It is one thing to have a system in equilibrium; it is quite another for it to be stable. The toy doll perched on the man’s hand in [link], for example, is not in stable equilibrium. There are *three types of equilibrium*: *stable*, *unstable*, and *neutral*. Figures throughout this module illustrate various examples.

[link] presents a balanced system, such as the toy doll on the man’s hand, which has its center of gravity (cg) directly over the pivot, so that the torque of the total weight is zero. This is equivalent to having the torques of the individual parts balanced about the pivot point, in this case the hand. The cgs of the arms, legs, head, and torso are labeled with smaller type.

A system is said to be in stable equilibrium if, when displaced from equilibrium, it experiences a net force or torque in a direction opposite to the direction of the displacement. For example, a marble at the bottom of a bowl will experience a *restoring* force when displaced from its equilibrium position. This force moves it back toward the equilibrium position. Most systems are in stable equilibrium, especially for small displacements. For another example of stable equilibrium, see the pencil in [link].

A system is in unstable equilibrium if, when displaced, it experiences a net force or torque in the *same* direction as the displacement from equilibrium. A system in unstable equilibrium accelerates away from its equilibrium position if displaced even slightly. An obvious example is a ball resting on top of a hill. Once displaced, it accelerates away from the crest. See the next several figures for examples of unstable equilibrium.

A system is in neutral equilibrium if its equilibrium is independent of displacements from its original position. A marble on a flat horizontal surface is an example. Combinations of these situations are possible. For example, a marble on a saddle is stable for displacements toward the front or back of the saddle and unstable for displacements to the side. [link] shows another example of neutral equilibrium.

When we consider how far a system in stable equilibrium can be displaced before it becomes unstable, we find that some systems in stable equilibrium are more stable than others. The pencil in [link] and the person in [link](a) are in stable equilibrium, but become unstable for relatively small displacements to the side. The critical point is reached when the cg is no longer *above* the base of support. Additionally, since the cg of a person’s body is above the pivots in the hips, displacements must be quickly controlled. This control is a central nervous system function that is developed when we learn to hold our bodies erect as infants. For increased stability while standing, the feet should be spread apart, giving a larger base of support. Stability is also increased by lowering one’s center of gravity by bending the knees, as when a football player prepares to receive a ball or braces themselves for a tackle. A cane, a crutch, or a walker increases the stability of the user, even more as the base of support widens. Usually, the cg of a female is lower (closer to the ground) than a male. Young children have their center of gravity between their shoulders, which increases the challenge of learning to walk.

Animals such as chickens have easier systems to control. [link] shows that the cg of a chicken lies below its hip joints and between its widely separated and broad feet. Even relatively large displacements of the chicken’s cg are stable and result in restoring forces and torques that return the cg to its equilibrium position with little effort on the chicken’s part. Not all birds are like chickens, of course. Some birds, such as the flamingo, have balance systems that are almost as sophisticated as that of humans.

[link] shows that the cg of a chicken is below the hip joints and lies above a broad base of support formed by widely-separated and large feet. Hence, the chicken is in very stable equilibrium, since a relatively large displacement is needed to render it unstable. The body of the chicken is supported from above by the hips and acts as a pendulum between the hips. Therefore, the chicken is stable for front-to-back displacements as well as for side-to-side displacements.

Engineers and architects strive to achieve extremely stable equilibriums for buildings and other systems that must withstand wind, earthquakes, and other forces that displace them from equilibrium. Although the examples in this section emphasize gravitational forces, the basic conditions for equilibrium are the same for all types of forces. The net external force must be zero, and the net torque must also be zero.

# Section Summary

- A system is said to be in stable equilibrium if, when displaced from equilibrium, it experiences a net force or torque in a direction opposite the direction of the displacement.
- A system is in unstable equilibrium if, when displaced from equilibrium, it experiences a net force or torque in the same direction as the displacement from equilibrium.
- A system is in neutral equilibrium if its equilibrium is independent of displacements from its original position.

# Conceptual Questions

A round pencil lying on its side as in [link] is in neutral equilibrium relative to displacements perpendicular to its length. What is its stability relative to displacements parallel to its length?

Explain the need for tall towers on a suspension bridge to ensure stable equilibrium.

# Problems & Exercises

Suppose a horse leans against a wall as in [link]. Calculate the force exerted on the wall assuming that force is horizontal while using the data in the schematic representation of the situation. Note that the force exerted on the wall is equal and opposite to the force exerted on the horse, keeping it in equilibrium. The total mass of the horse and rider is 500 kg. Take the data to be accurate to three digits.

