Main content

## High school physics - NGSS

### Course: High school physics - NGSS > Unit 4

Lesson 2: Energy in systems# LOL diagrams

David shows how LOL diagrams allow us to visually represent what we mean by conservation of energy as well as what we mean by an energy system. Created by David SantoPietro.

## Want to join the conversation?

- I thought LOL meant "Laugh out loud.."(26 votes)
- Lots of people do, that's why he clarified in the video ;D(1 vote)

- What does LOL means?(0 votes)
- LOL does not stand for anything. The shapes that we draw when we create an LOL diagram is in the shapes of the letters L, O, and L.

Hope this helps!(7 votes)

- If a an object is sitting on the ground, it has zero Ug (assuming we've establish that ground level as 0). If a sink hole opens up under the object, the object will fall and have Kinetic energy due to gravity, but where did it get it from? Do we change the reference point after the fact to say that the new resting place of the object is now 0 and the original ground was actually X (whatever the height was in relation to the new 0) ? What if, a few minutes later, the ground opens up again and the object falls farther?

I guess what I'm asking is how do we deal with a changing frame of reference? Esp when it comes to defining Ug.(6 votes)- This used to confuse me too.

The important thing to recognize here is that "energy" is not an absolute amount.**It's always relative between 2 different states of the object in question**. So when the ball is on the table, you'd say it has 0 gravitational potential E*relative to it being on the table surface*. But it could have potential E*relative to it being on the ground*. You have to be comparing 2 states the object is in. (This is usually implied rather than stated explicitly)

Another example: When a moving ball "has kinetic E", it's usually meant in relation to if it were stationary on the floor. So the velocity you care about is the relative velocity between the ball and the floor. But if you zoomed out and considered the ball's kinetic E with respect to the sun (i.e. compared to if the ball were sitting stationary on the sun), the ball would have kinetic E of the Earth's movement as well. So the velocity you care about is the relative velocity between the ball and the sun.

You pick the reference point based on what objects are relevant to the question.(9 votes)

- What would happen if the force of the spring was so great that the mass flew into the air? Would it change the outcome or would it stay the same?(4 votes)
- The mass would probably fly into the air but that doesn't matter for our purposes. When drawing the diagram, we only care about the initial and final positions. It doesn't matter if something happens afterwards.(2 votes)

- Say someone is bungee jumping, and the problem wants to know how much energy is transferred to the cord at the bottom of their jump. How would you solve this problem?(3 votes)
- At2:22, he says that there is no kinetic energy. If someone were to slightly push the mass down, however, would there be kinetic energy?(2 votes)
- How do I know if something is in the energy system or not. Can't I randomly just move something in and out of it or does it depend on the question?(1 vote)
- Why is it shown as Ug and Ue We Our teacher showed it as Eg and Ee. Is there any difference or does It mean the same thing?2:36(1 vote)
- I'm pretty sure the more common version is U to stand for potential energy, and to have Ug be gravitational and Ue to be electric.

Eg and Ee would mean the same thing. If your teacher prefers it and you feel like using U, you should ask them just to make sure that they accept both ways of writing it.(2 votes)

- What is the energy conversion for an object falling through the air at terminal velocity?

I know this sounds simple, but I'm confused about this because of "certain reasons". I was asked this question at school, for which I answered that gravitaional potential energy changes to kinetic. However, our teacher surprised us by saying GPE won't change to kinetic energy at all, "because the object is moving at a constant velocity". This can't be true, as all objects*in motion*are supposed to have kinetic energy (E = 1/2 mv^2).The _v_ in the formula shows that kinetic energy must be present if velocity is not zero.

I would really appreciate it if someone could answer soon as my exams are coming up...(1 vote)- At terminal velocity the drag force from the air is equal to the gravitational force on the object so the net force is zero so the work done by gravity is also zero so kinetic energy doesn't change.

For example a standard baseball is about 145 g or 0.145 kg and has a terminal velocity of about 33 m/s so it has a kinetic energy of Ek = 0.145 * 33^2 = 0.145 * 1089 = 157.9 J.

So as the baseball accelerates from 0 to 33 m/s it will gain kinetic energy but when the velocity stops increasing the kinetic energy stops increasing as well.

