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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

are UV rays dangerous?
Khathutshelo Reply
what's this?
i hv a problem with this chapter because i also have problem with Newton's laws of motion
Kearabetswe Reply
what is the wave model of atom ?
Trazy Reply
Can you state the Doppler effect in words
Nombuyiselo Reply
State Coulomb's law in words
the magnitude of the electrostatic force exerted point on each other is directly proportional to the product on magnitude of charges and inversely proportional to the square distance between them
Newton's first law of motion
Nnuso Reply
When an object is at rest or traveling at a constant velocity it will remain at rest unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.
yes that's true
Always know Newton's second law of motion. It appears to be in every question paper
Is the normal force always 0
Mpilo Reply
no. newtons 3rd law states that if something exerts a force into something else it will experience that same magnitude of force but in the opposite direction. so the net force is equal to the force the object applies to the surface but in the opposite direction
define the term rate of reaction in word
David Reply
I think it a chemical process in which substance act mutually on each other.
how many bones are in the human body?
it's the rate at which the reactants are able to change to products
what is wave lengh
mama Reply
is the de broglie wavelength of the particle
calcium and magnesium, which one can displace aluminum from its compound?
Markia Reply
how is aluminum ion formed?
a substance that has the lower electronegativity which will be in this case the Ca -1.0 this is because the Ca would have a lower ionization energy -needs less energy to fill its outer most shell and therefore will cause a displacement of the Al
an Al ion would form when it has lost electrons and will normally be a cation -positively charged (3+)
molecules with the same molecular formula but different chain
Malaza Reply
what will be the answer
chain isomer
what is structural isomer?
Hey if you define an isomer it will come as an organic molecule with the same number of atoms,same molecule formula ,same molecular mass but different STRUCTURAL FORMULA so what we have is only the chain ,positional and functionally isomer.Never heard of STRUCTURAL isomer
what does the newton's law says?
there are 3 newtons laws which are newton's law of universal gravitation, law of cooling, law of motion
Did the feather or leaf hit the ground first?
Shaloom Reply
both at the same time. air friction ignored
2 to 30 minut long distance race 20 km what's the avarage speed for the race
Jamilla Reply
what is meaning of covalent bonds
Lungani Reply
bonds that exists between non metal atoms. each atom contribute electron(s) which will form a bond joining the two atoms. electrons in the bond now belongs to both atoms
how do we name haloalkanes
Thobeka Reply
how do we name haloalkanes
what are examples of haloalkanes
haloalkanes are compounds that consist of the halogen group chlorine bromine flourine and so on like 2-bromobutan

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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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