Energy Related Variables
Name: Joey L.
I am currently enrolling in physics in my school, and my
class have came across a question; it regards potential energy. I know
that the symbol for potential energy is "U", but how did the symbol came
about? I understand that "P" and "p" are both taken by "power" and
"momentum", which I believe is the reason that "U" is chosen. However,
which language or what abbreviation does the symbol "U" stands for??
More often than not the symbols used for various quantities in physics,
chemistry, mathematics, and other fields of science, have no "intrinsic"
meaning. For example,
the letter "p" or "P" is also used for pressure, and for the element
phosphorus. The letter "T" is often used for kinetic energy, and "V" for the
potential energy instead of "U". In math, "x", "y", "z" commonly stand for
variables; while the letters "i" through "q" are often used to denote
numbers, especially integers.
In most texts, scientific papers and the like, the author will provide the
definition of the symbols she/he is using or it is clear from the context of
the subject. A silly example
from chemistry: "He is a gas." means helium, of course, not the pronoun
indicating a male has been vaporized.
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Update: June 2012