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Unformatted text preview: POTENTIAL ENERGY Potential energy is energy that is a function of position only. A potential energy function U(x, y, z) exists only for conservative forces. A conservative force is a force that does the same amount of work on an object when the object undergoes a displacement regardless of the path taken. The work done by a conservative force is path independent. The work done by a conservative force for all closed paths is zero. Conservative forces conserve total mechanical energy. All constant forces are conservative because they do not depend on path or anything else. If a force has a component with explicit time dependence, then that force is non conservative. Different paths for the same displacement would involve non equal time intervals such that the time dependent force would do varying work for the same change of position. All dissipating forces such as kinetic friction or drag forces are non conservative because they dissipate mechanical energy. If the force is variable and its x...
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 Spring '10
 goldstein
 Energy, Force, Potential Energy, Work

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