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Forms of kinetic energy

Updated on January 17, 2016

First off...

First off lets review what kinetic energy is. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. Kinetic energy can also be explained as how one form of energy is transferred into another, such as a windmill creating electrical energy. The windmill has kinetic energy. Kinetic energy can also be passed from one object into another. This can be described as playing pool, when the pool cue hits the ball energy is transferred. Now kinetic energy has four main branches.

Thermal energy

Thermal energy is a kind of kinetic energy expressed in heat. When matter gains thermal energy the particles inside vibrate which causes it to heat up. According to the Zeroth law of thermodynamics thermal energy will only transfer from one item to another if they have different temperatures. Thermal energy is one of the most abundant forms of energy there is. When one form of energy converts into another there is always a little bit of energy that is 'lost' in the form of heat. If you were to touch a light bulb it would be hot to the touch and that is a good example of this property. When electrical energy is being converted to light energy some of the energy is lost due to heat which you can feel in the light bulb.

Mechanical energy

This is the energy associated with the motion and position of an object. An object that possesses mechanical energy is able to do work. Mechanical energy is basically described by the energy that can cause an item to be displaced. Many times mechanical energy is used by machines, which are simply put a way to do work with less energy. An example of this is a hammer hitting a nail. Every time you swing the hammer your converting potential energy into kinetic energy and when the hammer strikes the nail the mechanical energy is transferred. There are two main forms of mechanical energy. There's elastic collision and there's inelastic collisions, In elastic collisions all the energy is preserved when it transfers and in inelastic collisions some of the energy is lost as thermal energy. Many times mechanical energies are converted into other energies. A good example of this is a windmill. The actual windmill is using mechanical energy to turn the blades and the turning of the blades is converted into electrical energy. Mechanical energy is used in many daily things we often take for granted.

Electrical energy

Electrical energy is an energy that is often created from a conversion of some other kind of energy like windmills or water mills. Electrical energy often times also loses a lot of the energy that it is converted from due to heat energy. Electrical energy is often measured in joules or watts. Watts is a measure of joules and joules is a measure of the potential energy of an electrical circuit. Electricity is used by it transferring through wires which makes it go where we want it to. Wires are often covered by rubber because the transfer of electricity causes the wires to heat up substantially and if uncovered often cause electrical fires. Electrical fires is a very good example of how much energy is 'lost' thermally in the transfer of electricity.

Magnetic energy

According to Maxwells equations electrical and magnetic energy are related. Our world has natural magnetic energies that spring from the north and south pole that keep our planet turning how it is supposed to. This energy is displayed in fields, magnetic fields. Anything that is magnetic has both a north and a south pole. Magnets can be found naturally in our earth in the form of some specific metals. Magnetic energy is the only kind of energy that is found in the form of a field. This is a unique kind of energy which scientists are just recently beginning to understand because the concept of energy being transferred with no direct contact was a hard pill for them to swallow originally. Many of our technologies now use a form of electromagnetic energy which is both electric and magnetic. These energies include, xrays, gamma rays, radio signals. These differ from each other in both wavelength and frequency. Because electromagnetic energy exists in fields it can be considered both potential and kinetic in a way because it has potential to do stuff but the energy is always being transmitted.

Kinetic and potential energy in relation

Several of these energies listed above exist as both kinetic AND potential energy. This is because the two of them exist together. You can't have kinetic energy without matter first having the potential to do it, and you can't have potential energy without kinetic because the potential comes from its ability to have kinetic energy. A good example of the two of them existing together is when you bounce a bouncy ball. As it falls it gains kinetic energy and as it rises it gains potential energy and that very split second when it pauses at the top it has full potential energy. It would be impossible for a ball to bounce without having both kinetic and potential energy in the universe. You can't really talk about one form of energy and leave the other out because you can't fully make it understood without the other.

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