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Homework Help: Total elastic potential energy of a compressed spring?

  1. Jan 17, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    A spring with a spring constant of 4 newtons per meter is compressed by a force of 1.2 newtons. What is the total elastic potential energy stored in this compressed spring?

    k = 4 N/m
    F = 1.2 N
    PE = ?

    2. Relevant equations
    PE = (1/2)(k)(x)^2

    3. The attempt at a solution
    Using the information from the problem, I can use PE = (1/2)(k)(x)^2 to find the stored potential energy. I can plug in 4 N/m for k, but I am stuck with plugging in the distance compressed for x. The problem gives me the amount of force used to compress the spring, but I don't know how to find the distance compressed using it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 17, 2012 #2


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    Homework Helper

    Are you familiar with Hooke's Law?
  4. Jan 17, 2012 #3
    Yes, today I asked my teacher about it in class, and he explained it to me. We know the spring constant is 4 N/m and the force applied, which is 1.2 newtons. Both are incorporated in Hooke's law(F = -kx); using it, we can solve for x by dividing the force by the spring constant, leaving .3 meters for distance compressed. Then we can use that with what we already know to find stored potential energy :biggrin:.

    Thanks for the help anways
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