The GPE is getting transferred to other things like sound, heat and turbulence in the air.(2 votes)

- At8:45, what if we stick the mass outside the system? will the work remain the same?(1 vote)
- I don't think so, because all of the work is done to the mass not the other way around.(1 vote)

## Video transcript

- [Instructor] I wanna talk
to you about LOL diagrams. That's right, I said LOL diagrams. These are a great ways to
visualize conservation of energy, and even better, they
force you to think about what's part of your energy system and what isn't part of your energy system. And if you don't know
what an energy system is, maybe that's where we should start. An energy system is an object
or a collection of objects whose energies were gonna keep track of, and we're gonna keep track
of them in these two charts. And notice, it looks like an L, and then an O, and then an L. That's where they get their name from. This isn't laugh out loud. This is an energy chart, a circle where we're
gonna define our system, and then another chart. So to understand what
these LOL diagrams mean, let's just look at an actually example. Let's say you took a mass M, and you released it from
rest from a height H. And this mass falls down. The first thing we should do is choose what is gonna be
part of our energy system, whose energies are we gonna keep track of, and whose are we not gonna keep track of. The way people typically do this problem when they're doing conservation of energy, they would say it starts
with potential energy, and then it turns into kinetic energy. And if you're doing that,
what you're really doing is you're saying, "I'm taking my mass. "That's gonna be part of my system." So I'm gonna take this mass here, and I'm gonna make that part of my system. So we'll keep track of
the energy of this mass, and then if you're talking about gravitational potential energy, here's the weird thing, you're also talking about the earth. That earth is part of your system. So this is the earth right here. It's got continents, and it's got California, and
Mexico, and South America, and there's Florida, and then there's all kinds of stuff here. So now that we've selected our system, we can go ahead and starting charting what the energies look like. So what kind of energy was there initially in this system? There was gravitational potential energy, because this mass M started
at height H above the earth. So I'm gonna represent that with this bar. This is gonna be a bar chart. Let me just go up four units. So I'm gonna say there were four units of gravitational potential energy. You might be like, "How do
you know there were four? "How do you know there
weren't like three, or five, "or 4.2?" Well, it doesn't really matter too much. The real value in this LOL diagram is being able to
conceptualize what's happening to the energies. No matter what you draw over here, you just wanna be consistent when you then draw this diagram over here, and I'll show you what
that means in a minute. So for now let's just
say there were four units of gravitational potential
energy to start with. Was there any kinetic energy? No, because it was released from rest. So if we drop this mass, it starts with no kinetic energy. And this US here is gonna
be any spring energy. We won't have that for this example, because there aren't any springs, so there won't be any
spring or elastic energy. That's it, we just had gravitational potential energy to start. And then what did that energy turn into? If this was the initial position, what kind of energy do we have when the mass gets right above
the surface of the earth? Right before it's gonna hit the earth, what kind of energy is there? There's gonna be kinetic energy, so this mass is gonna have kinetic energy, and we know it's gonna have kinetic energy because it's gonna be moving right before it hits the earth, and kinetic energy is
the energy an object has because of its motion. So it's gonna have kinetic energy. How much kinetic energy is it gonna have? Well, energy is gonna be
conserved in our system. And since the energy
is gonna be conserved, if I started with four units of gravitational potential energy, I should end with four
units of kinetic energy. Now, you might be confused. You might wonder why wasn't there any gravitational potential energy. Well, I was assuming that this ground was the H equals zero line. And we know that the
gravitational potential energy is mgh. And where H equals zero, the potential energy is zero. So when this mass gets
down to the final point, which I'm representing in this diagram, it no longer has any potential energy since the H would be zero. And since it has no potential energy, all of this gravitational potential energy it had initially has to turn into kinetic energy in order for the energy of
our system to be conserved. Now, if I were you, I
might object and say, "Wait a minute. "We learned earlier "that when work is done, "energy gets transferred, "and the total energy of
a object might change. "And this earth is pulling
down on this mass, right? "So the earth is exerting a
gravitational force downward. "The objects moving downward
through some displacement, "that means the earth
is doing some positive "amount of work on this
mass, giving it energy. "Doesn't that mean "the energy of the
system is gonna change?" And the answer is no. And the reason is this earth is also part
of our energy system. So the earth did do work on the mass, and this mass gained kinetic energy. But since the earth and the mass were both part of the system, this work was internal to the system, and internal work never changes the total energy of the system. And if that was confusing,
