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More precisely, we define the change in gravitational potential energy Δ PE g size 12{Δ"PE" rSub { size 8{g} } } {} to be

Δ PE g = mgh , size 12{Δ"PE" rSub { size 8{g} } = ital "mgh"} {}

where, for simplicity, we denote the change in height by h size 12{h} {} rather than the usual Δ h size 12{Δh} {} . Note that h size 12{h} {} is positive when the final height is greater than the initial height, and vice versa. For example, if a 0.500-kg mass hung from a cuckoo clock is raised 1.00 m, then its change in gravitational potential energy is

mgh = 0.500 kg 9.80 m/s 2 1.00 m = 4.90 kg m 2 /s 2 = 4.90 J.

Note that the units of gravitational potential energy turn out to be joules, the same as for work and other forms of energy. As the clock runs, the mass is lowered. We can think of the mass as gradually giving up its 4.90 J of gravitational potential energy, without directly considering the force of gravity that does the work .

Using potential energy to simplify calculations

The equation Δ PE g = mgh size 12{Δ"PE" rSub { size 8{g} } = ital "mgh"} {} applies for any path that has a change in height of h size 12{h} {} , not just when the mass is lifted straight up. (See [link] .) It is much easier to calculate mgh size 12{ ital "mgh"} {} (a simple multiplication) than it is to calculate the work done along a complicated path. The idea of gravitational potential energy has the double advantage that it is very broadly applicable and it makes calculations easier. From now on, we will consider that any change in vertical position h size 12{h} {} of a mass m size 12{m} {} is accompanied by a change in gravitational potential energy mgh size 12{ ital "mgh"} {} , and we will avoid the equivalent but more difficult task of calculating work done by or against the gravitational force.

There is a four-story building. A person is carrying a television up the stairs of the building. The height of third story is h from the ground. A girl is standing outside the building and is lifting a similar television with the help of a pulley.
The change in gravitational potential energy ( Δ PE g ) size 12{ \( Δ"PE" rSub { size 8{g} } \) } {} between points A and B is independent of the path. Δ PE g = mgh size 12{Δ"PE" rSub { size 8{g} } = ital "mgh"} {} for any path between the two points. Gravity is one of a small class of forces where the work done by or against the force depends only on the starting and ending points, not on the path between them.

The force to stop falling

A 60.0-kg person jumps onto the floor from a height of 3.00 m. If he lands stiffly (with his knee joints compressing by 0.500 cm), calculate the force on the knee joints.

Strategy

This person’s energy is brought to zero in this situation by the work done on him by the floor as he stops. The initial PE g size 12{"PE" rSub { size 8{g} } } {} is transformed into KE size 12{"KE"} {} as he falls. The work done by the floor reduces this kinetic energy to zero.

Solution

The work done on the person by the floor as he stops is given by

W = Fd cos θ = Fd , size 12{W= ital "Fd""cos"θ= - ital "Fd"} {}

with a minus sign because the displacement while stopping and the force from floor are in opposite directions ( cos θ = cos 180º = 1 ) size 12{ \( "cos"θ="cos""180""°=" - 1 \) } {} . The floor removes energy from the system, so it does negative work.

The kinetic energy the person has upon reaching the floor is the amount of potential energy lost by falling through height h size 12{h} {} :

KE = Δ PE g = mgh , size 12{"KE"= - Δ"PE" rSub { size 8{g} } = - ital "mgh"} {}

The distance d size 12{d} {} that the person’s knees bend is much smaller than the height h size 12{h} {} of the fall, so the additional change in gravitational potential energy during the knee bend is ignored.

