# potential energy

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## potential energy

the energy of a body or system as a result of its position in an electric, magnetic, or gravitational field. It is measured in joules (SI units), electronvolts, ergs, etc.

## potential energy

The energy possessed by a body or system by virtue of its position or configuration. It is equal to the work done by the system changing from its given state to some standard state. In a gravitational field, a mass m placed at a height h above a standard level (say the surface of the Earth) has potential energy mgh, where g is the acceleration of gravity.

## Potential Energy

the part of the total mechanical energy of a system that depends on the relative positions of the particles making up the system and on the positions of the particles in the external force field, such as a gravitational field. The potential energy of a system in a given position is numerically equal to the work that the forces acting on the system perform when the system is shifted from this position to a position in which the potential energy is arbitrarily assumed to be equal to zero.

It follows from this definition that the concept of potential energy holds only for conservative systems, that is, systems in which the work of the acting forces depends only on the initial and final positions of the system. Thus, for a weight P raised to a height h, the potential energy will be equal to Ph; it will be equal to zero when h equals zero. For a weight attached to a spring, the potential energy will be 0.5cλ2, where λ is the elongation or compression of the spring and c is the spring’s stiffness. Again, the energy is zero when λ is zero. For two particles with masses m1 and m2, attracted according to the law of universal gravitation, the potential energy is —fm1m2/r, where f is the gravitational constant and r is the distance between the particles. In this case, the energy is zero when r = ∞. The potential energy of two point charges e1 and e2 is calculated in a similar manner.

S. M. TARG

## potential energy

[pə′ten·chəl ′en·ər·jē]
(mechanics)
The capacity to do work that a body or system has by virtue of its position or configuration.
References in periodicals archive ?
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The electric and magnetic energies comprise both radiated and stored energies; however, for antenna Q calculations one must extract the stored energy.
The stored energy gives him slightly more spring than an able-bodied runner.
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Animals who lack this energy-saving mechanism burn more stored energy by dissipating more heat when at rest or when normally active.
Batteries rely on a chemical reaction to dissipate stored energy. There is no chemical reaction in ultracapacitors, as they store energy in an electrostatic field.
In leaf litter (or compost) all the absorbed carbon dioxide is released back into the atmosphere; any stored energy is wasted.
The green yacht can cruise at 13.5 knots at top speed and can run 1,200 miles from stored energy at night for those late parties on board.
The car was using a Kinetic Energy Regeneration System which gathers up the kinetic energy from braking and uses the stored energy to produce more power for overtaking procedures and so on.
The car was using a Kinetic Energy Regeneration System which uses stored energy to produce more power for overtaking procedures and so on.
During pulling, the bend will try to minimize its stored energy by becoming narrower.

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