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    It says in my book that "if we look at the binding energy curve (binding energy against nucleon number curve) we see that the product nuclei have greater binding energy (less potential energy)"

    I understand everything except the underlined bold part between brackets can someone please explain to me why less potential energy? thanks
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    (Original post by >>MMM<<)
    It says in my book that "if we look at the binding energy curve (binding energy against nucleon number curve) we see that the product nuclei have greater binding energy (less potential energy)"

    I understand everything except the underlined bold part between brackets can someone please explain to me why less potential energy? thanks
    Things have potential energy when they are in a force field.
    If the force is attractive you need to put in energy to separate them.
    Think of having to lift something up against gravity.
    The energy you give appears as potential energy. (In the case of gravity it's mgh and gravitational potential energy.)
    In the case of nuclear forces they are also attractive. If you separate the nucleus into its components you need to put in energy against this force. The result is there is a gain in potential energy.
    The opposite happens when the nucleus forms and the particles come closer together. Then they lose their potential energy, just as a stone does when dropped onto the surface of the Earth.
    This loss in potential energy is the binding energy of the nucleus.
    If you form a nucleus that has less potential energy (more binding energy) than its constituents did, this energy is released.
 
 
 
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