The work W size 12{W} {} done by the floor on the person stops the person and brings the person’s kinetic energy to zero:

W = KE = mgh . size 12{W= - "KE"= ital "mgh"} {}

Combining this equation with the expression for W size 12{W} {} gives

Fd = mgh . size 12{ - ital "Fd"= ital "mgh"} {}

Recalling that h size 12{h} {} is negative because the person fell down , the force on the knee joints is given by

F = mgh d = 60.0 kg 9.80 m /s 2 3 . 00 m 5 . 00 × 10 3 m = 3 . 53 × 10 5 N. size 12{F= - { { ital "mgh"} over {d} } = - { { left ("60" "." 0" kg" right ) left (9 "." "80"" m/s" rSup { size 8{2} } right ) left ( - 3 "." "00"`m right )} over {5 "." "00" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } " m"} } =3 "." "53" times "10" rSup { size 8{5} } `N "." } {}

Discussion

Such a large force (500 times more than the person’s weight) over the short impact time is enough to break bones. A much better way to cushion the shock is by bending the legs or rolling on the ground, increasing the time over which the force acts. A bending motion of 0.5 m this way yields a force 100 times smaller than in the example. A kangaroo's hopping shows this method in action. The kangaroo is the only large animal to use hopping for locomotion, but the shock in hopping is cushioned by the bending of its hind legs in each jump.(See [link] .)

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Questions & Answers

how do you calculate the 5% uncertainty of 4cm?
melia Reply
4cm/100×5= 0.2cm
haider
how do you calculate the 5% absolute uncertainty of a 200g mass?
melia Reply
= 200g±(5%)10g
haider
use the 10g as the uncertainty?
melia
which topic u discussing about?
haider
topic of question?
haider
the relationship between the applied force and the deflection
melia
sorry wrong question i meant the 5% uncertainty of 4cm?
melia
its 0.2 cm or 2mm
haider
thank you
melia
Hello group...
Chioma
hi
haider
well hello there
sean
hi
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the meaning of phrase in physics
Chovwe Reply
is the meaning of phrase in physics
Chovwe
write an expression for a plane progressive wave moving from left to right along x axis and having amplitude 0.02m, frequency of 650Hz and speed if 680ms-¹
Gabriel Reply
how does a model differ from a theory
Friday Reply
To use the vocabulary of model theory and meta-logic, a theory is a set of sentences which can be derived from a formal model using some rule of inference (usually just modus ponens). So, for example, Number Theory is the set of sentences true about numbers. But the model is a structure together wit
Jesilda
with an iterpretation.
Jesilda
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Ridwan Reply
Vector quality have both direction and magnitude, such as Force, displacement, acceleration and etc.
Besmellah
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Jack Reply
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Chinaza Reply
electromagnetic induction is a process in which conductor is put in a particular position and magnetic field keeps varying.
Lukman
wow great
Salaudeen
what is mutual induction?
je
mutual induction can be define as the current flowing in one coil that induces a voltage in an adjacent coil.
Johnson
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Ajayi Reply
show that a particle moving under the influence of an attractive force mu/y³ towards the axis x. show that if it be projected from the point (0,k) with the component velocities U and V parallel to the axis of x and y, it will not strike the axis of x unless u>v²k² and distance uk²/√u-vk as origin
Gabriel Reply
show that a particle moving under the influence of an attractive force mu/y^3 towards the axis x. show that if it be projected from the point (0,k) with the component velocities U and V parallel to the axis of x and y, it will not strike the axis of x unless u>v^2k^2 and distance uk^2/√u-k as origin
Gabriel Reply
No idea.... Are you even sure this question exist?
Mavis
I can't even understand the question
Ademiye
yes it was an assignment question "^"represent raise to power pls
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mu/y³ u>v²k² uk²/√u-vk please help me out
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An engineer builds two simple pendula. Both are suspended from small wires secured to the ceiling of a room. Each pendulum hovers 2 cm above the floor. Pendulum 1 has a bob with a mass of 10kg . Pendulum 2 has a bob with a mass of 100 kg . Describe how the motion of the pendula will differ if the bobs are both displaced by 12º .
Imtiaz Reply
no ideas
Augstine
if u at an angle of 12 degrees their period will be same so as their velocity, that means they both move simultaneously since both both hovers at same length meaning they have the same length
Ademiye
Modern cars are made of materials that make them collapsible upon collision. Explain using physics concept (Force and impulse), how these car designs help with the safety of passengers.
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The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom
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Practice Key Terms 1

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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