Interweaving the Principle of Least Potential Energy in School and Introductory University Physics Courses

Yuval Ben-Abu, Haim Eshach, Hezi Yizhaq

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Understanding advanced physical phenomena such as vertically hanging elastic column, soap bubbles, crystals and cracks demands expressing and manipulating a system’s potential energy under equilibrium conditions. However, students at schools and universities are usually required to consider the forces acting on a system under equilibrium conditions, rather than taking into account its potential energy. As a result, they find it difficult to express the system’s potential energy and use it for calculations when they do need to do so. The principle of least potential energy is a powerful idea for solving static equilibrium physics problems in various fields such as hydrostatics, mechanics, and electrostatics. In the current essay, the authors describe this principle and provide examples where students can apply it. For each problem, the authors provide both the force consideration solution approach and the energy consideration solution approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalSymmetry
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • Catenary
  • Least potential
  • Potential energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • General Mathematics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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