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Potential or Kinetic Energy

  1. Jun 10, 2008 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    You're on a ski lift which moves continuously. If you are on a chair at the base of the mountain beginning to head up, is it potential energy or kinetic energy?

    3. The attempt at a solution

    From my viewpoint, this is kinetic energy being converted into potential energy as you climb the mountain on the lift. However, The question is rather confusing in nature.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2008 #2
    You have to elaborate the "it" part.
     
  4. Jun 11, 2008 #3
    Answer me this:

    Did you do any mechanical work?
    Did the lift do some work on you?

    Be careful about the reference frame in which the energy consideration is asked.
     
  5. Jun 11, 2008 #4
    Depending on your reference level, you will retain some potential energy...but, disregarding that, a lift tends to lift people up, so they are heading for higher potential energy. If you are heading for higher potential energy, you will need kinetic energy to get there.
     
  6. Jun 11, 2008 #5

    Doc Al

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Since the ski lift moves "continuously", what does that say about your kinetic energy?
    Agreed. Did you present the question word-for-word exactly as given to you?

    This is not a simple case of mechanical energy being conserved. (Something is pulling the ski lift up the slope.)
     
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