The Full Wiki

More info on Energy

Energy: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Energy

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lightning is the electric breakdown of air by strong electric fields and is a flow of energy. The electric potential energy in the atmosphere changes into heat, light, and sound which are other forms of energy.

In physics, energy (from the Greek ἐνέργεια - energeia, "activity, operation", from ἐνεργός - energos, "active, working"[1]) is a scalar physical quantity that describes the amount of work that can be performed by a force, an attribute of objects and systems that is subject to a conservation law. Different forms of energy include kinetic, potential, thermal, gravitational, sound, light, elastic, and electromagnetic energy. The forms of energy are often named after a related force.

Any form of energy can be transformed into another form, but the total energy always remains the same. This principle, the conservation of energy, was first postulated in the early 19th century, and applies to any isolated system. According to Noether's theorem, the conservation of energy is a consequence of the fact that the laws of physics do not change over time.[2]

Although the total energy of a system does not change with time, its value may depend on the frame of reference. For example, a seated passenger in a moving airplane has zero kinetic energy relative to the airplane, but non-zero kinetic energy relative to the Earth.



The word energy derives from Greek ἐνέργεια (energeia), which appears for the first time in the work Nicomachean Ethics[3] of Aristotle in the 4th century BC. In 1021 AD, the Arabian physicist, Alhazen, in the Book of Optics, held light rays to be streams of minute energy particles, stating that "the smallest parts of light" retain "only properties that can be treated by geometry and verified by experiment" and that "they lack all sensible qualities except energy."[4] In 1121, Al-Khazini, in The Book of the Balance of Wisdom, proposed that the gravitational potential energy of a body varies depending on its distance from the centre of the Earth.[5]

The concept of energy emerged out of the idea of vis viva, which Leibniz defined as the product of the mass of an object and its velocity squared; he believed that total vis viva was conserved. To account for slowing due to friction, Leibniz claimed that heat consisted of the random motion of the constituent parts of matter — a view shared by Isaac Newton, although it would be more than a century until this was generally accepted. In 1807, Thomas Young was the first to use the term "energy" instead of vis viva, in its modern sense.[6] Gustave-Gaspard Coriolis described "kinetic energy" in 1829 in its modern sense, and in 1853, William Rankine coined the term "potential energy." It was argued for some years whether energy was a substance (the caloric) or merely a physical quantity, such as momentum.

William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) amalgamated all of these laws into the laws of thermodynamics, which aided in the rapid development of explanations of chemical processes using the concept of energy by Rudolf Clausius, Josiah Willard Gibbs, and Walther Nernst. It also led to a mathematical formulation of the concept of entropy by Clausius and to the introduction of laws of radiant energy by Jožef Stefan.

During a 1961 lecture[7] for undergraduate students at the California Institute of Technology, Richard Feynman, a celebrated physics teacher and Nobel Laureate, said this about the concept of energy:

There is a fact, or if you wish, a law, governing natural phenomena that are known to date. There is no known exception to this law; it is exact, so far we know. The law is called conservation of energy; it states that there is a certain quantity, which we call energy, that does not change in manifold changes which nature undergoes. That is a most abstract idea, because it is a mathematical principle; it says that there is a numerical quantity, which does not change when something happens. It is not a description of a mechanism, or anything concrete; it is just a strange fact that we can calculate some number, and when we finish watching nature go through her tricks and calculate the number again, it is the same.
The Feynman Lectures on Physics[7]

Since 1918 it has been known that the law of conservation of energy is the direct mathematical consequence of the translational symmetry of the quantity conjugate to energy, namely time. That is, energy is conserved because the laws of physics do not distinguish between different moments of time (see Noether's theorem).

Energy in various contexts since the beginning of the universe

The concept of energy and its transformations is useful in explaining and predicting most natural phenomena. The direction of transformations in energy (what kind of energy is transformed to what other kind) is often described by entropy (equal energy spread among all available degrees of freedom) considerations, since in practice all energy transformations are permitted on a small scale, but certain larger transformations are not permitted because it is statistically unlikely that energy or matter will randomly move into more concentrated forms or smaller spaces.

The concept of energy is widespread in all sciences.

  • In biology, energy is an attribute of all biological systems from the biosphere to the smallest living organism. Within an organism it is responsible for growth and development of a biological cell or an organelle of a biological organism. Energy is thus often said to be stored by cells in the structures of molecules of substances such as carbohydrates (including sugars) and lipids, which release energy when reacted with oxygen. In human terms, the human equivalent (H-e) (Human energy conversion) The human equivalent energy indicates, for a given amount of energy expenditure, the relative quantity of energy needed for human metabolism, assuming an average human energy expenditure of 12,500kJ per day and a basal metabolic rate of 80 watts. For example, if our bodies run (on average) at 80 watts, then a light bulb running at 100 watts is running at 1.25 human equivalents (100 ÷ 80) i.e. 1.25 H-e. For a difficult task of only a few seconds' duration, a person can put out thousands of watts—many times the 746 watts in one official horsepower. For tasks lasting a few minutes, a fit human can generate perhaps 1,000 watts. For an activity that must be sustained for an hour, output drops to around 300; for an activity kept up all day, 150 watts is about the maximum.[8] The human equivalent assists understanding of energy flows in physical and biological systems by expressing energy units in human terms: it provides a “feel” for the use of a given amount of energy[9]
  • In geology, continental drift, mountain ranges, volcanoes, and earthquakes are phenomena that can be explained in terms of energy transformations in the Earth's interior.[10] While meteorological phenomena like wind, rain, hail, snow, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes, are all a result of energy transformations brought about by solar energy on the atmosphere of the planet Earth.
  • In cosmology and astronomy the phenomena of stars, nova, supernova, quasars and gamma ray bursts are the universe's highest-output energy transformations of matter. All stellar phenomena (including solar activity) are driven by various kinds of energy transformations. Energy in such transformations is either from gravitational collapse of matter (usually molecular hydrogen) into various classes of astronomical objects (stars, black holes, etc.), or from nuclear fusion (of lighter elements, primarily hydrogen).

Energy transformations in the universe over time are characterized by various kinds of potential energy which has been available since the Big Bang, later being "released" (transformed to more active types of energy such as kinetic or radiant energy), when a triggering mechanism is available.

Familiar examples of such processes include nuclear decay, in which energy is released which was originally "stored" in heavy isotopes (such as uranium and thorium), by nucleosynthesis, a process which ultimately uses the gravitational potential energy released from the gravitational collapse of supernovae, to store energy in the creation of these heavy elements before they were incorporated into the solar system and the Earth. This energy is triggered and released in nuclear fission bombs. In a slower process, heat from nuclear decay of these atoms in the core of the Earth releases heat, which in turn may lift mountains, via orogenesis. This slow lifting represents a kind of gravitational potential energy storage of the heat energy, which may be released to active kinetic energy in landslides, after a triggering event. Earthquakes also release stored elastic potential energy in rocks, a store which has been produced ultimately from the same radioactive heat sources. Thus, according to present understanding, familiar events such as landslides and earthquakes release energy which has been stored as potential energy in the Earth's gravitational field or elastic strain (mechanical potential energy) in rocks; but prior to this, represents energy that has been stored in heavy atoms since the collapse of long-destroyed stars created these atoms.

In another similar chain of transformations beginning at the dawn of the universe, nuclear fusion of hydrogen in the Sun releases another store of potential energy which was created at the time of the Big Bang. At that time, according to theory, space expanded and the universe cooled too rapidly for hydrogen to completely fuse into heavier elements. This meant that hydrogen represents a store of potential energy which can be released by fusion. Such a fusion process is triggered by heat and pressure generated from gravitational collapse of hydrogen clouds when they produce stars, and some of the fusion energy is then transformed into sunlight. Such sunlight from our Sun may again be stored as gravitational potential energy after it strikes the Earth, as (for example) water evaporates from oceans and is deposited upon mountains (where, after being released at a hydroelectric dam, it can be used to drive turbine/generators to produce electricity). Sunlight also drives many weather phenomena, save those generated by volcanic events. An example of a solar-mediated weather event is a hurricane, which occurs when large unstable areas of warm ocean, heated over months, give up some of their thermal energy suddenly to power a few days of violent air movement. Sunlight is also captured by plants as chemical potential energy, when carbon dioxide and water are converted into a combustible combination of carbohydrates, lipids, and oxygen. Release of this energy as heat and light may be triggered suddenly by a spark, in a forest fire; or it may be available more slowly for animal or human metabolism, when these molecules are ingested, and catabolism is triggered by enzyme action. Through all of these transformation chains, potential energy stored at the time of the Big Bang is later released by intermediate events, sometimes being stored in a number of ways over time between releases, as more active energy. In all these events, one kind of energy is converted to other types of energy, including heat.

Regarding applications of the concept of energy

Energy is subject to a strict global conservation law; that is, whenever one measures (or calculates) the total energy of a system of particles whose interactions do not depend explicitly on time, it is found that the total energy of the system always remains constant.[11]

  • The total energy of a system can be subdivided and classified in various ways. For example, it is sometimes convenient to distinguish potential energy (which is a function of coordinates only) from kinetic energy (which is a function of coordinate time derivatives only). It may also be convenient to distinguish gravitational energy, electric energy, thermal energy, and other forms. These classifications overlap; for instance thermal energy usually consists partly of kinetic and partly of potential energy.
  • The transfer of energy can take various forms; familiar examples include work, heat flow, and advection, as discussed below.
  • The word "energy" is also used outside of physics in many ways, which can lead to ambiguity and inconsistency. The vernacular terminology is not consistent with technical terminology. For example, the important public-service announcement, "Please conserve energy" uses vernacular notions of "conservation" and "energy" which make sense in their own context but are utterly incompatible with the technical notions of "conservation" and "energy" (such as are used in the law of conservation of energy).[12]

In classical physics energy is considered a scalar quantity, the canonical conjugate to time. In special relativity energy is also a scalar (although not a Lorentz scalar but a time component of the energy-momentum 4-vector).[13] In other words, energy is invariant with respect to rotations of space, but not invariant with respect to rotations of space-time (= boosts).

