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Transcript of Mechanical Energy
MECHANICAL ENERGY IS THE ABILITY TO WORK
Mechanical energy enables an object to apply a force to another object in order to cause it to be displaced.
An object that possesses mechanical energy is able to do work. In fact, mechanical energy is often defined as the ability to do work. Any object that possesses mechanical energy - whether it is in the form of potential energy or kinetic energy - is able to do work. That is, its mechanical energy enables that object to apply a force to another object in order to cause it to be displaced.
Numerous examples can be given of how an object with mechanical energy can harness that energy in order to apply a force to cause another object to be displaced. A classic example involves the massive wrecking ball of a demolition machine. The wrecking ball is a massive object that is swung backwards to a high position and allowed to swing forward into building structure or other object in order to demolish it. Upon hitting the structure, the wrecking ball applies a force to it in order to cause the wall of the structure to be displaced. The diagram below depicts the process by which the mechanical energy of a wrecking ball can be used to do work.
A hammer is a tool that utilizes mechanical energy to do work. The mechanical energy of a hammer gives the hammer its ability to apply a force to a nail in order to cause it to be displaced. Because the hammer has mechanical energy (in the form of kinetic energy), it is able to do work on the nail.
A dart gun is still another example of how mechanical energy of an object can do work on another object. When a dart gun is loaded and the springs are compressed, it possesses mechanical energy. The mechanical energy of the compressed springs gives the springs the ability to apply a force to the dart in order to cause it to be displaced. Because of the springs have mechanical energy (in the form of elastic potential energy), it is able to do work on the dart.
A common scene in some parts of the countryside is a "wind farm." High-speed winds are used to do work on the blades of a turbine at the so-called wind farm. The mechanical energy of the moving air gives the air particles the ability to apply a force and cause a displacement of the blades. As the blades spin, their energy is subsequently converted into electrical energy (a non-mechanical form of energy) and supplied to homes and industries in order to run electrical appliances. Because the moving wind has mechanical energy (in the form of kinetic energy), it is able to do work on the blades.
If a roller coaster car is displaced from ground level to the top of the first drop of a roller coaster ride, then a chain driven by a motor supplies the force to do the work on the car. If a barbell is displaced from ground level to a height above a weightlifter's head, then the weightlifter is supplying a force to do work on the barbell. In all instances, an object that possesses some form of energy supplies the force to do the work. In the instances described here, the objects doing the work (a student, a tractor, a pitcher, a motor/chain) possess chemical potential energy stored in food or fuel that is transformed into work. In the process of doing work, the object that is doing the work exchanges energy with the object upon which the work is done. When the work is done upon the object, that object gains energy. The energy acquired by the objects upon which work is done is known as mechanical energy.
Another example that illustrates how mechanical energy is the ability of an object to do work can be seen any evening at the bowling alley. The mechanical energy of a bowling ball gives the ball the ability to apply a force to a bowling pin in order to cause it to be displaced. Because the massive ball has mechanical energy (in the form of kinetic energy), it is able to do work on the pin. Mechanical energy is the ability to do work.
NOW YOU KNOW . . .