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**Key words:** overview, gravity, potential energy, PE, kinetic energy, KE, initial velocity, falling objects, physics, physical science, Ron Kurtus, School for Champions. Copyright © Restrictions

## Overview of Energy from Gravity

by Ron Kurtus (revised 2 October 2013)

Gravity is a force that causes an object to have energy.

An object at some height above the ground has the potential of accelerating downward, due to the pull of gravity. In other words, in that position, the object has potential energy (**PE**) that can be turned into the kinetic energy (**KE**) of motion. The sum of the potential energy and kinetic energy due to gravity for an object is constant unless outside forces come into play.

You can calculate the **PE**, **KE** and total energy (**TE**) for an object that is dropped, thrown downward or projected upward with some simple equations. You can then verify that the final velocity is the same as obtained from the gravity derivations.

Questions you may have include:

- What is the energy of a dropped object?
- What is the energy of an object thrown downward?
- What is the energy of an object projected upward?

This lesson will answer those questions. Useful tool: Units Conversion

## Energy of falling objects

When an object is held at some height above the Earth's surface, it has an initial potential energy (**PE**) that is a function of the height. Its kinetic energy (**KE**) is zero, since the object is not moving.

When an object is dropped,it increases its velocity—and thus its kinetic energy (**KE**) increases—as it falls to the ground. The total energy of the object (**TE**) is the sum of its **PE** and **KE** at any given point.

When it hits the ground, the final **PE** is zero and the **KE** equals the initial **PE**.

(See Energy of Falling Objects for more information.)

## Energy of objects projected downward

When an object is projected downward from some height, it has a **KE** that is a function of the initial downward velocity. However, its initial **PE** is only a function of the height.

As the object moves downward, the **PE** decreases and the velocity and **KE** increases.

When the object reaches the ground, the **PE** is zero and the **KE** is the sum of the velocity from the height and the initial velocity.

(See Energy of Objects Projected Downward for more information.)

## Energy of objects projected upward

When an object is projected upward from a given height, it has an initial **KE** that is a function of the initial upward velocity. However, its initial **PE** is only a function of the initial height.

As the object is moving upwards, the **PE** increases according to its displacement and the **KE** decreases until the object reaches a maximum height, at which time its velocity is zero.

(

See Displacement Equations for Objects Projected Upward for more information.)

The object then falls from that height similar to falling from any height. The total energy is also a function of the maximum height.

(See Energy of Objects Projected Upward for more information.)

## Summary

An object at some height has potential energy (**PE**) that can be turned into the kinetic energy (**KE**) of motion. The sum of the potential energy and kinetic energy due to gravity for an object is constant unless outside forces come into play.

You can calculate the **PE**, **KE** and total energy (**TE**) for an object that is dropped, thrown downward or projected upward with some simple equations.

Dream big

## Resources and references

### Websites

**Gravity and Potential Energy** - University of Alaska

**Gravity and Energy** - Exploring the interplay of gravity and mass-energy

### Books

**Top-rated books on Simple Gravity Science**

**Top-rated books on Advanced Gravity Physics**

## Questions and comments

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Gravity and Gravitation topics## Overview of Energy from Gravity