Reality Blind - Vol. 1

Potential vs. Kinetic Energy

Summary: The ways in which we interact with energy include two major classifications: Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy . “Potential” energy is possessed by matter due to its position, configuration, or state. “Kinetic” energy is possessed by matter due to its motion relative to objects in its environment. What does it mean that “kinetic” energy is relative to its environment? Well, consider yourself on a jetliner pouring a bottle of wine. Relative to you and your dinner, that wine bottle has no particular kinetic energy. But relative to a person on the ground, that wine bottle is travelling at over 600 mph and has an enormous amount of kinetic energy, enough to punch through a brick wall. This points out another characteristic of kinetic energy – it may be transferred. A barely subsonic bottle of wine could turn a wall into wall fragments; a billiard ball hits another billiard ball and transfers a large portion of its energy into making the second ball move. Wind over the ocean can transfer some of its energy into ocean waves. There’s also “rotational” kinetic energy, such as a flywheel that is moving relative to its environment, but not going anywhere. The amount of kinetic energy is a function of an object’s mass and speed relative to the stuff around it. For in stance, we’re all zooming at about 600 km/second relative to the cosmic background radiation, but since our entire world, solar system, and


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