22 Jun Concept of Energy in our Physics Tution
A key aspect of physics tuition is the close examination of energy. Energy is the stimulant behind all movement and activity. It can also be quantified to represent one’s ability to do work. We need energy for almost everything we do today, from the simple acts such as talking and walking to lighting, cooking, gadgets, transportation, etc. Energy is integral in human development. As such, each historical development in human life has a direct link to the discovery, production, manipulation or abuse of some form of energy. This goes back to the discovery of fire, oil, hydropower, and now atomic power.
Energy is measurable using different units depending on the kind of energy in question. It is calculated using the formulae mass x distance2/time2 (ML2/T2). Energy is commonly measured in joules. A single Joule is defined as the “work required to exert a force of one newton for a distance of one meter. This is also equal to the energy of one watt of power for a duration of one second”.
Humans need energy to be able to execute their different life duties. That is why eating is important for human survival. Food provides chemical energy which we then use to function. The body assimilates the various ingredients in food and uses them for growth, repair, and energy reserves. Let’s take a look at 2 different forms of energy that supports daily human existence and survival;
- Kinetic Energy
This is the energy possessed by a moving object. The energy is equal to half of the body’s mass times the square of its speed. Kinetic energy is common in all movement or progression from one point to another. When cycling, we use our chemical energy to pedal the bicycle to greater speed. On a flat surface, we can maintain a certain speed without our body needing more work. When gradient changes, more work is needed and we pedal harder to climb a steep slope. This means our chemical energy has been changed into kinetic energy. The sweating that we experience is due to the heat produced during the conversion.
Machines also convert various forms of energy into kinetic energy. For example, a clock watch converts battery energy to mechanical energy so that the hands move to show the time. A motor is a machine that changes any form of energy into mechanical energy. A car converts octane energy contained in diesel or petrol into motion energy. This is done through a process called combustion whereby fuel is combined with oxygen at higher temperatures to release heat. In cars, fuel is injected into the engine and a sparked releasing heat energy which will move the car. More recent cars now convert electric energy into kinetic energy. All these conversions are producing kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion that drives any moving unit, from machines to humans.
- Electric Energy
The discovery of electricity changed the landscape of mankind’s society. It improved the quality of life and ushered great advances in technology. Electric energy can be generated from the sun, water, coal, wind, nuclear reactions, etc. Electricity has many functions in our domestic and commercial sectors as well as aids a lot of advancements in the scientific research fields. As countries develop and modernize, the demand for electricity increases. Electricity demand surpasses all other forms of energy demand. This has led to advancements in the adoption of clean energy as a way to preserve mother earth.
Electricity generated using solar (the sun) power, hydro (water) power, and wind turbine power is considered clean and friendly to the environment. It should be noted that electricity itself as a product is relatively clean. The residues of its production, especially when using fossil fuels like coal, are considered harmful to the environment. Nuclear power residues are also harmful. Leaks and damages to nuclear energy plants are a deadly environmental and ecological system. It is therefore, important that physics tuition on energy and its sources interrogate the advantages and disadvantages of each form and further the efforts to discover and utilise cleaner energy sources.
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