12_voltage - Lesson 12: Electric Potential Energy & Voltage...

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To better understand electric potential energy it is a good idea to first review gravitational potential energy and figure out similarities between them. Understanding the parallels between (seemingly) unrelated things in physics is actually one of the best ways to learn physics. Gravitational Potential Energy Imagine holding a ball up in the air as high as you possibly can. At the top, we can say that the object has maximum gravitational potential energy . The ball doesn't want to be up there, so if you let go it will start to move down towards the ground on its own. It will accelerate all the way down. While it is falling we know that the gravitational potential energy is being converted to kinetic energy . When it reaches the ground (its reference point) it has no gravitational potential energy remaining. It's all changed to kinetic energy . Basically, the ball has gone through a change in energy from one form to another (ΔE). If you want to get the ball back up in the air, you've got to do some work. As you do your work (W = ΔE), you are giving back gravitational potential energy to the ball, until at the top it is back to having maximum gravitational potential energy . This change in gravitational potential energy depends on… 1. Mass of the object ( E p α m) 2. Gravitational field strength ( E p α g) 3. Height to which the object is moved ( E p α h) Electric Potential Energy If we follow the same ideas that we did above, you might see that there are similarities between the gravitational potential energy described above and electric potential energy . Lets say you place a positive charge near the positive plate in
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This note was uploaded on 12/02/2011 for the course PHYSICS 235 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at Rutgers.

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12_voltage - Lesson 12: Electric Potential Energy & Voltage...

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