Mechanical Energy Examples


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In physical sciences, mechanical energy is the sum of potential energy and kinetic energy. It is the energy associated with the motion and position of an object. The principle of conservation of mechanical energy states that in an isolated system that is only subject to conservative forces, the mechanical energy is constant. If an object moves in the opposite direction of a conservative net force, the potential energy will increase; and if the speed (not the velocity) of the object changes, the kinetic energy of the object also changes. In all real systems, however, nonconservative forces, such as frictional forces, will be present, but if they are of negligible magnitude, the mechanical energy changes little and its conservation is a useful approximation. In elastic collisions, the mechanical energy is conserved, but in inelastic collisions some mechanical energy is converted into thermal energy. The equivalence between lost mechanical energy (dissipation) and an increase in temperature was discovered by James Prescott Joule.