Momentum and Energy


What are the limitations on simple machines?

Simple machines must, like everything else, obey the law of conservation of energy. That means that the work done on the machine equals the work the machine does plus the heat the machine puts out because friction has increased its thermal energy. Some machines are highly efficient, meaning input and output work are almost the same, while others put out only a fraction of the work put in.

The drawing on page 74 shows a simple machine where the machine has warmed up. That means its thermal energy has increased. It is now hotter than its surroundings, so it transmits heat to its surroundings (which are not shown on this diagram). The output work of the machine is smaller than the work put into it. That means that for the same input force, the output force is reduced by an inefficient machine.


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