Energy transfer

Because energy is strictly conserved and is also locally conserved (wherever it can be defined), it is important to remember that by definition of energy the transfer of energy between the "system" and adjacent regions is work. A familiar example is mechanical work. In simple cases this is written as:

ΔE = W             (1)

if there are no other energy-transfer processes involved. Here E  is the amount of energy transferred, and W  represents the work done on the system.

More generally, the energy transfer can be split into two categories:

ΔE = W + Q             (2)

where Q  represents the heat flow into the system.

There are other ways in which an open system can gain or lose energy. In chemical systems, energy can be added to a system by means of adding substances with different chemical potentials, which potentials are then extracted (both of these process are illustrated by fueling an auto, a system which gains in energy thereby, without addition of either work or heat). Winding a clock would be adding energy to a mechanical system. These terms may be added to the above equation, or they can generally be subsumed into a quantity called "energy addition term E" which refers to any type of energy carried over the surface of a control volume or system volume. Examples may be seen above, and many others can be imagined (for example, the kinetic energy of a stream of particles entering a system, or energy from a laser beam adds to system energy, without either being either work-done or heat-added, in the classic senses).

ΔE = W + Q + E             (3)

Where E in this general equation represents other additional advected energy terms not covered by work done on a system, or heat added to it.

Energy is also transferred from potential energy (Ep) to kinetic energy (Ek) and then back to potential energy constantly. This is referred to as conservation of energy. In this closed system, energy can not be created or destroyed, so the initial energy and the final energy will be equal to each other. This can be demonstrated by the following:

Epi + Eki = EpF + EkF

The equation can then be simplified further since Ep = mgh (mass times acceleration due to gravity times the height) and E_k = \frac{1}{2} mv^2 (half mass times velocity squared). Then the total amount of energy can be found by adding Ep + Ek = Etotal.

Energy and the laws of motion

Classical mechanics
History of ...
Fundamental concepts
Space · Time · Mass · Force
Energy · Momentum

In classical mechanics, energy is a conceptually and mathematically useful property since it is a conserved quantity.

The Hamiltonian

The total energy of a system is sometimes called the Hamiltonian, after William Rowan Hamilton. The classical equations of motion can be written in terms of the Hamiltonian, even for highly complex or abstract systems. These classical equations have remarkably direct analogs in nonrelativistic quantum mechanics.[14]

The Lagrangian

Another energy-related concept is called the Lagrangian, after Joseph Louis Lagrange. This is even more fundamental than the Hamiltonian, and can be used to derive the equations of motion. It was invented in the context of classical mechanics, but is generally useful in modern physics. The Lagrangian is defined as the kinetic energy minus the potential energy.

Usually, the Lagrange formalism is mathematically more convenient than the Hamiltonian for non-conservative systems (like systems with friction).

Energy and thermodynamics

Internal energy

Internal energy – the sum of all microscopic forms of energy of a system. It is related to the molecular structure and the degree of molecular activity and may be viewed as the sum of kinetic and potential energies of the molecules; it comprises the following types of energy:[15]

Type Composition of internal energy (U)
Sensible energy the portion of the internal energy of a system associated with kinetic energies (molecular translation, rotation, and vibration; electron translation and spin; and nuclear spin) of the molecules.
Latent energy the internal energy associated with the phase of a system.
Chemical energy the internal energy associated with the different kinds of aggregation of atoms in matter.
Nuclear energy the tremendous amount of energy associated with the strong bonds within the nucleus of the atom itself.
Energy interactions those types of energies not stored in the system (e.g. heat transfer, mass transfer, and work), but which are recognized at the system boundary as they cross it, which represent gains or losses by a system during a process.
Thermal energy the sum of sensible and latent forms of internal energy.

The laws of thermodynamics

According to the second law of thermodynamics, work can be totally converted into heat, but not vice versa.This is a mathematical consequence of statistical mechanics. The first law of thermodynamics simply asserts that energy is conserved,[16] and that heat is included as a form of energy transfer. A commonly-used corollary of the first law is that for a "system" subject only to pressure forces and heat transfer (e.g. a cylinder-full of gas), the differential change in energy of the system (with a gain in energy signified by a positive quantity) is given by:

\mathrm{d}E = T\mathrm{d}S - P\mathrm{d}V\,,

where the first term on the right is the heat transfer into the system, defined in terms of temperature T and entropy S (in which entropy increases and the change dS is positive when the system is heated); and the last term on the right hand side is identified as "work" done on the system, where pressure is P and volume V (the negative sign results since compression of the system requires work to be done on it and so the volume change, dV, is negative when work is done on the system). Although this equation is the standard text-book example of energy conservation in classical thermodynamics, it is highly specific, ignoring all chemical, electric, nuclear, and gravitational forces, effects such as advection of any form of energy other than heat, and because it contains a term that depends on temperature. The most general statement of the first law (i.e., conservation of energy) is valid even in situations in which temperature is undefinable.

Energy is sometimes expressed as:

\mathrm{d}E=\delta Q+\delta W\,,

which is unsatisfactory[12] because there cannot exist any thermodynamic state functions W or Q that are meaningful on the right hand side of this equation, except perhaps in trivial cases.

Equipartition of energy

The energy of a mechanical harmonic oscillator (a mass on a spring) is alternatively kinetic and potential. At two points in the oscillation cycle it is entirely kinetic, and alternatively at two other points it is entirely potential. Over the whole cycle, or over many cycles net energy is thus equally split between kinetic and potential. This is called equipartition principle - total energy of a system with many degrees of freedom is equally split among all available degrees of freedom.

This principle is vitally important to understanding the behavior of a quantity closely related to energy, called entropy. Entropy is a measure of evenness of a distribution of energy between parts of a system. When an isolated system is given more degrees of freedom (= is given new available energy states which are the same as existing states), then total energy spreads over all available degrees equally without distinction between "new" and "old" degrees. This mathematical result is called the second law of thermodynamics.

Oscillators, phonons, and photons

In an ensemble (connected collection) of unsynchronized oscillators, the average energy is spread equally between kinetic and potential types.

In a solid, thermal energy (often referred to loosely as heat content) can be accurately described by an ensemble of thermal phonons that act as mechanical oscillators. In this model, thermal energy is equally kinetic and potential.

In an ideal gas, the interaction potential between particles is essentially the delta function which stores no energy: thus, all of the thermal energy is kinetic.

Because an electric oscillator (LC circuit) is analogous to a mechanical oscillator, its energy must be, on average, equally kinetic and potential. It is entirely arbitrary whether the magnetic energy is considered kinetic and the electric energy considered potential, or vice versa. That is, either the inductor is analogous to the mass while the capacitor is analogous to the spring, or vice versa.

1. By extension of the previous line of thought, in free space the electromagnetic field can be considered an ensemble of oscillators, meaning that radiation energy can be considered equally potential and kinetic. This model is useful, for example, when the electromagnetic Lagrangian is of primary interest and is interpreted in terms of potential and kinetic energy.

2. On the other hand, in the key equation m2c4 = E2p2c2, the contribution mc2 is called the rest energy, and all other contributions to the energy are called kinetic energy. For a particle that has mass, this implies that the kinetic energy is 0.5p2 / m at speeds much smaller than c, as can be proved by writing E = mc2 √(1 + p2m − 2c − 2) and expanding the square root to lowest order. By this line of reasoning, the energy of a photon is entirely kinetic, because the photon is massless and has no rest energy. This expression is useful, for example, when the energy-versus-momentum relationship is of primary interest.

The two analyses are entirely consistent. The electric and magnetic degrees of freedom in item 1 are transverse to the direction of motion, while the speed in item 2 is along the direction of motion. For non-relativistic particles these two notions of potential versus kinetic energy are numerically equal, so the ambiguity is harmless, but not so for relativistic particles.

Work and virtual work

Work is force times distance.

 W = \int_C \mathbf{F} \cdot \mathrm{d} \mathbf{s}

This says that the work (W) is equal to the line integral of the force F along a path C; for details see the mechanical work article.

Work and thus energy is frame dependent. For example, consider a ball being hit by a bat. In the center-of-mass reference frame, the bat does no work on the ball. But, in the reference frame of the person swinging the bat, considerable work is done on the ball.

Quantum mechanics

In quantum mechanics energy is defined in terms of the energy operator as a time derivative of the wave function. The Schrödinger equation equates the energy operator to the full energy of a particle or a system. It thus can be considered as a definition of measurement of energy in quantum mechanics. The Schrödinger equation describes the space- and time-dependence of slow changing (non-relativistic) wave function of quantum systems. The solution of this equation for bound system is discrete (a set of permitted states, each characterized by an energy level) which results in the concept of quanta. In the solution of the Schrödinger equation for any oscillator (vibrator) and for electromagnetic waves in a vacuum, the resulting energy states are related to the frequency by the Planck equation E = hν (where h is the Planck's constant and ν the frequency). In the case of electromagnetic wave these energy states are called quanta of light or photons.


When calculating kinetic energy (= work to accelerate a mass from zero speed to some finite speed) relativistically - using Lorentz transformations instead of Newtonian mechanics, Einstein discovered an unexpected by-product of these calculations to be an energy term which does not vanish at zero speed. He called it rest mass energy - energy which every mass must possess even when being at rest. The amount of energy is directly proportional to the mass of body:

E = mc2,


m is the mass,
c is the speed of light in vacuum,
E is the rest mass energy.

For example, consider electron-positron annihilation, in which the rest mass of individual particles is destroyed, but the inertia equivalent of the system of the two particles (its invariant mass) remains (since all energy is associated with mass), and this inertia and invariant mass is carried off by photons which individually are massless, but as a system retain their mass. This is a reversible process - the inverse process is called pair creation - in which the rest mass of particles is created from energy of two (or more) annihilating photons.

In general relativity, the stress-energy tensor serves as the source term for the gravitational field, in rough analogy to the way mass serves as the source term in the non-relativistic Newtonian approximation.[13]

It is not uncommon to hear that energy is "equivalent" to mass. It would be more accurate to state that every energy has inertia and gravity equivalent, and because mass is a form of energy, then mass too has inertia and gravity associated with it.


A Calorimeter - An instrument used by physicists to measure energy

There is no absolute measure of energy, because energy is defined as the work that one system does (or can do) on another. Thus, only the transition of a system from one state into another can be defined and thus measured.


