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The Energy Portal
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Welcome to Wikipedia's energy portal, your gateway to the subject of energy and its effects on the world around us. This portal is aimed at educating you about energy and all its uses.

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Energy is a property of objects and systems of objects to act against a force (to do work), explored in branches of physics such as thermodynamics. Popularly the term is most often used in the context of energy as a public technology: energy resources, their consumption, development, depletion, and conservation. Biologically, bodies rely on food for energy in the same sense as industry relies on fuels to continue functioning. Since economic activities such as manufacturing and transportation can be energy intensive, energy efficiency, energy dependence, energy security and price are key concerns. Increased awareness of the effects of global warming has led to global debate and action for the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions; like many previous energy use patterns, it is changing not due to depletion or supply constraints but due to problems with waste, extraction, or geopolitical scenarios.

First, somehow there is a movement. There happened to be a burst of motion first. Motion implies and embraces energy, includes energy in itself. That first movement is a systematic one. The energy is the “ability of that system to perform work.” After that first movement we have the energy to play with. The universe is the result of the work systematically performed by that burst of motion. Motion can be transferred, transformed and converted into different forms. Whenever we see or sense a work done that means a visible energy. From here on radiation of energy, electromagnetic radiation and so on is easy to follow.

In the context of natural science, energy can take several different forms: thermal, chemical, electrical, radiant, nuclear, etc. These are often grouped as being either kinetic energy or potential energy. Many of these forms can be readily transformed into another with the help of a device - from chemical energy to electrical energy using a battery, for example. Most energy available for human use ultimately comes from the sun, which generates it with nuclear fusion. The enormous potential for fusion and other basic nuclear reactions is expressed by the equation E = mc2.

The concepts of energy and its transformations are useful in explaining natural processes on larger scales: Meteorological phenomena like wind, rain, lightning and tornadoes all result from energy transformations brought about by solar energy on the planet. Life itself is critically dependent on biological energy transformations; organic chemical bonds are constantly broken and made to make the exchange and transformation of energy possible. Read more...

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Selected article

World primary energy consumption 1998-1999
In 2004, the worldwide energy consumption of the human race was on average 15 terawatts (TW; 1 TW = 1 x 1012 W) with 86.5% from burning fossil fuels. This is equivalent to 471,000 PJ (1 PJ = 1 x 1015 J) per year. There is at least 10% uncertainty in these figures due to national variations in tracking consumption, and due to variations in energy content between particular barrels of oil or tons of coal.

The remaining worldwide energy resources are large, with the remaining fossil fuels totaling an estimated 0.4 YJ (1 YJ = 1024 J) and the available nuclear fuel such as uranium exceeding 2.5 YJ (1 YJ = 1024 J). Mostly thanks to the Sun, the world also has a renewable usable energy flux that exceeds 120 PW (8,000 times 2004 total energy usage), or 3.8 YJ/yr, dwarfing all non-renewable resources.

Despite the abundance of fossil fuels there are a number of pressures that may move the world’s energy consumption to alternative energy sources. These include political considerations over energy security and potential pressure from energy superpowers, environmental concerns related to global warming and sustainability, and economic pressure resulting from energy price rises, carbon emissions trading and green taxation.

This move is already starting to happen in some countries, notably as a result of the Kyoto Protocol, and further steps in this direction are proposed. For example, the European Commission has proposed that the energy policy of the European Union should set a binding target of increasing the maximum level of renewable energy in the EU’s overall mix from less than 7% today to 20% by 2020. Read more...

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Selected picture

Kuwait burn oilfield crop1.png

Photo credit: From an image by Jonas Jordan, USACE
Oil wells in Kuwait were set alight by retreating Iraqi forces during the 1991 Gulf War.

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Did you know?

  • Despite declines in production in recent years, Victoria still produces almost 20% of Australia's crude oil?
  • 4.26 million tonnes of the sun are converted to energy every second by nuclear fusion?

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Selected biography

William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, OM, GCVO, PC, PRS, FRSE, (26 June 1824 – 17 December 1907), widely known for developing the Kelvin scale of absolute temperature measurement, was a mathematical physicist, engineer, and outstanding leader in the physical sciences of the 19th century. He did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form.

Born in Ireland, Thomson studied at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. On graduating, he became a mathematics teacher at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. During his life Thomson published more than 600 scientific papers and filed over 70 patents.

As early as 1845 Thomson pointed out that the experimental results of William Snow Harris were in accordance with the laws of Coulomb. Over the period 1855 to 1867, Thomson collaborated with Peter Guthrie Tait the Treatise on Natural Philosophy that unified the various branches of physical science under the common principle of energy. His inventions included the current balance for the precise specification of the ampere, the standard unit of electric current.

In 1893, Thomson headed an international commission to decide on the design of the Niagara Falls power station. Despite his previous belief in the superiority of direct current electric power transmission, he agreed to use alternating current after seeing a Westinghouse demonstration at the Chicago World's Fair. Read more...

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Energy news

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  • "For those who want some proof that physicists are human, the proof is in the idiocy of all the different units which they use for measuring energy." – Richard Feynman
  • "The energy produced by breaking down the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformations of these atoms is taking moonshine." – Ernest Rutherford
  • "If you take a bale of hay and tie it to the tail of a mule and then strike a match and set the bale of hay on fire, and if you then compare the energy expended shortly thereafter by the mule with the energy expended by yourself in the striking of the match, you will understand the concept of amplification." – William Shockley
  • "It is easier to split an atom than to break a prejudice." – Albert Einstein

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