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Potential energy curve

Potential energy curve - maxima and minima The force at...

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Potential energy curve A plot of the potential energy as function of the x-coordinate tells us a lot about the motion of the object (see for example Figure 8.12 in Halliday, Resnick and Walker). By differentiating U(x) we can obtain the force acting on the object In the absence of friction the conservation of mechanical energy holds and U(x) + K = E Since the kinetic energy can not be negative, the particle can only be in those regions for which E - U is zero or positive. The points at which E - U = K = 0 are called the turning points. The potential energy curve (Figure 8.12 in Halliday, Resnick and Walker) shows several local
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Unformatted text preview: maxima and minima. The force at each of these maxima and minima is zero. A point is a position of stable equilibrium if the potential energy has a minimum at that point (in this case, small displacements in either direction will result in a force that pushes the particle back towards the position of stable equilibrium). Points of unstable equilibrium appear as maxima in the potential energy curve (if the particle is displaced slightly from the position of unstable equilibrium, the forces acting on it will tend to push the particle even further away)....
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