Gravitational potential energy formulas

In summary, the conversation discusses the difference between the equations for gravitational potential energy, mgh and (GMm)/r. Prof. Richard Muller explains that mgh is based on a constant gravity and is good for local physics, while the other equation is based on inverse square gravity and is better suited for situations far from the Earth's center. It is important to be mindful of the zero point for potential energy in each equation.
  • #1
marialovesphysics
2
0
m.g.h = (GMm)/r how can we prove that mgh is potential energy and both equal to that?
 
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  • #3
You kind of have to watch out. when you use U = mgh, your zero of potential energy is at h = 0.

when you use the other equation, the zero of potential energy is at r = infinity.

m gh is based on a constant gravity (or flat Earth assumption) good for local physics

the other equation is based on a inverse square gravity. good when far from Earth center.
 

1. What is gravitational potential energy?

Gravitational potential energy is the energy possessed by an object due to its position in a gravitational field. It is the potential for an object to do work as a result of its position in a gravitational field.

2. What is the formula for calculating gravitational potential energy?

The formula for calculating gravitational potential energy is GPE = mgh, where m is the mass of the object, g is the acceleration due to gravity, and h is the height or distance from the ground.

3. How does gravitational potential energy change with height?

Gravitational potential energy increases as the height or distance from the ground increases. This is because the higher an object is, the more potential it has to do work as a result of its position in the gravitational field.

4. Can gravitational potential energy be negative?

Yes, gravitational potential energy can be negative. This occurs when the object is below the reference point, such as when it is below the ground level. In this case, the gravitational potential energy is considered to be negative.

5. How is gravitational potential energy related to kinetic energy?

Gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy are both forms of mechanical energy and are related through the law of conservation of energy. As an object falls, its potential energy decreases and its kinetic energy increases. At the bottom of its fall, all of its potential energy is converted into kinetic energy.

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