Conceptual Physics (12th Edition)

Published by Addison-Wesley
ISBN 10: 0321909100
ISBN 13: 978-0-32190-910-7

Chapter 22 - Reading Check Questions (Comprehension): 29


No. Volts are not a unit of energy.

Work Step by Step

Electric potential is defined to be potential energy per unit charge, and is measured in joules/coulomb, or volts. Several thousand volts is not an energy. It is true that electric potential energy is charge multiplied by electric potential. However, even if you have a large potential, there won't be much energy if you don't have much charge. It might help to consider a tall height "h" of several thousand meters as a sort of "potential gravitational energy". A mass m has a gravitational potential energy of (mg)(h) there. But the presence of a several-thousand-meter height h doesn't mean there are necessarily thousands of joules of gravitational potential energy present. After all, m might be just a grain of dust. The units of meters aren't even the same as joules. This is discussed on page 422, and shown in Figure 22.25.
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