Sum of a system's kinetic energy (KE) and potential energy (PE). Mechanical energy is constant in a system that experiences no dissipative forces such as friction or air resistance. For example, a swinging pendulum that experiences only gravitation has greatest KE and least PE at the lowest point on the path of its swing, where its speed is greatest and its height least. It has least KE and greatest PE at the extremities of its swing, where its speed is zero and its height is greatest. As it moves, energy is continuously passing back and forth between the two forms. Neglecting friction and air resistance, the pendulum's mechanical energy is constant.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on mechanical energy, visit Britannica.com.
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