energy, conservation of


energy, conservation of

Principle of physics according to which the energy of interacting bodies or particles in a closed system remains constant, though it may take different forms (e.g., kinetic energy, potential energy, thermal energy, energy in an electric current, or energy stored in an electric field, in a magnetic field, or in chemical bonds [see bonding]). With the advent of relativity physics in 1905, mass was recognized as equivalent to energy. When accounting for a system of high-speed particles whose mass increases as a consequence of their speed, the laws of conservation of energy and conservation of mass become one conservation law. See also Hermann von Helmholtz.

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