# if energy isn’t a physical thing what is it?

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if energy isn’t a physical thing what is it?

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Think of energy as a way to measure a property that physical things have.

Like say if you have 3 apples. 3 isn’t a “physical thing” but it describes a property physical things have (there are 3 of them)

Same deal with energy. A rock picked up off the ground has some amount of potential energy. So does a car. Energy describes part of the state of the thing.

Energy is as much of a physical thing as anything is. Or, maybe more properly, it’s one of many possible descriptions of the way physical things are, in the same way that *where* things are or *how many particles* there are are descriptions.

Think of it like a metaphor used to represent an object’s ability to affect and influence another object.

For example, a balloon charged with static attracting a pile paper scraps. The energy is the balloon’s ability to attract the paper

Short answer, stuff happening. Or sometimes the potential for something to happen.

Take a brick from the ground and put it on a high shelf and you’ve turned some of your body’s biological energy into potential kinetic energy. Push the brick off the high shelf and you’re turning potential kinetic energy into actual kinetic energy. Strap a magnet to the brick and have it pass a coil of copper wire on the way down and some of that kinetic energy will create an imbalance between electrons and protons, creating electrical potential energy. Let this imbalance rebalance it’self and you get random atomic movement or heat.

We treat energy like a substance because one event leads to another and to another and the magnitude of one event often determines how big the next one is. In this way we can say “Energy is transferred” but in truth we are merely holding onto one link in a chain of events.

In the most general terms, energy is the ability to make changes. It is a property rather than a substance.

E=MC², energy is just mass in another form, and is defined as the ability to do stuff, so it is a physical property just as much as anything else.

Energy is something moving or something with the potential to move.

A car going very fast has a lot of energy.

Gasoline has a lot of energy to make the car go fast.

Hot air has more energy than cold air because each molecule in the hot air is moving faster than in the cold air.

Holding a ball up high has potential energy because it can fall back down.