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Chapter 5 Physics Notes: Work

In physics the word work has a distinctly different meaning
o Ex. A student held a heavy chair at arms length for several minutes. Is work done?
No. Only effort is applied to the chair. No displacement of the chair
A force that causes a displacement of an object does work on the object
o If you push or pull an object across a distance, work is done
o W = Fd
o Work is not done on an object unless the object is moved because of the action of a force.
Work is done only when components of a force are parallel to a displacement
o When the force on an object and the objects displacement are in different directions only the
component of the force that is in the direction of the objects displacement does work. Components of
the force perpendicular to a displacement dont do work
o Ex. Pushing crate in figure 5-2
If the force you apply is horizontal = all of your effort moves the crate
If the force is other than horizontal, only the horizontal component of applied force will cause a
displacement thus doing work
o To calculate the components use:
W = Fd(cos )
If = 0 cos 0 = 1 and W = Fd = work is done
If = 90 cos 90 = 0 and no work is done
No work is done on a bucket of water carried by a student walking horizontally because
the upward force exerted to support the bucket is perpendicular to the displacement of
the bucket = no work on bucket
If many constant forces are acting on an object find the net work done by first finding the net
o Wnet = Fnet d(cos )
Net work = net force x displacement x cosine of angle between them
o SI unit for work Nm or joules (J)
Work depends on force and distance work is done when a force is applied to an object and the object moves in
the direction of the applied force
o W = Fd
o SI unit = Nm or J (joule) in honor of physicist James Prescott Joule (1818 1889)
What is a joule of work equivalent to?
o You lifting a 1 gallon container of milk 1 inch or lifting an apple 1 meter
Work is zero if the distance moved is zero
o If you push a car but it doesnt budge = 0 work
o You might still get tired because your individual muscle cells are contracting and relaxing doing work
The angle of the force affects the work done
o Only the component of the force in the direction of the displacement does work
o W = Fd x cos
Work can be positive, negative or zero
o Work is positive if the force has a component in the direction of motion
o Work is zero if the force has no component in the direction of motion
o Work is negative if the force has a component opposite to the direction of motion

2 special cases
o Zero work is done when the force is perpendicular to the displacement cos 90 = 0
o Negative work is done when the force acts opposite to the displacement cos 180 = -1
Ex. A box is sliding down a hill but you try to push it uphill it keeps sliding down but you slow it
down. The box continues to move in the opposite direction of the applied force
Work and Energy
o When you do work on an object you change its energy
o Pushing a shopping card your work goes into increasing its kinetic energy
o You climb a mountain your work goes into increasing your potential energy
Kinetic Energy energy of motion
o If two football players run into each other the intensity of the impact depends on the mass and the
speed of the players
o KE = mv2
o SI unit = J
Potential Energy
o Stored energy
o Due to the position of the object in relation to other objects
Gravitational potential energy the energy associated with an object due to the objects position relative to a
gravitational source
o Ex. Egg falling from table has kinetic energy that came from the PEg associated with the eggs position
on the table relative to the floor
o PEg = mgh
o Unit = J
o Valid only when free-fall acceleration is constant over the entire height
o Depends on both height and free-fall acceleration
o Must be measured relative to some zero level which is arbitrary it is chosen to make problems easier
to solve
Elastic potential energy
o Depends on distance compressed or stretched
o Relaxed length the length of a spring when no external forces are acting on it
The amount of PEelastic depends on the distance the spring is compressed or stretched from
the relaxed length
o PEelastic = x spring constant x (distance compressed or stretched) 2
o PEelastic = kx2
o k or spring constant is small for a flexible spring but large for a stiff spring units = (N/m)
Conservation of Energy
o Conserved Quantities
o Conserved = remains constant (quantity can change form but not amount)
o Ex. Mass mass of light bulb shown is constant or conserved whether whole or in pieces
Mechanical Energy
o The sum of kinetic energy and all forms of potential energy
o ME = KE + PE
o Ex. Pendulum in a clock highest points in swing PEg. When pendulum is in motion KE
Non-mechanical Energy nuclear, chemical, internal and electrical
o In the absence of friction, the total mechanical energy remains the same = conservation of mechanical


Mechanical energy can change form kinetic and potential energies

MEi = MEf (in the absence of friction)
Mechanical energy is not conserved in the presence of friction total energy is always conserved
The rate at which work is done
P = W / t
SI unit = watt (W) = 1 joule / second
Horsepower, hp, is another unit of power used. 1 hp = 746 watts