Potential Energy

Potential Energy (PE) is the energy stored in a object at rest that has the potential to be used as different energies when the object is moved by an outside force or gravity.
Gravitational potential energy = PE = (mass) (gravity) (height) = mgh where g is the acceletation of gravity.
In terms of the wieght w of the body PE = wh (1. Beiser, page 36)

History of Potential Energy

Potential Energy was coined by a Scottish engineer and physicist named William Rankine in 1853. He used this term to decribe the Energy an object could potentially have in a resting position in the Philosophical magazine. Energy can not be created or destoried only changed so if it is not being used or changed then its stored and is potential Energy. (3. Mott, page 106)

Application of Potential Energy

Potential Energy is used in many things in our lives. A great example is the roller coaster, when the train is heading up the hill it is building potential energy and at the top of the hill its full of potential energy which it turns into kinetic energy on the way down the hill same as a bike at the top of a hill.
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Another example is the classic slingshot. the rubber band is pulled back and held creating potential energy for the band to pull itself back to the normal size and slinging the object forward, same as shooting a rubber band off ones finger.
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  1. Beiser, A. (1988). Physical Science (2nd Edition). New York, NY: McGraw Hill
  2. Mott, Nevill Francis. The Philosophical Magazine.London: Taylor & Francis, 1952. 105-06. Pri
  3. "Potential Energy - New World Encyclopedia." Info:Main Page - New World Encyclopedia. Web. 19 June 2011. <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Potential_energy>.

This WikiPage developed by Charlotte Alonzo- 2011SU