What is Kinetic Energy? – Definition, Types & Examples

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Just like an object can either have momentum or position (sometimes both). In a similar way, an object can either have kinetic energy or potential energy (sometimes both). In this article, we are only interested in the definition of kinetic energy.

However, I will still clear some air regarding the basic difference between kinetic and potential energy. See, when an object is in momentum (motion), it has energy in the form of kinetic energy.

On the other hand, when an object is at rest (position), it has energy in the form of potential energy.

Moreover, when you add both of them, what you get is mechanical energy. In other words, the sum of kinetic and potential energy is Mechanical energy.

 

What is Kinetic Energy?

As I have already told you in the introductory paragraph that the energy possessed by a body by virtue of its motion is known as kinetic energy. In other words, any moving object has kinetic energy.

One can also say that the amount of work that a moving body can do before coming to rest is equal to its kinetic energy.

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Not to mention, the standard unit of kinetic energy is Joule. Moreover, kinetic energy is a scalar quantity. In other words, it does not have any direction. It only has magnitude.

In general, according to the definition of kinetic energy, it is the energy held by an object not only because of its motion. But also because of the fact that what kind of motion an object has.

In fact, based on this exclusive fact, kinetic energy can be further dissected into three parts. Let’s talk about the different types of kinetic energy in the next section.

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Types of Kinetic Energy

Based on the type of motion a body or object has, we can categorize kinetic energy into three different sections. These are translational kinetic energy, rotational kinetic energy, and vibrational kinetic energy.

Let’s take a look at them one by one. Keep Reading!

Translational Kinetic Energy

According to the definition of kinetic energy, translational kinetic energy is the type or form of kinetic energy due to the straight-line motion of a body or an object.

firing-a-bullet-kinetic-energy-example
Image Credit: Gfycat

In other words, when an object is moving from one place to another in a straight line, an object has energy in the form of translational kinetic energy. A bullet fired from the gun is the perfect example of translational kinetic energy.

Translational Kinetic Energy Formula

The formula of translational kinetic energy is:

{\displaystyle E_{\text{k}}={\frac {1}{2}}mv^{2}}

Where

E = Translational kinetic energy of an object

m = Mass of an object

v = Velocity of an object

Related: What is Potential Energy? – Definition, Facts, Types & Examples

 

Rotational Kinetic Energy

According to the definition of kinetic energy, rotational kinetic energy is the form of kinetic energy due to the rotational motion of a body or an object.

ceiling-fan-rotational-kinetic-energy-example

Just because there is an involvement of the rotational motion of the object, rotational kinetic energy is also known as angular kinetic energy. A ceiling fan in your house is the perfect example of rotational kinetic energy.

Rotational Kinetic Energy Formula

The formula for rotational kinetic energy is:

E_{\mathrm {rotational} }={\frac {1}{2}}I\omega ^{2}

Where

E = Rotational kinetic energy of an object

I = Moment of inertia of an object around the axis of rotation

w = Angular velocity of an object

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Vibrational Kinetic Energy

By kinetic energy definition, vibrational kinetic energy is the form of kinetic energy due to the vibrational motion of a body or an object.

vibration-of-cell-phone-vibrational-kinetic-energy-example
Image Credit: iDownloadBlog

In fact, according to Dr. Robert Belford at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, vibrational energy is nothing but the energy associated with the atom’s vibrational motion.

He further added that the vibrational energy can be modeled as an oscillating spring with k being Hooke’s law constant and x is the displacement from the equilibrium location. The vibration of your cell phone is the perfect example of vibration kinetic energy.

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Kinetic Energy Examples in Everyday Life

If you think you can’t relate to kinetic energy examples in everyday life. Well, here is your chance to think again!

  • A bullet fired from the gun has kinetic energy.
  • The kinetic energy of a fast stream of water is used to run water mills.
  • Any object that is freely falling due to gravity has kinetic energy.
  • The kinetic energy of air is used to run the windmills.
  • The earth revolving around the sun has kinetic energy.
  • An Electron revolving around the nucleus has kinetic energy, etc.

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I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my career, and therefore I did my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every aspect of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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