What is energy

Energy is Ability to do work.

The energy can take a wide variety of forms - heat (thermal), light (radiant), mechanical, electrical, chemical, and nuclear energy. There are two types of energy - stored (potential) energy and working (kinetic) energy.  For example, the food you eat contains chemical energy, and your body stores this energy until you release it when you work or play.

All forms of energy are stored in different ways, in the energy sources that we use every day.  These sources are divided into two groups -- renewable (an energy source that we can use over and over again) and nonrenewable/conventional (an energy source that we are using up and cannot recreate in a short period of time).  Renewable energy sources include solar energy (which comes from the sun and can be turned into electricity and heat),   wind energy, geothermal energy (from inside the earth), biomass from plants, and hydropower from water are also renewable energy sources.

However, we get most of our energy from nonrenewable energy sources, which include the fossil fuels -- oil, natural gas, and coal.  They're called fossil fuels because they were formed over millions and millions of years by the action of heat from the Earth's core and pressure from rock and soil on the remains (or "fossils") of dead plants and animals.  Another nonrenewable energy source is the element uranium, whose atoms we split (through a process called nuclear fission) to create heat and ultimately electricity. 

We use all these energy sources to generate the electricity we need for our homes, businesses, schools, and factories. Electricity "energizes" our computers, lights, refrigerators, washing machines, and air conditioners, to name only a few uses.

We use energy to run our cars.  The gasoline we burn in our cars is made from oil.  We use energy to cook on an outdoor grill or soar in a beautiful hot-air balloon.  The propane for these recreational activities is made from oil and natural gas.

Energy is in everything.  We use energy to do everything we do, from making a jump shot to baking our favorite cookies to sending astronauts into space -- energy is there, making sure we have the power to do it all.

Read the brief biographies of individuals who have made significant contributions to energy and science.


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