The methods for the measurement of energy often deploy methods for the measurement of still more fundamental concepts of science, namely mass, distance, radiation, temperature, time, electric charge and electric current.

Conventionally the technique most often employed is calorimetry, a thermodynamic technique that relies on the measurement of temperature using a thermometer or of intensity of radiation using a bolometer.


Throughout the history of science, energy has been expressed in several different units such as ergs and calories. At present, the accepted unit of measurement for energy is the SI unit of energy, the joule. In addition to the joule, other units of energy include the kilowatt hour (kWh) and the British thermal unit (Btu). These are both larger units of energy. One kWh is equivalent to exactly 3.6 million joules, and one Btu is equivalent to about 1055 joules. [17]

Forms of energy

Heat, a form of energy, is partly potential energy and partly kinetic energy.

Classical mechanics distinguishes between potential energy, which is a function of the position of an object, and kinetic energy, which is a function of its movement. Both position and movement are relative to a frame of reference, which must be specified: this is often (and originally) an arbitrary fixed point on the surface of the Earth, the terrestrial frame of reference. It has been attempted to categorize all forms of energy as either kinetic or potential: this is not incorrect, but neither is it clear that it is a real simplification, as Feynman points out:

These notions of potential and kinetic energy depend on a notion of length scale. For example, one can speak of macroscopic potential and kinetic energy, which do not include thermal potential and kinetic energy. Also what is called chemical potential energy (below) is a macroscopic notion, and closer examination shows that it is really the sum of the potential and kinetic energy on the atomic and subatomic scale. Similar remarks apply to nuclear "potential" energy and most other forms of energy. This dependence on length scale is non-problematic if the various length scales are decoupled, as is often the case ... but confusion can arise when different length scales are coupled, for instance when friction converts macroscopic work into microscopic thermal energy.

Examples of the interconversion of energy
Mechanical energy is converted
into by
Mechanical energy Lever
Thermal energy Brakes
Electric energy Dynamo
Electromagnetic radiation Synchrotron
Chemical energy Matches
Nuclear energy Particle accelerator

Mechanical energy

Mechanical energy manifest in many forms,but can be broadly classified into elastic potential energy and kinetic energy. However the term potential energy is a very general term, because it exists in all force fields, such as gravitation, electrostatic and magnetic fields. Potential energy refers to the energy any object gets due to its position in a force field.

Potential energy, symbols Ep, V or Φ, is defined as the work done against a given force (= work of given force with minus sign) in changing the position of an object with respect to a reference position (often taken to be infinite separation). If F is the force and s is the displacement,

E_{\rm p} = -\int \mathbf{F}\cdot{\rm d}\mathbf{s}

with the dot representing the scalar product of the two vectors.

The name "potential" energy originally signified the idea that the energy could readily be transferred as work—at least in an idealized system (reversible process, see below). This is not completely true for any real system, but is often a reasonable first approximation in classical mechanics.

The general equation above can be simplified in a number of common cases, notably when dealing with gravity or with elastic forces.

Elastic potential energy

As a ball falls freely under the influence of gravity, it accelerates downward, its initial potential energy converting into kinetic energy. On impact with a hard surface the ball deforms, converting the kinetic energy into elastic potential energy. As the ball springs back, the energy converts back firstly to kinetic energy and then as the ball re-gains height into potential energy. Energy conversion to heat due to inelastic deformation and air resistance cause each successive bounce to be lower than the last.

Elastic potential energy is defined as a work needed to compress (or expand) a spring. The force, F, in a spring or any other system which obeys Hooke's law is proportional to the extension or compression, x,

F = − kx

where k is the force constant of the particular spring (or system). In this case, the calculated work becomes

E_{\rm p,e} = {1\over 2}kx^2

only when k is constant. Hooke's law is a good approximation for behaviour of chemical bonds under normal conditions, i.e. when they are not being broken or formed.

Kinetic energy

Kinetic energy, symbols Ek, T or K, is the work required to accelerate an object to a given speed. Indeed, calculating this work one easily obtains the following:

E_{\rm k} = \int \mathbf{F} \cdot d \mathbf{x} = \int \mathbf{v} \cdot d \mathbf{p}= {1\over 2}mv^2

At speeds approaching the speed of light, c, this work must be calculated using Lorentz transformations, which results in the following:

 E_{\rm k} = m c^2\left(\frac{1}{\sqrt{1 - (v/c)^2}} - 1\right)

This equation reduces to the one above it, at small (compared to c) speed. A mathematical by-product of this work (which is immediately seen in the last equation) is that even at rest a mass has the amount of energy equal to:

Erest = mc2

This energy is thus called rest mass energy.

Surface energy

If there is any kind of tension in a surface, such as a stretched sheet of rubber or material interfaces, it is possible to define surface energy. In particular, any meeting of dissimilar materials that don't mix will result in some kind of surface tension, if there is freedom for the surfaces to move then, as seen in capillary surfaces for example, the minimum energy will as usual be sought.

A minimal surface, for example, represents the smallest possible energy that a surface can have if its energy is proportional to the area of the surface. For this reason, (open) soap films of small size are minimal surfaces (small size reduces gravity effects, and openness prevents pressure from building up. Note that a bubble is a minimum energy surface but not a minimal surface by definition).

Sound energy

Sound is a form of mechanical vibration, which propagates through any mechanical medium.

Gravitational energy

The gravitational force near the Earth's surface varies very little with the height, h, and is equal to the mass, m, multiplied by the gravitational acceleration, g = 9.81 m/s². In these cases, the gravitational potential energy is given by

Ep,g = mgh

A more general expression for the potential energy due to Newtonian gravitation between two bodies of masses m1 and m2, useful in astronomy, is

E_{\rm p,g} = -G{{m_1m_2}\over{r}},

where r is the separation between the two bodies and G is the gravitational constant, 6.6742(10)×10−11 m3kg−1s−2.[18] In this case, the reference point is the infinite separation of the two bodies.

Thermal energy

Examples of the interconversion of energy
Thermal energy is converted
into by
Mechanical energy Steam turbine
Thermal energy Heat exchanger
Electric energy Thermocouple
Electromagnetic radiation Hot objects
Chemical energy Blast furnace
Nuclear energy Supernova

Thermal energy (of some media - gas, plasma, solid, etc) is the energy associated with the microscopical random motion of particles constituting the media. For example, in case of monoatomic gas it is just a kinetic energy of motion of atoms of gas as measured in the reference frame of the center of mass of gas. In case of many-atomic gas rotational and vibrational energy is involved. In the case of liquids and solids there is also potential energy (of interaction of atoms) involved, and so on.

A heat is defined as a transfer (flow) of thermal energy across certain boundary (for example, from a hot body to cold via the area of their contact. A practical definition for small transfers of heat is

\Delta q = \int C_{\rm v}{\rm d}T

where Cv is the heat capacity of the system. This definition will fail if the system undergoes a phase transition—e.g. if ice is melting to water—as in these cases the system can absorb heat without increasing its temperature. In more complex systems, it is preferable to use the concept of internal energy rather than that of thermal energy (see Chemical energy below).

Despite the theoretical problems, the above definition is useful in the experimental measurement of energy changes. In a wide variety of situations, it is possible to use the energy released by a system to raise the temperature of another object, e.g. a bath of water. It is also possible to measure the amount of electric energy required to raise the temperature of the object by the same amount. The calorie was originally defined as the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by 1 °C (approximately 4.1855 J, although the definition later changed), and the British thermal unit was defined as the energy required to heat one pound of water by 1 °F (later fixed as 1055.06 J).

Electric energy

Examples of the interconversion of energy
Electric energy is converted
into by
Mechanical energy Electric motor
Thermal energy Resistor
Electric energy Transformer
Electromagnetic radiation Light-emitting diode
Chemical energy Electrolysis
Nuclear energy Synchrotron

Electrostatic energy

The electric potential energy of given configuration of charges is defined as the work which must be done against the Coulomb force to rearrange charges from infinite separation to this configuration (or the work done by the Coulomb force separating the charges from this configuration to infinity). For two point-like charges Q1 and Q2 at a distance r this work, and hence electric potential energy is equal to:

E_{\rm p,e} = {1\over {4\pi\epsilon_0}}{{Q_1Q_2}\over{r}}

where ε0 is the electric constant of a vacuum, 107/4πc0² or 8.854188…×10−12 F/m.[18] If the charge is accumulated in a capacitor (of capacitance C), the reference configuration is usually selected not to be infinite separation of charges, but vice versa - charges at an extremely close proximity to each other (so there is zero net charge on each plate of a capacitor). The justification for this choice is purely practical - it is easier to measure both voltage difference and magnitude of charges on a capacitor plates not versus infinite separation of charges but rather versus discharged capacitor where charges return to close proximity to each other (electrons and ions recombine making the plates neutral). In this case the work and thus the electric potential energy becomes

E_{\rm p,e} = {{Q^2}\over{2C}}

Electricity energy

If an electric current passes through a resistor, electric energy is converted to heat; if the current passes through an electric appliance, some of the electric energy will be converted into other forms of energy (although some will always be lost as heat). The amount of electric energy due to an electric current can be expressed in a number of different ways:

E = UQ = UIt = Pt = {{U^2}{t}\over{R}} = {I^2}Rt

where U is the electric potential difference (in volts), Q is the charge (in coulombs), I is the current (in amperes), t is the time for which the current flows (in seconds), P is the power (in watts) and R is the electric resistance (in ohms). The last of these expressions is important in the practical measurement of energy, as potential difference, resistance and time can all be measured with considerable accuracy.

Magnetic energy

There is no fundamental difference between magnetic energy and electric energy: the two phenomena are related by Maxwell's equations. The potential energy of a magnet of magnetic moment m in a magnetic field B is defined as the work of magnetic force (actually of magnetic torque) on re-alignment of the vector of the magnetic dipole moment, and is equal:

E_{\rm p,m} = -m\cdot B

while the energy stored in a inductor (of inductance L) when current I is passing via it is

E_{\rm p,m} = {1\over 2}LI^2.

This second expression forms the basis for superconducting magnetic energy storage.

