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Energy and the Laws of Thermodynamics

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What is energy? Describe the two laws of Thermodynamics and give several examples.

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1. "What is energy?"

Energy exists in many forms, such as heat, light, chemical energy, and electrical energy. Energy is the ability to bring about change or to do work. Thermodynamics is the study of energy.

There are two types of energy: Potential vs. Kinetic energy. Potential energy, as the name implies, is energy that has not yet been used, thus the term potential. Kinetic energy is energy in use (or motion).

For example, a tank of gasoline has a certain potential energy that is converted into kinetic energy by the engine. When the potential is used up, you're outta gas! Batteries, when new or recharged, have a certain potential. When placed into a tape recorder and played at loud volume (the only settings for such things), the potential in the batteries is transformed into kinetic energy to drive the speakers. When the potential energy is all used up, the ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains what energy is, and also describes the two laws of Thermodynamics through illustrative examples.