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Q & A: Transferring forms of energy in vacua?

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Most recent answer: 12/10/2012
Q:
Can we transfer one form of energy into another in vaccum or space?
- sreekanth (age 24)
chennai,india
A:
Sure.  Consider a mass on a spring.  If you stretch the spring and hold it, the system has potential energy, V = 1/2 kxo2  where k is the spring constant and xo is the initial displacement. It has no kinetic energy but if you release the mass it will gain kinetic energy reaching a maximum kinetic energy, when x = 0, of KE = 1/2 mv2 where m is the mass and v is the velocity at x = 0.  Now this system works perfectly well in an atmosphere as well as a vacuum.

Explosions, which transfer chemical energy into kinetic energy, occur just as well in the vacuum of outer space as well in an atmosphere. 

LeeH

Perhaps you were asking about transferring energy across an evacuated space, with no gas or other material in it.  Thermal electromagnetic radiation carries energy across vacuums. This happens, for example, in thermos bottles. That's why their glas usually has a shiny metal coating. That helps reduce the emission and absorption of thermal radiation.

Mike W.

(published on 12/10/2012)

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