Law of Conservation of Energy - Encyclopedia Britannica

Objects with mass are sources of gravitational fields and are affected by the gravitational fields of all other objects with mass. Gravitational forces are always attractive. For two human-scale objects, these forces are too small to observe without sensitive instrumentation. Gravitational interactions are nonnegligible, however, when very massive objects are involved. Thus the gravitational force due to Earth, acting on an object near Earth’s surface, pulls that object toward the planet’s center. Newton’s law of universal gravitation provides the mathematical model to describe and predict the effects of gravitational forces between distant objects. These long-range gravitational interactions govern the evolution and

. The chemical reaction by which plants produce complex food molecules (sugars) requires an energy input (i.e., from sunlight) to occur. In this reaction, carbon dioxide and water combine to form carbon-based organic molecules and release oxygen. (Boundary: Further details of the photosynthesis process are not taught at this grade level.)

What’s the law of conservation of energy

The total change of energy in any system is always equal to the total energy transferred into or out of the system. This is called conservation of energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems. Many different types of phenomena can be explained in terms of energy transfers. Mathematical expressions, which quantify changes in the forms of energy within a system and transfers of energy into or out of the system, allow the concept of conservation of energy to be used to predict and describe the behavior of a system.

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What happens when a force is applied to an object depends not only on that force but also on all the other forces acting on that object. A static object typically has multiple forces acting on it, but they sum to zero. If the total (vector sum) force on an object is not zero, however, its motion will change. Sometimes forces on an object can also change its shape or orientation. For any pair of interacting objects, the force exerted by the first object on the second object is equal in strength to the force that the second object exerts on the first but in the opposite direction (Newton’s third law).

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Nuclear processes, including fusion, fission, and radio-active decays of unstable nuclei, involve changes in nuclear binding energies. The total number of neutrons plus protons does not change in any nuclear process. Strong and weak nuclear interactions determine nuclear stability and processes. Spontaneous radioactive decays follow a characteristic exponential decay law. Nuclear lifetimes allow radiometric dating to be used to determine the ages of rocks and other materials from the isotope ratios present.

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Nuclear fusion can result in the merging of two nuclei to form a larger one, along with the release of significantly more energy per atom than any chemical process. It occurs only under conditions of extremely high temperature and pressure. Nuclear fusion taking place in the cores of stars provides the energy released (as light) from those stars and produced all of the more massive atoms from primordial hydrogen. Thus the elements found on Earth and throughout the universe (other than hydrogen and most of helium, which are primordial) were formed in the stars or supernovas by fusion processes.