Potential Energy

Potential energy is the energy possessed by a body by virtue of its position or condition. It is said to exist when object tends to move toward its original position after it has been moved. For example, an object raised above the ground has gravitational potential energy by virtue of its raised position while on the other hand; a stretched rubber band has elastic potential energy by virtue of its stretched condition.

The law of conservation of energy states that energy can not be destroyed; rather it can be converted to other forms. Now, we consider an object of mass m being lifted vertically without acceleration, from the ground level to another level height h. The work done here is equal to the force applied multiplied by the height it has been moved. Now the force required here is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by the force of gravity pulling the object downwards. So work done=mgh where m is the mass, g is the gravitational force and h is the height and this is the formulae for gravitational potential energy.

Once up a certain height, the object now possesses potential energy and now has the capacity to perform work equal to the potential energy. If the object is now released, as the object will continue to fall down, the potential energy will be converted into kinetic energy in consonance with the law of conservation of energy.

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