${F}_{\text{wall}}=1.43\times {\text{10}}^{3}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{N}$

Two children of mass 20 kg and 30 kg sit balanced on a seesaw with the pivot point located at the center of the seesaw. If the children are separated by a distance of 3 m, at what distance from the pivot point is the small child sitting in order to maintain the balance?

(a) Calculate the magnitude and direction of the force on each foot of the horse in [link] (two are on the ground), assuming the center of mass of the horse is midway between the feet. The total mass of the horse and rider is 500kg. (b) What is the minimum coefficient of friction between the hooves and ground? Note that the force exerted by the wall is horizontal.

a) $\text{2.55}{\mathrm{\times 10}}^{3}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{N, 16.3\xba to the left of vertical (i.e., toward the wall)}$

b) 0.292

A person carries a plank of wood 2 m long with one hand pushing down on it at one end with a force ${\text{F}}_{1}$ and the other hand holding it up at 50 cm from the end of the plank with force ${\text{F}}_{2}$. If the plank has a mass of 20 kg and its center of gravity is at the middle of the plank, what are the forces ${\text{F}}_{1}$ and ${\text{F}}_{2}$?

A 17.0-m-high and 11.0-m-long wall under construction and its bracing are shown in [link]. The wall is in stable equilibrium without the bracing but can pivot at its base. Calculate the force exerted by each of the 10 braces if a strong wind exerts a horizontal force of 650 N on each square meter of the wall. Assume that the net force from the wind acts at a height halfway up the wall and that all braces exert equal forces parallel to their lengths. Neglect the thickness of the wall.

${F}_{\text{B}}=2.12\times {\text{10}}^{4}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{N}$

(a) What force must be exerted by the wind to support a 2.50-kg chicken in the position shown in [link]? (b) What is the ratio of this force to the chicken’s weight? (c) Does this support the contention that the chicken has a relatively stable construction?

Suppose the weight of the drawbridge in [link] is supported entirely by its hinges and the opposite shore, so that its cables are slack. (a) What fraction of the weight is supported by the opposite shore if the point of support is directly beneath the cable attachments? (b) What is the direction and magnitude of the force the hinges exert on the bridge under these circumstances? The mass of the bridge is 2500 kg.

a) 0.167, or about one-sixth of the weight is supported by the opposite shore.

b) $F=2\text{.}0\times {\text{10}}^{4}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{N}$, straight up.

Suppose a 900-kg car is on the bridge in [link] with its center of mass halfway between the hinges and the cable attachments. (The bridge is supported by the cables and hinges only.) (a) Find the force in the cables. (b) Find the direction and magnitude of the force exerted by the hinges on the bridge.

A sandwich board advertising sign is constructed as shown in [link]. The sign’s mass is 8.00 kg. (a) Calculate the tension in the chain assuming no friction between the legs and the sidewalk. (b) What force is exerted by each side on the hinge?

a) 21.6 N

b) 21.6 N

(a) What minimum coefficient of friction is needed between the legs and the ground to keep the sign in [link] in the position shown if the chain breaks? (b) What force is exerted by each side on the hinge?

A gymnast is attempting to perform splits. From the information given in [link], calculate the magnitude and direction of the force exerted on each foot by the floor.

350 N directly upwards

### Tập tin đính kèm

- balancing-act_en.jar

- College Physics
- Preface
- Introduction: The Nature of Science and Physics
- Kinematics
- Introduction to One-Dimensional Kinematics
- Displacement
- Vectors, Scalars, and Coordinate Systems
- Time, Velocity, and Speed
- Acceleration
- Motion Equations for Constant Acceleration in One Dimension
- Problem-Solving Basics for One-Dimensional Kinematics
- Falling Objects
- Graphical Analysis of One-Dimensional Motion

- Two-Dimensional Kinematics
- Dynamics: Force and Newton's Laws of Motion
- Introduction to Dynamics: Newton’s Laws of Motion
- Development of Force Concept
- Newton’s First Law of Motion: Inertia
- Newton’s Second Law of Motion: Concept of a System
- Newton’s Third Law of Motion: Symmetry in Forces
- Normal, Tension, and Other Examples of Forces
- Problem-Solving Strategies
- Further Applications of Newton’s Laws of Motion
- Extended Topic: The Four Basic Forces—An Introduction

- Further Applications of Newton's Laws: Friction, Drag, and Elasticity
- Uniform Circular Motion and Gravitation
- Work, Energy, and Energy Resources
- Linear Momentum and Collisions
- Statics and Torque
- Rotational Motion and Angular Momentum
- Introduction to Rotational Motion and Angular Momentum
- Angular Acceleration
- Kinematics of Rotational Motion
- Dynamics of Rotational Motion: Rotational Inertia
- Rotational Kinetic Energy: Work and Energy Revisited
- Angular Momentum and Its Conservation
- Collisions of Extended Bodies in Two Dimensions
- Gyroscopic Effects: Vector Aspects of Angular Momentum

