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Kinetic energy

In physics, kinetic energy is energy possessed by a body by virtue of its motion. In Newtonian mechanics, a body with mass m, moving in a straight line with velocity v, has a translational kinetic energy of


If a body is rotating, its rotational kinetic energy equals


where I is its moment of inertia and ω its angular velocity.

In Einstein's relativistic mechanics, the kinetic energy of a body is

where m is its total mass, m0 is its mass (or rest mass), and c is the speed of light in vacuum. Relativity theory states that the total mass of an object grows towards infinity as its velocity approaches the speed of light, and thus that it is impossible to accelerate an object beyond this boundary.

Where gravity is weak, and objects move at much slower velocities than light (e.g. in everyday phenomena on Earth), Newton's formula is an excellent approximation of relativistic kinetic energy.

See also: