Potential Energy vs Kinetic Energy
Kinetic energy is energy possessed by an object due to its motion. Potential energy is the stored energy of an object by virtue of its position or state. The infographic below illustrates the differences between the two.
A roller coaster ride is an example that involves both types of energy. The ride often begins as a chain moved by motor pulls a train of cars to the top of a very tall hill. Once the cars are lifted to the top of the hill, gravity takes over and the remainder of the ride is an experience in energy transformation.
The roller coaster cars at the top of the hill possess a large amount of potential energy. The cars’ large amount of potential energy is due to their great height above the ground. As the cars descend, they lose this potential energy because of loss of height. The loss in potential energy results in gains in kinetic energy, producing a downhill ride at hair-raising speeds.
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