Module 2: What is Energy?


Module 2: Overview

Why take a course on energy? With over $1 trillion spent per year on energy in the US alone, the knowledge you gain from this course may help you in your career and your everyday life. And because we currently rely on a completely unsustainable energy system that must change, your knowledge may help the long-term health of civilization. Plus, believe it or not, the subject really is interesting!

In this module, we’ll go over some of the basics—how do we talk about energy, what is it, how much of it do we use, and such. Back in the late 1990s, NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because some members of the mission team were figuring out its location using metric units (e.g., meters, centimeters, liters) also called the International System of Units (SI), others were using English units (e.g., feet, inches, ounces); the different groups didn’t recognize this and convert properly — a very expensive mistake! The situation with energy is actually more confusing than that. So, bear with us, and we’ll try to start off in the right direction.