# physics

A system consists of three particles, each of mass 2.10 g, located at the corners of an equilateral triangle with sides of 22.0 cm.
Calculate the potential energy of the system.

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1. Relative to a situation where the masses are widely separated, the potential energy of the equilateral configuration will be negative. That is because it will require work to separate them.

A single mass m has no potential associated with it.

When you add a second mass m at distance a, there will potential anergy equal to

-G m^2/a

When you bring in a third mass m at distance a from both, you add potential energy equal to -2G m^2/a

The total potential energy is therefore
-3G m^2/a

G is the universal constant of gravity, m = 0.0021 kg and a = 0.22 m

Expect a very small number.

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2. The constant G can be found at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_constant

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3. Thank you very much sir!

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