Electromagnetic Energy

Examples of the interconversion of energy
Electromagnetic radiation is converted
into by
Mechanical energy Solar sail
Thermal energy Solar collector
Electric energy Solar cell
Electromagnetic radiation Non-linear optics
Chemical energy Photosynthesis
Nuclear energy Mössbauer spectroscopy

Calculating work needed to create an electric or magnetic field in unit volume (say, in a capacitor or an inductor) results in the electric and magnetic fields energy densities:

 u_e=\frac{\epsilon_0}{2} E^2


 u_m=\frac{1}{2\mu_0} B^2 ,

in SI units.

Electromagnetic radiation, such as microwaves, visible light or gamma rays, represents a flow of electromagnetic energy. Applying the above expressions to magnetic and electric components of electromagnetic field both the volumetric density and the flow of energy in e/m field can be calculated. The resulting Poynting vector, which is expressed as

\mathbf{S} = \frac{1}{\mu} \mathbf{E} \times \mathbf{B},

in SI units, gives the density of the flow of energy and its direction.

The energy of electromagnetic radiation is quantized (has discrete energy levels). The spacing between these levels is equal to

E = hν

where h is the Planck constant, 6.6260693(11)×10−34 Js,[18] and ν is the frequency of the radiation. This quantity of electromagnetic energy is usually called a photon. The photons which make up visible light have energies of 270–520 yJ, equivalent to 160–310 kJ/mol, the strength of weaker chemical bonds.

Chemical energy

Examples of the interconversion of energy
Chemical energy is converted
into by
Mechanical energy Muscle
Thermal energy Fire
Electric energy Fuel cell
Electromagnetic radiation Glowworms
Chemical energy Chemical reaction

Chemical energy is the energy due to associations of atoms in molecules and various other kinds of aggregates of matter. It may be defined as a work done by electric forces during re-arrangement of mutual positions of electric charges, electrons and protons, in the process of aggregation. So, basically it is electrostatic potential energy of electric charges. If the chemical energy of a system decreases during a chemical reaction, the difference is transferred to the surroundings in some form (often heat or light); on the other hand if the chemical energy of a system increases as a result of a chemical reaction - the difference then is supplied by the surroundings (usually again in form of heat or light). For example,

when two hydrogen atoms react to form a dihydrogen molecule, the chemical energy decreases by 724 zJ (the bond energy of the H–H bond);
when the electron is completely removed from a hydrogen atom, forming a hydrogen ion (in the gas phase), the chemical energy increases by 2.18 aJ (the ionization energy of hydrogen).

It is common to quote the changes in chemical energy for one mole of the substance in question: typical values for the change in molar chemical energy during a chemical reaction range from tens to hundreds of kilojoules per mole.

The chemical energy as defined above is also referred to by chemists as the internal energy, U: technically, this is measured by keeping the volume of the system constant. However, most practical chemistry is performed at constant pressure and, if the volume changes during the reaction (e.g. a gas is given off), a correction must be applied to take account of the work done by or on the atmosphere to obtain the enthalpy, H:

ΔH = ΔU + pΔV

A second correction, for the change in entropy, S, must also be performed to determine whether a chemical reaction will take place or not, giving the Gibbs free energy, G:


These corrections are sometimes negligible, but often not (especially in reactions involving gases).

Since the industrial revolution, the burning of coal, oil, natural gas or products derived from them has been a socially significant transformation of chemical energy into other forms of energy. the energy "consumption" (one should really speak of "energy transformation") of a society or country is often quoted in reference to the average energy released by the combustion of these fossil fuels:

1  tonne of coal equivalent (TCE) = 29.3076 GJ = 8,141 kilowatt hour
tonne of oil equivalent (TOE) = 41.868 GJ = 11,630 kilowatt hour

On the same basis, a tank-full of gasoline (45 litres, 12 gallons) is equivalent to about 1.6 GJ of chemical energy. Another chemically-based unit of measurement for energy is the "tonne of TNT", taken as 4.184 GJ. Hence, burning a tonne of oil releases about ten times as much energy as the explosion of one tonne of TNT: fortunately, the energy is usually released in a slower, more controlled manner.

Simple examples of storage of chemical energy are batteries and food. When food is digested and metabolized (often with oxygen), chemical energy is released, which can in turn be transformed into heat, or by muscles into kinetic energy.

Nuclear energy

Examples of the interconversion of energy
Nuclear binding energy is converted
into by
Mechanical energy Alpha radiation
Thermal energy Sun
Electrical energy Beta radiation
Electromagnetic radiation Gamma radiation
Chemical energy Radioactive decay
Nuclear energy Nuclear isomerism

Nuclear potential energy, along with electric potential energy, provides the energy released from nuclear fission and nuclear fusion processes. The result of both these processes are nuclei in which the more-optimal size of the nucleus allows the nuclear force (which is opposed by the electromagnetic force) to bind nuclear particles more tightly together than before the reaction.

The Weak nuclear force (different from the strong force) provides the potential energy for certain kinds of radioactive decay, such as beta decay.

The energy released in nuclear processes is so large that the relativistic change in mass (after the energy has been removed) can be as much as several parts per thousand.

Nuclear particles (nucleons) like protons and neutrons are not destroyed (law of conservation of baryon number) in fission and fusion processes. A few lighter particles may be created or destroyed (example: beta minus and beta plus decay, or electron capture decay), but these minor processes are not important to the immediate energy release in fission and fusion. Rather, fission and fusion release energy when collections of baryons become more tightly bound, and it is the energy associated with a fraction of the mass of the nucleons (but not the whole particles) which appears as the heat and electromagnetic radiation generated by nuclear reactions. This heat and radiation retains the "missing" mass, but the mass is missing only because it escapes in the form of heat and light, which retain the mass and conduct it out of the system where it is not measured.

The energy from the Sun, also called solar energy, is an example of this form of energy conversion. In the Sun, the process of hydrogen fusion converts about 4 million metric tons of solar matter per second into light, which is radiated into space, but during this process, the number of total protons and neutrons in the sun does not change. In this system, the light itself retains the inertial equivalent of this mass, and indeed the mass itself (as a system), which represents 4 million tons per second of electromagnetic radiation, moving into space. Each of the helium nuclei which are formed in the process are less massive than the four protons from they were formed, but (to a good approximation), no particles or atoms are destroyed in the process of turning the sun's nuclear potential energy into light.

Transformations of energy

One form of energy can often be readily transformed into another with the help of a device- for instance, a battery, from chemical energy to electric energy; a dam: gravitational potential energy to kinetic energy of moving water (and the blades of a turbine) and ultimately to electric energy through an electric generator. Similarly, in the case of a chemical explosion, chemical potential energy is transformed to kinetic energy and thermal energy in a very short time. Yet another example is that of a pendulum. At its highest points the kinetic energy is zero and the gravitational potential energy is at maximum. At its lowest point the kinetic energy is at maximum and is equal to the decrease of potential energy. If one (unrealistically) assumes that there is no friction, the conversion of energy between these processes is perfect, and the pendulum will continue swinging forever.

Energy gives rise to weight and is equivalent to matter and vice versa. The formula E = mc², derived by Albert Einstein (1905) quantifies the relationship between mass and rest energy within the concept of special relativity. In different theoretical frameworks, similar formulas were derived by J. J. Thomson (1881), Henri Poincaré (1900), Friedrich Hasenöhrl (1904) and others (see Mass-energy equivalence#History for further information). Since c2 is extremely large relative to ordinary human scales, the conversion of ordinary amount of mass (say, 1 kg) to other forms of energy can liberate tremendous amounts of energy (~9x1016 joules), as can be seen in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Conversely, the mass equivalent of a unit of energy is minuscule, which is why a loss of energy from most systems is difficult to measure by weight, unless the energy loss is very large. Examples of energy transformation into matter (particles) are found in high energy nuclear physics.

In nature, transformations of energy can be fundamentally classed into two kinds: those that are thermodynamically reversible, and those that are thermodynamically irreversible. A reversible process in thermodynamics is one in which no energy is dissipated (spread) into empty energy states available in a volume, from which it cannot be recovered into more concentrated forms (fewer quantum states), without degradation of even more energy. A reversible process is one in which this sort of dissipation does not happen. For example, conversion of energy from one type of potential field to another, is reversible, as in the pendulum system described above. In processes where heat is generated, however, quantum states of lower energy, present as possible exitations in fields between atoms, act as a reservoir for part of the energy, from which it cannot be recovered, in order to be converted with 100% efficiency into other forms of energy. In this case, the energy must partly stay as heat, and cannot be completely recovered as usable energy, except at the price of an increase in some other kind of heat-like increase in disorder in quantum states, in the universe (such as an expansion of matter, or a randomization in a crystal).

As the universe evolves in time, more and more of its energy becomes trapped in irreversible states (i.e., as heat or other kinds of increases in disorder). This has been referred to as the inevitable thermodynamic heat death of the universe. In this heat death the energy of the universe does not change, but the fraction of energy which is available to do produce work through a heat engine, or be transformed to other usable forms of energy (through the use of generators attached to heat engines), grows less and less.

Law of conservation of energy

Energy is subject to the law of conservation of energy. According to this law, energy can neither be created (produced) nor destroyed by itself. It can only be transformed.

Most kinds of energy (with gravitational energy being a notable exception)[19] are also subject to strict local conservation laws, as well. In this case, energy can only be exchanged between adjacent regions of space, and all observers agree as to the volumetric density of energy in any given space. There is also a global law of conservation of energy, stating that the total energy of the universe cannot change; this is a corollary of the local law, but not vice versa.[7][12] Conservation of energy is the mathematical consequence of translational symmetry of time (that is, the indistinguishability of time intervals taken at different time)[20] - see Noether's theorem.

According to energy conservation law the total inflow of energy into a system must equal the total outflow of energy from the system, plus the change in the energy contained within the system.

This law is a fundamental principle of physics. It follows from the translational symmetry of time, a property of most phenomena below the cosmic scale that makes them independent of their locations on the time coordinate. Put differently, yesterday, today, and tomorrow are physically indistinguishable.

This is because energy is the quantity which is canonical conjugate to time. This mathematical entanglement of energy and time also results in the uncertainty principle - it is impossible to define the exact amount of energy during any definite time interval. The uncertainty principle should not be confused with energy conservation - rather it provides mathematical limits to which energy can in principle be defined and measured.

