So I've bounced this question off a few physicists that I respect highly - my professors, and even a founding member of the Perimeter Institute here in Canada. None of them had a definite answer, however. My question is this: What happens to the stored elastic potential* energy of a spring or likewise object when you change its chemical properties by melting it? How is the energy transferred? Does it matter if the spring is compressed, or stretched? If anybody here has a theory, I am very curious to hear from you.