Conditions for equilibrium



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We learned in Sections 4.2 and 5.1 that a particle is in equilibrium—that is, the 
particle does not accelerate—in an inertial frame of reference if the vector sum
of all the forces acting on the particle is zero, ΣFS= 0. For an extended body, 
the equivalent statement is that the center of mass of the body has zero acceleration 
if the vector sum of all external forces acting on the body is zero, as discussed in 
Section 8.5. This is often called the first condition for equilibrium:

 

 

 

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A second condition for an extended body to be in equilibrium is that the body 

must have no tendency to rotate. A rigid body that, in an inertial frame, is not 
rotating about a certain point has zero angular momentum about that point. If it 
is not to start rotating about that point, the rate of change of angular momentum 
must also be zero. From the discussion in Section 10.5, particularly Eq. (10.29), 
this means that the sum of torques due to all the external forces acting on the 
body must be zero. A rigid body in equilibrium can’t have any tendency to start 
rotating about any point, so the sum of external torques must be zero about any 
point. This is the second condition for equilibrium:

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In this chapter we’ll apply the first and second conditions for equilibrium to situations

in which a rigid body is at rest (no translation or rotation). Such a body is said to be in static equilibrium (Fig. 11.1).

But the same conditions apply to a rigid body in uniform translational motion (without rotation),

such as an airplane in flight with constant speed, direction, and altitude. Such a body is in 

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equilibrium but is not static.

 


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