In quantum mechanics energy is expressed using the Hamiltonian operator. On any time scales, the uncertainty in the energy is by

\Delta E \Delta t \ge \frac { \hbar } {2 }

which is similar in form to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (but not really mathematically equivalent thereto, since H and t are not dynamically conjugate variables, neither in classical nor in quantum mechanics).

In particle physics, this inequality permits a qualitative understanding of virtual particles which carry momentum, exchange by which and with real particles, is responsible for the creation of all known fundamental forces (more accurately known as fundamental interactions). Virtual photons (which are simply lowest quantum mechanical energy state of photons) are also responsible for electrostatic interaction between electric charges (which results in Coulomb law), for spontaneous radiative decay of exited atomic and nuclear states, for the Casimir force, for van der Waals bond forces and some other observable phenomena.

Energy and life

Basic overview of energy and human life.

Any living organism relies on an external source of energy—radiation from the Sun in the case of green plants; chemical energy in some form in the case of animals—to be able to grow and reproduce. The daily 1500–2000 Calories (6–8 MJ) recommended for a human adult are taken as a combination of oxygen and food molecules, the latter mostly carbohydrates and fats, of which glucose (C6H12O6) and stearin (C57H110O6) are convenient examples. The food molecules are oxidised to carbon dioxide and water in the mitochondria

C6H12O6 + 6O2 → 6CO2 + 6H2O
C57H110O6 + 81.5O2 → 57CO2 + 55H2O

and some of the energy is used to convert ADP into ATP

ADP + HPO42− → ATP + H2O

The rest of the chemical energy in the carbohydrate or fat is converted into heat: the ATP is used as a sort of "energy currency", and some of the chemical energy it contains when split and reacted with water, is used for other metabolism (at each stage of a metabolic pathway, some chemical energy is converted into heat). Only a tiny fraction of the original chemical energy is used for work:[21]

gain in kinetic energy of a sprinter during a 100 m race: 4 kJ
gain in gravitational potential energy of a 150 kg weight lifted through 2 metres: 3kJ
Daily food intake of a normal adult: 6–8 MJ

It would appear that living organisms are remarkably inefficient (in the physical sense) in their use of the energy they receive (chemical energy or radiation), and it is true that most real machines manage higher efficiencies. However, in growing organisms the energy that is converted to heat serves a vital purpose, as it allows the organism tissue to be highly ordered with regard to the molecules it is built from. The second law of thermodynamics states that energy (and matter) tends to become more evenly spread out across the universe: to concentrate energy (or matter) in one specific place, it is necessary to spread out a greater amount of energy (as heat) across the remainder of the universe ("the surroundings").[22] Simpler organisms can achieve higher energy efficiencies than more complex ones, but the complex organisms can occupy ecological niches that are not available to their simpler brethren. The conversion of a portion of the chemical energy to heat at each step in a metabolic pathway is the physical reason behind the pyramid of biomass observed in ecology: to take just the first step in the food chain, of the estimated 124.7 Pg/a of carbon that is fixed by photosynthesis, 64.3 Pg/a (52%) are used for the metabolism of green plants,[23] i.e. reconverted into carbon dioxide and heat.

Energy and Information Society

Modern society continues to rely largely on fossil fuels to preserve economic growth and today's standard of living. However, for the first time, physical limits of the Earth are met in our encounter with finite resources of oil and natural gas and its impact of greenhouse gas emissions onto the global climate. Never before has accurate accounting of our energy dependency been more pertinent to developing public policies for a sustainable development of our society, both in the industrial world and the emerging economies. At present, much emphasis is put on the introduction of a worldwide cap-and-trade system, to limit global emissions in greenhouse gases by balancing regional differences on a financial basis. In the near future, society may be permeated at all levels with information systems for direct feedback on energy usage, as fossil fuels continue to be used privately and for manufacturing and transportation services. Information in today's society, focused on knowledge, news and entertainment, is expected to extend to energy usage in real-time. A collective medium for energy information may arise, serving to balance our individual and global energy dependence on fossil fuels. Yet, this development is not without restrictions, notably privacy issues. Recently, the Dutch Senate rejected a proposed law for mandatory national introduction of smart metering, in part, on the basis of privacy concerns [24].

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Energy". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved May 1 2007.  
  2. ^ Lofts, G; O'Keeffe D; et al. (2004). "11 — Mechanical Interactions". Jacaranda Physics 1 (2 ed.). Milton, Queensland, Australia: John Willey & Sons Australia Ltd.. pp. 286. ISBN 0 7016 3777 3.  
  3. ^ Aristotle, "Nicomachean Ethics", 1098b33, at Perseus
  4. ^ Rashed, Roshdi (2007), "The Celestial Kinematics of Ibn al-Haytham", Arabic Sciences and Philosophy (Cambridge University Press) 17: 7–55 [19], doi:10.1017/S0957423907000355  
  5. ^ Mariam Rozhanskaya and I. S. Levinova (1996), "Statics", p. 621, in Rashed, Roshdi & Régis Morelon (1996), Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, vol. 1 & 3, Routledge, 614-642, ISBN 0415124107
  6. ^ Smith, Crosbie (1998). The Science of Energy - a Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain. The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-76420-6.  
  7. ^ a b c Feynman, Richard (1964). The Feynman Lectures on Physics; Volume 1. U.S.A: Addison Wesley. ISBN 0-201-02115-3.  
  8. ^ Retrieved on May-29-09
  9. ^ Bicycle calculator - speed, weight, wattage etc. [1].
  10. ^ Earth's Energy Budget
  11. ^ Berkeley Physics Course Volume 1. Charles Kittel, Walter D Knight and Malvin A Ruderman
  12. ^ a b c The Laws of Thermodynamics including careful definitions of energy, free energy, et cetera.
  13. ^ a b Misner, Thorne, Wheeler (1973). Gravitation. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman. ISBN 0716703440.  
  14. ^ The Hamiltonian MIT OpenCourseWare website 18.013A Chapter 16.3 Accessed February 2007
  15. ^ Cengel, Yungus, A.; Boles, Michael (2002). Thermodynamics - An Engineering Approach, 4th ed.. McGraw-Hill. pp. 17–18. ISBN 0-07-238332-1.  
  16. ^ Kittel and Kroemer (1980). Thermal Physics. New York: W. H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-1088-9.  
  17. ^ Ristinen, Robert A., and Kraushaar, Jack J. Energy and the Environment. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006.
  18. ^ a b c Mohr, Peter J.; Taylor, Barry N.; Newell, David B. (2008). "CODATA Recommended Values of the Fundamental Physical Constants: 2006". Rev. Mod. Phys. 80: 633–730. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.80.633.  
  19. ^ E. Noether's Discovery of the Deep Connection Between Symmetries and Conservation Laws
  20. ^ Time Invariance
  21. ^ These examples are solely for illustration, as it is not the energy available for work which limits the performance of the athlete but the power output of the sprinter and the force of the weightlifter. A worker stacking shelves in a supermarket does more work (in the physical sense) than either of the athletes, but does it more slowly.
  22. ^ Crystals are another example of highly ordered systems that exist in nature: in this case too, the order is associated with the transfer of a large amount of heat (known as the lattice energy) to the surroundings.
  23. ^ Ito, Akihito; Oikawa, Takehisa (2004). "Global Mapping of Terrestrial Primary Productivity and Light-Use Efficiency with a Process-Based Model." in Shiyomi, M. et al. (Eds.) Global Environmental Change in the Ocean and on Land. pp. 343–58.
  24. ^ Minutes Eerste Kamer Debat "(part a)", "(part b)"

Further reading

  • Alekseev, G. N. (1986). Energy and Entropy. Moscow: Mir Publishers.  
  • Walding, Richard,  Rapkins, Greg,  Rossiter, Glenn (1999-11-01). New Century Senior Physics. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-551084-4.  
  • Smil, Vaclav (2008). Energy in nature and society: general energetics of complex systems. Cambridge, USA: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-19565-8.  

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Energy is a fundamental concept in physics that is often defined as the capacity to do mechanical work — a definition disputed by many physicists. It also has a specific connotation of the forms of energy used for powering technological society.


  • It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge what energy is. We do not have a picture that energy comes in little blobs of a definite amount.
  • Hold somebody's hand and feel its warmth. Gram per gram, it converts 10 000 times more energy per second that the sun. You find this hard to believe? Here are the numbers: an average human weighs 70 kilograms and consumes about 12 600 kilojoules / day; that makes about 2 millijoules / gram.second, or 2 milliwatts / gram. For the sun it's miserable 0.2 microjoules / gram.second. Some bacteria, such as the soil bacterium "Azotobacter" convert as much as 10 joules / gram.second, outperformung the sun by a factor 50 million. I am wam because inside each of my body cells there are dozens, hundreds or even tousands of mitochondria that burn the food I eat.
    • Gottfried Schatz, in "Jeff's view on science and scientists", Amsterdam, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, 2006, ISBN 978-0-444-52133-0, ISBN 0-444-52133-X (pbk.), p. 43, "The tragic matter"


  • For those who want some proof that physicists are human, the proof is in the idiocy of all the different units which they use for measuring energy.
  • The energy produced by breaking down the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformations of these atoms is taking moonshine.
  • If you take a bale of hay and tie it to the tail of a mule and then strike a match and set the bale of hay on fire, and if you then compare the energy expended shortly thereafter by the mule with the energy expended by yourself in the striking of the match, you will understand the concept of amplification.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up energy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity


"One day man will connect his apparatus to the very wheelwork of the universe... and the very forces that motivate the planets in their orbits and cause them to rotate will rotate his own machinery," Nikola Tesla



Energy is notoriously difficult to define. It is often defined as the ability to do work, but this is an incomplete definition. American Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said of pornography that he could not define it, "but I know it when I see it." Thus it is with energy. It is easy to recognize in most of its several forms: mechanical (including kinetic and gravitational potential), chemical, nuclear, electromagnetic (including light and other non-nuclear radiations), elastic, and thermal.

The word energy comes from the Greek words en and ergon which means at work. energy at

Transfer and Transformation

Energy is particularly susceptible to measurement when being transferred (one object to another) or transformed (one type to another).

