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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

formula of heat reaction
Anelisiwe Reply
final energy-initial energy of substances
what is the difference between ethene and ethane
Joy Reply
Ethane is a saturated organic molecule while ethene is unsaturated Ethane has 2 carbon atoms and 6 hydrogen atoms, while ethene has 2 Carbons and 4 hydrogens Ethane has single bond between the 2 Carbon atoms while ethene has double bond
How do you know that the reaction is in acid medium or basic medium
Miss Reply
What formular is used when source and Observer are moving towards to each other
Esihle Reply
put a + on top n - on the bottom
what is doppler effect?
Ansiwe Reply
doppler effect is the perceived change in frequency of a sound caused by either the source or the listener
moving relative to each other
A Catalyst is a chemical substance that speeds up a chemical reaction.
Sheron Reply
It does this by lowering the activation energy.
what is exothermic
Nambile Reply
reaction that releases energy
what is a catalyst
Catalyst is to speed up the reaction
catalyst is a substance added into a solution to speed up the process
As it speeds up the reaction by lowering the activation energy, it does not take part in the reactants or products formed
reaction that release energy
what is exothermic
Nambile Reply
reaction that gives off heat to the surroundings
formula for calculating the heat of reaction
I need help in electrostatic
Muthuphei Reply
in exactly in electrostatic
send the question on electrostatic maybe I can help
factors affecting the rate of reaction
thabo Reply
I'm xiluva ...do we help those who are having challenges on their studies?
I mean on physical science
I believe it's supposed to be like that. Helping those who are having educational challenges
Yep physical sciences more specifically
ok ....nna I need some help in physics electricity ...just hints how we do what n how to solve some of the problem... just hints
The first thing you can do is to understand ohm's law and the difference between a series and parallel connection concerning current, resistance and potential difference
Hi Xiluva,not sure if this will be helpful but to understand electricity better I suggest you download Siyavula physical science books there's both a learner book and a teacher's guide I was struggling too they really did help you might be able to do some exercises after reading siyavula material
what diode mean
diode s a part of electrical current tht allows only moves to one direction ..only ...
allows current .....to flow to one direction I meant .
ok thanks
ok thanks guys
temperature surface area concentration addition of a catalyst
thank you mr
How to calculate e.p
zama Reply
What is polymer
Kwinda Reply
chemical compound with molecules bonded together in long ,repeating chains
hey guys i need help with the topic of forces and their application
Monica Reply
A force is a pull or push and it can be applied in rocket launchers moving cars & stoping (breaking them).
A force is that Agency which changes the object's state of rest or motion. A push or pull are the effects of force.
are you sure u wantd to ask tht or u wantd to say " how many bonds are there in alkane nd their names?" ?
Frank Reply
I also think that's what she meant 'coz I don't really understand her question
yeah nd if that's th case , there are only single bonds wch I could say one of em tht I know is methane
I mean methane,ethane they end up to what
well I also assume ths is wah u lookin for .. methane , ethane , propane, butane, pentane, hexane , Heptane, octane , nonane , decane . is ths wah u wanted ?
how many alkane are there n there names
Sylvia Reply

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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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