# Work Kinetic E and Potential E

Can work change the energy of a system?

Work cannot change the energy of a system.

The above is false but i am not sure how to explain it

I understand that work = negative potential energy
W = -U

Also work = Change of Kinetic Energy
W = (triangle)K

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Can anyone help me out?

Tom Mattson
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
hotmail590 said:
I understand that work = negative potential energy
W = -U

Also work = Change of Kinetic Energy
W = (triangle)K

Not in general. In general, work is given by:

$$W=\int_C\vec{F} \cdot d \vec{s}$$

Not all forces have a corresponding potential energy function. Such forces are called nonconservative. This term should have been presented to you either in class or in your textbook. An example of a nonconservative force is friction.

That is a lead for you to follow. Try to think about that in the context of your question.

Does that mean that if there is work, then the energy system is nonconservative and if there is no work then the energy system is conservative?

Tom Mattson
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
No. Both conservative forces and nonconservative forces can do work.

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Tom Mattson
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Let's put it this way. Take your system to be an inclined plane of height H and a block of mass M. Let the surface of contact between the block and the plane have a coefficient of kinetic friction $\mu_K$. Now let the block slide down the plane from rest.

Question: Will the block's KE at the bottom equal its PE at the top? If not, then where did the missing energy go? What force was responsible for the loss?

This should be easy to answer.

xanthym