Examples of transfer include the flow of electricity from the outlet to your computer through the power cord and heat from a hot cup of coffee to your mouth. We have invented many devices that transform energy. For example, microphones change sound (a form of mechanical energy) into electromagnectic energy and loudspeakers change it back. Telephones have both. Nuclear power plants convert nuclear energy to thermal energy; the heat boils water into high pressure steam. The mechanical energy of the steam drives a generator that converts it to electromagnetic energy. You may use some of that energy at your house to recharge your laptop or camera battery, converting the electromagnetic energy to chemical energy. None of these processes is 100% efficient, so energy is converted into waste heat, more properly known as entropy, at every step along the way. When you use incandescent light bulbs, as much as 95% of the electrical energy is converted to heat (entropy) instead of light.


To normal perception energy seems to flow in uneven amounts however at a subatomic level all energy moves in packets called quanta, or singular, quantum. Each quantum has the same amount of energy.


Energy is a conserved quantity--so long as we are not considering nuclear changes. For many purposes it is sufficient to treat energy conservation as if it were a law of nature. This approach is taken in thermodynamics, chemistry, and most of high school physics (except in dealing with nuclear changes).

A more rigorous treatment of energy conservation requires that mass and energy be considered together: mass-energy is conserved using E=mc². This equation was discovered by Albert Einstein in 1905 as a corollary to his theory of special relativity.

The SI unit of energy is the joule, named in honor of James Prescott Joule, who discovered the equivalence of heat and mechanical energy. The joule is a derived unit, equivalent to kg•m²/s² . It can also be expressed as newton-meters (Nm), but this unit, when used at all, is usually reserved for work or torque.

Work and Energy

Work is also measured in joules, which shows their close relationship. Energy can be used to perform work; work can be made to increase the energy of a system. This is one way of stating an important principle, the work-energy theorem. The two quantities are not the same, any more than mass and energy are the same thing, but one can be converted into the other. Unlike the situation with mass and energy however, there is not 100% conversion. The system will always lose some energy as heat, which will increase the entropy, or disorder, of the system. Note that this does not mean that some of the energy somehow disappears. It is merely lost from the human point of view, but not in terms of the Universe. It is no longer in a form that is useful to us. Heat is a form of energy and "counts" in the conservation law, and entropy is a measure of the amount of disorder that is created by the dissipation of heat. See the second law of thermodynamics.

See Also


  • Levelised energy cost

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to Category:Energy article)

From Wikisource

There are further articles relating to energy available by using the search facility.


This category has only the following subcategory.


Pages in category "Energy"

The following 3 pages are in this category, out of 3 total.



  • Nuclear Energy and Security: The 2006 Richard B. Russell Symposium


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ENERGY (from the Gr. E14/YyaCa; Ev, in, €pyov, work), in physical science, a term which may be defined as accumulated mechanical work, which, however, may be only partially available for use. A bent spring possesses energy, for it is capable of doing work in returning to its natural form; a charge of gunpowder possesses energy, for it is capable of doingwork in exploding; aLeyden jar charged with electricity possesses energy, for it is capable of doing work in being discharged. The motions of bodies, or of the ultimate parts of bodies, also involve energy, for stopping them would be a source of work.

All kinds of energy are ultimately measured in terms of work. If we raise i lb of matter through a foot we do a certain amount of work against the earth's attraction; if we raise 2 lb through the same height we do twice this amount of work, and so on. Also, the work done in raising i lb through 2 ft. will be double of that done in raising it 1 ft. Thus we recognize that the work done varies as the resistance overcome and the distance through which it is overcome conjointly.

Now, we may select any definite quantity of work we please as our unit, as, for example, the work done in lifting a pound a foot high from the sea-level in the latitude of London, which is the unit of work generally adopted by British engineers, and is called the "foot-pound." The most appropriate unit for scientific purposes is one which depends only on the fundamental units of length, mass and time, and is hence called an absolute unit. Such a unit is independent of gravity or of any other quantity which varies with the locality. Taking the centimetre, gramme and second as our fundamental units, the most convenient unit of force is that which, acting on a gramme for a second, produces in it a velocity of a centimetre per second; this is called a Dyne. The unit of work is that which is required to overcome a resistance of a dyne over a centimetre, and is called an Erg. In the latitude of Paris the dyne is equal to the weight of about of a gramme, and the erg is the amount of work required to raise Ti lerof a gramme vertically through one centimetre.

Energy is the capacity for doing work. The unit of energy should therefore be the same as that of work, and the centimetregramme-second (C.G.S.) unit of energy is the erg.

The forms of energy which are most readily recognized are of course those in which the energy can be most directly employed in doing mechanical work; and it is manifest that masses of matter which are large enough to be seen and handled are more readily dealt with mechanically than are smaller masses. Hence when useful work can be obtained from a system by simply connecting visible portions of it by a train of mechanism, such energy is more readily recognized than is that which would compel us to control the behaviour of molecules before we could transform it into useful work. This leads up to the fundamental distinction, introduced by Lord Kelvin, between "available energy," which we can turn to mechanical effect, and "diffuse energy," which is useless for that purpose.

The conception of work and of energy was originally derived from observation of purely mechanical phenomena, that is to say, phenomena in which the relative positions and motions of visible portions of matter were all that were taken into consideration. Hence it is not surprising that, in those more subtle forms in which energy cannot be readily or completely converted into work, the universality of the principle of energy, its conservation, as regards amount, should for a long while have escaped recognition after it had become familiar in pure dynamics.

If a pound weight be suspended by a string passing over pulley, in descending through io ft. it is capable of raising nearly a pound weight attached to the other end of the string, through the same height, and thus can do nearly io foot-pounds of work. The smoother we make the pulley the more nearly does the amount of useful work which the weight is capable of doing approach ro foot-pounds, and if we take into account the work done against the friction of the pulley, we may say that the work done by the descending weight is ro foot-pounds, and hence when the weight is in its elevated position we have at disposal r o foot-pounds more energy than when it is in the lower position. It should be noticed, however, that this energy is possessed by the system consisting of the earth and pound together, in virtue of their separation, and that neither could do work without the other to attract it. The system consisting of the earth and the pound therefore possesses an amount of energy which depends on the relative positions of its two parts, on account of the latent physical connexion existing between them. In most mechanical systems the working stresses acting between the parts can be determined when the relative positions of all the parts are known; and the energy which a system possesses in virtue of the relative positions of its parts, or its configuration, is classified as "potential energy," to distinguish it from energy of motion which we shall presently consider. The word potential does not imply that this energy is not real; it exists in potentiality only in the sense that it is stored away in some latent manner; but it can be drawn upon without limit for mechanical work.

It is a fundamental result in dynamics that, if a body be projected vertically upwards in vacuo, with a velocity of v centimetres per second, it will rise to a height of v 2 /2g centimetres, where g represents the numerical value of the acceleration produced by gravity in centimetre-second units. Now, if m represent the mass of the body in grammes its weight will be mg dynes, for it will require a force of mg dynes to produce in it the acceleration denoted by g. Hence the work done in raising the mass will be represented by mg v 2 /2g, that is, Zmv 2 ergs. Now, whatever be the direction in which a body is moving, a frictionless constraint, like a string attached to the body, can cause its velocity to be changed into the vertical direction without any change taking place in the magnitude of the velocity. Thus it is merely in virtue of the velocity that the mass is capable of rising against the resistance of gravity, and hence we recognize that on account of its motion the body possessed Zmv 2 units of energy. Energy of motion is usually called "kinetic energy." A simple example of the transformation of kinetic energy into potential energy, and vice versa, is afforded by the pendulum. When at the limits of its swing, the pendulum is for an instant at rest, and all the energy of the oscillation is static or potential. When passing through its position of equilibrium, since gravity can do no more work upon it without changing its fixed point of support, all the energy of oscillation is kinetic. At intermediate positions the energy is partly kinetic and partly potential.

Available kinetic energy is possessed by a system of two or more bodies in virtue of the relative motion of its parts. Since our conception of velocity is essentially relative, it is plain that any property possessed by a body in virtue of its motion can be effectively possessed by it only in relation to those bodies with respect to which it is moving. If a body whose mass is m grammes be moving with a velocity of v centimetres per second relative to the earth, the available kinetic energy possessed by the system is Zmv 2 ergs if m be small relative to the earth. But if we consider two bodies each of mass m and one of them moving with velocity v relative to the other, only 4mv 2 units of work is available from this system alone. Thus the estimation of kinetic energy is intimately affected by the choice of our base of measurement.

When the stresses acting between the parts of a system depend only on the relative positions of those parts, the sum of the kinetic energy and potential energy of the system is always the same, provided the system be not acted upon by anything outside it. Such a system is called "conservative," and is well illustrated by the swinging pendulum above referred to. But there are stresses which depend on the relative motion of the visible bodies between which they appear to act. When work is done against these forces no full equivalent of potential energy may be produced; this applies especially to frictional forces, for if the motion of the system be reversed the forces will be also reversed and will still oppose the motion. It was long believed that work done against such forces was lost, and it was not till the r9th century that the energy thus transformed was traced; the conservation of energy has become the master-key to unlock the connexions in inanimate nature.

