# What are the types of energy?

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I found couple of lists and some were not only inconsistent but I also couldn’t understand given explainations. I’m not good with pchysics terminology.

Could someone make it as simple as possible for me?

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Ultimately when talking about energy in Physics we are talking about Kinetic energy or Potential energy. These 2 basic forms can be simplified by thinking of them as energy in use (Kinetic)or energy being stored (Potential). A spring is great way to represent both. If you compress a spring as much as possible and hold it there, then you can say the spring has a build up of energy or potential and then when released that energy is released to do something, such a moving the spring itself, or pushing something that was in front of the spring, we call that action Kinetic energy. Hopefully this helps, it’s been some time since I’ve had to explain physics.

Ultimately when talking about energy in Physics we are talking about Kinetic energy or Potential energy. These 2 basic forms can be simplified by thinking of them as energy in use (Kinetic)or energy being stored (Potential). A spring is great way to represent both. If you compress a spring as much as possible and hold it there, then you can say the spring has a build up of energy or potential and then when released that energy is released to do something, such a moving the spring itself, or pushing something that was in front of the spring, we call that action Kinetic energy. Hopefully this helps, it’s been some time since I’ve had to explain physics.

The two types are “moving” energy and “wants to move” energy.

You can think of the former as “real energy”. Energy that is actually manifesting in some way.

The latter is more of dormant sort of energy. Something is a way, and if given a chance, it will be a different way.

Tbh, the “types” of energy multiply the closer you look. That’s because the concept of energy, while very real, is very difficult to pin down and vague. At the end of the day, it’s both the ability of stuff to exist and do work. But it makes various calculations possible when you track it, and tracking it is easier if you give the different “functions” their own names.

But to be most general, there’s Kinetic and Potential energy.

There’s also often Bond energy, but that depends on whether someone considers bond energy technically being potential energy or not?

But anyway, Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. It’s work that needs to be done to slow something down. It can be straight motion, unconstrained motion, it can be orbiting, it can be vibration. If something is moving, it has kinetic energy.

Potential energy is the energy of fields and forces, like electromagnetism, gravity, etc. to act on stuff. It’s potential, because it has the potential to give something kinetic energy. If something is held at a height it has potential energy, because if let go it will have that energy on the bottom as kinetic energy. But it works with other forces.

It gets a bit more complicated on how to classify something like a photon, which has energy, and what happens when an electron gets excited by absorbing one. Are both potential, because photons are just a vibration in the electromagnetic field and what actually carries the force? It’s not useful to think of them like that, it’s more useful to call them separate things, because it makes talking about it and performing calculations easier. That’s what I meant that it “multiplies” the closer you look.

Bonds, chemical or nuclear, are pretty much potential energy, because they’re created by forces. Chemical bonds are basically just charges finding a sweet spot where the attraction and repulsion balance. It gets more complicated because quantum physics, and electrons are actually weird when you look at them closely. Nuclear bonds are even more complicated, because the Strong Force is particularly weird, but it’s more or less that principle too.

But the important part is, bonds can have stored energy that gets released when they’re broken, kind of like knocking things off the table. But you might have to nudge it to get going. That’s why you need to light a fire, but it keeps itself going.

Some bonds are genuinely “dips” in energy, though, more like a hole than a table, and energy is released when they form. That’s when things (be it protons and neutrons or molecules) have genuinely less energy stuck together than floating apart free. Those are particularly tough to break. Because as a rule in this universe, whatever energy is, matter wants to have as little of it as possible.

That’s why springs work, btw. You’re either stretching or compressing bonds out of the balance they’d rather be in, so they, aha, spring back to place as soon as the can.

Tbh, the “types” of energy multiply the closer you look. That’s because the concept of energy, while very real, is very difficult to pin down and vague. At the end of the day, it’s both the ability of stuff to exist and do work. But it makes various calculations possible when you track it, and tracking it is easier if you give the different “functions” their own names.

But to be most general, there’s Kinetic and Potential energy.

There’s also often Bond energy, but that depends on whether someone considers bond energy technically being potential energy or not?

But anyway, Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. It’s work that needs to be done to slow something down. It can be straight motion, unconstrained motion, it can be orbiting, it can be vibration. If something is moving, it has kinetic energy.

Potential energy is the energy of fields and forces, like electromagnetism, gravity, etc. to act on stuff. It’s potential, because it has the potential to give something kinetic energy. If something is held at a height it has potential energy, because if let go it will have that energy on the bottom as kinetic energy. But it works with other forces.

It gets a bit more complicated on how to classify something like a photon, which has energy, and what happens when an electron gets excited by absorbing one. Are both potential, because photons are just a vibration in the electromagnetic field and what actually carries the force? It’s not useful to think of them like that, it’s more useful to call them separate things, because it makes talking about it and performing calculations easier. That’s what I meant that it “multiplies” the closer you look.

Bonds, chemical or nuclear, are pretty much potential energy, because they’re created by forces. Chemical bonds are basically just charges finding a sweet spot where the attraction and repulsion balance. It gets more complicated because quantum physics, and electrons are actually weird when you look at them closely. Nuclear bonds are even more complicated, because the Strong Force is particularly weird, but it’s more or less that principle too.

But the important part is, bonds can have stored energy that gets released when they’re broken, kind of like knocking things off the table. But you might have to nudge it to get going. That’s why you need to light a fire, but it keeps itself going.

Some bonds are genuinely “dips” in energy, though, more like a hole than a table, and energy is released when they form. That’s when things (be it protons and neutrons or molecules) have genuinely less energy stuck together than floating apart free. Those are particularly tough to break. Because as a rule in this universe, whatever energy is, matter wants to have as little of it as possible.

That’s why springs work, btw. You’re either stretching or compressing bonds out of the balance they’d rather be in, so they, aha, spring back to place as soon as the can.