Energy (Work)

The Sun is the source of energy for most of life on Earth. It derives its energy mainly from nuclear fusion in its core and releases it into space mainly in the form of radiant (light) energy.

In physics, energy is the property that must be transferred to an object in order to perform work on – or to heat – the object, and can be converted in form, but not created or destroyed.[note 1] The SI unit of energy is the joule, which is the energy transferred to an object by the mechanical work of moving it a distance of 1 metre against a force of 1 newton.

Common energy forms include the kinetic energy of a moving object, the potential energy stored by an object's position in a force field (gravitational, electric or magnetic), the elastic energy stored by stretching solid objects, the chemical energy released when a fuel burns, the radiant energy carried by light, and the thermal energy due to an object's temperature.

Mass and energy are closely related. Due to mass–energy equivalence, any object that has mass when stationary in a frame of reference (called rest mass) also has an equivalent amount of energy whose form is called rest energy in that frame, and any additional energy acquired by the object above that rest energy will increase an object's mass. For example, with a sensitive enough scale, one could measure an increase in mass after heating an object.

Living organisms require available energy to stay alive, such as the energy humans get from food. Civilisation gets the energy it needs from energy resources such as fossil fuels, nuclear fuel, or renewable energy. The processes of Earth's climate and ecosystem are driven by the radiant energy Earth receives from the sun and the geothermal energy contained within the earth.