Potential energy is a cool idea.
Since our lives are utterly dependent on energy, it’s an important thing to understand.
Until very, very recently, we got our body-energy directly from animals.
Same as all the other animals on Earth.
A huge cycle.
Small animals are eaten by larger animals, which are eaten by even larger animals.
When we humans need other kinds of energy (for warmth or cooking) we had to find wood or other burnable material.
The wood came from trees that took their energy from the earth.
Ultimately, all energy on earth comes from the sun.
A gigantic ball of thermonuclear fusion.
Leaves take sunlight and convert it into energy.
Even when we use fossil fuel, we are essentially taking the “energy” from previously living beings.
It’s the same structure as killing and eating a giraffe.
We eat the giraffe meat, we are taking energy from a previously living thing.
When we eat an ear of corn, we are taking energy from a previously living thing.
When we put gas in our cars (or use things that are shipped all around the world using massive ships and planes) we are using fossil-fuel energy from previously living things.
When you think about it, there’s the sun, and all the living stuff on Earth.
And all the living stuff on Earth is in competition with each other.
Eating each other, running away from each other, always trying to figure out clever ways to get energy to survive.
But humans invented something a couple thousand years ago.
To use a VERY over-used term, it WAS a “game changer.”
See, even fossil fuel has to say in same chemical structure to be any use.
Yes, it’s potential energy, but it’s energy to be used DIRECTLY.
We humans invented a much more metaphysical form of potential energy.
This is potential “energy” that can be used to buy “stuff.”
Stuff that exists, and stuff that doesn’t yet exist.
Think about that.
It’s both plainly normal and incredibly amazing.
Suppose you save a little bit of money (whatever form of money is being used).
And you hang on to it.
That money allows you to imagine a much better future.
And you don’t even have to participate.
If you have ENOUGH money saved, you can relax and let other people do all the work.
All the trial and error research and inventing.
And once they’re finished, you step right up and trade some of your money for whatever it is they’ve invented.
This is exactly why the amount of things EXPLODED after the invention of money.
People were driven to invent stuff so they could get money.
And people were driven to get money so they could buy these new inventions, whatever they might be.
A HUGE positive reinforcing loop that has been humming along every since.
And it’s easier ever to get in the game and get some.