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# LAW OF CONSERVATION

OF ENERGY
Energy is needed in order to carry out changes on an
object. Physically, this change is expressed in the
change of displacement due to an applied force on the
object. Thus, we formally define energy as the capacity
to do work.
Moreover, the extremely important principle is the
law of conservation of energy which states that:
Energy can neither be created nor destroyed
but can be converted from one form to
another.
The only thing that changes is the form in
which energy appears.
In a mechanical energy, its total mechanical
energy ME is the sum of its kinetic and
potential energies:
ME = KE

+ PE
ME = mv
2
+ mgh

When there is no transfer of energy into or out of the
system, the total energy of a system remains constant
and is said to be conserved:
ME
before
= ME
after
PE
before
+ KE
before
= PE
after
+ KE
after
This gives us the expression,
KE = - PE
which means that, of the total mechanical energy
conserved, the changes in the kinetic and potential
energy must be equal but opposite in sign. In other
words, a gain in one must be matched by a
corresponding loss in the other.
For example, a ball
thrown upward would
gain potential energy as
it continues to rise but
as a consequence, it will
lose its kinetic energy as
it slows down.

Consider the motion of a pendulum. When you pull the bob
sideways to position A, work is done on the bob. This work
transforms part of your bodys energy to GPE of the bob. As
the bob swings from A to B, the bobs PE changes to KE. As it
continues to swing to C, the bobs KE at B transforms again
to PE. The motion of a pendulum is an example of KE and PE
exchanges or energy transformation.
KE +PE = constant
Kinetic and potential energy are forms of mechanical
energy. If friction is negligible, the sum of the kinetic
and potential energies of a body remains constant. In
equation,
KE + PE = constant
This applies to the motion of a pendulum as shown in
the figure.
It also applies to any freely
falling body. Consider the
example in the figure.
At the highest point, A
(PE)
A
= mgh; (KE)
A
= 0
At any point in its path, say, B
(PE)
B
+ (KE)
B
= constant
= mgh
At the lowest point, C
(PE)
C
= 0
(KE)
C
= (PE)
A
= mgh

A stone with mass 0.1 kg is
dropped from a height of
80 m. Calculate its PE and
KE (a)at the time it was
dropped, (b) after it has
traveled 20 m, and (c) at
the instant it touches the
ground. Assume that air
friction is negligible and
the reference point is the
ground.
Solution:
a. PE =mgh
= (0.1kg)(9.8m/s
2
)(80m)
PE = 78.4 J; KE = 0
b. PE = mgh
= (0.1kg)(9.8m/s
2
)(60m)
KE= 58.8 J; KE = 19.6 J
c. PE = 0;
KE = 78.4 J
The conservation law also applies to vibrating bodies
such as the spring. The figure shows different
conditions of a spring. At A, the spring is at
equilibrium position.
When you stretch the spring to position B, you do
work on the spring. The work done on the spring is
stored as EPE of the spring. When you release the
spring, it compresses to C and then stretches back to
B, changing its PE to KE. Then the spring is
compressed again, changing its KE to PE.
The spring attains maximum PE at C. From there, it stretches again to B,
where maximum PE is also attained, and so on. Thus, in a vibrating
spring, there is a continuous exchange of KE and PE. But the total energy
remains constant if friction is negligible. It is commonly observed that
after a few minutes of oscillating, the spring eventually stops. This is due
to friction.
All the examples we have given are based on the
assumption that there is negligible fiction. In reality,
some amount of energy is often lost due to friction, as
in pendulum. After several swings, the pendulum will
not be able to swing back to its maximum height. It
will gradually slow down until it stops. This is due to
friction.
Important points to remember
1. When work is done on an object, the object
gains energy; when work is done by the
object, the object loses energy.
2. When a body loses a certain amount of energy,
another body gains this energy.
3. If a bodys kinetic energy is lost, this energy has
been converted to potential energy or some other
form of energy.
Example 1
Suppose you throw an
object with mass 0.2 kg
and at an initial speed of
50 m/s, applying the law
of conservation of
mechanical energy,
(a) what will be the
maximum GPE the
object can attain and
(b) how high will it go?
Assume that the stones
initial GPE is zero and
air friction is negligible.
Solution: (PE)
i
= 0; (KE)
f
= 0
a. (PE)
i
+(KE)
i
= (PE)
f
+ (KE)
f
0 + (KE)
i
= (PE)
f
+0
(KE)
i
= mv
i
2
= (0.2kg)(50 m/s)
2
(KE)
i
= 250 J
Now, (PE)
f
= (KE)
i
(PE)
f
= 250 J
b. PE =mgh
250 J = 0.2 kg(9.8 m/s
2
) h
127.55 m = h

