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Objective and Background

An object is said to be in static equilibrium when the net force and net
torque acting on it is zero. In cases where there are multiple forces and
torques acting on an object, static equilibrium means that they all perfectly
counterbalance each other. It is very important to understand that stationary
objects often have many forces and torques acting on them, and need to be
carefully considered, especially in the field of engineering. In this experiment
we measured the aspects of an object in static equilibrium with only the force
of gravity and normal forces acting on it. The objective of this experiment
was to discover the relationships between distance, force and torque when an
object is in static equilibrium. First we determined the centre of gravity of the
object by calculating the torque at different distances from the pivot using
the formula: Torque = Force *Distance. Then analyzed the forces and
torques acting on the object when it had a mass attached to it, using the
same formula for torque as before as well as the formula: Torque = mass *
g* length where g is the acceleration due to gravity.

In this lab, it is important for the theory of Static equilibrium to be proved and shown
through equations and calculations done to show a net force of forces and torques all
being equal zero. The concept of static equilibrium was easily displayed and made more
evident by using the following equations and principles of static equilibrium below:
Rule 1: The sum of all external forces must equal zero:

Rule 2: The sum of all the torques with respects to a common point must equal zero:


Part 1: Determination of the Centre of Gravity

1. The mass of the meter stick was measured
2. Hanging it from the hook of a force meter on one side and using a
stationary pivot on the other side supported the rod.
3. The force displayed on the force meter was recorded
4. The distance between the two points of support was measured and
5. The centre of gravity of the meter stick was determined using the

Part 2: Equilibrium With Parallel Forces

1. A mass of 500g was placed between the pivot and the other supported
end of the meter stick.
2. the force and distance was measured once static equilibrium was
3. The previous two steps were repeated two additional times at different
distances from the pivot.
4. The results were recorded in a table.

Part 3: Equilibrium With Parallel Forces

1. The pivot supporting the meter stick was replaced with another
force meter.
2. The 500 g mass was added in between the two points of support.
3. The positions of the two force meters were adjusted until the meter
stick achieved static equilibrium.
4. Step 3 was repeated two additional times for different values.
5. The Data was recorded in a table

4. Calculations, Graphs and Results

Part A: Determination of the Centre of Gravity
Mass of the Ruler:


d (m)

F (N)

g (Nm)

0.50 0.005

2.6 0.05

1.30 0.51

0.60 0.005

2.2 0.05

1.32 0.50

0.70 0.005

1.9 0.05

1.33 0.46

Calculating the uncertainties of the Centre of Gravity:

Uncertainty 1: 0.51
Uncertainty 2: 0.50
Uncertainty 3: 0.46
Calculating the uncertainties of Torque:
Uncertainty 1: 0.51
Uncertainty 2: 0.50
Uncertainty 3: 0.46

Part B: Equilibrium with Parallel Forces

M (kg)

l (m)

d (m)

F (N)




g (Nm)

0.5482 0.0005


0.60 0.005

5.8 0.05


- 3.48

- 2.15

- 2.15 0.51

0.4482 0.0005


0.60 0.005

4.4 0.05


- 2.64

- 1.32

- 1.32 0.46

0.3482 0.0005


0.60 0.005

3.3 0.05


- 1.98

- 0.68

- 0.68 0.49

Equations used to calculate uncertainties in the chart above:

Uncertainty Fd1: 0.43
Uncertainty Fd2:0.56
Uncertainty Fd3:0.48

Uncertainty g 1: 0.012
Uncertainty g 2: 0.012
Uncertainty g 3: 0.012

Uncertainty Mgl 1: 0.62

Uncertainty Mgl 2: 0.80
Uncertainty Mgl 3: 1.15

Uncertainty 1: 0.051
Uncertainty 2: 0.046
Uncertainty 3: 0.049

Part C: Equilibrium with Parallel Forces II

M (kg)

l (m)

F (N)

P (N)


Fg=mg (N)

Fi (N)

0.5482 0.0005

0.20 0.005

4.1 0.05

4.5 0.05



1.09 0.07

0.4482 0.0005

0.30 0.005

4.6 0.05

2.9 0.05



0.97 0.07

0.3482 0.0005

0.40 0.005

4.8 0.05

1.9 0.05



1.15 0.07

Uncertainty of F:

= (0.0005)2+(0.005)2+(0.05)2+(0.05)2

Discussion of Results and Conclusions:

The objective of this lab is to study the role of forces and torques for an object in
equilibrium. This lab is divided into three parts. The first part is where we determine the center of
gravity of the ruler by changing the distance d as it is shown in the diagram in Part I. The second
and the third parts are meant to measure parallel forces on the ruler in equilibrium by changing
both the mass and the length (L) as shown in the diagram Part II & III.
In the first part, we needed two measurements, distance and force, in order to measure the
torque. As we increase the distance in each trial, we observe that the force gets smaller but torque
is still the same even the fact the numbers are slightly off because off observational and reading
errors. Therefore, distance is inversely proportional to the force and torque is always constant.
From our calculations, we notice that the measurements of the center of gravity of the ruler are
relatively the same. Therefore, the average center of mass of the ruler is around 0.62 m from the
In the second part, we are asked to change both the mass and the length (L). There are 4
forces acting on the ruler: the weight of the mass (Mg), the upward forced exerted by both pivot
and the newton metre, and the weight of the ruler itself. Since the forces are in equilibrium, the
must be equal to zero. The net torques of the experiment in Table II is not zero because of
observational and reading errors or else the object wasnt in equilibrium. From the results, we
notice as we keep the distance (d) constant and decrease the mass or the force exerted on the
ruler, the magnitude of torque also decreases. Therefore, torque is proportional to the force
exerted. We also notice the similarity between the numbers stated on the torque of (Mgl) and the
net toque. From these results, we can conclude that the net torque of the system is equal to the
toque exerted by the mass on the tip of the pivot.
In the third part of experiment, we have two newton metres and a mass hanged on the
ruler. As we increase (l), making the mass get closer to the newton metre (F), the forced exerted
on the newton metre (F) increases the forced exerted on the newton metre (P) decreases. It
increases due to the fact that mass (M) is able to change the centre of the gravity of ruler.
Therefore, the length (l) is inversely proportional the force exerted on (P). We also notice from
Part II is that the force exerted on the pivot also decreases as the length increase. In conclusion,
the length is inversely proportional to the force in rotation (torque) system.


Hibbeler, R. C. Engineering Mechanics Static & Dynamics. 12th ed. Pearson

Prentice Hall, 2010. Print.

NASA. "Center of Gravity." NASA - Title... FirstGov: USA, 11 July 2008. Web. 11
Oct. 2011. <>.
Physics Department: Ryerson University. Static Equilibrium: Forces and
Torques. 2. Print.