Conservation Laws (Encyclopedia of Science)
Conservation laws are scientific statements that describe the amount of some quantity before and after a physical or chemical change.
Conservation of mass and energy
One of the first conservation laws to be discovered was the conservation of mass (or matter). Suppose that you combine a very accurately weighed amount of iron and sulfur with each other. The product of that reaction is a compound known as iron(II) sulfide. If you also weigh very accurately the amount of iron(II) sulfide formed in that reaction, you will discover a simple relationship: The weight of the beginning materials (iron plus sulfur) is exactly equal to the weight of the product or products of the reaction (iron(II) sulfide). This statement is one way to express the law of conservation of mass. A more formal definition of the law is that mass (or matter) cannot be created or destroyed in a chemical reaction.
A similar law exists for energy. When you turn on an electric heater, electrical energy is converted to heat energy. If you measure the amount of electricity supplied to the heater and the amount of heat produced by the heater, you will find the amounts are equal. In other words, energy is conserved in the heater. It may take various forms, such as electrical energy, heat, magnetism, or kinetic energy (the energy of an object due to its motion), but the relationship is...
(The entire section is 1546 words.)
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