A 30-kg package slides from rest
down a frictionless ramp from a
height of 5.0m. At the bottom of
the ramp is a spring of force
constant 400 N/m. The package
slams into the spring, compressing
the spring a distance x before
stopping momentarily. Find the
value of x.
Solution:
(GPE)
i
+(EPE)
i
= (GPE)
f
+(EPE)
f
(GPE)
i
+0 = 0 +(EPE)
f
(GPE)
i
= +(EPE
)f
mgh = kx
2
x
2
= 2mgh
k
x
2
= 2(30kg)(9.8m/s
2
)(5m)
400 kg/s
2
x
2
= 7.35 m
2
x = 2.71 m
Example 2
A baseball player throws a
baseball straight upward with a
velocity of 17 m/s.
a. How high does the ball go?
b. How fast is it traveling when
it is at a height of 10 m, and
then on its way down?
Given:
v
i
= 17 m/s
v
f
= 0; at max. height
(PE)
i
= 0; at lowest point
(KE)
f
= 0; at highest point

Solution:
a.(PE)
i
+(KE)
i
= (PE)
f
+ (KE)
f

0+ mv
i
2
= mgh
f
+ 0
Thus, the max. height is
h
f
= v
i
2
= (17 m/s)
2
= 14.74 m
2g 2(9.8m/s
2
)
b. (PE)
i
+(KE)
i
= (PE)
f
+ (KE)
f

0+ mv
i
2
= mgh
f
+ mv
f
2
1/m [ mv
i
2
= mgh
f
+ mv
f
2
]
v
i
2
= gh
f
+ v
f
2
2 2 x 2
v
f
2
= v
i
2
2gh
f

v
f
= v
i
2
-2ghf

v
f
= (17m/s)
2
2(9.8m/s
2
)(10m)
v
f
= 9.64 m/s

Example 3
With what speed should the
baseball be thrown if it
should reach a height of 20
m?
Given:
v
i
=?
v
f
= 0; at max. height
(PE)
i
= 0; at lowest point
(KE)
f
= 0; at highest point

Solution:
(PE)
i
+(KE)
i
= (PE)
f
+ (KE)
f

0+ mv
i
2
= mgh
f
+ 0
1/m [ mv
i
2
= mgh
f
]
( v
i
2
= gh
f
) x 2
v
i
2
= 2gh
v
i
= 2(9.8m/s
2
)(20m)
v
i
= 19.8 m/s

Example 4
Consider the roller coaster
illustrated below. What is the
speed of the cart at the lowest
point if the initial speed is 25
m/s?
Given:
v
i
= 25 m/s
h
i
= 15 m
h
f
= 3m
Solution:
(PE)
i
+(KE)
i
= (PE)
f
+ (KE)
f

