Illustration for conceptualizing electrostatic potential energy

The concept of binding energy, so useful for interpreting gravitational systems, is also crucial for interpreting systems consisting of oppositely charged particles interacting by electrostatic force. The work-energy required to separate two opposite charges represents the binding energy of the system.

This conceptual framework of binding energy is essential for understanding chemistry, although you always need to keep in mind the augmentations to the model provided by quantum mechanics. Binding energy may only find its way directly into a question or two on the MCAT, but it is one of the most important foundation stones for understanding the physical and biological sciences in general.

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