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  TechnologyMechanical Engineering and MachineryMacines in General
Kinetic vs Potential Energy

A child on a playground swing illustrates the difference between potential and kinetic energy.

At A, that point of momentary motionlessness just before the downward plunge, she has only potential energy. As she starts down she develops kinetic energy. Halfway through the cycle, at B, her energy becomes completely kinetic, then gradually changes back to potential as the swing rises again. Because of friction the cycle does not continue indefinitely -- "pumping" is a requisite of the ride.

illustration of the principle of kinetic and potential energy

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This page was last updated on 09/08/2015.

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