# 7.6 Conservation of energy  (Page 2/12)

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## Making connections: usefulness of the energy conservation principle

The fact that energy is conserved and has many forms makes it very important. You will find that energy is discussed in many contexts, because it is involved in all processes. It will also become apparent that many situations are best understood in terms of energy and that problems are often most easily conceptualized and solved by considering energy.

When does $\text{OE}$ play a role? One example occurs when a person eats. Food is oxidized with the release of carbon dioxide, water, and energy. Some of this chemical energy is converted to kinetic energy when the person moves, to potential energy when the person changes altitude, and to thermal energy (another form of $\text{OE}$ ).

## Some of the many forms of energy

What are some other forms of energy? You can probably name a number of forms of energy not yet discussed. Many of these will be covered in later chapters, but let us detail a few here. Electrical energy is a common form that is converted to many other forms and does work in a wide range of practical situations. Fuels, such as gasoline and food, carry chemical energy    that can be transferred to a system through oxidation. Chemical fuel can also produce electrical energy, such as in batteries. Batteries can in turn produce light, which is a very pure form of energy. Most energy sources on Earth are in fact stored energy from the energy we receive from the Sun. We sometimes refer to this as radiant energy    , or electromagnetic radiation, which includes visible light, infrared, and ultraviolet radiation. Nuclear energy comes from processes that convert measurable amounts of mass into energy. Nuclear energy is transformed into the energy of sunlight, into electrical energy in power plants, and into the energy of the heat transfer and blast in weapons. Atoms and molecules inside all objects are in random motion. This internal mechanical energy from the random motions is called thermal energy    , because it is related to the temperature of the object. These and all other forms of energy can be converted into one another and can do work.

## Real world connections: open or closed system?

Consider whether the following systems are open or closed: a car, a spring-operated dart gun, and the system shown in [link] (a).

A car is not a closed system. You add energy in the form of more gas in the tank (or charging the batteries), and energy is lost due to air resistance and friction.

A spring-operated dart gun is not a closed system. You have to initially compress the spring. Once that has been done, however, the dart gun and dart can be treated as a closed system. All of the energy remains in the system consisting of these two objects.

[link] (a) is an example of a closed system, once it has been started. All of the energy in the system remains there; none is brought in from outside or leaves.

[link] gives the amount of energy stored, used, or released from various objects and in various phenomena. The range of energies and the variety of types and situations is impressive.

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