Menu
🔎 Search 🌎 EN 🔑 Log in Subscription

Unstable equilibrium HTML5

QR code

Summary

A rigid body is in mechanical equilibrium when the sum of the forces, and torque, experienced by the system is zero.
Equilibria can be stable or unstable:

  • Stable equilibrium: The response to a small perturbation in forces and torque that tends to restore the equilibrium.
  • Unstable equilibrium: The response to a small perturbation in forces and torque that tends to move the system even farther away from its original point of equilibrium (actually, the system often returns to a new stable equilibrium after the disturbance!).

This animation permits the illustration of the forces involved. The position of the center of gravity (or center of mass) of the system, in relation to its support (balancing point) is the important element  here.

Click on a screen to enlarge. Click on 'play' to start.

Learning goals

  • To distinguish between two different equilibrium states: Stable and unstable.
  • To visualize the condition of stability.

Keywords

Learn more

The notion of equilibrium exists in several disciplines (psychology, ecology, chemistry, economics ...) but it especially applies to Mechanics. In effect, the word "equilibrium" derives from the…

Subscribe now to read more about this topic!