think about it this way. Let's say you and your friend, instead of the earth and the mass, there is you and your friend. And instead of energy,
we'll talk about money. You, the earth, give
your friend, the mass, $10. Instead of 10 joules of
energy, you give him $10, and ask you, "How much
total energy is there "between you and your friend?" Well, there's still the total amount. You lost $10. Your friend gained $10. But between the two of you, you still have the total amount of money you had when you started. And the same is true with energy. Whenever work is done internally, between objects in your system, there's no change in the total energy from one chart to another. That's why I had to
draw the kinetic energy as four units, because no energy entered
or exited our system. And something that's really useful about these LOL diagrams is that you can translate them straight into a conservation
of energy equation. Because whenever initial
energy that you start with, plus any external work that's done has to equal the final
energy that you end with, and the reason is external work is how much energy gets
transferred into the system. So if you start with 10 joules of energy, when you transfer five joules
of energy into the system, you've gotta end with 15 joules of energy. So we can just plug straight into this. What do we have for our
particular scenario? We started with potential energy. So our initial energy was
mgh plus external work. There was no external work. There's only internal work, so this would be zero, and that's gotta equal the final energy. The only type of energy we had to end with was kinetic energy, 1/2 mv squared. And then if we had numbers, we can plug in to this formula and just solve for the
height, or the speed, or whatever we wanted to solve for. So what would an example look like where energy wasn't conserved, in other words, where there was external work done on the system? Well, we could use this same example. I just need to take the earth. I wanna stick this earth
outside of our system. So now our system is just the mass M. What that means is that the work done by the earth on the mass is now gonna be external work. And since there's external
work done on this system, this system's energy has gotta change now. It's not gonna stay the same. You're not gonna see the
energy of this system remained conserved, since
something is giving it energy. The earth is giving this
mass energy this time because it's doing external work. So how would that change our LOL diagram? This mass M still ends
with kinetic energy. I mean just by imagining the earth as not part of the system, that doesn't change
what actually happened. The mass still has to get down here with four units of kinetic energy. It's still moving just
as fast as it did before. But our system, which is this mass, has to be gaining energy. And a way that's possible is that the mass does not start with any gravitational potential energy. So, people don't like this. People are like, "Wait, what? "Of course this mass starts with "gravitational potential energy. "It started up here." But technically speaking,
gravitational potential energy is an energy that exists
between two masses. It takes two to tango, and it takes two masses to have gravitational potential energy. If I stick one of these masses out here, it can do work on the other mass. We wouldn't say that it started with any gravitational potential energy, so this would now be zero. But we would say that there
was external work done, so that's where this energy comes from. The earth is now doing how much work? Well, if the mass gained four units of kinetic energy? Then the work done had
to be four units of work. So if you stick the earth
outside of the system, the system no longer has
gravitational potential energy. The earth is doing
external work on the mass, and this might bother you. You might be like, "Wait. "But it's the same
situation that's happening. "All we did was change "whether we considered the
earth part of our system, "so how can that change the math?" It didn't really. I mean if you think about it, instead of the four units of energy existing initially as
this potential energy and having now work, we're just saying that there was no
potential energy to start, and there were for units
of external work done. It's just a different story. The numbers will come out the same, and it's all gonna be consistent. But depending on whether
you stick that earth outside of your system
or inside of your system will determine whether you say that there was initially
gravitation potential energy, or whether you say there was external work done on the mass. So let's look at another example. Let me get rid of this. Let's instead consider this example, where a mass starts compressed against the spring from rest. That'll be our initial point. And it fires the mass, and the mass goes up this incline, and comes over to here, and then it's moving with
some velocity over here. We'll make this our final point. So if we wanna make a LOL diagram, we first have to pick what's
part of our energy system. Because if we don't know
what's part of our system, we don't even know
what's gonna be eligible to have an energy in here. So again, let's make the
mass part of our system. So the mass will be part of our system. Let's make the spring part of our system, so we'll put the spring in here. And let's again put the
earth into our system. So what would this LOL diagram look like for this scenario? Well, since we start from rest, we don't start with any kinetic energy. And even though the earth
is part of our system, which means that our system could have gravitational potential energy. I'm just gonna assume that the mass starts at H equals zero, so let's make the ground H equals zero. That way this potential energy term mgh, starts as zero, so there'd be no gravitational potential
