Entropy & Energy: Why Do Things Move Away from High PE?

In summary, the conversation discusses the relationship between energy and entropy, and how objects tend to move from high potential energy states to high kinetic energy states in order to maximize entropy. This is because it is statistically more likely for the energy to be distributed in a less concentrated manner. The conversation also touches on how energy can be transferred and distributed among different "degrees of freedom" within a system.
  • #1
A.I.
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Hello all. I'm not... really sure if this is the best place to post this question, so I'm open to any and all recommendations.

My question is: Why do things move away from high potential energy states and toward high kinetic energy states?

My thoughts: I was thinking about entropy recently, and if I remember correctly, things move from an area of high concentration to an area of lower concentration because that's the statistically most likely thing to happen. I was wondering if there was something similar going on with energy and motion. Do things behave this way because it is most likely?
Particularly I thought about how, in quantum physics, a quantum spring is most likely to be found at a position of high kinetic energy, as opposed to the classical spring which tends to spend most of its time in a high PE state.
 
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  • #2
Yep! I think so. Energy and entropy are very much related.

Things move away from high potential energy because of entropy...or more specifically, in order to maximize entropy. (Note: It also moves away from high kinetic energy states for that reason). And yeah, the reason it does so is because it's more statistically likely to be in that state.

Where is the energy in an object when it's not stored solely as potential energy?

Well, as a ball rolls down an incline for example, some of that energy stored in the object gets transferred to kinetic energy, or dissipated as thermal energy (heat)...distributing its energy so it's not concentrated.

Basically, if you look at the whole system microscopically, the total energy of a system would be equally split among its available 'degrees of freedom'. If you were to add more 'degrees of freedom' to the system, some of the energy in that system will spread over to that new state.

...so it is like things moving from higher concentration to lower concentration.
 
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  • #3
A.I. said:
My question is: Why do things move away from high potential energy states and toward high kinetic energy states?
Edit: Oh, I misread your post.
I think this is right. Kinetic energy offers more possibilities to randomize energy. That's why it's favoured for increasing entropy.
 

Related to Entropy & Energy: Why Do Things Move Away from High PE?

1. What is entropy?

Entropy is a measure of the disorder or randomness in a system. It is a thermodynamic concept that describes the tendency of energy to spread out and become more evenly distributed.

2. How does entropy relate to energy?

Entropy and energy are closely related. In fact, the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the total entropy of a closed system will always increase over time. This means that energy will always tend to disperse and become more disordered.

3. Why do things move away from high potential energy?

This is due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy will always tend to disperse and become more disordered. In a system with high potential energy, the energy is concentrated in one area and therefore has low entropy. As the energy spreads out and disperses, the entropy increases and the system becomes more stable.

4. Can entropy be reversed?

In theory, entropy can be reversed in a system. However, this would require an input of energy or work to rearrange the particles and decrease the disorder. This process would also increase the entropy of the surroundings, as energy is lost in the form of heat.

5. How is entropy related to the arrow of time?

The arrow of time is the concept that time only moves forward and not backward. Entropy is closely related to this concept because as entropy increases, the disorder in a system also increases. This means that the system becomes more disordered over time, and this aligns with the direction of time's arrow.

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