Quantum physics tells us that anything that commutes with the hamiltonian 
is preserved (doesn't change), the hamiltonian being the measure of energy 
in a system. This has led me to understand energy as a measure of change 
over time in a physical system. That might be obvious, except I've never 
heard anybody say it quite like that - with the result that many people 
tend to reify energy as some kind of physical "thing". The fact that energy 
and matter are interconvertible has led me to the summary that change 
across space is matter, change across time is energy. The only problem in 
this picture is potential energy, which you could simply call "deferred 
change", but that does beg the question as to how it is deferred. I'm 
trying to think about this in relation to chemical energy - the potential 
energy held in chemical bonds. When I studied chemistry I was simply told 
that certain bonds are more stable and have lower energy than other bonds 
which are less stable and have higher energy. So energy is released when a 
molecule reacts with another to form a more stable compound. The reason for 
and nature of the stability wasn't explained. So I'm wondering, is the 
"potential energy" in the chemical bond actually a kind of very localised 
motion, with more motion occurring in high energy bonds than in lower 
energy ones? In other words, the energy (motion/change) is temporarily 
contained in the small area of the bond, thus hiding the energy it as it 
were from the environment? If so, then this form of potential energy is not 
really different in kind from other types of energy, it's just relatively 
isolated. If this is valid, perhaps a similar analysis of other forms of 
potential energy such as gravitational potential might be possible too? Can 
a physicist/physical chemist perhaps shed light on whether my speculation 
here regarding chemical energy is valid? 

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