It was pointed out by Thomson (Lord Kelvin) and P. G. Tait that Newton had divined the principle of the conservation of energy, so far as it belongs purely to mechanics. But what became of the work done against friction and such nonconservative forces remained obscure, while the chemical doctrine that heat was an indestructible substance afterwards led to the idea that it was lost. There was, however, even before Newton's time, more than a suspicion that heat was a form of energy. Francis Bacon expressed his conviction that heat consists of a kind of motion or "brisk agitation" of the particles of matter. In the Novum Organum, after giving a long list of the sources of heat, he says: "From these examples, taken collectively as well as singly, the nature whose limit is heat appears to be motion.. .. It must not be thought that heat generates motion or motion heat (though in some respects this is true), but the very essence of heat, or the substantial self of heat, is motion and nothing else." After Newton's time the first vigorous effort to restore the universality of the doctrine of energy was made by Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, and was published in the Phil. Trans. for 1798. Rumford was engaged in superintending the boring of cannon in the military arsenal at Munich, and was struck by the amount of heat produced by the action of the boring bar upon the brass castings. In order to see whether the heat came out of the chips he compared the capacity for heat of the chips abraded by the boring bar with that of an equal quantity of the metal cut from the block by a fine saw, and obtained the same result in the two cases, from which he concluded that "the heat produced could not possibly have been furnished at the expense of the latent heat of the metallic chips." Rumford then turned up a hollow cylinder which was cast in one piece with a brass six-pounder, and having reduced the connexion between the cylinder and cannon to a narrow neck of metal, he caused a blunt borer to press against the hollow of the cylinder with a force equal to the weight of about ro,000 lb, while the casting was made to rotate in a lathe. By this means the mean temperature of the brass was raised through about 70° Fahr., while the amount of metal abraded was only 837 grains. In order to be sure that the heat was not due to the action of the air upon the newly exposed metallic surface, the cylinder and the end of the boring bar were immersed in 18-77 lb. of water contained in an oak box. The temperature of the water at the commencement of the experiment was 60° Fahr., and after two horses had turned the lathe for 22 hours the water boiled. Taking into account the heat absorbed by the box and the metal, Rumford calculated that the heat developed was sufficient to raise 26.58 lb of water from the freezing to the boiling point, and in this calculation the heat lost by radiation and conduction was neglected. Since one horse was capable of doing the work required, Rumford remarked that one horse can generate heat as rapidly as nine wax candles burning in the ordinary manner.

Finally, Rumford reviewed all the sources from which the heat might have been supposed to be derived, and concluded that it was simply produced by the friction, and that the supply was inexhaustible. "It is hardly necessary to add," he remarks, "that anything which any insulated body or system of bodies can continue to furnish without limitation cannot possibly be a material substance; and it appears to me to be extremely difficult, if not quite impossible, to form any distinct idea of anything capable of being excited and communicated in the manner that heat was excited and communicated in these experiments, except it be motion." About the same time Davy showed that two pieces of ice could be melted by rubbing them together in a vacuum, although everything surrounding them was at a temperature below the freezing point. He did not, however, infer that since the heat could not have been supplied by the ice, for ice absorbs heat in melting, this experiment afforded conclusive proof against the substantial nature of heat.

Though we may allow that the results obtained by Rumford and Davy demonstrate satisfactorily that heat is in some way due to motion, yet they do not tell us to what particular dynamical quantity heat corresponds. For example, does the heat generated by friction vary as the friction and the time during which it acts, or is it proportional to the friction and the distance through which the rubbing bodies are displaced - that is, to the work done against friction - or does it involve any other conditions? If it can be shown that, however the duration and all other conditions of the experiment may be varied, the same amount of heat can in the end be always produced when the same amount of energy is expended, then, and only then, can we infer that heat is a form of energy, and that the energy consumed has been really transformed into heat. This was left for J. P. Joule to achieve; his experiments conclusively prove that heat and energy are of the same nature, and that all other forms of energy can be transformed into an equivalent amount of heat.

The quantity of energy which, if entirely converted into heat, is capable of raising the temperature of the unit mass of water from C. to 1° C. is called the mechanical equivalent of heat. One of the first who took in hand the determination of the mechanical equivalent of heat was Marc. Seguin, a nephew of J. M. Montgolfier. He argued that, if heat be energy, then, when it is employed in doing work, as in a steam-engine, some of the heat must itself be consumed in the operation. Hence he inferred that the amount of heat given up to the condenser of an engine when the engine is doing work must be less than when the same amount of steam is blown through the engine without doing any work. Seguin was unable to verify this experimentally, but in 1857 G. A. Him succeeded, not only in showing that such a difference exists, but in measuring it, and hence determining a tolerably approximate value of the mechanical equivalent of heat. In 1839 Seguin endeavoured to determine the mechanical equivalent of heat from the loss of heat suffered by steam in expanding, assuming that the whole of the heat so lost was consumed in doing external work against the pressure to which the steam was exposed. This assumption, however, cannotbe justified, because it neglected to take account of work which might possibly have to be done within the steam itself during the expansion.

In 1842 R. Mayer, a physician at Heilbronn, published an attempt to determine the mechanical equivalent of heat from the heat produced when air is compressed. Mayer made an assumption the converse of that of Seguin, asserting that the whole of the work done in compressing the air was converted into heat, and neglecting the possibility of heat being consumed in doing work within the air itself or being produced by the transformation of internal potential energy. Joule afterwards proved (see below) that Mayer's assumption was in accordance with fact, so that his method was a sound one as far as experiment was concerned; and it was only on account of the values of the specific heats of air at constant pressure and at constant volume employed by him being very inexact that the value of the mechanical equivalent of heat obtained by Mayer was very far from the truth.

Passing over L. A. Colding, who in 1843 presented to the Royal Society of Copenhagen a paper entitled "Theses concerning Force," which clearly stated the "principle of the perpetuity of energy," and who also performed a series of experiments for the purpose of determining the heat developed by the compression of various bodies, which entitle him to be mentioned among the founders of the modern theory of energy, we come to Dr James Prescott Joule of Manchester, to whom we are indebted more than to any other for the establishment of the principle of the conservation of energy on the broad basis on which it has since stood. The best-known of Joule's experiments was that in which a brass paddle consisting of eight arms rotated in a cylindrical vessel of water containing four fixed vanes, which allowed the passage of the arms of the paddle but prevented the water from rotating as a whole. The paddle was driven by weights, and the temperature of the water was observed by thermometers which could indicate 2 kuth of a degree Fahrenheit. Special experiments were made to determine the work done against resistances outside the vessel of water, which amounted to about 006 of the whole, and corrections were made for the loss of heat by radiation, the buoyancy of the air affecting the descending weights, and the energy dissipated when the weights struck the floor with a finite velocity. From these experiments Joule obtained 72.692 foot-pounds in the latitude of Manchester as equivalent to the amount of heat required to raise i lb of water through 1° Fahr, from the freezing point. Adopting the centigrade scale, this gives 1390.846 foot-pounds.

With an apparatus similar to the above, but smaller, made of iron and filled with mercury, Joule obtained results varying from 772.814 foot-pounds when driving weights of about 58 lb were employed to 775.352 foot-pounds when the driving weights were only about 192 lb. By ca-sing two conical surfaces of cast-iron immersed in mercury and contained in an iron vessel to rub against one another when pressed together by a lever, Joule obtained 776.045 foot-pounds for the mechanical equivalent of heat when the heavy weights were used, and 774.93 foot-pounds with the small driving weights. In this experiment a great noise was produced, corresponding to a loss of energy, and Joule endeavoured to determine the amount of energy necessary to produce an equal amount of sound from the string of a violoncello and to apply a corresponding correction.

The close agreement between the results at least indicates that "the amount of heat produced by friction is proportional to the work done and independent of the nature of the rubbing surfaces." Joule inferred from them that the mechanical equivalent of heat is probably about 772 foot-pounds, or, employing the centigrade scale, about 1390 foot-pounds.

Previous to determining the mechanical equivalent of heat by the most accurate experimental method at his command, Joule established a series of cases in which the production of one kind of energy was accompanied by a disappearance of some other form. In 1840 he showed that when an electric current was produced by means of a dynamo-magneto-electric machine the heat generated in the conductor, when no external work was done by the current, was the same as if the energy employed in producing the current had been converted into heat by friction, thus showing that electric currents conform to the principle of the conservation of energy, since energy can neither be created nor destroyed by them. He also determined a roughly approximate value for the mechanical equivalent of heat from the results of these experiments. Extending his investigations to the currents produced by batteries, he found that the total voltaic heat generated in any circuit was proportional to the number of electrochemical equivalents electrolysed in each cell multiplied by the electromotive force of the battery. Now, we know that the number of electrochemical equivalents electrolysed is proportional to the whole amount of electricity which passed through the circuit, and the product of this by the electromotive force of the battery is the work done by the latter, so that in this case also Joule showed that the heat generated was proportional to the work done.

In 1844 and 1845 Joule published a series of researches on the compression and expansion of air. A metal vessel was placed in a calorimeter and air forced into it, the amount of energy expended in compressing the air being measured. Assuming that the whole of the energy was converted into heat, when the air was subjected to a pressure of 21.5 atmospheres Joule obtained for the mechanical equivalent of heat about 824.8 foot-pounds, and when a pressure of only 10 . 5 atmospheres was employed the result was 796.9 foot-pounds.

In the next experiment the air was compressed as before, and then allowed to escape through a long lead tube immersed in the water of a calorimeter, and finally collected in a bell jar. The amount of heat absorbed by the air could thus be measured, while the work done by it in expanding could be readily calculated. In allowing the air to expand from a pressure of 21 atmospheres to that of i atmosphere the value of the mechanical equivalent of heat obtained was 821.89 foot-pounds. Between io atmospheres and 1 it was 815.875 foot-pounds, and between 23 and 14 atmospheres 761.74 foot-pounds.

But, unlike Mayer and Seguin, Joule was not content with assuming that when air is compressed or allowed to expand the heat generated or absorbed is the equivalent of the work done and of that only, no change being made in the internal energy of the air itself when the temperature is kept constant. To test this two vessels similar to that used in the last experiment were placed in the same calorimeter and connected by a tube with a stop-cock. One contained air at a pressure of 22 atmospheres, while the other was exhausted. On opening the stop-cock no work was done by the expanding air against external forces, since it expanded into a vacuum, and it was found that no heat was generated or absorbed. This showed that Mayer's assumption was true. On repeating the experiment when the two vessels were placed in different calorimeters, it was found that heat was absorbed by the vessel containing the compressed air, while an equal quantity of heat was produced in the calorimeter containing the exhausted vessel. The heat absorbed was consumed in giving motion to the issuing stream of air, and was reproduced by the impact of the particles on the sides of the exhausted vessel. The subsequent researches of Dr Joule and Lord Kelvin (Phil. Trans., 18 53, p. 357, 18 54, p. 321, and 1862, p. 579) showed that the statement that no internal work is done when a gas expands or contracts is not quite true, but the amount is very small in the cases of those gases which, like oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, can only be liquefied by intense cold and pressure.