mgh
i
+ mv
i
2
= mgh
f
+ mv
f
2
( gh
i
+ v
i
2
= gh
f
+ v
f
2
) x 2
2gh
i
+ v
i
2
= 2gh
f
+v
f
2
v
f
2
= 2gh
i
+v
i
2
2gh
2
= 2(9.8m/s
2
)(15m)+(25 m/s)
2
2(9.8m/s
2
) (3m)
v
f
2
= 860.2 m
2
/s
2
v
f
= 29.33 m/s
Example 5
A large chunk of ice with mass
15 kg falls from a roof 8.0 m
above the ground.
a. Ignoring air resistance, find
the KE of the ice when it
reaches the ground?
b. What is the speed of the ice
when it reaches the
ground?
Given:
m = 15 kg
h = 8.0 m
KE
i
= 0; at the highest point
PE
f
= 0; at the lowest point
Solution:
a. (PE)
i
+(KE)
i
= (PE)
f
+ (KE)
f

(PE)
i
+ 0 = 0 + (KE)
f

(PE)
i
= (KE)
f

(PE)
i
= mgh
= 15 kg(9.8 m/s
2
)(8m)
(PE)
i
= 1,176 J = (KE)
f

b. KE = mv
2
v
2
= 2 KE = 2(1,176 J)
m 15 kg
v
2
= 156.8 m
2
/s
2
v = 12.51 m/s
Exercise 1
Exercise 2
The outline of a roller coaster
track is shown in the figure.
The roller coaster car has a
mass of 1000 kg. It starts
from rest at point A on the
track.
Determine the KEs, PEs, and
speeds at points indicated.

Position PE(J) KE(J) V(m/s) PE
+KE(J)
A
B
C
D
E
Position PE(J) KE(J) V(m/s) PE
+KE(J)
A 1.47 x10
5
0 0 1.47 x10
5
B 9.8 x10
4
4.9 x10
4
9.9 1.47 x10
5
C 4.9 x10
4
9.8 x10
4
14 1.47 x10
5
D 2.94 x10
4
1.18 x10
5
15.34 1.47 x10
5
E 0 1.47 x10
5
17.15 1.47 x10
5
A golf ball (mass =0.22 kg) was struck
at the tee, leaving at a speed of 44
m/s at an angle of 45
0
.
a. What was the initial kinetic energy
of the ball?
b. What was the horizontal
component of this initial speed?
c. What was the velocity of the ball at
the highest point?
d. What was the maximum height
reached by the ball?
Given:
m = 0.22 kg
v
i
= 44 m/s
v
f
= 0; at the highest point
= 45
0
KE
f
= 0; at the highest point
PE
i
= 0; at the lowest point

Solution:
a. KE
i
= mv
2
= (.22kg)(44m/s)
2

KE
i
= 219.96 J
b. v
ix
= v
i
cos = 31.11 m/s
c. v
if
= 0
d. (PE)
i
+(KE)
i
= (PE)
f
+ (KE)
f

0 +(KE)
i
= (PE)
f
+ 0
(KE)
i
= mgh
f

mg mg
__219.96 J __ = hf
(0.22kg)(9.8m/s
2
)

102 m = h
f

Exercise 3
A 60-kg high-diver starts
his/her dive at a height of 20
m.
a. What is his/her total
mechanical energy at the
start of his dive?
b. What is his/her velocity
halfway into the dive?
c. What is his/her velocity just
before hitting the water
below?

Solution:
a. ME
T
= PE
i
+ KE
i
= mgh + 0
= 60kg(9.8m/s
2
)(20m)
= 11,760 J
b. (PE)
i
+(KE)
i
= (PE)
f
+ (KE)
f

mgh
i
+ 0 = mgh
f
+ mv
2
( mv
2
= mgh
f
+ mgh
i
)1/m
v
2
= gh
f
gh
i
v
2
= g(h
f
h
i
)
v = 14 m/s
c. v
f
2
= v
i
2
+ 2gd
v
f
2
= 0 + 2gd
v
f

2
= 2(9.8m/s
2
)(20m)
v = 19.8 m/s
Exercise 4
ASSIGNMENT
Answer Test Yourself Problem Nos. 9-11 on p. 223.
Reference: Breaking Through Physics