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I.

Introduction
Energy is measured in the same units as work (J), but rather than
indicating how much work was done, energy shows how much work
can be done. Conservation of energy states that energy cannot be
created or destroyed, but rather transferred. This principle extends
to all particles in space. Kinetic energy is given by K = mv2. Since
energy is the capacity to do work, the change in kinetic energy
must be the total work done in a system. Alongside kinetic energy
exists potential energy. In a falling body (without air), the only
forcing acting on the body is gravity, so the gravitational potential
energy is given by the force of gravity times the height from the
ground mgh. From the conservation of energy, we can conclude
that, in a falling body, mv2 + mgh = constant. When air resistance
is taken into account, the issue arises that the force of air acting on
the body no longer a function of position, and therefore does not
have a defined potential function, making it non-conservative. A
non-conservative force dissipates energy from the system, making
it appear that energy is not being conserved. In this experiment, we
analyze kinetic and potential energy of a body sliding down a ramp
with negligible friction, and a person on a parachute with high air
resistance.

II.

Description
The materials used in this experiment were a frictionless ramp, a
cart, a spring, an angle measure, and Pasco motion detectors and
software. First the mass of the cart and angle of the ramp were
measured. Then the cart was placed on spring and launched up the
ramp. The position and velocity at each instance in time (25Hz)
were then measured in order to calculate the height from the
ground and the kinetic energy. In part two of the experiment Video
Point software was used to analyze a 220kg object falling down a
parachute. Using this information we were able to calculate his
velocity at each point in time and, therefore, the air resistance.

III.

Results

Figure 1: The total energy (in blue) is approximately


constant

Energy vs. Time


Part 1
0.6000
0.5000
Total Energy

0.4000
Energy (J)

Potential Energy

0.3000

Kinetic Energy

0.2000
0.1000
0.0000
0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2 2.2 2.4
Time (s)

Time (s)
0.6
0.64
0.68
0.72
0.76
0.8
0.84
0.88
0.92
0.96
1
1.04
1.08

P (m)
0.922
0.882
0.846
0.821
0.793
0.762
0.734
0.708
0.682
0.658
0.637
0.618
0.6

Z (m)
0
0.04
0.076
0.101
0.129
0.16
0.188
0.214
0.24
0.264
0.285
0.304
0.322

h (m)
0.0000
l
0.0093
0.0123
0.0157
0.0195
0.0229
0.0261
0.0292
0.0322
0.0347
0.0370
0.0392

v(m/s)
1.000
0.900
0.625
0.700
0.775
0.700
0.650
0.650
0.600
0.525
0.475
0.450

PE (J)
0.0000
0.0469
0.0892
0.1185
0.1514
0.1878
0.2206
0.2511
0.2816
0.3098
0.3345
0.3568
0.3779

KE (J)
0.000000
0.490800
0.397548
0.191719
0.240492
0.294787
0.240492
0.207363
0.207363
0.176688
0.135277
0.110737
0.099387

Table 1: The energy over time of a cart moving on a ramp

E (J)
0.0000
0.5377
0.4867
0.3102
0.3919
0.4826
0.4611
0.4585
0.4890
0.4865
0.4697
0.4675
0.4773

Figure 2: When air resistance is added, the total energy appears to


decrease. When including the work from air, the energy is constant

Angle
(degrees)

time
[s]
0
0.33
4
0.66
7
1
1.33
4
1.66
7
2
2.33
4
2.66
7
3
3.33
4
3.66
7
4
4.33
4
4.66
7

Mass
(kg)
7
0.9816

Work air
(J)
18.54884
103
149.1753
344
799.8171
744
1689.312
281
5122.619
916
5122.049
743
7821.896
243
9548.948
57
9548.948
57
9492.713
334
8681.874
582
7107.705
263
6359.622
81
9549.812
233

Work tot
(J)
18.54884
103
167.7241
754
967.5413
498
2656.853
631
7779.473
547
12901.52
329
20723.41
953
30272.36
81
39821.31
667
49314.03
001
57995.90
459
65103.60
985
71463.23
266
81013.04
489

KE (J)
215.8257
073
868.0768
119
2659.218
106
4368.831
346
9171.102
865
9170.422
327
12136.68
333
13890.90
406
13890.90
406
13808.68
207
13036.74
43
11408.96
941
10572.54
54
13891.74
163

PE (J)
96238.53
288
93960.88
632
89974.45
548
84849.47
604
77446.30
068
70043.4
61501.40
136
52390.26
576
43279.13
016
34167.71
988
25341.15
276
17083.99
728
9111.410
28
0

Etot(J)
96454.35
859
94828.96
313
92633.67
359
89218.30
739
86617.40
355
79213.82
233
73638.08
469
66281.16
982
57170.03
422
47976.40
195
38377.89
706
28492.96
669
19683.95
568
13891.74
163

Work+energ
y(J)
96472.9074
3
94996.6873
1
93601.2149
4
91875.1610
2
94396.8770
9
92115.3456
2
94361.5042
2
96553.5379
2
96991.3508
9
97290.4319
6
96373.8016
5
93596.5765
5
91147.1883
4
94904.7865
2

Table 1: The energy over time of a parachute falling


mass(
kg)
280

k
(N*s^2/
m)

mass
unc
5%

29.014

K2
31.0649912
1

term V
9.39845434
3

%dif
6.60225910
8

accel
unc
2%

In part one of this experiment, the potential energy, kinetic energy, and total
energy were plotted against time using Capstone. The graph shows how
kinetic energy and potential energy vary quadratically with respect to time,
and how the total energy is approximately constant, although does appear to
be decreasing slightly. The table demonstrates the change in energy over
time as well.
In part two, the kinetic energy and potential energy calculated at each point
in time. Due to air resistance, however, the kinetic energy decreases over
time until it levels of at a constant. We attributed the lost energy to air
resistance and calculated the work done by air. Using this information, we
approximated a k value for the air resistance, and then deviated it slightly
until the total energy was constant. The terminal velocity was calculated by
assuming kv2 = mg.
IV.

Results

In theory, we expect that the total energy in each system to be constant,


when accounting for all non-conservative and external forces. In the first part
of the experiment, we did not account for the friction between the cart and
the ramp. Although it appeared to be negligible, friction was clearly present
in the system. The total energy had a slight downward slope, suggesting that
some energy of the cart was lost. This error was expected.
In part two, the air resistance must have significantly reduced the total
energy of the parachute. The kinetic energy behaved as expected. As air
resistance increases, the velocity approaches a constant, causing the kinetic
energy to also approach a constant. Since potential energy is decreasing, the
energy of the object given by gravitational potential is decreasing.
Accounting for air resistance, we can see that the total energy is also
approximately constant. The small deviations in the graph may have come
from error in the interpolation of the parachutes position in time. This may
have also afected our value of k, which was both calculated and guessed to
accuracy.

V.

Conclusion
The results shown above support the conservation of energy in a
system. Although work can be done by the system and on the
system by conservative and non-conservative forces, the total
amount of energy, when accounted for, is constant.

VI.

References
Young & Freedman, University Physics, 13th Edition: Chapter 7,
section 7.1-7.5;

VII.

Appendix