- Fluid Statics
- Fluid Dynamics and Its Biological and Medical Applications
- Introduction to Fluid Dynamics and Its Biological and Medical Applications
- Flow Rate and Its Relation to Velocity
- Bernoulli’s Equation
- The Most General Applications of Bernoulli’s Equation
- Viscosity and Laminar Flow; Poiseuille’s Law
- The Onset of Turbulence
- Motion of an Object in a Viscous Fluid
- Molecular Transport Phenomena: Diffusion, Osmosis, and Related Processes

- Temperature, Kinetic Theory, and the Gas Laws
- Heat and Heat Transfer Methods
- Thermodynamics
- Introduction to Thermodynamics
- The First Law of Thermodynamics
- The First Law of Thermodynamics and Some Simple Processes
- Introduction to the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Heat Engines and Their Efficiency
- Carnot’s Perfect Heat Engine: The Second Law of Thermodynamics Restated
- Applications of Thermodynamics: Heat Pumps and Refrigerators
- Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Disorder and the Unavailability of Energy
- Statistical Interpretation of Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics: The Underlying Explanation

- Oscillatory Motion and Waves
- Introduction to Oscillatory Motion and Waves
- Hooke’s Law: Stress and Strain Revisited
- Period and Frequency in Oscillations
- Simple Harmonic Motion: A Special Periodic Motion
- The Simple Pendulum
- Energy and the Simple Harmonic Oscillator
- Uniform Circular Motion and Simple Harmonic Motion
- Damped Harmonic Motion
- Forced Oscillations and Resonance
- Waves
- Superposition and Interference
- Energy in Waves: Intensity

- Physics of Hearing
- Electric Charge and Electric Field
- Introduction to Electric Charge and Electric Field
- Static Electricity and Charge: Conservation of Charge
- Conductors and Insulators
- Coulomb’s Law
- Electric Field: Concept of a Field Revisited
- Electric Field Lines: Multiple Charges
- Electric Forces in Biology
- Conductors and Electric Fields in Static Equilibrium
- Applications of Electrostatics

- Electric Potential and Electric Field
- Electric Current, Resistance, and Ohm's Law
- Circuits, Bioelectricity, and DC Instruments
- Magnetism
- Introduction to Magnetism
- Magnets
- Ferromagnets and Electromagnets
- Magnetic Fields and Magnetic Field Lines
- Magnetic Field Strength: Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field
- Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field: Examples and Applications
- The Hall Effect
- Magnetic Force on a Current-Carrying Conductor
- Torque on a Current Loop: Motors and Meters
- Magnetic Fields Produced by Currents: Ampere’s Law
- Magnetic Force between Two Parallel Conductors
- More Applications of Magnetism

- Electromagnetic Induction, AC Circuits, and Electrical Technologies
- Introduction to Electromagnetic Induction, AC Circuits and Electrical Technologies
- Induced Emf and Magnetic Flux
- Faraday’s Law of Induction: Lenz’s Law
- Motional Emf
- Eddy Currents and Magnetic Damping
- Electric Generators
- Back Emf
- Transformers
- Electrical Safety: Systems and Devices
- Inductance
- RL Circuits
- Reactance, Inductive and Capacitive
- RLC Series AC Circuits

- Electromagnetic Waves
- Geometric Optics
- Vision and Optical Instruments
- Wave Optics
- Introduction to Wave Optics
- The Wave Aspect of Light: Interference
- Huygens's Principle: Diffraction
- Young’s Double Slit Experiment
- Multiple Slit Diffraction
- Single Slit Diffraction
- Limits of Resolution: The Rayleigh Criterion
- Thin Film Interference
- Polarization
- *Extended Topic* Microscopy Enhanced by the Wave Characteristics of Light

- Special Relativity
- Introduction to Quantum Physics
- Atomic Physics
- Introduction to Atomic Physics
- Discovery of the Atom
- Discovery of the Parts of the Atom: Electrons and Nuclei
- Bohr’s Theory of the Hydrogen Atom
- X Rays: Atomic Origins and Applications
- Applications of Atomic Excitations and De-Excitations
- The Wave Nature of Matter Causes Quantization
- Patterns in Spectra Reveal More Quantization
- Quantum Numbers and Rules
- The Pauli Exclusion Principle

- Radioactivity and Nuclear Physics
- Medical Applications of Nuclear Physics
- Particle Physics
- Frontiers of Physics
- Atomic Masses
- Selected Radioactive Isotopes
- Useful Information
- Glossary of Key Symbols and Notation