Gravitational Potential Energy on Earth

发布日期:[15-11-22 19:56:55] 浏览人次:[]

     Last week we concluded our discussion on the force of gravity within our solar system.   Today we’ll turn our attention to the subject of gravity on Earth and exploring the physics behind falling objects.   We’ll start off by discussing potential energy as it relates to gravity, or the latent energy acquired by an object when it’s been elevated above ground level.

      Potential energy was the term adopted by 19th Century Scottish scientist William Rankine to represent the latent, or masked, energy hidden within objects.   As an example, let’s say you’ve placed your favorite coffee mug in its designated spot on the kitchen shelf.   Sitting there so still you wouldn’t dream it was brimming with gravitational potential energy, but if your cat came along and brushed against it, sending it freefalling to the floor, your mug would quickly become a projectile, gaining speed at a uniform rate as it accelerated towards ground level.

      Where did that once passive little cup acquire its mounting energy?  Simply by virtue of the fact it had been lifted by your arm and placed in an elevated position.   You see, Earth’s gravitational pull is forever exerting its invisible tug on objects.   It was tugging at the mug as you lifted it, and the higher you lifted it, the more gravitational potential energy the mug received.   Once perched on the shelf it bridled with latent energy, only to be set free when the cat caused it to lose its support.

      To illustrate the relationship between the coffee mug, the shelf, and Earth’s gravitational pull, we’ll employ the equation used to compute potential energy, notated in terms of gravity,

PEgravitational = m × g × h

      This equation states that the mug’s gravitational potential energy, PEgravitational, is a factor of its mass, m, Earth’s gravitational pull, g, and the mug’s height above ground level, h.

      Within the scientific community is referred to as Earth’s acceleration of gravity, a phenomenon commonly accepted to be the uniform accelerating rate at which an object falls on Earth, equal to 9.8 meters per second per second, or meters/second2.   It represents a rate of constant acceleration, which happens to be precisely the same whether the object falling is a brick, feather, or coffee mug.

      Next time we’ll work with the potential energy equation which will enable us to see how the curious orange kitty sets loose the latent power held within that mug.

Engineering Expert Witness Falling Objects

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文章作者:Philip J.O'Keefe | 文章来源:Engineering-Expert-Witness-Blog | 责任编辑:intoner | 发送至邮箱: | 加入收藏:
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