energy to start with. And the only energy we would start with is the fact that this spring is coiled up, ready to explode and
fire this mass forward. All this energy is stored up as spring or elastic energy, so we will have elastic or
spring energy to start with. Let's just say we started with
five units of spring energy. Again, this is somewhat random. For a particular problem with numbers, you could solve for exactly
how much spring energy you started with, because remember, spring
energy can be found using the formula 1/2 k x squared, where x is the compression of the spring, and k is the spring constant. But to keep things simple, let's just say we start with five units of spring energy. So what would our final
energies look like? If this mass is up here moving, if it's moving, we know
it's got kinetic energy. So I can say there's kinetic energy. How much? Again, to figure out exactly how much, you'd have to solve for
your particular problem, and know this height. But to give you an idea of what
conservation of energy says, let's just say there were
three units of kinetic energy that you ended with up there What are the kinds of
energy do you have up here? We're gonna have
gravitational potential energy because this mass starts
above the H equals zero line. Since the mass is higher up in the air, it's got gravitational potential energy. So now, if I say there's
three units of kinetic energy, and I started with five
units of spring energy, if energy is conserved, I better end up with two units of gravitational potential energy. So I could draw two unit, and now I'd make sure that if I started with five units of energy, I've ended with a total
amount of five units. That would say energy is conserved. Let's check. Is energy of our system
gonna be conserved? We can determine that by just figuring out
whether there were any external sources of work. Did anything external to
our system do any work? If not, the total energy
has got to stay the same. This five units has got to
turn into five units over here. And if we assume that these
surfaces here are frictionless, and there was no air
resistance or no loss in energy due to dissipative forces, there will be no external work done because everything is part of our system. So, like, work was done in here, the spring did work on the
mass, giving it energy. There was internal work done. But since there was no external work, the energy had to be conserved. We can write this in an equation again by saying that the total
energy we start with, the spring energy, which
would be 1/2 k x squared, plus any external work done, but the external work done was zero, since everything is internal, has to equal the final energy. And the final energy here
is the kinetic energy, which is 1/2 m v squared, plus the potential energy, which is gonna be plus mgh. And now if you had numbers
for a particular problem, you could just plug those into here, and solve for whatever
variable you were looking for. But you might be wondering, "What if there is friction
between the mass and the ramp? "What if there is friction over here? "What would that do?" Well, there's two ways
we can handle it now. You know there's two ways. We can include these surfaces
as part of our system, or we could say that those surfaces are outside of our system. If the surfaces are outside of our system, we would represent that as them taking energy away. Now there's external work done, but instead of the external
work giving our system energy, the external work is taking energy away. This friction is taking energy and turning it into thermal energy. That's what this extra spot
is here, for thermal energy. But since the surfaces are
now not part of our system, we wouldn't show that over here. We would just include that as part of the external work done, so there would be some
negative amount of work done. Maybe the surfaces did negative
one unit of external work. What that would mean is that if we started with five units of energy, and there was negative one
unit of external work done, we've got to only end up
with four units of energy, but potential energy
has got to be the same. I mean I ended up this high, so that can't really change. So that means my kinetic
energy now is gonna be smaller, and that makes sense. The friction slowed this mass down. I end with four units of energy, even though is started with five, because there was negative
one unit of external work done by the friction on these surfaces. That's one way to handle this problem, and that's all consistent. The other way to do it, we could just say that our surfaces, which we said were external,
are now internal to our system. That way, this external work
done is no longer external. This work done is now gonna be internal. The surface took the energy. It still did negative work, but since it's inside of our system, that's now gonna be part
of our energy system. So how would we represent that? It'd no longer be a negative one here. We wouldn't say that this is done. We'd essentially, conceptually move that negative one over
by adding one to both sides. And that means we would
gain some thermal energy. I'm gonna write that as delta E thermal, because there's gonna be some gain in the thermal energy of our system. And I would represent that now
not as an external work done, but as one unit of
thermal energy generated during this process. So recapping, LOL diagrams
are a great way to visualize what we're talking about when we say conservation of energy. And since we define our system, they're a nice way to
visualize what we mean when we say that the total
initial energy of our system, plus any external work done on our system has to equal the total
final energy of our system.