# Understanding Work Homework: Does System Do Work on Environment?

• merzperson
The environment gained that energy as work. In summary, the kinetic energy of the system decreases while the potential energy and thermal energy remain constant. This means that the system is doing work on the environment, as the energy lost by the system is gained by the environment.
merzperson

## Homework Statement

The kinetic energy of a system decreases while its potential energy and thermal energy are unchanged. Does the environment do work on the system, or does the system do work on the environment?

W = K1 - K2

## The Attempt at a Solution

I got the answer to this question wrong, so I'm having trouble understanding exactly what's going on here (as usual the textbook is of no help, and we didn't cover this explicitly in class...).

Here is what sense I can make in my head, but I just want to make sure I am not making anything up:

The kinetic energy decreases, so we know the final K (K2) is less than the initial K (K1):
W = K1 - K2 and K1 > K2 so W > 0
Since W is positive, the system does work on the environment.

Is this correct logic? How would you have approached the problem? Thanks!

Looks good.

Another way to think about it: the system lost energy. That energy had to go somewhere, since energy is conserved. The system lost energy by doing work on the environment.

Your logic is correct. The decrease in kinetic energy implies that work is being done on the system, since work is defined as the change in kinetic energy. In this case, the work is being done by the environment on the system, as the system is losing energy. This could be due to external forces acting on the system, such as friction or air resistance, which are considered to be work done by the environment. Additionally, the fact that the potential and thermal energies remain unchanged suggests that no work is being done by the system itself. Overall, your understanding of the situation is correct and your approach to the problem is sound.

## 1. What is the definition of "work" in a scientific context?

In a scientific context, work is defined as the transfer of energy from one object to another, resulting in a change in the motion or position of the object.

## 2. What is the role of a system in doing work on the environment?

A system is responsible for converting energy into work and transferring it to the environment. This can be seen in processes such as photosynthesis or a car engine converting chemical energy into mechanical work.

## 3. Can the environment also do work on a system?

Yes, the environment can also do work on a system. This can occur through processes like wind turbines using the kinetic energy of wind to generate electricity.

## 4. How does the concept of conservation of energy relate to work and the environment?

The concept of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred or converted from one form to another. When a system does work on the environment, it is transferring energy from itself to the environment, while still adhering to the principle of conservation of energy.

## 5. How can understanding work and the environment help us in our daily lives?

Understanding the relationship between work and the environment can help us make more informed decisions about energy usage and conservation. It can also aid in the development of more efficient and sustainable technologies.

• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
33
Views
3K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
5
Views
3K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
4
Views
2K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
9
Views
2K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
16
Views
261
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
3
Views
1K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
2
Views
2K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
9
Views
2K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
9
Views
2K
• Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
4
Views
1K