For a long time the final result deduced by Joule by these varied and careful investigations was accepted as the standard value of the mechanical equivalent of heat. Recent determinations by H. A. Rowland and others, necessitated by modern requirements, have shown that it is in error, but by less than 1%. The writings of Joule, which thus occupy the place of honour in the practical 'establishment of the conservation of energy, have been collected into two volumes published by the Physical Society of London. On the theoretical side the greatest stimulus came from the publication in 1847, without knowledge of Mayer or Joule, of Helmholtz's great memoir, Ober die Erhaltung der Kraft, followed immediately (1848-1852) by the establishment of the science of thermodynamics, mainly by R. Clausius and Lord Kelvin on the basis of "Carnot's principle" (1824), modified in expression so as to be consistent with the conservation of energy (see Energetics).

Though we can convert the whole of the energy possessed by any mechanical system into heat, it is not in our power to perform the inverse operation, and to utilize the whole of the heat in doing mechanical work. Thus we see that different forms of energy are not equally valuable for conversion into work. The ratio of the portion of the energy of a system which can under given conditions be converted into mechanical work to the whole amount of energy operated upon may be called the "availability" of the energy. If a system be removed from all communication with anything outside of itself, the whole amount of energy possessed by it will remain constant, but will of its own accord tend to undergo such transformations as will diminish its availability. This general law, known as the principle of the "dissipation of energy," was first adequately pointed out by Lord Kelvin in 1852; and was applied by him to some of the principal problems of cosmical physics. Though controlling all phenomena of which we have any experience, the principle of the dissipation of energy rests on a very different foundation from that of the conservation of energy; for while we may conceive of no means of circumventing the latter principle, it seems that the actions of intelligent beings are subject to the former only in consequence of the rudeness of the machinery which they have at their disposal for controlling the behaviour of those ultimate portions of matter, in virtue of the motions or positions of which the energy with which they have to deal exists. If we have a weight capable of falling through a certain distance, we can employ the mutual forces of the system consisting of the earth and weight to do an amount of useful work which is less than the full amount of potential energy possessed by the system only in consequence of the friction of the constraints, so that the limit of availability in this case is determined only by the friction which is unavoidable. Here we have to deal with a transformation with which we can grapple, and which can be controlled for our purposes. If, on the other hand, we have to deal with a system of molecules of whose motions in the aggregate we become conscious only by indirect means, while we know absolutely nothing either of the motions or positions of any individual molecule, it is obvious that we cannot grasp single molecules and control their movements so as to derive the full amount of work from the system. All we can do in such cases is to place the system under certain conditions of transformation, and be content with the amount of work which it is, as it were, willing to render up under those conditions. Thus the principle of Carnot involves the conclusion that a greater proportion of the heat possessed by a body at a high temperature can be converted into work than in the case of an equal quantity of heat possessed by a body at a low temperature, so that the availability of heat increases with the temperature.

Clerk Maxwell supposed two compartments, A and B, to be filled with gas at the same temperature, and to be separated by an ideal, infinitely thin partition containing a number of exceedingly small trap-doors, each of which could be opened or closed without any expenditure of energy. An intelligent creature, or "demon," possessed of unlimited powers of vision, is placed in charge of each door, with instructions to open the door whenever a particle in A comes towards it with more than a certain velocity V, and to keep it closed against all particles in A moving with less than this velocity, but, on the other hand, to open the door whenever a particle in B approaches it with less than a certain velocity v, which is not greater than V, and to keep it closed against all particles in B moving with a greater velocity than this. By continuing this process every unit of mass which enters B will carry with it more energy than each unit which leaves B, and hence the temperature of the gas in B will be raised and that of the gas in A lowered, while no heat is lost and no energy expended; so that by the application of intelligence alone a portion of gas of uniform pressure and temperature may be sifted into two parts, in which both the temperature and the pressure are different, and from which, therefore, work can be obtained at the expense of heat. This shows that the principle of the dissipation of energy has control over the actions of those agents only whose faculties are too gross to enable them to grapple individually with the minute portions of matter which are the seat of energy.

In 1875 Lord Rayleigh published an investigation on "the work which may be gained during the mixing of gases." In the preface he states the position that "whenever, then, two gases are allowed to mix without the performance of work, there is dissipation of energy, and an opportunity of doing work at the expense of low temperature heat has been for ever lost." He shows that the amount of work obtainable is equal to that which can be done by the first gas in expanding into the space occupied by the second (supposed vacuous) together with that done by the second in expanding into the space occupied by the first. In the experiment imagined by Lord Rayleigh a porous diaphragm takes the place of the partition and trap-doors imagined by Clerk Maxwell, and the molecules sort themselves automatically on account of the difference in their average velocities for the two gases. When the pressure on one side of the diaphragm thus becomes greater than that on the other, work may be done at the expense of heat in pushing the diaphragm, and the operation carried on with continual gain of work until the gases are uniformly diffused. There is this difference, however, between this experiment and the operation imagined by Maxwell, that when the gases have diffused the experiment cannot be repeated; and it is no more contrary to the dissipation of energy than is the fact that work may be derived at the expense of heat when a gas expands into a vacuum, for the working substance is not finally restored to its original condition; while Maxwell's "demons" may operate without limit.

In such experiments the molecular energy of a gas is converted into work only in virtue of the molecules being separated into classes in which their velocities are different, and these classes then allowed to act upon one another through the intervention of a suitable heat-engine. This sorting can occur spontaneously to a limited extent; while if we could carry it out as far as we pleased we might transform the whole of the heat of a body into work. The theoretical availability of heat is limited only by our power of bringing those particles whose motions constitute heat in bodies to rest relatively to one another; and we have precisely similar practical limits to the availability of the energy due to the motion of visible and tangible bodies, though theoretically we can then trace all the stages.

If a battery of electromotive force E maintain a current C in a conductor, and no other electromotive force exist in the circuit, the whole of the work done will be converted into heat, and the amount of work done per second will be EC. If R denote the resistance of the whole circuit, E = CR, and the heat generated per second is C 2 R. If the current drive an electromagnetic engine, the reaction of the engine will produce an electromotive force opposing the current. Suppose the current to be thus reduced to C'. Then the work done by the battery per second will be EC' or CC'R, while the heat generated per second will be C' 2 R, so that we have the difference (C - C')C'R for the energy consumed in driving the engine. The ratio of this to the whole work done by the battery is (C - C')/C, so that the efficiency is increased by diminishing C'. If we could drive the engine so fast as to reduce C' to zero, the whole of the energy of the battery would be available, no heat being produced in the wires, but the horse-power of the engine would be indefinitely small. The reason why the whole of the energy of the current is not available is that heat must always be generated in a wire in which a finite current is flowing, so that, in the case of a battery in which the whole of the energy of chemical affinity is employed in producing a current, the availability of the energy is limited only on account of the resistance of the conductors, and may be increased by diminishing this resistance. The availability of the energy of electrical separation in a charged Leyden jar is also limited only by the resistance of conductors, in virtue of which an amount of heat is necessarily produced, which is greater the less the time occupied in discharging the jar. The availability of the energy of magnetization is limited by the coercive force of the magnetized material, in virtue of which any change in the intensity of magnetization is accompanied by the production of heat.

In all cases there is a general tendency for other forms of energy to be transformed into heat on account of the friction of rough surfaces, the resistance of conductors, or similar causes, and thus to lose availability. In some cases, as when heat is converted into the kinetic energy of moving machinery or the potential energy of raised weights, there is an ascent of energy from the less available form of heat to the more available form of mechanical energy, but in all cases this is accompanied by the transfer of other heat from a body at a high temperature to one at a lower temperature, thus losing availability to an extent that more than compensates for the rise.

It is practically important to consider the rate at which energy may be transformed into useful work, or the horse-power of the agent. It generally happens that to obtain the greatest possible amount of work from a given supply of energy, and to obtain it at the greatest rate, are conflicting interests. We have seen that the efficiency of an electromagnetic engine is greatest when the current is indefinitely small, and then the rate at which it works is also indefinitely small. M. H. von Jacobi showed that for a given electromotive force in the battery the horse-power is greatest when the current is reduced to one-half of what it would be if the engine were at rest. A similar condition obtains in the steamengine, in which a great rate of working necessitates the dissipation of a large amount of energy. (W. G.; J. L.*)

<< Energici

Barthelemy Prosper Enfantin >>


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!


Developer(s) Masaya
Publisher(s) NEC
Release date PC-Engine:
April 19, 1989 (JP)
Genre Platformer Adventure
Mode(s) Single player
Age rating(s) N/A
Platform(s) PC-Engine
Media HuCard
Input Turbo Pad
Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough

This article is a stub. You can help by adding to it.

Stubs are articles that writers have begun work on, but are not yet complete enough to be considered finished articles.

This article uses material from the "Energy" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

Energy is a word with more than one meaning.

  • Energy broadly means the capacity of something, a person, an animal or a physical system to do work and produce change.
    • It can refer to the ability for someone to act or speak in a lively and vigorous way.
    • It is used in science to describe how much potential a physical system has to change.
    • It may also be used in economics to describe the part of the market where energy itself is harnessed and sold to consumers.


Energy in Science

Energy is something that can do work.

There are two basic forms of energy:

Conservation of Energy

When energy changes from one form to another, the amount of energy stays the same. Energy cannot be made or destroyed. This rule is called the "conservation law of energy".

Example of Conservation Law of Energy

Here is an example:

  1. the energy of a thing is measured to start with
  2. the energy changes from potential energy to kinetic energy and back again
  3. at the end the energy of the thing is measured again

The measurements of energy at the start and end will always be the same.

New Conservation of Energy Rule

Scientists now know that matter can be made into energy through processes like nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. The law of conservation of energy has therefore been extended to become the Law of conservation of matter and energy.

Types of Energy

Scientist have identified many types of energy, and found that they can be changed from one kind into another. For example:

Measuring Energy

Energy can be measured. That is, the amount of energy a thing has can be given a number.

As in other kinds of measurements, there are measurement units. The units of measurement for measuring energy are used to make the numbers meaningful.

Some units of Measurement for Energy

The SI unit for both energy and work is the joule (J). It is named after James Prescott Joule. 1 joule is equal to 1 newton-metre. In terms of SI base units, 1 J is equal to 1 kg m2 s−2.

The energy unit of measurement for electricity is the kilowatt-hour (kW·h). One kW·h is equivalent to 3,600,000 J (3600 kJ or 3.6 MJ)

Energy in the Universe

Other pages

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address