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Physics LibreTexts

12: Static Equilibrium and Elasticity

In earlier sections, you learned about forces and Newton’s laws for translational motion. You then studied torques and the rotational motion of a body about a fixed axis of rotation. You also learned that static equilibrium means no motion at all and that dynamic equilibrium means motion without acceleration. In this section, we combine the conditions for static translational equilibrium and static rotational equilibrium to describe situations typical for any kind of construction. What type of cable will support a suspension bridge? What type of foundation will support an office building? Will this prosthetic arm function correctly? These are examples of questions that contemporary engineers must be able to answer.

The elastic properties of materials are especially important in engineering applications, including bioengineering. For example, materials that can stretch or compress and then return to their original form or position make good shock absorbers. In this section, you will learn about some applications that combine equilibrium with elasticity to construct real structures that last.

Thumbnail: Balanced Rock in Garden of the Gods. Image used with permission (CC BY-SA 2.5; Ahodges7).

Contributors

  • Samuel J. Ling (Truman State University), Jeff Sanny (Loyola Marymount University), and Bill Moebs with many contributing authors. This work is licensed by OpenStax University Physics under a Creative Commons Attribution License (by 4.0).