Potential Energy Quotes (5 quotes)
Dissection teaches us that the body of man is made up of certain kinds of material, so differing from each other in optical and other physical characters and so built up together as to give the body certain structural features. Chemical examination further teaches us that these kinds of material are composed of various chemical substances, a large number of which have this characteristic that they possess a considerable amount of potential energy capable of being set free, rendered actual, by oxidation or some other chemical change. Thus the body as a whole may, from a chemical point of view, be considered as a mass of various chemical substances, representing altogether a considerable capital of potential energy.
If, again with the light of science, we trace forward into the future the condition of our globe, we are compelled to admit that it cannot always remain in its present condition; that in time, the store of potential energy which now exists in the sun and in the bodies of celestial space which may fall into it will be dissipated in radiant heat, and consequently the earth, from being the theatre of life, intelligence, of moral emotions, must become a barren waste.
Some of Feynmans ideas about cosmology have a modern ring. A good example is his attitude toward the origin of matter. The idea of continuous matter creation in the steady state cosmology does not seriously offend him (and he notes that the big bang cosmology has a problem just as bad, to explain where all the matter came from in the beginning). He emphasizes that the total energy of the universe could really be zero, and that matter creation is possible because the rest energy of the matter is actually canceled by its gravitational potential energy. It is exciting to think that it costs nothing to create a new particle,
The result would inevitably be a state of universal rest and death, if the universe were finite and left to obey existing laws. But it is impossible to conceive a limit to the extent of matter in the universe; and therefore science points rather to an endless progress, through an endless space, of action involving the transformation of potential energy into palpable motion and thence into heat, than to a single finite mechanism, running down like a clock, and stopping for ever.
There is deposited in them [plants] an enormous quantity of potential energy [Spannkrδfte], whose equivalent is provided to us as heat in the burning of plant substances. So far as we know at present, the only living energy [lebendige Kraft] absorbed during plant growth are the chemical rays of sunlight Animals take up oxygen and complex oxidizable compounds made by plants, release largely as combustion products carbonic acid and water, partly as simpler reduced compounds, thus using a certain amount of chemical potential energy to produce heat and mechanical forces. Since the latter represent a relatively small amount of work in relation to the quantity of heat, the question of the conservation of energy reduces itself roughly to whether the combustion and transformation of the nutritional components yields the same amount of heat released by animals.