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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Calculate the kinetic energy of a particle given its mass and its velocity or momentum
  • Evaluate the kinetic energy of a body, relative to different frames of reference

It’s plausible to suppose that the greater the velocity of a body, the greater effect it could have on other bodies. This does not depend on the direction of the velocity, only its magnitude. At the end of the seventeenth century, a quantity was introduced into mechanics to explain collisions between two perfectly elastic bodies, in which one body makes a head-on collision with an identical body at rest. The first body stops, and the second body moves off with the initial velocity of the first body. (If you have ever played billiards or croquet, or seen a model of Newton’s Cradle, you have observed this type of collision.) The idea behind this quantity was related to the forces acting on a body and was referred to as “the energy of motion.” Later on, during the eighteenth century, the name kinetic energy    was given to energy of motion.

With this history in mind, we can now state the classical definition of kinetic energy. Note that when we say “classical,” we mean non-relativistic, that is, at speeds much less that the speed of light. At speeds comparable to the speed of light, the special theory of relativity requires a different expression for the kinetic energy of a particle, as discussed in Relativity .

Since objects (or systems) of interest vary in complexity, we first define the kinetic energy of a particle with mass m .

Kinetic energy

The kinetic energy of a particle is one-half the product of the particle’s mass m and the square of its speed v :

K = 1 2 m v 2 .

We then extend this definition to any system of particles by adding up the kinetic energies of all the constituent particles:

K = 1 2 m v 2 .

Note that just as we can express Newton’s second law in terms of either the rate of change of momentum or mass times the rate of change of velocity, so the kinetic energy of a particle can be expressed in terms of its mass and momentum ( p = m v ) , instead of its mass and velocity. Since v = p / m , we see that

K = 1 2 m ( p m ) 2 = p 2 2 m

also expresses the kinetic energy of a single particle. Sometimes, this expression is more convenient to use than [link] .

The units of kinetic energy are mass times the square of speed, or kg · m 2 /s 2 . But the units of force are mass times acceleration, kg · m/s 2 , so the units of kinetic energy are also the units of force times distance, which are the units of work, or joules. You will see in the next section that work and kinetic energy have the same units, because they are different forms of the same, more general, physical property.

Kinetic energy of an object

(a) What is the kinetic energy of an 80-kg athlete, running at 10 m/s? (b) The Chicxulub crater in Yucatan, one of the largest existing impact craters on Earth, is thought to have been created by an asteroid, traveling at
22 km/s and releasing 4.2 × 10 23 J of kinetic energy upon impact. What was its mass? (c) In nuclear reactors, thermal neutrons, traveling at about 2.2 km/s, play an important role. What is the kinetic energy of such a particle?

Strategy

To answer these questions, you can use the definition of kinetic energy in [link] . You also have to look up the mass of a neutron.

Solution

Don’t forget to convert km into m to do these calculations, although, to save space, we omitted showing these conversions.

  1. K = 1 2 ( 80 kg ) ( 10 m/s ) 2 = 4.0 kJ .
  2. m = 2 K / v 2 = 2 ( 4.2 × 10 23 J ) / ( 22 km/s ) 2 = 1.7 × 10 15 kg .
  3. K = 1 2 ( 1.68 × 10 −27 kg ) ( 2.2 km/s ) 2 = 4.1 × 10 −21 J .

Significance

In this example, we used the way mass and speed are related to kinetic energy, and we encountered a very wide range of values for the kinetic energies. Different units are commonly used for such very large and very small values. The energy of the impactor in part (b) can be compared to the explosive yield of TNT and nuclear explosions, 1 megaton = 4.18 × 10 15 J . The Chicxulub asteroid’s kinetic energy was about a hundred million megatons. At the other extreme, the energy of subatomic particle is expressed in electron-volts, 1 eV = 1.6 × 10 −19 J . The thermal neutron in part (c) has a kinetic energy of about one fortieth of an electron-volt.

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Questions & Answers

a particle projected from origin moving on x-y plane passes through P & Q having consituents (9,7) , (18,4) respectively.find eq. of trajectry.
rahul Reply
definition of inertia
philip Reply
the reluctance of a body to start moving when it is at rest and to stop moving when it is in motion
charles
An inherent property by virtue of which the body remains in its pure state or initial state
Kushal
why current is not a vector quantity , whereas it have magnitude as well as direction.
Aniket Reply
why
daniel
the flow of current is not current
fitzgerald
bcoz it doesn't satisfy the algabric laws of vectors
Shiekh
The Electric current can be defined as the dot product of the current density and the differential cross-sectional area vector : ... So the electric current is a scalar quantity . Scalars are related to tensors by the fact that a scalar is a tensor of order or rank zero .
Kushal
what is binomial theorem
Tollum Reply
hello are you ready to ask aquestion?
Saadaq Reply
what is binary operations
Tollum
What is the formula to calculat parallel forces that acts in opposite direction?
Martan Reply
position, velocity and acceleration of vector
Manuel Reply
hi
peter
hi
daniel
hi
Vedisha
*a plane flies with a velocity of 1000km/hr in a direction North60degree east.find it effective velocity in the easterly and northerly direction.*
imam
hello
Lydia
hello Lydia.
Sackson
What is momentum
isijola
hello
Saadaq
A rail way truck of mass 2400kg is hung onto a stationary trunk on a level track and collides with it at 4.7m|s. After collision the two trunk move together with a common speed of 1.2m|s. Calculate the mass of the stationary trunk
Ekuri Reply
I need the solving for this question
philip
is the eye the same like the camera
EDWIN Reply
I can't understand
Suraia
same here please
Josh
I think the question is that ,,, the working principal of eye and camera same or not?
Sardar
yes i think is same as the camera
muhammad
what are the dimensions of surface tension
samsfavor
why is the "_" sign used for a wave to the right instead of to the left?
MUNGWA Reply
why classical mechanics is necessary for graduate students?
khyam Reply
classical mechanics?
Victor
principle of superposition?
Naveen Reply
principle of superposition allows us to find the electric field on a charge by finding the x and y components
Kidus
Two Masses,m and 2m,approach each along a path at right angles to each other .After collision,they stick together and move off at 2m/s at angle 37° to the original direction of the mass m. What where the initial speeds of the two particles
MB
2m & m initial velocity 1.8m/s & 4.8m/s respectively,apply conservation of linear momentum in two perpendicular directions.
Shubhrant
A body on circular orbit makes an angular displacement given by teta(t)=2(t)+5(t)+5.if time t is in seconds calculate the angular velocity at t=2s
MB
2+5+0=7sec differentiate above equation w.r.t time, as angular velocity is rate of change of angular displacement.
Shubhrant
Ok i got a question I'm not asking how gravity works. I would like to know why gravity works. like why is gravity the way it is. What is the true nature of gravity?
Daniel Reply
gravity pulls towards a mass...like every object is pulled towards earth
Ashok
An automobile traveling with an initial velocity of 25m/s is accelerated to 35m/s in 6s,the wheel of the automobile is 80cm in diameter. find * The angular acceleration
Goodness Reply
(10/6) ÷0.4=4.167 per sec
Shubhrant
what is the formula for pressure?
Goodness Reply
force/area
Kidus
force is newtom
Kidus
and area is meter squared
Kidus
so in SI units pressure is N/m^2
Kidus
In customary United States units pressure is lb/in^2. pound per square inch
Kidus
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Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 1. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12031/1.5
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