv2

KE=kinetic energy m=mass v2= velocity squared

The greater the mass and velocity of a moving object, the greater is its kinetic energy. The contribution to the total kinetic energy of velocity squared is much greater than that of mass.

Gravitational potential energy (PE) is due to an objects position in relation to the pull of gravity (aka must have height to have PE). Potential energy is related to its mass (m), the force of gravity (g), and its height (h) and is measured in Joules (J).

The force of gravity (g) on Earth is expressed as 9.8 m/s2.

PE = mgh PE=potential energy m=mass g=gravity (9.8m/s) h=height

Practice Problems!


KE = mv2 PE = mgh


Work is a transfer of energy that moves an object a distance in the direction of an applied force and is measured in Joules (J).

W = Fd W=work (J) F=force (N) d=distance (m)

Sometimes you will have to solve for Force first, and then use that answer to solve for Work. Power is the rate at which work is done and is measured in Watts (W). More powerful machines can do more work per second.

P = W/t P=power (W) W=work (J) t=seconds (s)

Sometimes you will have to solve for Work first, and then use that answer to solve for Power.

Work and Power

W = Fd P = W/t



Thermal energy, also called heat energy, always flows from a warmer object to a cooler object. This is called heat transfer. The process continues until both objects reach the same temperature. There are three ways in which heat transfer can happen: conduction, convection, and radiation.

Conduction is the transfer of heat energy from one solid object to another when they are in direct contact. Metals and other materials that readily transfer heat energy through themselves are called conductors.

Materials that transfer heat energy poorly are called insulators.

Convection is the process of heat transfer in fluids by means of rising and falling currents of liquid or gas. Radiation is the transfer of heat energy in the form of electromagnetic waves. Unlike conduction and convection, radiation does not require a medium (solid, liquid, gas) to transfer heat energy.


Practice Problems..YAY!

Transfer of Energy by Waves

A wave is a disturbance that transfers energy but not mass in traveling from one location to another.

Most often the wave is traveling through a medium made of matter. A medium is any substance that waves utilize to transport the waves energy.
A medium can be solid, liquid, or gas.

There are two main types of waves: mechanical and electromagnetic. Mechanical waves require a medium to transfer their energy. Two kinds of mechanical waves are longitudinal waves and transverse waves.

Longitudinal waves, also called compressional waves, are waves in which the particles in the medium move in the same direction as the wave itself and parallel to it. Sound waves are longitudinal waves.

Regions of high particle density are called compressions. Regions of low particle density are called rarefactions.

For transverse waves, the particles of the medium move perpendicular to the direction of the wave. Light waves are transverse electromagnetic waves that are unique.

Electromagnetic waves travel and transfer energy through space.

In transverse wave diagrams the straight horizontal line through the middle of the wave is its rest potion, which is also called its equilibrium potion. At this point, there is no displacement.

The peak of the wave is the crest. The valley is the trough.
The crest and the trough represent the points of maximum displacement of the particles in the medium from the equilibrium potion.

When a sound or light wave meets a new medium, three things can happen. The wave energy can pass through, part or all of the wave energy can be absorbed, or part or all of the wave energy can bounce off the mediums surface and change direction as a reflection. Refraction is when waves pass from one medium to another their direction of travel is usually bent because their speed in the new medium changes.

Practice Problems

Transfer of Energy by Waves

Characteristics of Waves

The amplitude of a wave is the maximum amount of displacement of the particles from the rest position. In a transverse wave, that is the distance from the rest position to either the top of the crest or the bottom of the trough.

In a longitudinal wave such as a sound wave, there are no crests or troughs.

The wavelength is another physical component of a transverse wave. It is the distance from crest to crest or from trough to trough.

For longitudinal waves, the wavelength can be measured from a point in one compression to a similar point in the next compression or from a rarefaction to the next rarefaction.

A waves frequency is the number of wave cycles per second. One wave cycle is equal to one wavelength. Frequency is measure in hertz (Hz). The frequency and the wavelength are inversely related. When the frequency increases, the wavelength decreases, and vice versa.

The period of a wave is the time for a complete cycle to pass a particular point. Frequency and period are inversely related. As the frequency increases, the period decreases and vice versa. The speed and velocity of a wave are determined by the medium the wave passes through and by the type of wave itself.

A waves velocity (vw) is determined by the product of its frequency (f-hertz) multiplied by its wavelength (-meters).

Vw = f

Characteristics of Waves

Practice Problems Vw = f

The Electromagnetic Spectrum

Electromagnetic waves are transverse waves consisting of electric and magnetic components. All electromagnetic waves travel through the vacuum of space at the speed of light. Electromagnetic waves are classified into types according to the frequency and wavelength of the wave being propagated.

The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all possible electromagnetic waves. The shortest electromagnetic waves are the gamma rays. They have the highest frequencies.

X-rays are the second shortest waves and have a high frequency. Following xrays are ultraviolet waves.

Visible light waves are the only electromagnetic waves we think we can see. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet (ROY G BIV) listed from longest to shortest wavelengths. Infrared waves come after visible light. Radio waves have the longest wavelength and lowest frequencies.

End it with some more.

Practice problems!!