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Imagine a vendor carrying a basket of vegetables on her head. Is she doing any work? One would definitely say yes! However, in Physics she is not doing any work! Again, imagine a boy pushing against a wall? Is he doing any work? We can see that his muscles are contracting and expanding. He may even be sweating. But in Physics, he is not doing any work!

If the vendor is carrying a very heavy load for a long distance, we would say she has lot of energy. By this, we mean that she has a lot of stamina. If a car can travel very fast, we describe the car as powerful. So, there is a link between power and speed. However, power means something different in Physics. This chapter describes the links between work, energy and power and what these mean in Physics.

You will learn that work and energy are closely related. You shall see that the energy of an object is its capacity to do work and doing work is the process of transferring energy from one object or form to another. In other words,

  • an object with lots of energy can do lots of work.
  • when work is done, energy is lost by the object doing work and gained by the object on which the work is done.

Lifting objects or throwing them requires that you do work on them. Even making electricity flow requires that something do work. Something must have energy and transfer it through doing work to make things happen.



When a force exerted on an object causes it to move, work is done on the object (except if the force and displacement are at right angles to each other).

This means that in order for work to be done, an object must be moved a distance d by a force F , such that there is some non-zero component of the force in the direction of the displacement. Work is calculated as:

W = F · Δ x cos θ .

where F is the applied force, Δ x is the displacement of the object and θ is the angle between the applied force and the direction of motion.

The force F causes the object to be displaced by Δ x at angle θ .

It is very important to note that for work to be done there must be a component of the applied force in the direction of motion. Forces perpendicular to the direction of motion do no work.

For example work is done on the object in [link] ,

(a) The force F causes the object to be displaced by Δ x in the same direction as the force. θ = 0 and cos θ = 1 . Work is done in this situation. (b) A force F is applied to the object. The object is displaced by Δ y at right angles to the force. θ = 90 and cos θ = 0 . Work is not done in this situation.

Investigation : is work done?

Decide whether on not work is done in the following situations. Remember that for work to be done a force must be applied in the direction of motion and there must be a displacement. Give reasons for your answer.

  1. Max pushes against a wall and becomes tired.
  2. A book falls off a table and free falls to the ground.
  3. A rocket accelerates through space.
  4. A waiter holds a tray full of meals above his head with one arm and carries it straight across the room at constant speed. (Careful! This is a tricky question.)

Questions & Answers

how does cell look like
Charu Reply
What is impulse and how does it = to momentum
Robin Reply
what is physics
Jhon Reply
what is a catanation ?
Rithabele Reply
The ability of a few elements, most especially carbon, to yield chains and rings by forming covalent bonds with atoms of the same element.
different structural formula
Lucas Reply
different type of structural formula
primary,secondary and tertiary
how does the earth revolute
Kevin Reply
What is the momentum
Given Reply
The product of the object's mass and it's velocity
electric field def
what is secondary alcohol?
is when Carbon that is bonded with OH is also bonded to 2 carbons of the chain.
Electric field is the region of space around a charged object where other charged objects will experience an electrostatic force ( coulomb forces) without coming into contact with the object that is generating the field.
Electric field is the region of space around a charged object where other charged objects will experience an electrostatic force ( coulomb forces) without coming into contact with the object that is generating the field.
how is ester formed
Aubrey Reply
how is n ester formed
Alcohol reacts with a carboxylic acid
and the reaction is catalysed by sulphuric acid
An ester is form when an alcohol reacts a carboxylic acid and sulphuric acid is used as a catalyst which therefore eliminates water.
an athlete with a mass of 70kg runs at a velocity of 45km . determine the athlete's momentum
Lesedi Reply
Is that a velocity or something else
45km/h i guess
Change to m/s
45km/h = 12.5 m/s p=mv =70×12.5 =875 kg.m/s
what are the measures of the rates of reaction
Lesego Reply
Volume Concentration Temperature Pressure Surface Area
the principle of superposition of waves
Sfundo Reply
what is work
Kool Reply
is this a group chat
Nobuhle Reply
Hey can y'all define newton's 2nd law
If a resultant force act on an object...the object will accelerate in the direction of a resultant force,the acceleration of the object is directly proportional to the net force and inversely proportional to the mass of the object
how do you calculate tension force
use the formula Fnet=ma if there is tension connecting two objects
to calculate Tension, usually calculate acceleration first Draw separate free body diagrams for each body. Apply Fnet = ma to calculate Tension
Hi people
when a resultant force acting on an object the object will accelerate in the direction of a force at an acceleration directly proportional to the force and invesly proportional to the mass of the object.
Hey people
how does temperature affect the equilibrium position
Blessing Reply
an increased temperature increases the average kinetic energy thus in turn increases the number of effective collisions........
so...which reaction is favored between endothermic and exothermic .when temperature is increased..?
exothermic reaction because energy is realised to the surroundings as heat and light energy ....graphical so much energy is realised as reactants to form product and because temperature is high rate of reaction is fast which means there is a successful collision
an object will continue in a state of rest unless it is acted upon an unbalanced force
Junior Reply
Newton's Law 1
First Newton's Law
Newton's first law
newton first law
Newton's first law

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 12 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11244/1.2
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